Our Yoga Instructors
Cori Vanker, RYT 200
Cori graduated from Oakland University in 2004 with a major in English, and for many years has worked in day schools and Early Childhood programs. She also has had a deep interest in the effect of nutrition on the body and other drug-free approaches to promoting and supporting good health. She spent a few years focusing on strength training and cardio activities, and had at first assumed that yoga would merely supplement her other activities. However, once Cori became a serious student of yoga, she found the practice to be a natural approach to stress management, and later discovered wise and profound responses to timeless, universal human concerns in the ancient teachings.
Cori completed yoga teacher training in 2019 and found the months-long immersion in the yogic teachings and lifestyle to be utterly life changing. She is now passionate about teaching students to incorporate mindfulness into their practices and is concerned with sharing the importance of movement variety and proper alignment for pain relief and injury prevention.
Lisa Tokarz, Wellness/Ayurveda Coach, E-RYT
Lisa is the founder and senior teacher at the Studio. She loves an organic pinot and dark cacao. Lisa has been a professional adult educator for over 30 years and after college, she trained & supported upper management & brokers in investment & finance during the great Bull Market of the 1990s. During that time she became interested “where true happiness and peace of mind come from.” This hunger for knowledge lead her directly to yoga. Her study of yoga, philosophy and dharma began in 1993. She retired from corporate life in 1999 to raise a family with her spiritual partner and husband, Drew and began teaching yoga in 2000.
Over the last 23 years, she has studied with the foremost teachers from around the world, including His Holiness the Dalai Lama. She has studied with, and the works of, Geshe Michael Roach, Lama Christie McNally, and Lama Sumati Marut from Yoga Studies Institute in Arizona. She completed a 2-year study (100 hours) of the Yoga Sutras, the main book of yoga (2007-09) with her teacher Mira Shani, also a Senior Teacher at the Yoga Studies Institute. She received a certificate for 200 hours of training from Clearlight Yoga Shala from Michael Johnson in 2005. She has spent 50 hours with the founder of Anusara Yoga, as well as Desiree Rambaugh, Sara Davidson, and Heidi Peters, Anusara-Inspired Teachers. She now regularly enjoys the inspirational/spiritual teachings of Alan Haras of Hamsa Yoga.
“Yoga isn’t just a physical exercise, it’s a lifestyle, with (for me) an emphasis on the subtle body (intuitive energy body, etc.). This kind of authentic teaching requires a live teacher. I believe that ethical living, combined with the physical and mindful practices of yoga, everyone can receive the many benefits yoga has to offer. All you need to get started is your ability to breathe.”
Suzanne Budd, RYT 200
Suzanne started practicing yoga in 1994 at the age of 16 while experiencing back and joint pain, which doctors were unable to diagnose or address. The stretching and strengthening benefits of yoga seemed to be the only thing that offered relief.
Over the years, Suzanne has worked as a preschool teacher, a licensed phlebotomist,an insurance agent, and she now owns and operates a home daycare. She and her husband also have two children. Throughout the busy years of career changes and raising children, Suzanne continued to suffer from life disrupting back and joint pain. In 2007 Suzanne was finally diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis- an autoimmune disorder that primarily affects the spine, but also many other joints in the body. The AS caused two of her vertebrae to fuse in her spine and she ended up on several daily medications along with weekly injections to help control the disease.
Suzanne’s yoga practice had been inconsistent, but with this diagnosis she became serious about yoga. Her team of doctors were shocked to learn she eventually had stopped taking all her medication and her disease never worsened! She credits her yoga practice with stopping the progression of the spinal fusion and big decrease in pain.
She became interested in becoming a yoga teacher so she could share her passion with others, especially those suffering from back issues.
In 2019 she finally decided to pursue her dream and went through yoga teacher training with Lisa Tokarz at The Yoga Studio. During the training her love of yoga was completely on fire, and it was an incredibly life changing experience.
Suzanne looks forward to growing and learning as a yoga teacher and helping her students grow and learn with her.
Eva Schumacher, RYT 200
Eva began her yoga practice in 2016, knowing it would be a good workout, but could not have foreseen the incredible things a yoga practice would open up inside of her and describes her experience with yoga as transformative.
