The BeneFIT Team

Nora Jeanne Welsh
BeneFIT by Yoga Owner
Certified Bikram Yoga Instructor

After years in corporate America and as an independent small business advisor, Nora Jeanne began studying meditation and the flow of energy in the body at the age of 34. She took her first Bikram Yoga class in early 2001, attended the Bikram Yoga Teacher Training that started later that year (right after 9/11) and has been teaching the yoga ever since. Nora Jeanne is fascinated by all aspects of life and loves the expanded awareness and new perspectives that travel brings. She has explored many teachings including those of Abraham-Hicks, Avatar, Bikram Choudhury, Buddhism, Byron Katie, Christianity, Hinduism, Mike Dooley, Paramahansa Yogananda, Sufism and more and enjoys sharing the wisdom she gathers as she writes and teaches always with the focus on empowering the individual on their path of Self discovery.

She chose the domain name “beneFITby.com” to allow the business to continually grow and encompass more than just hatha yoga so that its members can benefit by meditation, retreats, yoga, her articles, and other avenues towards self awareness.

Blandine Barbedette
Certified Bikram Yoga Instructor

When I first started practicing Bikram Yoga in 1998 while living in Jersey (UK) I was attracted to it because the room was warm but I soon found I loved its predictable and straight forward 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises. It is physically rewarding and mentally and emotionally beneficial and I’m thankful that I had it to help me in recent years manage the pain of a herniated disc. Yoga in general is a low impact discipline that everyone can do and benefit from.

I went to Bikram Yoga Teacher Training in the spring of 2001 because I was intrigued by the challenge. I really had no idea I was going to teach until I taught my first class and had so much fun I had to do it again! The main joy I receive from teaching is when I can feel how much the students love it. There’s nothing like the sparkle in first time students eyes when they get into it!

Connie Paley
Certified Bikram Yoga Instructor

Over the course of about a year I had three friends, all from different parts of my life, suggesting that I try Bikram Yoga. The third time was the charm that got me in the room and right from the first class I knew it was for me. I had been a professional ballroom dancer when I was younger and was used to sweating while practicing. But teaching dance, which has been my profession since retiring from the competition world, does not require as much exertion. I didn’t realize how much I’d missed sweating! From then on I never looked back. Two and a half years into practicing the yoga I went to Bikram Yoga Teacher Training and have been teaching ever since.

As for my ballroom dancing career, I began dancing at 4 and started competing just a few years later. My brother and I took the title Danish 10 Dance Champions when I was 16. We moved to London a year later to get the best coaching possible and started competing internationally. At the peak of my dancing career I lectured and coached world wide. Now I co-host my own annual competition, the Sapphire Dancesport Championships, in Austin and judge other competitions in the United States.

My son Evan’s father and I met while judging a competition and he is the reason I moved to Lakeway. He passed before Evan was two but Evan now is following in our footsteps as a performer at TexARTS and loves it!

Jim Holzknecht
Certified Bikram Yoga Instructor

Woody Allen once said, “Over 90% of success is just showing up.” When I first starting practicing Bikram Yoga in 2005, I “showed up” very inconsistently. It was not love at first sight. Then in 2009, while co-producing a movie called Beyond Belief, I had very low energy levels and tired all the time so I decided to do a 60 day challenge. After completing the challenge, I had increased energy, had improved my concentration, strength and flexibility so I decided to continue a personal, consecutive day challenge until the movie was released. I showed up for class every day and wanted to see where my personal limit was so I just kept it up. My personal daily challenge ended at 862 consecutive days. Each day I show up for yoga offers new challenges, insights and rewards. The yoga is an integral part of my life now.

I decided to go to Teacher Training in the spring of 2012. I am committed to empowering and inspiring people to reach their wellness goals and for everyone to live long, vibrant, healthy lives. I can’t think of a better vehicle to accomplish this mission than Bikram Yoga.

It is an honor and privilege to teach this yoga. I have been so inspired by my fellow yogis and teachers. I look forward to seeing you in the hot room. Just keep showing up one day, one posture at a time.

