Meet our Teachers

All of our teachers share the same goal; to help each and every student grow in their practice, to overcome any physical or mental limitations they may have, and to use breath work to gain a deeper understanding of the relationship between the mind and body.

“If you think in terms of a year, plant a seed; if in terms of ten years, plant trees; if in terms of 100 years, teach the people.” — Confucius

Lili robins, E-ryt500

Personal Goal: I want to help each person I teach realize their full potential for well being and healthy balance of mind, body and spirit.  

Lili began teaching in 2010 as a Les Mills Body Flow instructor at Sport & Health in Stafford. In time she began to practice and study more yoga, and realized the depth and the benefits were seemingly unlimited. She completed her 200 yoga teacher training at Healing Arts and Yoga Center in Fredericksburg in May, 2012.

Lili completed her 500-hour advanced training in April 2015 with Beloved Yoga in Reston, Virginia. Through this training many tools of yoga therapy were learned and applied in sessions with private clients using the healing benefits of mindful movement, breath work, and meditation from the gross to subtle layers of the being. In September 2017 Lili became a certified yoga therapist through the International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT). In May 2016 she also completed a Yin Yoga certificate training with Beloved Yoga.

Jennifer Martin, e-ryt200/500

Yoga is a full body, mind and spirit practice, providing a place for true self-knowledge to emerge.  On my mat, I have learned to have patience, respect and love for my body, imperfections and all. I hope to help my students find those and other qualities within themselves.

Since my late teen years, I have always been interested in fitness, health and yoga.  I dabbled in yoga along with fitness for many years until moving to Maryland in 2003 and found The Yoga Center of Columbia.  While there, I studied Power Vinyasa Yoga, Alignment based yoga and I also studied a little Ashtanga Yoga.  In 2007, I moved to northern Virginia, where I continued to pursue yoga at the Health Advantage Yoga Center.   While taking weekly classes, I signed up for Yoga Teacher Training and I received my instructor certification in 2008.  I am registered with Yoga Alliance as an E-RYT.  I have completed the Radiant Child Yoga trainings, level 1 and level 2.  

I am a certified personal trainer with the American Council on Exercise (ACE), a certified group exercise instructor with Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA) and I am a certified spinning instructor.   



Yoga has been a part of my life since 2008. After reading an article suggesting yoga for sciatic pain relief, I decided to try it. To be honest, I didn’t enjoy the first 1 or 2 classes, but somewhere after the 3rd I realized I was leaving class feeling uplifted and energetic. Within a few weeks the sciatic pain was gone, and I found myself craving my yoga classes. Yoga has helped me grow stronger, more flexible and inspires me to live each moment more mindfully.  I received my RYT200 in 2012 with Ren Fields of Healing Arts and Yoga Center.  I continue to be a student of yoga and am grateful for the wisdom my teachers have shared with me, and particularly enjoy the teachings of the late Makunda Stiles and his yoga for therapy studies. My hope is that students step off the mat feeling refreshed, happy and balanced.

The yoga therapy components of my teaching are based on my Structural Yoga Therapy 22 hour Certification, not derived from my status as an RYT-200 with Yoga Alliance Registry.

Elsa Nicholson, RYT200

Elsa Nicholson was an avid runner and boot camper, but after many years of dealing with running related injuries, she started practicing yoga with the intention of finding an activity to "stretch" until she could return to running. Her yoga journey began as a participant in daily Instagram Ashtanga challenges where she discovered a creative outlet for her yoga practice.

"Yoga has changed everything for me. It's made me more confident, strong, and balanced. It has given me a whole new outlook on the world and my own life. Yoga has humbled me and reminded me that truly anything is possible with patience, practice, and love."

Elsa graduated with her 200RYT from Latitude Yoga Co. Her favorite quote is "Ride the energy of your own unique spirit." — Gabrielle Roth. Elsa's primary focus as a teacher is: Give students the space to find freedom, inner strength, balance, and flexibility so they can discover their own unique yoga journey on and off the mat.

