Tricia McAvoy, E-RYT 500, Founder and Owner
Tricia McAvoy is the owner and director of Blissworks Yoga & Healing Arts, LLC, established in 2004. After dealing with the symptoms of of Rheumatoid Arthritis and Lupus, Tricia decided to explore the field of natural healing. She took her first yoga class in 1995, at a time when she was looking for new direction in her life.Through the years, Tricia explored different types of yoga and yoga teachers and has found her niche in an alignment-based practice. She received her first yoga certification from the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in 2000 and was certified Anusara-Inspired in 2009. Although based in alignment, Tricia’s classes range from challenging to slow and contemplative. She shares from everyday life experiences and relates them to the highest teachings of yoga. Tricia believes that yoga is an empowering practice that can help anyone advance on their path to self-knowledge. It is not important the level of poses that one achieves, but rather the attitude one cultivates wherever they find themselves. Tricia is also certified through the Lotus Palm School for Thai Yoga Therapy and is a certified Reiki Master Teacher. Currently, she is enrolled in the Institute of Integrative Nutrition’s health coaching program. She lives in New London with her famously peaceful cat, Pax.
Sue Bernier, CYT-200
Sue always deeply valued the integration of balance and peace into her life and gradually she discovered that she could channel these elements through the art of yoga.
By the year 2000 created a yoga consistent practice that gave more solidity and strength to the values she had always held. In 2010 she discovered Blissworks Yoga and felt truly welcomed and inspired by the community that existed there. Four years later, she enrolled in the yoga teacher training program at Blissworks. Since completing her 200 hour Bliss inspired Yoga teacher training in 2013, she has been teaching weekly yoga classes at the YMCA in Westerly, R.I.
Outside of the yoga studio, Sue loves spending ample time outdoors, whether it is on a long bike ride, walking on the beautiful beaches of Rhode Island, or feeling a connection with the beauty of the outdoors. She lives in Mystic with her husband, Jim.
L’Ana Burton started dance class at age 2 1/2 and today at 61 still feels very passionate about dancing because it makes her so happy! She loves dancing but also supporting others to do it and to feel good about themselves as ‘dancers’! She feels great joy in seeing others involved in creating their own movement vocabularies and also believes we can all find movement that is special and unique to our own individual selves.
L’Ana is a dancer, performer, educator and the founder of CDC, Creative Dance Continuum, begun in 1986 in the dance department of Connecticut College. CDC was at the Lyman Allyn Art Museum for ten years and has now moved to The Dragon’s Egg and Blissworks. L’Ana has been teaching dance since 1969, bringing hundreds of residencies into schools to integrate movement & dance into the curriculum. She is a Master Teaching Artist for the Department of Economic & Community Development (formerly known as The Connecticut Commission on the Arts) and is a HOTS educator for the state since its inception in 1994. L’Ana strives to create a dance atmosphere where everyone feels like A DANCER, using the tools of improvisation & exploration for all ages in her classes. You can read more on the CDC web site: www.cdc-creativedancecontinuum.com. When she’s not dancing you can find L’Ana doing yoga or at the beach or hanging out with her two amazing kids, Jona and Jason. She has lived in Niantic for the past 5 years and is quite happy there.
Sonya Cyr, CYT-200
Sonya began her study of yoga in 2002 and was trained as a yoga instructor at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in 2006. She teaches the Kripalu method as well as Vinyasa Flow, Restorative and Core classes. Sonya’s teaching is known for being clear and accessible. Students can expect a class that is equal parts skillful, challenging, sustainable and fulfilling. In addition to being an experienced yoga instructor, Sonya teaches French and Spanish at the Norwich Free Academy where she designed the yoga program and enjoys engaging her students daily in the practice of mindfulness and the inquiry of yoga. Sonya lives in New London, Connecticut with her husband, Erik and son, Konrad.
Stephen Masullo, CYT-500
Stephen Masullo is a Spiritual Engineer. After graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in 2005, he wound up working for a small engineering company in Niantic CT full time for 6 years. In 2012 he completed his 200 hour Yoga Teacher certification from Kripalu School of Yoga, and that following May moved into Kripalu for a 2 year resident internship with their school of yoga. During his 2 year stint at Kripalu he assisted, managed and taught in their 200 hour and 500 hour yoga teacher trainings as well as receiving the 500 hour training. He also took a slew of other trainings from a multitude of disciplines, including 3 out of the 6 Thai Yoga Massage trainings from Lotus Palm.
Applying his engineer mindset to Spirituality and himself he has ascended out of the creation of any new fear and into a life of Euphoric Love at all times. He has fully accepted his destiny to Help us ALL ascend out of fear and into love. Breaking down the barriers between science, spirituality and religion he is willing to pull out all the stops to help us evolve back into our natural state as LOVE.
Mike McAndrew, CYT-200
Mike was introduced to yoga in 1998 and immediately realized how much better he felt after each class. And so his yoga journey began. His daily practice led him to the desire to teach others and share the experience of yoga practice.
