Meet our tribe.
hayley SaraswatI, Founder
Saraswatī embodies the essence of the creative Mother, balancing loving softness with a graceful strength. Her powerful presence inspires and empowers others to step into their full potential, through vibrant authenticity and the awakening to the expansive joy of the heart. Her work brings together the teachings of yoga, non-dualism and earth wisdom, infused with a deep reverence for life.
Guiding people from all over the world to devote time to personal transformation at The Yoga Forest, Saraswatī wholeheartedly offers herself through the path of devotion; offering kirtan, ceremonies, workshops, retreats and trainings with yoga, breath work, sound healing, singing circles, dance, satsang & sharing circles. Her dedication to creating and holding a safe space allows the veils to fall away, inspiring spontaneous expression and the authentic embodiment of the Truth - all is Love.
Weaving together her passion for yoga, nature and the elements, her view of sustainable green living and mindfulness practice fuse into a work of deep green yoga. She loves to be in the forest, contemplating Oneness within nature while dreaming and designing landscapes of harmonious interaction, offering visions of an alternative global community for the future generations.
Saraswatī is one of 8 co-founding members of the Kula Collective, an organization weaving together diverse holistic experiences and educational offerings through combined passions and a collective intention - to facilitate a global spiritual awakening through a thriving collective community, built on a solid foundation of integrity, sustainability and freedom for all.
niss bach, creative director
After continuing his studies with Thai massage and water treatments in Mexico Laos and Thailand, Niss has returned back to his home in San Marcos with The Yoga Forest. Niss is a world traveler since the age of 20. Originally from Jerusalem, he has been exploring different communities and experiences in order to decide what kind of community he would like to be involved in and help create. He became involved with The Yoga Forest in 2011 and his investments of energy have helped create the beautiful Yoga Shala.
Niss is an artist. He began studying dance in high school and moved into Circus Arts in 2003, where he studied in Israel and Madrid. After 8 years of performing on stage, on the streets and in festivals, he fused his knowledge of movement into the healing arts of Thai Massage and Yoga Therapy. Niss has many gifts to share: he speaks four languages and is a dynamic problem solver within communities; he offers group forming camps and workshops as well as astrology readings.
Niss is currently practicing a Tibetan practice called Dzogchen or “Great Perfection”, it is the highest and most definitive path to enlightenment.
jonas freers, operations manager
Spending most of his childhood in the proximity of nature, animals, and plants, Jonas had from an early age onwards the privilege of developing a deep appreciation for organic ways of living. His passion has also encouraged him to leave his home country Germany, in order to live, study, and travel for several years in different parts of the world.
After graduating in International Relations and International Organization he started looking for his true passion by working in diverse fields and projects primarily in Asia, Latin America, and Europe. In 2016 he eventually found his way to the Yoga Forest where he encountered the perfect balance to put his diplomatic skills into practice as well as his interests and personal talents.
Now he is a Yogi in the making, facilitator, student, builder, gardener and teacher. Moreover, he strives to build more local integration, develop the Yoga Forest’s vision of conscious living, and further indulge on his physical and mental practices in and around the lake.
Jayānanda James Roland, Yoga Teacher Trainer
Jayānanda is a student and teacher of sacred arts. Throughout adolescence Jaya was immersed in holistic thought and began teaching Meditation and later Yoga in his early 20’s. He has taught with and lead more than 18 Yoga Teacher Trainings around the world at 200 and advanced 300hr levels. Within the courses maintaining a primary focus on practical Eastern psychology and philosophy. He has always incorporated and found profound results with the use of sound and song. From the Yogic traditional paths of Mantra and Kirtan, the call and response style and also meditative recitation of repeating simple and sometimes complex Mantras, Nada Yoga and the deep inquiry of the nature of sound to modern and worldly approaches of transformation and concentration through the voice and instruments to facilitate the opening of the heart and the elevation of the mind.
