Manitou Class Instructors

Experienced, compassionate instructors, creating safe learning environments for all

Gloria Alatorre

Gloria is an ever-evolving energy healer, passionate existentialist and “out-of-the-box” visionary. She is an Usui Holy Fire Reiki practitioner, a scholar pursuing her masters degree in Counseling Education at Winona State University and works full-time as a Spanish Interpreter at Winona School District. She is passionate in helping others and giving back to her community by participating in socio-political and spiritual wellness projects and events. She currently serves as a board member for the Winona Sheltering Network and is a co-founder of Winona Community Drumming Circle. During her leisure time, Gloria loves spending time with her child, enjoying his curiosity for life as well as having fun together. She also delights in painting, practicing Nia, kickboxing, yoga, dance and trying new foods. Gloria strongly believes that life is about playing with the same curiosity as a child, enjoying the company of loved ones and staying present with a compassionate heart, open mind and kind soul.

Johanna Brandvik

Johanna is a mother, teacher, designer, and considers herself a never-ending student of life! She lived in Los Angeles, CA, for nearly two decades and moved to Winona in August of 2019. Johanna trained with Mindful Schools in Berkeley, CA, and teaches secular mindfulness practices to children, parents, and adults in a variety of educational settings. She managed both short and extended silent meditation retreats in the deserts and along the coastlines of southern California. Johanna is a trained kundalini yoga instructor and Usui reiki master. With a background in textiles, art, and design, Johanna currently enjoys interior design and working with others to create spaces that generate happiness and well-being. 

Gretchen Cohenour, MFA, RSME

is evolving with a 35-year career as a teacher, movement artist and choreographer.  Gretchen is a Somatic Movement Educator (SME), and is certified in ‘Embodied Anatomy and Yoga’ and ‘Embodied Developmental Movement and Yoga’ from the School of Body Mind Centering©.  This practice infuses both her classes and “SomaNest” private lessons that provide education and support for individuals desiring enhanced ease and integration in moving through life.  Her offerings and practices are also informed through Insight Meditation, Iyengar Yoga, Qigong, Alexander Technique, Ideokinesis, singing, gardening, kombucha alchemy and parenting.  She currently directs the Winona State University dance program where she integrates somatic practices, art making, interdisciplinary collaboration, performance, and embodied movement research as a ground for living, teaching and learning.
 

 

Jacque Paulsen, MS

Jacque is a certified Nia Black Belt and 5 Stages Nia Instructor.  Her Nia story began by taking a class on a whim – needing to ‘get some exercise’.  “I had always imagined that I was a healthy and fit person, but as the business of my life marched forward I was getting farther and farther away from the person I believed myself to be.  Through Nia I have learned how to truly appreciate living in my body, and to let go of the self judgement that was preventing me from finding joy in my everyday life.  I am so happy I followed that whim. Nia has taught me to dance through the good and the bad, and to always invite curiosity, laughter, play, and happiness as much as possible.  It feels great – and there is plenty to go around. I hope you will join me in dance soon!”

 

Francie Ricks

Francie took her first yoga class more than 30 years ago on the advice of a friend who thought she looked stressed. From her first class, she enjoyed the practice and the way it made her feel. But most of all, she found it cleared her mind. Thoughts or concerns that were bothering her at the beginning would be gone by the end of the class or practice session. She started teaching yoga as a way to do more yoga and learn more about it. She discovered she was able to guide students to experience joy in their physical bodies, relief from physical pain, and to learn a new approach to mental and psychological concerns. Francie enjoys practicing and teaching the art of yoga, working to make each posture as beautiful and integrated and perfect in the moment as possible. She is grateful to B.K.S. Iyengar who showed her how technique and its dedicated application can lead from physical accomplishment to spiritual enlightenment. Presently she especially enjoys teaching older students who are grateful to be learning how to strengthen their bodies and retard the aging process. Yoga can help us all learn how to face whatever comes. Francie has been teaching yoga since 1993 and previously taught Iyengar yoga in Southern California for 15 years. She holds a Senior Intermediate III certification from B.K.S. Iyengar, and has studied at the Iyengar Yoga Institute in Pune, India on numerous occasions.

 

Anne Scharmach

Anne grew up in a northwest suburb of Chicago and came to Winona as a student at Winona State University.  After college, she met her husband, Shane, a Winona native.  She is proud to call Winona her home, where she and Shane have raised their two beautiful children.  Anne is a licensed police officer and has worked at the Winona Police Department for 20 years.  She finds her career both rewarding and challenging.  Anne is one of the dynamic foursome that co-created and co-facilitates the passion project called Resiliency Training for First Responders.  Anne received her certification as a yoga teacher several years ago and is also certified in trauma informed yoga.  Through yoga teacher training, Anne was able to deepen her practice and inspired to live her yoga both on and off of the mat.  She looks forward to sharing what she has learned and hopes to inspire others in the way her instructors have inspired her.