For far too long, she avoided finding a yoga studio for fear of not being “enough” for yoga–flexible enough, thin enough, fit enough. She now has a deeper understanding of those limiting beliefs, that were mostly rooted in fear: of judgement, failure, or vulnerability.
Her commitment as a teacher is to encourage everyone to come to their mats and let that fear sit quietly in the corner for a bit and just be their beautiful and unique selves. To build on that small kernel of strength and confidence, and see where it might take them, on and off the mat.
Since completing teacher training, Eva has found particular joy in teaching yin and restorative classes. With any class, she loves to incorporate props such as blocks, wheels, and straps to help students deepen their practice.
Eva has a passion for sharing the truth that yoga is for everybody, because everyone deserves to find the place within them to be happy and free from suffering.
Sandy Dewitte, RYT-200
Sandy’s love of yoga began in 2003 when she joined a local gym that offered yoga classes; She was hooked! After 15 years of practicing yoga, Sandy received her RYT-200 certification.
Sandy loves to teach and provide a calm atmosphere for her students to connect with their mind, body and spirit through their breath and movement. She believes that focusing on the breath allows your mind to be still, which aids in being present on your mat and eliminating outside noise and distractions. It is Sandy’s hope that Yoga will bring a level of vital calmness to her students’ lives that is missing in today’s hectic world where life is speeding by. Namaste.
Jen Block (Zen Jen) LMT, RYT-200
Jen began her healing journey through the discipline of the martial way, studying Okinawan Karate (AKS) under Sensei Jim Hope. By good karma, she found yoga and instantly felt the effects of yoga as a complete system for mind, body, spirit connection. Within a year, she became a registered yoga teacher and began her transition into the path of the healer.
She specializes in adaptive yoga, trauma informed and mindfulness based stress reduction techniques. She is a graduate of Irene’s Myomassology Institute, where she learned the art of massage therapy, myofascial release and Thai Yurvedic Yoga Massage. Studying various methods of somatic therapies has deepened her understanding of the dynamics and subtle nature of the body fields. With trust and respect, Jen is honored to help create a healing space for her students.
Julia Laity, E-RYT
Julia became a dedicated yoga student in 2010 while searching for a way to find inner peace. She found that yoga not only toned her body, but it also calmed her mind and eased her anxiety. Within a few months of attending classes at The Yoga Studio, she knew she wanted to become a certified yoga instructor so she could share the power of yoga with others.
Julia completed RYT-200 training with Lisa Tokarz at The Yoga Studio in 2014. She and her husband realized they were expecting during her training and Julia had her baby girl in February 2015. During her pregnancy, she became passionate about prenatal yoga and began teaching that as well. She loves yoga and strives to give students a break from the demands of day-to-day life and remind them how important it is to take time for them. Now a mother, she realizes now more than ever that one needs to pour into their own cup before they can pour into others’.
Andrea Rose, RYT 200
Andrea Rose is a passionate yoga student and teacher who believes we are all here to learn from one another. She completed her RYT-200 certification under Christie Cairo, Director of Yoga Teacher Training at Bodhi Seed Yoga & Wellness Studio, and credits Christie with instilling in her a strong sense of yogic spirituality and a whole-self approach to wellness. Andrea’s goals as a yoga teacher are to make people feel more comfortable in their own skin, to inspire peace and strength, and to give back to the world by sharing the many gifts of yoga and meditation. In her classes, Andrea Rose brings creative asana sequencing mixed with a series of inspirational messages, with the aim to inspire her students both physically and spiritually.
Andrea describes her path toward teaching yoga as “a series of non-decisions”, events that fell into place with divine perfection. She began her yoga practice at home, enjoying the chance to move mindfully as in her past, with ballet and gymnastics. Inspired by this momentum, she took her practice to the studio, attending classes and finding a sense of community and spiritual connection there. Next, she attended a women’s retreat, where she was struck with the inspiration to pursue teacher training. Almost immediately after returning home, she took those first steps to pursue this new dream and has not looked back since!
Aside from teaching yoga, Andrea Rose is involved in many things, including marketing, freelance journalism, bird watching, photography, reading spiritual texts, journaling and spending time out in nature. She is one of four recipients of the 2018-19 Emerging Leaders Scholarship at The Cardoner Institute, led by Alan Haras, Director of the Hamsa Yoga Center. Andrea is excited for the opportunity to continue to learn and grow alongside you as both an individual and as a leader.