Michelle Wuthrich, Administration Manager
Michelle has dedicated her whole life to the circus arts. She has trained extensively since the age of 3 in various types of high level performing arts and movement including, gymnastics, sports acrobatics, dance, aerials, acrobatic cliff diving, and handstands. For the last 8 years she travelled all around the world performing as a professional acrobatic for Cirque Du Soleil. In 2016 she decided to leave her circus family and see where life would take her. Her interests in holistic and sustainable living lead Michelle to San Marcos early 2017. She completed her Yoga Teacher Training and has been implementing Yoga into her life ever since. She continues to learn and grow with her Yoga Forest family as one of the co-managers and is so grateful to be living amongst such an open hearted and conscious community.
Shad Qudsi, Co-Founder of Atitlán Organics
Shad Qudsi has 15 years experience in organic and commercial gardening and farming. He is certified in Permaculture Design and has over 6 years experience in holistic site development and homesteading. Shad originally set out to study mathematics and work in big business, but long ago had a change of heart. He can now be found dancing in his garden in Tzununa. Aside from all of this, Shad is an enthusiastic teacher who truly believes in the work he is doing. Human resiliency cannot be erased from the landscape and now, it is coming back with a gentle loving caress.
We are grateful to have collaborated with Shad since the beginning at The Yoga Forest for various Permaculture consultations since 2009, and in yearly PDC Courses taught at The Yoga Forest and at his farm in Tzununá.
Jeremy Fellows, Permaculture Consultant & Teacher
Jeremy grew up with a fascination for the workings of nature. Enchanted by plants and their relationships with the soil, Jeremy took many classes on horticulture and plant identification in the Northeast US. Beginning work in landscaping, he soon learned about the great Permaculture gurus like Bill Mollison, Geoff Lawton, Sepp Holzer, and David Holmgren. This revelation created a new dimension in his love of botany; function and plant relationships, mycoculture, animal husbandry, agriculture and a study of natural and sustainable building. While completing a degree in Sustainable Food and Farming at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and Mount Holyoke College, Jeremy worked as a horticultural specialist. He began working with farms and independent projects in design, constructing of green roof systems, creating business plans for orchards and vineyards, and implementing a mushroom log operation. Jeremy ran the Permaculture project at The Yoga Forest since 2013 and is now taking a break to pursue other interesting opportunities in St Lucia and the US.
Charlie Rendall, Sustainable Building Project Manager
Charlie has been building houses and landscaping in San Marcos La Laguna, Guatemala since 2003. He tried just about every natural building method he could before settling on bamboo and earth as his favorites. In 2008 Charlie founded The Natural Building School and has been hosting a variety of popular courses on Natural Building, Permaculture/Forest Gardening, and Appropriate Technologies. Return to the Forest strives to educate the world on sustainable building practices to complement the global movement in ecological living. Connecting participants with Mayan building experts, the school also holds space for sharing and applying indigenous knowledge to natural building. Originally from London, England, Charlie holds a Masters in Social Anthropology from the University of Edinburgh, and has studied Buddhism, Yoga and social development in India. For several years he taught transferable skills development to postgraduates at University College London before meeting his wife and becoming Technical Director at her arts education project, La Cambalacha. He also loves tinkering with machines and appropriate technology, and has done several solar electricity installations around the lake. Charlie and Hayley worked closely together for four years designing and implementing natural building techniques to create the magical Forest as it is today.
Catherine Griggs, Permaculture Consultant & Teacher
Cat holds a degree in Zoology with Conservation and is an international permaculture consultant and education facilitator, she was one of the original permaculture teachers and directors in the yoga forest co creating many of the existing systems such as the aquaculture and green house. A born naturalist she has spent her life studying flora and fauna, environmental ecology and animal behaviour. She formally qualified in permaculture in 2010, since then has been consulting, developing projects and teaching around the world. She has experience working in temperate, semi desert, Mediterranean and sub-tropical climates where her focus has mainly been around animal integrated systems such as grassland management, soil establishment and remediation, aquaculture, wetlands, wildlife conservation, forest gardening and also social permaculture. www.symbiont-gardens.co.uk