“Our need to connect is as fundamental
as our need for food or water.”

-Matthew Lieberman, PhD

Our Story

Teaching a physically challenging yoga class with an emphasis on mindfulness isn’t easy in a culture driven by competition and speed.

In a difficult experience with a rude student at the start of her career, Dori Thomsen, Owner of the Soluna Yoga+Spa in Jacksonville, Fla., demonstrated that she can pull it off with grace.

In 2010, Dori began teaching yoga in a glass-enclosed studio in a lush, Costa Rican jungle. Into this paradise walked a student who had just flown into town from a big American city.

To set the tone and intention for the class, Dori began with a 5-minute meditation. It quickly became clear that the student, who was chewing gum, tapping her toes and drumming her fingers on her lap, could become a disruptive force in the class.

As the class continued, the student ploughed through the poses, rolled her eyes and groaned to express her annoyance. Tension was building. The other students sensed it.

“She really threw me off my game,” Dori said. “I was new and a little insecure as a teacher.  I didn’t know how to hold space. My voice was shaky and nervous.”

Dori wanted to handle the situation peacefully, but a flurry of questions ran through her mind. Should she ramp up the pace? Ask the woman to leave? Was she really cut out to teach yoga?

Dori took a deep breath and the path became clear: “I’m not going to let this one disruptive person change who I am.”

With a heart of compassion for the woman, and the experiences that shaped her, Dori asked the class to take child’s pose. She approached the woman, gave her a tissue, and in a soft whisper asked her to spit out her gum.

Thus began what felt like the longest hour of Dori’s life. Several times the woman broke out of pose and started to walk out. Several times Dori nearly asked her to leave.

Surprisingly, the student stuck with it, all the way through Savasana. She was uncharacteristically still as she rested in corpse pose.

Afterward, as other students hugged Dori and said goodbye, the woman stood off to the side with her mat.  Dori was stunned when the woman came up, with tears in her eyes, and thanked her.

“You know, I needed that,” Dori recalled the woman saying. “I needed to slow things down. It wasn’t until Savasana that I realized how grateful I was for not walking out.”

Then she reached out and gave Dori a huge hug.

“That class was very life changing,” Dori said. “That’s when I really stepped into my power as a teacher and developed confidence and ease. At that moment I realized, ‘Yes! This is why I’m teaching yoga.’ ”



Our Mission

Offering Yoga & Wellness for all Stages of Life.

Yoga and wellness is a process of self-exploration that clears mental obstacles and false identities, offering a direct experience of who we are at our deepest level.

Our Company Values:

·      We nurture a heart-centered studio that raises the intention of love.

·      Our approach to wellness nurtures the body, mind, and soul - the whole person.

·      We promote authentic connection, engagement, and building community.

·      We believe anybody can do yoga, regardless of limitations, weight, gender or beliefs.

·      We’re mindful of alignment, physiology, safety, and studio cleanliness.

·      We honor all styles of yoga. It’s not the interpretation that matters, it’s the intention.

·      We fully believe in the importance of making time for you.

·      We advocate a Pura Vida lifestyle: Love the life you live!

·      We invite you to unplug from daily life tasks and to do’s and plug into you.

