Yoga Desa Teachers


Natalie Backman
Originally from Washington State, Natalie has explored her yoga practice coast to coast from Seattle to New York to LA. Having settled here in the summer of 2013, Natalie turned her decade long practice into a career which she is entirely devoted to. She completed her 200 hour training through Inner Power Yoga in Woodland Hills, and immediately dove into teaching. Natalie also provides weekly instruction to several private clients, including the Calabasas High School Boys’ Soccer team.

Natalie teaches a powerful, flow oriented class with an emphasis on strength and alignment. She is committed to empowering her students through increased self-awareness, which she believes firmly will ultimately lead to self-love.A consistent practice with Natalie will provide you with a strong foundation in yoga principles, increased strength and flexibility, a quieter mind and a deeper appreciation for your Self and your life. Be prepared to laugh and sweat…and come back for more! Natalie is also the founder of IMAGINE Fest, a community oriented yoga and live music festival which raises funds and awareness in support of Unlikely Heroes, a local non-profit rescuing and rehabilitating child victims of sex trafficking.

Danielle Bhajan Joti
Danielle Bhajan Joti is a yoga teacher and sound healer here in Los Angeles. She was born and raised in Santa Monica, California and now lives here in Topanga Canyon. Her journey into teaching began six years ago after a life changing training with Saul David Raye. Since then she has completed several additional yoga teacher trainings, including Kundalini, Kids yoga, and Integral yoga. After living in South Africa for two years studying and teaching several different forms of yoga, she recently returned back home to LA and began attending sound baths. After experiencing the incredible benefits of sound healing, she felt inspired to learn to play the instruments herself. She has a full set of (7) quartz crystal singing bowls and has incorporated them into her yoga classes and sound bath events.

She is both excited and grateful to be able to share her yoga teachings and sound healing here at Yoga Desa.Danielle’s Yin Yoga and sound healing class is designed to increase flexibility, stamina and relaxation, while allowing the practitioner to dive deeper into meditation. The sound vibrations from the crystal bowls combined with the holding of postures for several minutes at a time, allow the body, mind and spirit to be brought into harmonious alignment.

Michael Bucher
Michael teaches a “Sattvic” energy balancing style of “Hatha” yoga that brings the practitioner into a centered state of equanimity feeling simultaneously energized and calm. All levels welcome. Michael’s classes also incorporate Song/Bhakti and pockets of freeformed movement. Your body is the boss here. Come connect to your physical body and spirit at a deep level.

Sibyl Buck
Sibyl Buck is a passionate teacher who’s warm love for her students is palpable. Teaching is Sibyl’s third career, after stints as a high-fashion model in the ’90’s, and later as a touring bass player and back-up vocalist, which careers took her several times around the world. She brings the depth of her life experience to her teaching, which is rich in metaphor, insight and authenticity.

Sibyl has completed her first year of study in the Yoga Therapy Certificate program at Loyola Marymount University, and her offerings as a yoga teacher are devoted to health and well being. Sibyl’s influence from master teachers Annie Carpenter, Jasmine Leib, Jillian Pranksy and Maty Ezraty is evidenced by a style balanced between strength-building, alignment focused movement, and deeply meditative and relaxed stillness. Sibyl is an anatomy and physiology enthusiast, which knowledge she shares during class, leading students to a deeper understanding of the why and how of yoga, and their own inner workings.

Expect to find yourself propped up by pillows, blankets and blocks at least once, and to gain a better understanding of yourself from the outside in through both physically active and passive practice. Sibyl offers public classes exclusively at Yoga Desa in Topanga. Thanks so much!
Sibyl 917-794-4627

Matt Crowder

Grace Flowers
For the past 15 years, Grace has been dedicated to this ancient practice of movement and evolution. Yoga has been a loyal companion, creating and sustaining a platform for Grace to delve further into advanced studies of Meditation, Pranayama, Anatomy, Buddhist Psychology, Pre & Postnatal Yoga, Chakra Theory and application, Yin Yoga, Gabriel Roth’s 5 Rhythms and the sacred art of Soul Crafting. Her practice is informed by her deep connection to the abundant richness of Nature, the innate wisdom of the human body, a wise receptivity cultivated by a profound practice of discernment, and the art of leaning into Mystery.

Grace has a warm and approachable style of holding space that encourages artistic exploration and mastery through movement, often encouraging students to dive in deep, beyond asana, and truly cultivate moment by moment awareness. She is known as a teacher who is skilled in her ability to guide students into experiencing a richer connection with themselves, explore the ever-changing nature of Consciousness and Truth, while beautifully weaving in spiritual elements from her own practice and experience with Life itself.

Los Angeles has been home to Grace’s vinyasa style of practice where she has studied extensively with Annie Carpenter, Maty Ezraty, Shiva Rea, Erich Schiffman, Saul David Raye and numerous other teachers who have helped shape her unique and graceful style of teaching.

