Meet the talented and dedicated teachers of Yoga Circle Downtown!
Knekoh Frugé, C-IAYT, YTRx
Knekoh Frugé, our founder, has been practicing Yoga in one form or another for more than 35 years. It all began in 1983 when a moment of kismet brought her to a class at Louisiana State University simply titled “Movement.” Incorporating an eclectic blend of Yoga, Tai Chi, Qigong and more, this class introduced her to the discipline and beauty of profound energy work and set her on a lifelong journey.
Spend time with Rob Zabel, and you’ll be amazed at the depth and breadth of his knowledge of all things Yoga! Rob is our resident Yoga philosophy and Sanskrit scholar. An eager student of Yoga and meditation for most of his life, Rob earned his master’s degree from Loyola Marymount University’s acclaimed Yoga Studies program in 2017.
Rob infuses each class with warm energy, in-depth knowledge, profound love of the tradition, and an ever-present smile.
Jacqui Estrada’s life was forever altered when profound heartbreak drew her to her first Yoga class at Yoga Circle Downtown in 2013. She realized that her heart called for more than what she already experienced… and knew that she had found the passion she was seeking in Yoga. After years of diligent, committed practice, she took the leap and trained for over a year as an apprentice under Yoga Circle Downtown’s founder, Knekoh Frugé.
From a young age, Stephen James felt a deep connection with Yoga and knew that it was going to be a big part of his life. “There are few things that make me feel as good as Yoga does,” he says. “Practicing Yoga makes everything in my life brighter and better!”
Stephen’s connection with Yoga deepened when he moved to Hawaii in 2012. There, he saw his knowledge, love, and practice expand beyond what he thought possible.
Ivorie Jenkins is a Yoga Alliance E-RYT instructor trained and certified by Annie Carpenter and Noah Mazé. She is also the Director of Programming at Youth Yoga, a local non-profit bringing Yoga and meditation to Los Angeles youth. Ivorie is one of Yoga Circle Downtown’s resident Yoga Therapists currently continuing these studies at Loyola Marymount University. Additionally, she is a graduate of Northwestern University and a professional dancer with over 18 years of training and experience to contribute to your instruction.
Rita Oliveira Turner’s passions for music and spirituality took root at a young age. She first picked up a bassoon at the age of 10, and has been fascinated ever since. At the same time, “I have always been an empath and a seeker of divine connections,” she explains.
By the time she acquired her first Tibetan singing bowl at age 27, she had mastered the bassoon, left her small hometown in Portugal to study at the University of Classical Music in Lisbon, trained under one of her favorite bassoonists in Sweden, and established a career as a musician and music teacher.
Exploring dynamic movement has been essential to Ana Ricabal’s life since childhood. “Moving daily allowed me to become more present, find stillness, be mindful, and let go of what wasn’t serving me,” she says. In particular, “Yoga helped me grow stronger and become more flexible and fearless, both on and off the mat.”
Inspired by the profound effects of Yoga, Ana began cultivating a regular practice in 2013. She received her 200-hour Yoga teaching certification in 2017 and is proud to be a bilingual (English/Spanish) Yoga teacher.
Alex Rodriguez is a bilingual (English/Spanish) Yoga teacher, meditation facilitator, and reiki practitioner born in Los Angeles, CA. She was introduced to Yoga at the age of 18 when it was offered as a college course at Cal State San Bernardino. She has practiced meditation for the past five years.
Struggling with anxiety and depression, Alex learned she could use breathing techniques to calm her nervous system and come back into her body.
Kayli Nishime took her first Yoga class in 2013 at a small studio in Davis, CA. Like many, she found the practice life changing. “I truly believe Yoga was the missing piece during my depression treatment that helped ‘rewire’ my brain,” she says.
A former competitive figure skater, Kayli acknowledges that she is a “creator at heart.” Through Yoga, she reconnected with that “happy place” of artistic self-expression as she moved her body through shapes powered by breath.
Jeanne Hancock was inspired by spirituality at a very early age, and was drawn to the practice of Yoga as a means to reconnect with her true self. In 2017, she felt a strong call to leave her busy music and fashion career behind, commit to her Yoga practice, and dedicate her life to wellness. A Yoga practitioner for over 15 years, Jeanne earned her RYT 200-hour certification in 2018. Since then, she’s taught approachable and intuitive Yoga in surf camps in El Salvador and Morocco, small groups throughout Los Angeles, and now, at Yoga Circle Downtown.
Heather Henninger, YTRx-500, RYT® 500, KRI Certified Instructor of Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan®
In Her own words Heather tells us:
“I distinctly remember walking by the yoga classes at my gym in college having a deep curiosity for it but ultimately I allowed my fear of looking foolish keep me from exploring the practice. It wasn’t until my early 20’s that I bought a DVD and first tried yoga in the comfort of my own home.
One of Claudia Zhao’s favorites quotes is from the great guru, Ram Dass. He writes in his book, Be Here Now, “begin just where you are”. She knows that the practice of Yoga is about coming to the mat and allowing yourself to go inward. To simply be present in the moment, with the body, with the breath, with the mind. She knows intuitively the practice of Yoga is a moving meditation and that some days are easier than others; it’s always a challenge but always infinitely rewarding!