Belinda Thurston, E-RYT 200, is the owner and founder of Just B Yoga & Tai Chi LLC, a donation-based studio that serves underserved communities in Lansing. She began her power yoga practice in 2001 to compliment her martial arts training. In 2009 she completed her 300-hr certification to teach yoga from Hilltop Yoga with Hilaire Lockwood.
Trained in special needs yoga, yoga for teens, Yoga for 12-Step Recovery (substance recovery yoga) and Curvy Yoga, she has made it her mission to make yoga accessible to every “body.” She has also completed training in Yoga for Self-regulation and Trauma with Hala Khouri. Just B Yoga was created in 2010 as a weekly free yoga class held in the gymnasium of the Shabazz Academy, a charter middle school in Lansing. It has now doubled in size.
Ana Holguin has been practicing yoga since 2010. She completed 200 hour teacher training with Hilaire Lockwood at Hilltop Yoga in 2013, and is nearly done with another 100 hours. Ana has pursued further education in yoga for survivors of eating disorders, and trauma sensitive yoga. She teaches at Hilltop Yoga and loves volunteering her time to create safe yoga spaces for all (all bodies, all genders, all colors, all economic backgrounds) to feel comfortable and have access.
As a survivor of complex trauma and eating disorders herself, she has found incredible healing and growth in yoga philosophy and physical, asana, practice. To her, yoga is therapeutic self-study that helps bring the practitioner back into their body, invites kindness to self and others, and teaches them how to make honest choices while focusing on breath and, of course, having fun. Her favorite part of teaching yoga is helping others imagine ways into their bodies–she will talk about body-helper-Muppets, magic beams of light, sweet swooshes of breath, Care-Bear feelings friends, and this is just the norm for her adult classes. She’s honored to work with the Firecracker Foundation to reach children and teens and bring them the care, love, and attention they need and deserve.
Caroline Nelsen has been practicing yoga since 2010. She completed her 200 hour teacher training with Duane Utech at Updog Yoga in July of 2016. She became interested in teaching after recognizing the healing power of yoga through her own practice and in observing its benefits in others. Caroline is also a licensed clinical social worker who provides therapy to survivors of sexual trauma at MSU where she began a Healing Through Yoga program.
Caroline believes in a holistic approach to healing from sexual trauma and in the potential for yoga to offer and assist with healing in ways traditional therapies have not. Caroline is honored to be able to provide trauma informed classes to children and adolescents in her community and offer them space to connect with their bodies and own their voices.
Cassie Léger has been teaching yoga since 2011. She has trained 500 hours with Hilaire Lockwood of Hilltop Yoga and also completed two certifications to teach adaptive yoga with Matthew Sanford of Mind Body Solutions. She loves teaching basic and slow flow classes and especially enjoys helping people modify their practice; a skill she feels can be incredibly empowering. As a teacher she hopes to help students connect with their bodies by remaining present and sensitive and validating the student’s experience.
Cassie started practicing yoga as a compliment to psychotherapy to cope with depression and chronic pain. She found her yoga practice to be a safe space to explore the connection between these two things and to begin the practice of ahimsa, or non-violence. She feels honored to be working for the Firecracker Foundation and sharing the thing she loves and has found to be so healing with children and teens in the community.
Heather Kingsbury has been practicing yoga for 18 years. she began on a difficult, cold day at 16 years old in her high school’s gymnasium with a VHS tape and two classmates. In the fall of 2016, I completed a 200 hour training with Belinda Thurston at Just B Yoga in Lansing’s REO town. This training was trauma sensitive including modules on working with youth and creating a practice accessible to all people in all types of bodies.
I am a queer cis-gendered woman (she, her, hers) who belongs to a family of friends, two profoundly loving parents, a brother, a niece, a sister-in-law, and a beloved elderly cat.
We are currently seeking qualified individuals to join our network of therapists and yoga instructors serving both child and adult survivors of sexual trauma. If your experience, expertise, and compassion have steered you this way, we’d like to talk to you about contributing to our work. Please contact us today at firstname.lastname@example.org. View our Trauma-sensitive Yoga Instructor Contract here.