Lydia Green
Like so many people, Lydia was drawn to the yoga mat by its physical practice and the way it made her feel. Not only did it give her that physical exercise she was looking for but it helped her channel her energy, giving her a sense of calm. For Lydia, yoga made the every day challenges seem less overwhelming and life seemed to have a little more breath in it.Coming from a professional dance background where strength and dedication was very important, yoga brought this familiarity to Lydia and at the same time added balance into her life.

Her intention in her class is to create an environment where every student feels comfortable. Acceptance of strengths and weaknesses are equally embraced in her classes, every student is encouraged to accept new challenges, yet at the same time always feel safe. Her door is open to anyone who wants to explore physical challenge and her space is open for you to connect with yourself and together, experience the exciting journey of yoga.

Sarah Gulden
Recently moved to Topanga from DC, Sarah has practiced yoga since childhood and has published a book on chakras and yoga, Balancing The Wheels. She is an E-RYT 500 with ISHTA Yoga and Alan Finger as well as holding certificates in prenatal yoga, Kundalini Yoga, and in Yin Yoga with founder Paulie Zink. She also has a background in Ashtanga, Sivananda, and Jivamukti (with David Life and Sharon Gannon in New York City) and has a led a number of yoga retreats in the US and in Costa Rica.

Sarah’s style of teaching is vigorous and deep. She is warm and encouraging, and loves to share her passion for the benefits and joy of yoga in life as well as in class. She is trained in Reiki and Tarot and is the mother of two daughters, three cats, and a dog who have practiced yoga with her starting prenatal!

Vivica Schwartz
In Vivica’s public classes you are guided through a soulful, nourishing flow that is both heating and invigorating and at the same time calming and self-reflective. She encourages you to inquire within as your body moves in and out of various postures to allow energy to move through you and to remove blockages by breathing consciously, through alignment and the cultivation of awareness. She invites you to practice at your own pace and to always stay true to your own breath, so that the postures unfold as a result of an inner opening and expansion. Her sequences aim to gradually and progressively open the body in order to meet your true Self, confront your limits and transcend them. For her, Yoga is about cultivating Self-awareness and being present in each moment. It is about using the opportunities that reveal themselves to us through mindful practice, allowing emotional healing to take place while we strengthen our physical bodies.

Vivica completed her 200h teacher training in 2002 with the original founders of Yogaworks, Maty Ezraty and Chuck Miller and went on apprenticing with Annie Carpenter for 6 months. She has been teaching ever since. She became a certified Children’s Yoga Instructor in 2014. Her continuing studies have led her to Yoga’s sister science Ayurveda and in 2015 she completed her 200h Ayurveda Wellness Counseling training.

Vivica Schwartz
Yoga Instructor & Ayurveda Wellness Counselor
310-924 9842

Kate Shela
Kate is a 5Rhythms teacher, shamanic teacher, and gifted shamanic practitioner. She is known for her enormous passion, a vulnerable sense of the intimate and an ability to create community and tribe.

Kate possesses a bold improvisational style and a passionate sense of humour that enables magic to ooze into the everyday moments. She is a senior instructor within The 5Rhythms founded by the late Gabrielle Roth with whom she has been closely associated since 1992. She is accredited to teach both Waves and Heartbeat maps.

Annmarie Soul
Annmarie Soul is a soulful yoga teacher and singer/songwriter based in Los Angeles. She teaches vinyasa flow yoga as well as foundational yoga in the Krishnamacharya lineage. Her classes are deep and rich allowing the student to explore consciousness in action cultivating healthy new patterns and ways of being. Annmarie first discovered yoga at Jivamukti in NYC in 1997. Inspired to travel to India with her guitar on her back, she learned sacred mantras from the Brahmin in the villages and sang in the temples absorbing these sounds and prayers. Upon her return to the US Annmarie recorded a mantra cd called Devotion which received powerful praise. Michael Mollura of LA Yoga writes, “Annmarie Solo’s voice touches the notes and we are transported into a space that is abundant and ethereal. Annmarie is an L.A. artist who sings like her heart would dissipate if she didn’t.”

In 2000, Annmarie completed the Yoga Works Teacher training after which she taught at Yoga Works for the next 6 years. She currently teaches at Yoga Desa in the enchanted mountains of Topanga Canyon and leads yoga retreats and concerts around the world. She has a clientele that includes some of Hollywood’s most successful directors, writers and producers. Most recently Annmarie released her folk/pop debut called Rising which Music Connection Magazine calls,” “Honest, delicate and heartfelt”. Her songs are filled with hopeful, inspiring messages about humanity, love and evolution during these times of great change.

Annmarie can often be found hiking trails in Topanga where she’s lived for the past 8 years with her dog, Cedar Boy. Visit