Karen Schexnaydre
Certified Bikram Yoga Instructor

I took my first Bikram Yoga class in 2001. I had taken a few yoga and Pilates classes before, but I felt like I still had to “work out”. Where was the sweat and increased heart rate? Well, I found that in Bikram Yoga. I also found a complete release after class. I worked as an engineer and engineering manager at a Motorola manufacturing facility for 13 years. The department was a 24-7 stress machine and by taking Bikram Yoga on my way home from work I was able to completely forget about my day and start the evening with a calm mind. I had a change of life decision at the end of 2004, and went to the teacher training in early 2005. At the training I realized that I was absolutely doing the right thing. I had always thought of Bikram Yoga as a way to keep myself and others healthy (in muscle/lung/heart). At training, I learned that this yoga keeps EVERY part of your body healthy (including your digestive, endocrine, lymphatic, and nervous systems) and can make profound differences in peoples lives. Hearing students’ stories of how Bikram Yoga has changed their lives physically, mentally, and spiritually is the most rewarding thing I’ve ever experienced.

Sally Niess
Certified Bikram Yoga Instructor

I started practicing Bikram yoga in early 2006 and have been teaching since 2008. It took about 3 classes for me to become hooked on the power of this yoga. I have always been athletic and have participated in many sports. However, my body was beginning to break down and I needed something to help me maintain longevity. What I found was a fabulous meditation that also provides physical healing within the practice. I have transformed my body over the years of practice losing several pounds and dress sizes. I crave the heat, sweat, and community that this yoga provides. It has taught me to never give up, to not give in to my fears, and to find strength in my breath.

Susan Anderson
Certified Bikram Yoga Instructor

After hearing constant praise about the hot yoga experience from my mom, I attended my first Bikram Yoga class with her in 2000. I wanted to flee the hot, sweaty room for some fresh air, and couldn’t believe that I was being asked to do such challenging, yet funny, postures. What kept me going was my mom — I thought, if she can do this, so can I! Soon after, I found myself back in the hot room for more yoga. I kept coming back day after day, month after month, year after year, and at some point realized it’s a lifetime practice.

I began teaching in 2003 and continue to feel passionate about the yoga. I enjoy all the little details that make a yoga posture and communicating my understanding of the importance of these details with others. Each Bikram Yoga practitioner undergoes often subtle, yet profound, healings and I feel blessed to be an instrument of these changes.

Through yoga competitions I have taken my yoga practice to an advanced level. I’ve participated in regional, national, and international yoga asana championships beginning in 2003 when, representing Northern California in the very first Bishnu Charan Ghosh International Yoga Asana Championship, I took sixth place. I was the Texas women’s champion in 2008, 2009, and 2010, and took 10th place in the 2010 national competition. I have grown tremendously as an active participant in the yoga championships and continue to do so in recent years as a coach. The competitions have provided me the opportunity to travel, meet others in the international Bikram community, and have taken my personal yoga practice to a deeper level physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

And, this is only the beginning- I look forward to a lifetime filled with yoga. Within yoga, there is always something new to learn!

Tracey Sledge
Certified Bikram Yoga Instructor

For most of my adult life, running was the way I stayed in shape. In 2000, when I returned from a 5 year assignment in Singapore, a friend took me to my first Bikram Yoga class and I knew instantly there was something special about this practice. My feet, hips and lower back had been starting to feel the years of running and I could tell yoga would bring a great balance for both mind and body. It wasn’t long before I began practicing more than running and soon I was practicing daily and not running at all! When my company moved me to Milan, Italy in 2004, before there was a Bikram studio there, I began practicing on my own. In 2006, I began teaching the Dayton Method hot yoga in Huntington Beach, CA, which is a set Hatha sequence similar to Bikram 26/2 sequence. I still wanted to take my practice to the next level so in the Spring of 2009 I left my executive position at a large industrial company and did the 9 week intensive Bikram Yoga teacher training. I have taught Bikram Yoga in Palm Desert, CA, Longmont, CO and Destin, FL. I am committed to continued education and have attended several Yoga Journal conferences, I take workshops, read books/articles and practice with other teachers to continue learning.

I am the co-owner of Destin Hot Yoga where we offer a variety of yoga classes including Bikram, vinyasa, yin, ashtanga and others. Being the only Bikram certified yoga teacher at our studio, I wasn’t able to practice the 26 – 2 as much as I would have liked. While I enjoy other yoga, my body missed the therapeutic benefits of Bikram Yoga and I began to have pain in my shoulders, hips and lower back. Since moving to Austin in March of 2017, I have been exclusively practicing Bikram Yoga at BeneFIT and within just a matter of weeks my back is no longer tight and painful and my shoulders and hips are healing as well. I am an avid golfer and feeling pain free and able to swing freely is an important element to my golf game.