Our Team

Dori


Dori Thomsen, is a 500 hour level Experienced Yoga Instructor and Co-Founder, with her husband Christian, of Soluna Yoga + Spa located in the Riverside/Avondale area of Jacksonville, Florida. She first entered a yoga class in 2001, but found her true calling to teach yoga while living in Costa Rica. Dori gained the 200-hr Registered Yoga Teacher certification in 2010 in a Teacher Training immersion in Guatemala, under the guidance of her teacher Paula Tursi of Reflections Yoga. Christian & Dori lived in Costa Rica for 5 years before returning back to the States. While living in Central America, Dori continued her studies and earned a certificate in Prenatal Yoga, Restorative Yoga, and Stand Up Paddleboard Yoga. Christian and Dori welcomed their daughter Olive into the world in 2013 and consider her their greatest teacher. Olive also taught Dori how to lead Mommy & Me Yoga, which they lead together regularly. In February of 2016, Dori completed the 500-hr advanced training, humbly earning the certificate of Yoga Acharya (Yoga Master) with Bhooma Chaitanaya and Swami Yogeshananda Saraswati at Aarsha Yoga Vidya Peetham in Kerala, India. Most recently, Dori has spent this past year of 2017 dedicated to earning the certificate of Yoga Therapy Professional Training with the Amrit Yoga Institute. The doors to Soluna Yoga + Spa opened in December of 2014 and was voted #1 Yoga Studio by Jacksonville Magazine in 2016 & 2017! When Dori is not at Soluna, she enjoys spending time traveling with her family, planting seeds in Olive's garden, and taking time to press pause. Yoga with Dori is...FREE FORM. FUN LOVING. GENTLY CHALLENGING. TENDER. STILL. COMBINES THE ART OF SURRENDER & COMPASSION. NOURISHING. RHYTHMIC. MEDITATIVE. HONORS THE MOON & SUN. CONNECTED THROUGH GRACE. ROOTED IN PURE LOVE.

Christian


Christian and Dori opened Soluna in 2014, as not only a means for a vocation but also as a vehicle to raise the frequency of Love in the community with a place the people can come to feel good about themselves. His journey to the East originated as a youth growing up in New Orleans with the practice of Karate while earning a Black Belt. He was introduced to Yoga in college in Jacksonville and his practice chrystalized while living in Costa Rica for 5 years. Yoga to him is a journey to the center of oneself in order to realize Oneness with all beings and things in the Universe. And anticipates when the practice of Yoga becomes not so intimidating to the population at large. He believes a simple 30 minutes per day of asana, pranayama, and meditation does wonders for the feelings of happiness, balance, joy, acceptance, and gratitude in life. The focal point of Christian’s world is his family, and his daughter, Olive, is the light in his eyes. Christian also dabbles as a singer/songwriter with his musical project SPARS and has had a passion for the sport of golf since boyhood. His inspiration is nature in all its forms.

Elizabeth


Elizabeth enjoys teaching a variety of forms of yoga to students of all ages, levels, and conditions. She has been practicing yoga since 2004. Her study, practice, life experience and yoga masters have guided her toward teaching. Elizabeth received her RYT Advanced Yoga Teacher Certification 240 hours with Highest Distinction from Himalayan Yoga Academy, Rishikesh, India. She was bestowed the title of Yoga Acharya at her RYT 300 hour Advanced Yoga Teachers’ Training Course in Hatha Yoga at Aarsha Yoga Vidya Peetham in Kerala, India. Elizabeth completed her 40 hour Yin Yoga Teacher Training with Joe Barnett at Yoga University of Florida and is a certified Lakshmi Voelker Chair Yoga Instructor. She has trained in Trauma Informed Yoga Teaching with Yoga4Change. Elizabeth received her Diploma in Yoga Therapy from Yoga Vidya Gurukul in Nasik, India, where she interned with Yoga Therapy patients. Through workshops and master classes, she has studied Hatha, Iyengar, Ashtanga Vinyasa, Power, Kundalini, Acro, Chair, Trauma Informed Yoga and Yin Yoga as well as Ayurveda and Yoga Therapy study. Elizabeth’s group Yoga classes are energetically balanced, allowing students to develop physically while focusing on breath awareness, meditation, vibrational energy and creating happiness in our daily lives. Through an integrative approach, she seeks to link the ancient wisdoms of Yoga and Ayurveda as a way to create and maintain balance in each individual. Ayurveda contributes significantly to Elizabeth’s studies and teaching. At Kerala Ayurveda Academy in Kerala, India, she completed Primary Awareness Course in Ayurveda and an Intensive Training Program on Ayurvedic Diet and Women Care, learning both theoretical and practical aspects. She offers basic Ayurvedic lifestyle consultations with an emphasis on diet, daily routine as well as yoga asana, pranayama and meditation guidance. Elizabeth has studied with numerous esteemed Yoga teachers throughout the world. Elizabeth received a BA in Journalism from New York University. She lives in Jacksonville, FL with her husband, has two children and a sweet dog. In addition to yoga, she is passionate about Ayurveda and travel and she has working knowledge of Spanish. Elizabeth believes yoga can be accessible to all. She honors her teachers and appreciates the teacher in every student. Elizabeth also conducts private Yoga classes, provides individual Yoga Therapy for management of common conditions and diseases and offers private Ayurvedic consultations.

