Who We Are
Passionate...The one word that collectively describes us best. This quality is what has brought us together and what inspires us to share each of our teachings with you all everyday.
Carrie Ann Belanger (Pilates/Esalen & Deep Bodywork)
Carrie grew up in the world of dance and theater in Chicago. Over the years she worked through numerous injuries as a dancer which gives her empathy and compassion for the physical and emotional pain and frustration we all suffer at times. Her passion for wanting to understand more deeply the workings of the human body led her to transition into a career in massage and bodywork. Carrie began her training at the Institute of Psycho-Structural Balancing in Los Angeles. It was there that she was introduced to Esalen Institute here in Big Sur, where she has continued her education over the last 11 years. She has a private massage practice, working with clients from all walks of life for over 15 years focusing on therapeutic work rooted in Esalen massage and Deep Bodywork.
As a part of her own healing process Carrie revisited the world of Pilates, a part of her training as a young dancer. Her growing awareness of the symbiotic relationship between bodywork and Pilates led her to undergo a formal Pilates teacher training program at Frog Temple Pilates in Chicago, a classical Pilates studio owned and operated by Randi Whitman who is a graduate of The Pilates Center in Boulder, and a student of influential teachers such as Kathy Grant, Amy Lange, and Wendy LeBlanc-Arbuckle. Carrie's belief in the endless possibilities for healing, and the bond between Pilates and bodywork has been a focus of her work ever since.
Carrie continues to learn through the experiences she has with her clients as well as her own physical exploration and continued studies in movement. Her daily meditation practice and dance exploration help guide her as a teacher and an individual. Her vision is to bring all aspects of movement therapy into the studio to create a space where together we all can explore and feel free as we continue on our paths of awareness and personal growth.
Amber Gilliss (Pilates)
Amber discovered Pilates while studying Psychology at Monterey Peninsula College. A life long athlete with a background in massage therapy, she felt drawn immediately to the Pilates system of exercise. Under the mentorship of Alexandra Edwards, she decided to pursue her training and become a certified Pilates teacher. In 2015, through Power Pilates she received her Classical Pilates Mat certification at Purely Pilates in Belmont, California. After this she went on to complete over 600 hours of training with Allison Gonzalez at Purely Pilates and in 2017 Amber received her Power Pilates certification to teach the entire system. Amber is passionate about sharing her knowledge of classical Pilates and help individuals develop awareness and strength.
Melany Westwell (Pilates)
Melany is a licensed physical therapist with M.S. degrees in Biomechanics and Physical Therapy, and over twenty years of experience as a clinician working with individuals who are trying to overcome their neuromuscular and orthopedic obstacles. Through this work and her own physical experience she has come to see the value of Pilates as a rehabilitation tool, especially with her clients with back, neck, shoulder and/or hip pain. She takes great satisfaction in helping clients advance towards their wellness and rehab goals.
Melany is a life long runner and yoga practitioner, and found herself increasingly drawn to a Pilates practice due its focus on integrated strength. She decided to go on a much deeper exploration of the method, and completed an in depth comprehensive teacher training program. She obtained her certification through Power Pilates after training with Cheryl Turquist and Leslie Levy, giving her a solid foundation in the classical work from upon which she expands and creates to support the specific needs of the client in front of her.
Those of us who have had the opportunity to be in a class with her are familiar with her warm energy, her bright smile and constant curiosity. She brings a light-heartedness to the room while having fun that hopefully each of you will come to experience for yourselves.
Melody Hierling (Pilates)
Melody is a Pacific Grove native and has lived along the central coast for most of her life. She discovered Pilates while receiving treatment for back pain and has since enjoyed it as a restorative practice to strengthen and energize her body. Inspired by the positive changes Pilates has made in her personal health she is passionate to share this practice with the community. She and her Husband love to go foraging for local wild herbs, and do home fermenting and tincture making. Her philosophy centers around whole body health and she closely follows developments in nutrition, healthcare and herbal medicine. She is a certified Nutrition Educator, Bauman College.
She is receiving her Pilates teacher training through the Balanced Body program with Lisa Graham at Agile Monkey Studio in Santa Cruz. Here at Veza she is studying closely under Carrie Ann Belanger to nurture and develop her skills in teaching others. She strives to fulfill her calling to teach Pilates as a therapeutic and mindful exercise, and is excited to work with all ages, body types and fitness levels.
Megan McKenzie (Moja Mama - prenatal yoga)
Megan Cassamas is the founder/owner of Moja Yoga. She has been a certified yoga instructor since 2014 and believes that yoga can help us rediscover our own natural state of being. Whether that’s a physical child-like freedom in the body, lightness in mind and spirit, or expansiveness of the breath, she feels honored to share the transformative power of yoga.
One of Megan’s greatest adventures has been the physical, mental and emotional transformation of becoming a mother in 2016. She is currently pregnant with her second baby and feels honored to help guide fellow mamas and mamas-to be during this time. Megan is certified as a Birth Doula as well as an Ayurvedic Postpartum Doula and is passionate about her role in supporting and providing nourishment during the perinatal period.
Rob Wilks (Esalen & Deep Bodywork)
Rob sees himself as a cultivator of self-awareness. Movement and activities that naturally invite introspection are his jam - he is a dedicated Yogi and Steward of the ocean. When you talk to Rob about self-awareness, and why it plays such a central role in his life, he’ll say:
“Being active is how I find my own boundaries. It’s taken me years to develop the presence to be able to sense my quality of experience at any given moment. My intention is to cultivate the ability to monitor my experience constantly, and sweetly, without controlling it. Knowing myself more completely is the key to empathizing with others.
I dedicate a huge amount of energy to empathy, and this is the core of my work in massage. The knowledge of myself and my intention to relate to others has naturally evolved into an ability to bring others to the threshold of their own experience - and invite them to contact what they find there without judgement. That threshold is a place that we all visit from time to time - it’s the source, the seat of our natural potential.”
Rob currently teaches at the Esalen Institute and other educational centers in California.
Sessions offered from 60 min to 120 min starting at $100.
Isabel Fleury (Insight Meditation & Archetypal Astrology
Isabel is a licensed psychologist in Brazil where she kept a private practice and worked in clinical and institutional settings. She moved to the United States in 2007, working to deepen her experience at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California. She continues to work at Esalen Institute where Isabel guides classes in Insight Meditation, Yin Yoga, and Buddhist practice.
Drawn to astrology at a young age, Isabel’s approach to archetypal astrology is a combination of her life-long studies including Clinical Psychology, Jungian Psychology, Buddhism, Insight Meditation, and Yin Yoga.
Isabel’s intention is to support insight and its integration into daily living. Using archetypal astrology, she uncovers a pathway toward clarity, lucidity, and inner wisdom. She believes in a participatory vision of life, meaning we take responsibility for the way we respond to our inner voice. Our lives are shaped by patterns, beliefs, and conditioning. Too often their influence remains hidden. Using compassionate guidance, Isabel takes a practical approach to understanding the movements of the mind, and their real effect on the body and spirit. Uncovering inner dynamics leads to understanding how we relate with the world. As clarity emerges, we see how each response to our inner and outer worlds affect our lives and the lives of those around us. We cultivate a deeper presence in service of skillful decision making. We see what led to suffering and pain, and what will lead to happiness, deeper peace, and well-being.