Mike received his 200 hour Hatha Yoga Certification with Anusara Yoga Teachers Todd Norian and Ann Greene in May 2012, and has since taught at The Westerly Community Yoga Center, Studio 4 and joined the Blissworks staff in 2015.
Michele Shannon, CYT-200
Michele began her yoga practice in 2008 at Blissworks Yoga & Healing Arts with Tricia McAvoy. It wasn’t long before she began to notice how she was benefitting from the practice. She became more flexible, not just in body, but in mind. She became less attached to objects and outcomes and has noticed that she is less impulsively emotional. After a number of years developing her practice on and off the mat, Michele decided to enroll in teacher training to deepen her own practice and become an instructor herself in order to help others discover their own yoga experience. She received her Bliss-Inspired 200 hour Yoga Teacher Certification in 2015 with Tricia McAvoy at Blissworks Yoga & Healing Arts.
Michele has enjoyed a number of yoga styles throughout her years of practice including Bliss-Inspired and Ashtanga and would describe her style of teaching as Bliss-Inspired Vinyasa. Off the mat, you will find Michele hanging with her children Cassidy and Connor and her two dogs Cersei and Kali. She enjoys teaching kids, reading, playing Scrabble and studying essential oils.
Haley Sharack, CYT-200
As a yoga and holistic (Ayurvedic) lifestyle consultant, Haley Sharack is dedicated to helping people soothe, strengthen and rejuvenate their busy minds and bodies to achieve the best versions of themselves.
In addition to holding a 200-hour yoga teachers certificate, Haley has completed extensive hours of advanced certification training (toward 500 hr certification) in Prana Vinyasa Flow Yoga(r) as well as Ayurvedic Lifestyle Consulting through the Global School for Living Yoga. In addition to various depths of Prana Vinyasa flow, her trainings have included pre/post natal yoga as well as yoga trance dance. At the School, Haley was fortunate to work with renowned yoga instructor Shiva Rea, who she credits, among a handful of other skilled teachers, with revealing to her many of the nuanced treasures & techniques of this ancient, self-illuminating practice.
In addition to guiding people on their yoga journeys, she enjoys helping clients design lifestyles of optimal health and divine balance with ayurveda and creative living, as well as creating plant based, medicinal kitchen alchemy. She is a lover of nature, dance, discovery, creativity and entrepreneurship … with a love for soulful & spirited play!
Rachna Tewari, CYT-200
Rachna, originally from India, moved to the U.S. after marriage. She began practicing yoga as a teen inspired by her father, her first Guru, and has been passionate about yoga ever since. Her yogic journey began at the age of fifteen when her father enrolled her in a Yoga Camp offered by the Bihar School of Yoga. After moving to Pune, Maharashtra for her higher education, Rachna’s search landed her in the B.K.S Iyeangar Institute. Later she did Art of Living Level 1 course in Bangalore, India and the Level 1 Meditation course in the U.S. She travels back to India frequently and spends time with Master Teachers from various traditions.
In 2011 Rachna felt inspired to share her passion of Yoga and became a 200 Certified Yoga Instructor through the teachings of Sid McNairy at the Mystic Yoga Shala’s Lifeline Power Yoga program. She acquired a Foundation Course in Yoga Science for Wellness conducted by Morarji Desai National Institute of Yoga, New Delhi, India in December of 2013. Rachna is currently studying Ayurvedic Medicine under the Guidance of Dr Hari Pallathery, B.A.M.S., Former Trustee & Deputy Director at Arsha Yoga Vidya Peetam Trust, an education unit of The Arya Vaidya Pharmacy. In addition, she has worked as a consultant in Human Resource’s after finishing her Management studies in Human Resource’s.
Rachna believes yoga offers preventive, curative and therapeutic value for promotion of good health. Her classes are woven around a holistic blend of Asana (posture), Pranayama (breath work), Dhyana (meditation) and Yoga Nidra (relaxation). She is excited to share this transformative and empowering practice of Yoga to develop inner peace with you.
Heidi Waddell, RYT-200
Heidi has been practicing yoga since 1999 after suffering from a serious back injury. Through her yoga practice she regained her strength and mobility and soon discovered that yoga had so much more to offer than just the physical aspects. In 2004 she began as an instructor for River Yoga in Westerly, Rhode Island and has since taught at Mystic Yoga Shala and Blissworks Yoga & Healing Arts. She received her 200 hour Yoga Alliance Vinyasa Teacher certification from The Rolf Gates School of Yoga, a 75 hour certification with Karen O’Donnell Clarke in Therapeutic Yoga and a 16 hour certification in Yoga for Teens from Christy Brock, the founder of Yoga Minded. In addition to Heidi’s yoga practice, she has also received the teachings of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche and Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche at Karme Choling, a Buddhist Meditation Center in Barnet, Vermont and has recently received her Reiki Master Teacher certification from Reiki Master Andrew DiLeo of Oak Star Ministries in the Usui Shiki Ryoho tradition. Heidi resides in Stonington, Connecticut with her loving husband and fellow yogi, David, and their three children. As a yoga teacher, Heidi likes to incorporate both the physical and the philosophical qualities of a yoga practice into her classes. She truly believes that everyone can benefit from yoga and encourages her students to explore a wide range of asanas, while tossing in an occasional meditation, pranayama or chant. Her goal is to guide others toward self-knowing and ultimate contentment, so that what we learn on the mat is something we carry within us wherever we go.