Tamara


As a massage therapist, yoga instructor and yoga therapist, Tamara is honored to be part of the Soluna family. Tamara's yoga practice began when she was a teen, after her father gifted her with a yoga mat and complete set of Yoga Journal videos. She grew up in Atlantic Beach, competitively dancing for many years, but the practice of yoga initiated a deep connection with the peace inside of her. Tamara was inspired to complete her massage therapy training in 2004 from Southeastern School of Neuromuscular and Massage Therapy in Jacksonville. Her massage training has since expanded to include reiki, John F. Barnes’ Myofascial Release Approach, prenatal massage, Thai massage and reflexology. In 2013, Tamara fulfilled her heart's desire to share the ancient practice of yoga with others, earning her RYT 200 at a teacher training program at Flow Yoga in Hood River, OR. She is now certified to teach jaya yoga, yoga therapy, and restorative yoga. Tamara recently graduated with a bachelor’s degree in nutrition from the University of North Florida and continues to expand her knowledge in well-being. Confident she is living her life’s purpose to help others graciously live theirs, she also offers private Restorative Yoga with Reiki and private Amrit Method of Yoga Therapy sessions.

Victoria


Victoria began practicing yoga in 2000 and has been teaching since 2006. She has studied with a variety of teachers and completed her 500 hour teacher training at Bliss in August 2012. In early 2012, she took mantra initiation with Rolf Sovik, Spiritual Director at the Himalayan Institute. Victoria’s yoga and meditation practice has been a transformative force in her life, and she hopes to help her students find what they need in their practice. Her recognition of the therapeutic aspects of yoga has encouraged her to pursue the Degree of Doctor of Physical Therapy. Victoria plans to use the knowledge gained from these studies to help her students at a deeper level.

Hannah


For Hannah, yoga has been an important tool of self discovery, expression and change. Her own growth through yoga, meditation and embodiment practices spurred a longing to share these tools with others. Since her 200 hour YTT in 2016, she has continued studying and experimenting in various modalities and is currently earning a 500 hour certification through Heart + Bones yoga of Toronto. As a Functional Range Conditioning mobility specialist, she brings modern movement science into her classes and private sessions to expand students self awareness, usable ranges of motions, and tissue resilience. Embodied Yoga Principles is a unique, psychological and interactive approach to yoga that uses postures to gain insights and build skills around how we live our lives. Hannah is one of only a few certified EYP teachers in the US and offers this through regular workshops as well as private sessions. Whether in her Yoga + Mobility classes, vinyasa flow, or Embodied Yoga Principles workshops, her teaching style encourages deep self awareness, real life application, curiosity and playfulness.

Nicole


Nicole has been teaching a variety of yoga styles since 2014 and recently completed her 500-hour certification at the Shala. Yoga to Nicole is more than physical, it is a method of tuning into the self, observing and processing the thoughts, sensations, emotions, and memories that arise as we bring in the light of intentional awareness. Always a student, her hope is to share the physical and emotional healing she's gained from her studies and practice. Yoga is a lifelong journey and Nicole's teaching approach emphasizes therapeutic, mindful movement and breath to keep the body and mind healthy and safe for years to come.