Elsa is also a Registered Dietitian and is looking forward to working with the community teaching mindful eating practices and providing students with tools for weight management through yoga.

Lauren Rogers, RYT200/500

In 2002 I began taking yoga classes as a low impact way to improve my physical health.  Being much more academic than athletic, yoga appealed to my need to understand the world, my mind, and my body on a deeper level. I quickly fell in love with how I felt physically and emotionally each time I came to my mat. My personal practice has taken me through many styles and I have grown to love a strong, alignment focused approach.

As the years passed and I found a strength and athleticism I thought I had lacked, I ventured into other forms of exercise including Group Ex classes and strength training. In 2015 I decided to become a certified PiYo Live Instructor in order to help others find the strength and connection I had, while bridging the gap between the fast paced, fun environment of the Group Ex setting and my love for yoga.  

Lauren completed her RYT-200 in June 2017 at Art of Balance Yoga. She plans to help her students strengthen their practices in both traditional and Group Fitness settings. She is also certified to teach Kettlebell AMPD and Barre Above and also runs a successful natural health and wellness business. 

Rachel Novak, RYT200


Rachel began practicing yoga at the suggestion of Dr. Yvonne Villarreal, integrative practitioner at Embracing Health in Stafford, due to concerns of adrenal fatigue. As someone accustomed to a fast-paced lifestyle, she was initially skeptical about being able to “slow down” enough to benefit from the practice. Coincidentally, a local nonprofit organization had just begun offering weekly classes to educators at Lafayette Upper Elementary School in Fredericksburg, where Rachel teaches fifth grade. It was here that she was first introduced to Lili Robins, who would eventually become her mentor and dear friend.

It didn’t take long for Rachel to notice the improvements to her physical health after beginning a regular yoga practice. More surprising, however, were the unexpected changes to her mental and emotional well-being. Having struggled with an eating disorder and body image issues in the past, she had always maintained a conflicted relationship with her inner self. Through yoga and meditation, that relationship began to strengthen and grow. As she became more at peace with herself, she began interacting with and responding to the world around her in a different way. She began to feel empowered in a way that she hadn’t realized was possible. She knew that she had to share this incredible practice with others, as she understood that yoga truly is for everybody – and every body.

Rachel completed her RYT-200 in June 2017 at Art of Balance Yoga. She is so grateful to have been a member of AoBY’s first ‘graduating class’ and is so honored to be joining the amazing and supportive AoBY family. She hopes that her classes will inspire others to discover the beauty and tranquility that yoga offers to all. 

Maria Smith, RYT200

I fell in love with Yoga in college, in my native home town of Sao Paulo, Brazil, and have been practicing since 2005. I found peace in Yoga during my trying years as a young military spouse and new mother, and coupled with meditation, it has changed my life. It truly is for everybody, and for every phase of life. Yoga’s benefits to physical, spiritual and mental health, inspired me to continue to pursue my passion in the field of Psychology and Counseling. I have recently earned a Certificate in Paraprofessional Counseling and I am currently pursuing a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Counseling. I am also a volunteer at local agencies.     

I encourage students to deepen their self-awareness and self-expression and to be present in each moment with a sense of curiosity and joy. I pay special care to alignment, body awareness, a focused mind, and ease of movement and breath. And I love to empower students to find their own Yoga as each embodies the postures (Asana) in their own way. I often say: “How does your body wear your Yoga?”   

I am very humbled and honored to be part of the Art of Balance class of 2017, where I received my RYT 200-hour certification. There is much love and nurturing here. I look forward to keeping on growing together. Namaste

January Slater, RYT200


January has a creative and child-like nature that allows her to engage with children and adults alike with a captivating presence yet with graceful and gentle compassion entangled throughout her teaching.  She discovered yoga many years ago while managing and coaching gymnastics and was intrigued by its simplicity and spiritually based intentions. She continued to follow several different styles and has gathered appreciation for all practices of yoga. Her understanding of the healing powers that yoga brings through the integration of spirituality into the physicality is what gives her passion to teach and practice. Through her deep compassion for others she is honored to share the gifts of yoga with whomever walks into the space whether this is a child or an adult looking for the transformative nature of yoga!