Rebecca’s passion for conscious movement began with dance during her teen years and was further fueled by her first yoga instruction in her early twenties. In 2008 she became a licensed massage therapist through the Connecticut Center of Massage Therapy and is a LMT at Rob Rivers Salon and Spa in Mystic CT as well as conducting a private practice of her own. In 2015 Rebecca traveled to Ibiza Spain to complete a Sivananda Hatha yoga 200 hour certificate. As a massage therapist she values helping others connect with their physical self and now as a yoga instructor has even more tools to enhance this ability. She is continually humbled by the power of asanas (postures) and meditation, and regards these practices as invaluable-aiding in connecting to the core, creating resolutions, and paving a clear path for the Self.
Healing Arts Therapists
Tricia McAvoy, TMT, Reiki Master
Tricia McAvoy, the owner of Blissworks Yoga & Healing Arts, first began exploring alternative medicine over 20 years ago. Her first experience with Reiki had a profound effect upon her and made her want to share the benefits with others. She became a Reiki Master in 1999 and has used this art of healing every day since! Tricia believes Reiki is a powerful and positive hands-on healing technique that helps spread peace in the world and has again begun leading Reiki certification classes to help others open to their healing potential. After she received her first Thai massage, she had a similar experience of wanting to share the beautiful Asian art with others and so took training from the Lotus Palm School in 2004. Tricia published her book, “One Woman’s Path to Health” in 2016, sharing her own journey to better health through natural remedies. Currently, Tricia is enrolled in Health Coach Training through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition out of New York City and is looking forward to helping others move forward in their quests for better health!
Gary Gootnick, LMT
Gary is a Licensed Massage Therapist (CT Lic #7842) and an active member of the American Massage Therapy Association. He graduated from the Connecticut Center for Massage Therapy, and received the award for Academic Achievement and Hands-On Excellence. Gary has a thorough knowledge of human anatomy, as well as training and skills that encompass a variety of bodywork techniques and modalities. His sessions are customized to meet the needs of each client, and may include a combination of Deep Tissue Work, Swedish Massage strokes, Myofascial Release, Trigger Point Therapy, Acupressure, Body Mobilization, Stretching, and Energy Balancing. Whether it’s to reduce stress, decrease pain, increase joint mobility, or for general relaxation, Gary’s sessions structurally and energetically integrate, the unique aspects of each modality and technique used. In his sessions he combines deep tissue work with comforting, soothing strokes, to create a deep level of healing, which facilitates an increased connection to the body. He approaches every session with empathy, skill, and compassion, as he tunes into, and connects with, the clients breath and movement. Gary strongly believes that skillful therapeutic massage can have long-lasting benefits for the body, mind, and spirit, and he is dedicated to providing effective ways to help his clients move toward a state of optimal health and well-being.
Amy Jones, LMT
Amy Jones is a licensed Massage Therapist in her 8th year of practice. She graduated from the Connecticut Center for Massage Therapy (CCMT) in December of 2005, and has worked continuously in the field ever since. She holds additional certifications in Reflexology and Manual Lymphatic Drainage. Her natural interest in Anatomy and Biology led her to explore Massage Therapy, where she discovered the numerous health benefits provided by human touch, including- increased circulation, reduced stress, easing joint stiffness, pain relief, improved sleep, and general calming and relaxing of the mind and body. She has found her ability to provide relief and comfort for other people through massage to be an incredibly rewarding experience for herself, as well. Whether through a relaxing Swedish massage or a more invigorating Deep Tissue experience, Amy is attentive to the needs of each individual, taking care to provide a comfortable tempo, soothing strokes, and a calming atmosphere. She believes regular massage to be tremendously valuable to the health of both body and mind, and dedicates her focus to helping people discover their own body’s ability to restorative health. Amy is in her third year living in New London with her dog, Dunkin.
Heidi Waddell, Reiki Master
Heidi received her Reiki Master Teacher certification from Reiki Master Andrew DiLeo of Oak Star Ministries in 2016 under the Usui Shiki Ryoho tradition. She has been using the healing powers of Reiki on clients, animals, places, and for long distance treatments with effective results since 2015. Heidi enjoys providing her clients with the ability to find unity and harmony again with the universe where we can once again feel whole and healthy physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.