Sonya


Having experienced a great personal and spiritual transformation with yoga, Sonya is eager to share her message of hope with others. Sonya, the studio manager at Soluna Yoga + Spa, completed her 200-hour CYT training through Tara Rawson’s Regenerative Living School. She teaches gentle/restorative yoga classes that are spiritually and mentally aligned with a focus on breath and meditation. Sonya also credits much of her success to yoga therapy, which involves an intense focus on sensation to help release emotional pain trapped in the body – Sonya recently completed her Amrit Method Yoga Therapy training and is excited to be offering this life changing practice with others. In her time at Soluna, Sonya has dropped 70 pounds, weaned off medications, let go of harsh self-criticism and learned to cope with anxiety, depression from complex trauma. Having overcome these physical and emotional challenges, she wants to help people find their truth and to understand they are more than what their minds, and others, tell them they are. Sonya is earning a bachelor’s degree in human services at FSCJ and has enrolled in professional life coaching courses. She is available for private yoga therapy sessions at Soluna.

Jen


Jennifer Walker-Owner of Mumda Birthing Services and Mother of Three. Jennifer is passionate about movement and the healing arts. She recently opened The Loft, a pilates studio and offers mat and pilates reformer classes in her studio. She combines her experience in pilates, dance, and yoga in her classes at Soluna. Jennifer is also a certified Doula with DONA, (DONA International is the leader in evidence-based doula training, certification and continuing education) birth and postpartum doula, Pilates specialist, childbirth educator, and movement specialist. Jennifer holds a Masters in Fine Arts (MFA) in Dance and Education and has 20+ years of experience in movement and the healing arts.

Alexandra


Alexandra began her yoga practice in 2007 as a way to find focus and discipline. As her practice progressed she felt called to more deeply study yoga’s roots. She received her 200-hr RYT certification in 2014 and began her teaching journey. In 2015, she pressed pause on teaching though remained a student as she stepped into role of Mother. In 2016, she welcomed daughter, Lila, into the world. 15 months later her son, Asher, followed. Alexandra considers her children her wisest teachers and greatest accomplishments. Being so connected to the life source in those two years brought Alexandra even closer to her yogic roots and she again felt called to go deeper. She is currently immersed in a Living Alchemy 300-hr training, studying at the Regenerative Living School under Tara Rawson. Upon completion, she will be receive her 500-hr RYT certification. Alexandra is is passionate about finding stillness through nourishing movement. She loves to sweat and bring heat to her classes to cleanse the body and soul. Yoga has been her constant through a sea of change and with a grateful heart Alexandra looks forward helping other find connection through breath awareness and intentional movement.

Siddie


Siddie has been working in the healing arts for the last decade. Her love for teaching and helping people get in touch with their bodies began with her yoga practice. Once she developed a strong personal practice she began teaching. Once she began teaching she fell in love with assisting and knew massage school was the logical next step. She attended the Florida School of Massage in 2008. It was one of the best decisions of her life and she highly recommends anyone interested in learning about the body attend their program. It was there that she met her friend and Thai Massage teacher, Ariela Grodner. Through the school's curriculum Siddie was introduced to the arts of Reflexology, Swedish Massage, Connective Tissue, Neuromuscular, Polarity Therapy, Reiki, and Sports Massage. Upon graduation she decided to focus on Thai Massage and studied in depth with Ariela for many years. Her love for Thai Massage and holding space for healing comes through in all of her bodywork sessions whether Thai on the floor, on the table or traditional table massage. She hopes that many people will explore Thai Massage as a compliment to their self care regimen as she believes it can transform our relationship with our own bodies, the earth, and one another.

Christy


Christy is a Maine-born and Maine-trained yoga teacher, a former yoga studio owner, a life-long student of the herbs and a lover of all things magic. Her mission is to continue diving deeper into self-awareness, to dissolve the veil of illusion that creates boundaries around the heart, and to merge completely with the pure essence of love. She hopes her teachings and personal wisdom will help usher others into a space of deeper acceptance, love, and a deep abiding respect for the connections we have to our own hearts, each others and that beating pulse of the earth from which we are all birthed. She is trained to teach vinyasa, yin, restorative and yoga nidra.

