Who we are

Panayiota B. is the founder of Teal Lotus Yoga. Panayiota grew up in New York City and is a yogi, author, public speaker, and women’s rights activist. She was voted 2014 Most Inspirational Yoga Teacher for her work with Teal Lotus Yoga. She is one of the most sought after anti-sexual violence advocate and works around the globe to end sexual violence. She has traveled to 100 countries.

Panayiota has practiced yoga since she was a child, however, it was not until after serving in the U.S military and being diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in 2006 that she discovered the healing aspect of yoga. Panayiota is a dedicated yoga student that credits yoga to help her manage her symptoms of PTSD and other service-related injuries.

Panayiota has studied yoga in Rishikesh and Mysore, India. She is trained in trauma sensitive yoga under David Emerson and Dr. Bessel van der kolk of the Trauma Institute in Brookline, Massachusetts.

Panayiota teaches weekly trauma-sensitive yoga classes for survivors of violence. She also conducts workshops and training throughout the nation. Panayiota is working with leading researchers to find more ways that yoga can help survivors of violence.

When not doing yoga Panayiota is a human rights activist with a focus on ending gender-based violence. Panayiota Bertzikis worked with leading NGO and government agencies around the world to create policies and programs in an attempt to address violence against women and girls at local, national, and international levels.

Panayiota has also founded the Military Rape Crisis Center, the largest US-based NGO that provides victim services to US service members and Veterans that have suffered sexual abuse. Panayiota also founded the award-winning blog, My Duty To Speak, for sexual violence survivors to use writing and creativity to help with their Post Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms.

Panayiota was featured in the Boston Globe, CNN, Glamour Magazine, Boston Magazine, BBC and more. Panayiota was awarded the Unsung Heroine Award by the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women. Panayiota has been recognized by the United States Congress for her work in helping U.S Veterans suffering from Military Sexual Trauma and Post Traumatic Stress.

Panayiota received her undergraduate education in Women’s Studies and Sociology from the University of Massachusetts, Boston. She has her Masters degree in International Relations from Northeastern University.

Panayiota currently serves as the Chief Operating Officer for a company in Seattle, WA. Follow her on twitter @PanayiotaB

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Caitlyn R. is a Rhode Island native. She started practicing yoga in 1999 while a student at Smith College as a way to help manage stress. She fell in love with the practice and received her 200 hrs YTT in 2004 while traveling in Indonesia. Caitlyn’s classes infuse creative movement with steadiness and deep breathing with tons of laughing.

Caitlyn teaches our trauma-sensitive yoga classes in Phoenix on Thursdays and assist-teach Yoga for MST survivor.

When she is not teaching yoga, she is a 2nd-grade teacher in Arizona. On school holidays Caitlyn can be found leading yoga-retreats around the world. So far she led retreats in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Peru, Germany, Indonesia, and Vietnam. Caitlyn resides in Scottsdale, Arizona with her husband and two dachshunds.

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Melissa O’Brien grew up in New Hampshire but calls Boston, Massachusetts her home. Melissa first got on the mat in 2013, and it has completely changed her life. Melissa is a Veteran suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of Military Sexual Trauma. Melissa lost her promising Air Force career after reporting a sexual assault. She was discharged from the service under the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. As a result of so unjustly losing her career she had multiple failed suicide attempts and suffered from substance abuse. She skeptically turned to yoga after her partner and several friends pleaded with her to at least give it a try.

She didn’t like it at first, but for whatever reason, she kept on going back. She began to notice that she was sleeping better, her anger was no longer out of control, and she was feeling better overall. She no longer spent her days in bed crying because she wanted to be up and in the 9:30 am class at Back Bay Yoga-her favorite yoga studio. Yoga also helped her get back to school. Melissa is currently a Ph.D. candidate at a Boston-area school while working full time with the Military Rape Crisis Center managing its Cambridge office.

Melissa is a 200 hr YTT teaching trauma-sensitive classes in Somerville, MA.

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Jackie is originally from Riverside, California but called Los Angeles her home for the past two decades. Jackie completed her 200 hr YTT in 1995 and has been teaching yoga ever since. Jackie teaches trauma-sensitive yoga classes every Saturday in East Hollywood where she resides with her partner and three parrots.

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Others on our team: Rachel Patel,  Arabelle Vincent, David Mint, and Joseph Diego.