When she is not on the mat she loves to spend time with her family and friends, travel, hike, try new recipes, and to find extraordinary in the ordinary.

 

Erica Thibodeaux, MS, LPC

Erica first began meditating in 1995, after overcoming great difficulty in her adolescence. In addition to personal meditation practice, Erica began formal training in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) in 2009 sponsored by the University of Massachusetts Medical School’s Center for Mindfulness. She has been teaching mindfulness meditation classes since 2010. Erica works as a licensed professional counselor in private practice in Winona, MN. As a therapist, she uses creative and empowering methods to evoke client-centered transformation and that provide individuals, couples, and families with tools to take away with and use over their lifetime.

 

Eileen Toshin Hanson

Eileen Toshin Hanson has been a student of tai chi and qi gong since 1999. Through those practices she discovered zazen and meditation practice. After finding a practice community at Manitou Center, she took lay vows in the Zen Garland Dharma River lineage in 2017 and took the dharma name, Toshin.  Eileen first came to Winona in 2001 to join the Winona Catholic Worker community. Drawn by her faith to do both works of mercy and works of justice, she lived in intentional community, offering food, shelter and friendship to people experiencing poverty and homelessness, and confronting powers of injustice and militarism. She has also worked with Christian Peacemaker Teams in zones of conflict in Palestine and with indigenous communities closer to home.  For Eileen, the natural world is a place of respite and deep reservoir of wonder. She calls the driftless region home and enjoys exploring and appreciating all the unique life with which she shares this wondrous place.  Eileen has degrees in Philosophy and Religious Studies from Macalester College and earned a Master of Business Administration from Viterbo University in 2017. She is currently Associate Director at the National Eagle Center in Wabasha, MN and serves on the Board of Directors at Bluff Country Co-op.

 

Monta May, M.F.A.

Monta is an academically-trained artist and designer. Comfortable with analog and digital tools, she builds/makes all sorts of things. Here at Manitou, she helps out with the website, print design, email marketing, and other odd jobs. She’s a dedicated organizer… of projects, people, bookcases, closets, garages, basements, cats… umm, well not so much for cats.
 
She works for a local university on their web team and has a fledgling website company that she is building with a friend. She leads art and design workshops in her studio and in the greater Winona area, and is planning a few at Manitou for the upcoming year. Her favorite things to teach are graphic and web design, photography, mosaic, sculpture, and bookbinding. You can see her work at montamay.art, and press.team.

 

Visiting Instructors

Tom Roberts

Tom is a retired Psychotherapist and Hypnotherapist. He has over 40 years of experience in clinical psychotherapy and has been a practicing Zen Buddhist for nearly 50 years. In 1992 he received lay Buddhist vows from Thich Nhat Hanh.  He has gained widespread recognition in the field of health and healing as an educator, author and speaker who shares practical strategies for enjoying a healthier, happier, more fulfilling everyday life

As a regular teacher at regional and national retreat centers, Thomas routinely receives high praise and positive responses from those who attend for his sincere, informative and practical methods of teaching and relating with participants.  His retreats and classes reflect his authentic commitment to helping individuals achieve a deep and lasting resolve to their spiritual, emotional and physical health and healing. He is well known for offering and guiding retreats that are easily integrated into each person’s personal journey.

 

Nicolle NEILL Jensen

Nicolle is a teacher, musician, facilitator, and interdisciplinary artist born in Winona and residing in Santa Fe NM since 2003. She began studying yoga in college in 2004, and meditation after she graduated with a degree in interdisciplinary art in 2007. She is a senior teacher in the Prajna Yoga school, and a student in the somatic meditation lineage of Reggie Ray and Dharma Ocean. NEILL travels the world sharing a love of yoga, meditation, music, and creative expression through retreats, workshops, concerts, and classes.

 

Let's stay in touch!

Our newsletters and updates will keep you informed of local and regional classes, workshops, and retreats as well as online study opportunities, blogs, information, and inspiration to continue nurturing, healing, and caring for yourself and the world. (We do not share your information with anyone else.) See you soon!

Find Us

686 W. 5th St., Winona, Minnesota

(507) 450-7339    |    info@manitouwellness.org

Get in Touch with Us

Ask us questions. Share ideas. Send us a message.

Set up a time to meet with us. Tell us your story.