January is a 200 hr Bhakti yoga teacher as well as a Yoga for the Special Child® practitioner through Sonia Sumar’s teachings. She has trained in Strength and Core yoga and is Yin Yoga certified. Along with yoga, January is also a certified sound healer and often infuses this harmonizing practice within her classes. January has a bachelor’s degree in Holistic Health and currently practices as a certified holistic health practitioner using an energy emotional release technique, nutritional consulting and homeopathic or herbal remedies. She is the co-founder of Pure Freedom Farm, a non-profit that uses therapeutic animals for emotional healing in children with autism and other unique ways of being.

January is an animal lover, artist, and a huge advocate for natural living with much love and appreciation to all of nature’s beauty! She lives Culpeper, VA with her husband, 11-year-old son, and their many farm animals.

January is our Yin + Sound Bath Meditation teacher and also a sub.

Patricia DeForest, RYT200

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I started yoga at home using TV programs and DVD’s because I had lost a sense of balancing on one foot.  I bought BKS Iyengar’s Light on Yoga in August, 2011 when I realized that yoga was something that I would like to keep doing for the rest of my life.  How fitting that a new yoga studio opened in Jan 2015 near my workplace called Art of Balance Yoga.

I started attending classes there shortly after they opened and found more than the regaining of my physical balance.  I also found mental awareness, flexibility, and more strength than I’ve ever had before in a non-competitive and supportive community.

Along with the help of family and friends, practicing yoga helped me through a difficult health issue.  Even if you have great support as I did, you are ultimately the person who has to face the fears, uncertainties and challenges – no one else can do it for you.  Yoga, with its body, mind, breath, spirit, connection, helped me face my challenges by trying to live in the present moment, listening to the wisdom of the body and developing strength and flexibility in body and mind.  Contentment, while actively living life, is the juxtaposition of yoga.

I completed my RYT-200 at Art of Balance in June 2018.  My goal as a teacher is to share classes that are creative and playful yet purposeful, allowing students to take away a sense of renewal to face their own personal challenges should they arise.

Anastasia Martin, RYT200


My teaching career started when I was six in my parents’ backyard with a class of stuffed animals.  I knew then I that I like to share.  As my interests have expanded, so has my teaching from backyard, to high school English, and now to yoga.  In early 2015, I was curious to know if a yoga practice is really as beneficial as we are told, so, despite my nervousness, I took my first studio yoga. Class was a challenge because I knew nothing, but I tried everything and felt relaxed when I left. The sensation the next day is what brought me back.  I noticed that I felt lighter when I walked and that all my movements were more easeful. Over years of practice I built more strength, flexibility, and balance both physically and mentally. I realized that I stopped tripping over my own feet. My patience and ability to quiet my worries increased.  The lessons on my mat had expanded to my life, I wanted to know more, and I wanted to share. 

Yoga helps me find joy and beauty in my practice and my life. As a yoga teacher, I hope to guide my students to cultivate courage, contentment, and joy. 

I completed my RYT-200 certification at Art of Balance Yoga in June 2018. To teach is a humbling honor, and I hope to help nurture the respect, fun, and support already present in the Art of Balance Yoga community.

Tara Hawkins, RYT200

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Tara's journey to physical fitness began in 2012 upon the suggestion of a medical professional. However it wasn't until 2016 when she found Vinyasa Yoga and Ashtanga Yoga, that her journey became consistent. Making the commitment to time on the mat weekly, it was through this form of self care where she found the freedom to explore and grow. Tara is thrilled to have graduated with the class of 2018 Art of Balance YTT. She is forever a student, continually learning the power of yoga on and off the mat. "The pose is not the goal. It's everything along the way, in the waiting and tiny steps forward, and sometimes it's in the steps back."  Find what moves you.

Tara is currently a sub for us and we hope you have a chance to be in one of her classes sometime soon!