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.
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. 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.
Watch the Kula Collective video series episode "Meet Hayley Saraswati"
niss bach, creative THAI MASSAGE director, PART OWNER
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 Shiva Temple.
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.
diego romano, retreat manager
Diego is a seeker by nature, born in Argentina, he has spent the last 6 years + of his life living around the world fulfilling different roles and diving into transformational connections with the people he met and the spaces he lived in.
Although yoga has been present in his life from an early age it was not just until the last 2 years that he felt it was time to fully attend the call and bring the practice and the sharing of the practice to another level by using it as a tool not just to improve general health and flexibility but to tap into deeper layers of consciousness, raise awareness and channel messages from within.
The upward spiral movement of his life has now brought him towards the Yoga Forest where he is carrying out duties as a resident manager; he feels this as the coming together of all the experiences, places, learnings and teachers he has shared path with in the last years and is ready to put it all into service in order to provide a safe environment for anyone who want to step into this powerful place and feel ready to do the work.
Jayānanda James Roland, RESIDENT POET, MUSICIAN, Yoga PHILOSOPHER, FOUNDER OF SOUND CEREMONY
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 20 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. He now focuses his energy into Sound Ceremony courses at the Yoga Forest and worldwide.
Michele hann, SOCIAL & DIGITAL CREATOR
Michele is an internationally certified Yoga teacher, with a focus on holistic theme weaving and intentional living. Her vision is to offer a sacred space for yoga, creating congruence throughout the body, mind and spirit. As a seeker of extraordinary living, she is dedicated to integrating timeless world philosophies, pranayama, asana, mantra, ceremony, sound and silence into her practice. Having been raised by a Buddhist and trained as a classical ballet dancer, she is passionate about sharing the joys and health benefits of conscious-based movement.
Drawing inspiration from her teachers, she’s moved by the Hopi saying “We are the ones that we’ve been waiting for.”
AMY CARL, WEBSITE GURU
Amy is a lover of life, nature and animals. She values connection with others, time spent outdoors, being challenged mentally and physically, the art of yoga and eternal practice of mindfulness. After leaving the software/tech industry behind, she carved out a non "9-5" lifestyle by pouring herself into what she is passionate about. Considering herself a "jack of all trades", Amy is continuously working on numerous projects that fill her soul. Along with being an internationally certified Yoga teacher, she does branding, design, website development and social media for companies around the globe.
Amy is the ultimate adventure seeker, constantly searching for ways to spend her time outdoors in Mother Nature. She will soon attempt a 220-mile long distance backpacking trip through the Sierra Nevada mountain range.
"No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man".
suhan Badalamenti, admin manager
Suhan loves nature, the sky, the sea and her connection with the Universe. She feels a deep devotion for her practice and aims to continue her growth as a Yoga student as part of her Life path. Following her call, she intuitively guides practice aiming to empower souls through introspective asana and meditation that she calls “Yoga with Intention”. She believes and teaches the power of self-transformation through guiding connection with the Higher Self & the practice of mindfulness achieving non duality and awareness in the Now...
Suhan is a native Guatemalan who worked ten years in country brand marketing and fell in love with her Mayan Culture as with the Wellness offered in the magical mountains of Lake Atitlan. She now shares there the mission to spread wellbeing for others and forms part of the Yoga Forest, the Forest Family & common projects for the local communities.
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.
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