Nicolette


Nicolette began her journey into wellness in 2014 when she graduated with her Massage Certification from the Florida State College in Jacksonville. She began her practice working at a premier spa in Key West, Florida. Nicolette has had the honor to heal people from around the world who were on vacation visiting the Southernmost Point. Nicolette believes there is a huge consciousness shift happening in the world today and is inspired to bring healing through the art of massage. She uses a myriad range of modalities from Thai Massage, Hawaiian Lomi Lomi, Trigger Point, and Swedish to reach maximum relaxation; allowing for an opportunity to be truly present in the Now. Her goal is to leave you feeling lighter physically, mentally, and emotionally. She sets intentions before every massage to allow in more love and light to enter the room. When she is not massaging clients she is out chasing the stars with her son, Orion. They love being adventurous and exploring all Jacksonville has to offer, especially the beach! She is excited and blessed to be a part of the Soluna family. She cannot wait to practice her art of massage in a new space and help be a part of a community raising the vibration.

Rachel


Rachel’s life experiences have been diverse but the one constant has always been massage. It began with shoulder rubs for family and friends as a teenager, leading then to her training at the Core Institute of Massage in her early 20's, to her now working in both spa and chiropractic settings. Along the way, Rachel received her AA in Communications, worked for over two years as a Licensed Practical Nurse, and, just for kicks, she joined the Jacksonville Roller Girls! She is trained in Swedish, Prenatal and Deep Tissue/Therapeutic massage and has traveled to Thailand completing the comprehensive program at the Thai Massage School of Chiang Mai. She looks forward to growing and learning from and within the Soluna community--a community full of warmth and light.

Samantha


Samantha was initially drawn to yoga for its physical benefits, but what made her fall deeply in love with the practice were the mental and spiritual shifts she experienced. With a Master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling, as a Reiki Master and Transformational Wellness Advocate, her Amrit Yoga training complements her purpose and set of tools to help you make an impact in your life. Driven by the desire to help and work with others, and with the strong belief that we can all create a life we feel passionate about, Samantha decided to dedicate her life to support others to ignite their transformation. A proud graduate of Amrit YTT. Samantha also has completed Amrit Method Yoga Therapy training. As a result, she has a deep understanding of the energetics of yoga. She now considers yoga to be a ‘work-in’ as opposed to just a ‘work-out.’ The physical aspect of the practice is the gateway to a deeper connection with one’s true nature. Samantha is a self-professed lifetime learner and strives to continually grow and refine her daily practice and her teaching. Her next great adventure will be to study Amrit’s Yoga Nidra in India in February. Samantha aims to offer classes that provide students with the opportunity to transform themselves physically, mentally, and spiritually. Through mindful movements, conscious breathing, and yogic philosophy, students will have the opportunity to move toward a deeper sense of stability, peace, and calm. Samantha strives to embody the essence of yoga both on and off the mat and encourages her students to do the same. She is thrilled and delighted to be a part of the teaching team at Soluna.

Danielle


Danielle is a registered 200 Hour Yoga Alliance Teacher that received her training through The Wandering Ashram in the Winter of 2017 during her travels as a military spouse. She has lived several years overseas including Asia and Europe. Danielle holds a masters degree in both Exercise Science and Occupational Therapy, which has provided her a foundation of knowledge of anatomy and bio-mechanics of body movement. Her passion is combining her knowledge and experience in the medical/health field to provide a therapeutic yoga experience for all of her students. She has provided workshops incorporating evidence-based yoga poses into sessions for helping to heal and prevent orthopedic injuries. In the past she has teamed up with medical professionals to integrate yoga principles into the healing process. Danielle integrates her yoga practice into every aspect of her life, believing that shaping our mindset is the first step to achieving the healing aspects of this beautiful practice.

Natasha


Natasha started practicing yoga after her wedding in February of 2016. She found that yoga provided her with a further grounding and sense of self like nothing before she had ever tried. Once she found Soluna in the summer of 2016, she began getting more involved with the yoga community. She completed her 200-RYT with Tara Rawson in summer of 2017 and has been since working on completing her 300-RYT and teaching yoga when she can. She and her husband welcomed their first child in Spring 2018.