Owner, Yoga Instructor
Beth is a licensed massage therapist with a focus in Western structure/function and Eastern movement arts. A committed athlete, Beth has studied Iyengar yoga with Julie Gudmestad since the late 1990s, learning how to integrate yoga into her athletic training program. Beth’s massage training and a love of anatomy shine through her teaching.
Beth was first introduced to Julie in 1997 when she began experiencing pain in her feet. As an athlete, Beth had always incorporated stretching into her training regimen, but had never practiced yoga. After Julie helped Beth successfully overcome her injury, Beth wanted to become more involved in the practice of yoga. She began taking classes with Julie, subsequently joining Julie’s teaching program as a way to take her yoga practice to a deeper level.
A former Olympic Nordic skier with a passion for movement, athletics and the outdoors, Beth enjoys coaching and teaching technical skills in her sport whenever the opportunity arises.
Currently an avid runner, cyclist and skier, Beth blends her athletic/artistic background and knowledge of anatomy, kinesiology and bodywork with her yoga teaching, helping her students to develop and integrate keen body awareness into their daily lives and activities.
Founder, Yoga Instructor
Julie has devoted her career of 40+ years to helping people ease pain and live their best lives through the integration of physical therapy and yoga. She founded and directed Gudmestad Yoga, making yoga classes and individual therapy sessions available to people of all ages and abilities. The studio has now become Paxson Yoga & Wellness Center, and Julie continues to be involved by teaching classes and guiding the ongoing evolution of the studio.
Julie teaches Taste of Anatomy workshops that are designed to help improve your poses, protect yourself from injury and deepen your practice.
It all began when Julie started taking yoga in high school, back in the 1960’s. She began teaching a class while studying at Reed College, and went on to achieve Iyengar certification in 1988. As her students reported that yoga helped resolve various pain problems, Julie enrolled in physical therapy school, and became licensed in 1977. Now retired from seeing patients, her career included work with orthopedic and sports injuries, as well as chronic pain and stress-related problems.
Julie has shared her knowledge in workshops throughout the US, Canada, and Europe, as well as writing the “Anatomy of a Yogi” column for Yoga Journal magazine for several years.
She has taught her methods and healing philosophy in countless teacher trainings, and every year teaches a 5-day Anatomy Awareness in Asana intensive here in Portland, attended by teachers and students alike.
Committed to making the healing benefits of yoga accessible to all, Julie’s philosophy is deeply embedded in the studio classes. If a class moves too quickly, students may get frustrated and quit without ever receiving the healing benefits of practice. She prefers that students take progressive steps, starting with gentle poses in a beginning class. It is Julie’s belief that the ability to slow down and stay present is an important aspect of healing, and that yoga encourages a mindful state that can heal people emotionally and spiritually, as well as physically.
Hope took her first yoga class ever from Julie in 1979, and was immediately inspired and intrigued. She began working toward a physical therapy degree not long after, attaining that goal in 1985. She worked at a skilled nursing facility for years. This has made her good with fragile, aging populations.
She is a wonderful, supportive teacher, especially good with beginners. She teaches private sessions to those who need to customize practice or learn to modify poses. Hope has been teaching yoga since 1988 with Julie’s gentle but firm encouragement. Other teachers that have inspired and instructed Hope include John Schumacher and Judith Lasater. She also assisted Julie at various yoga workshops, including the well-known “Anatomy in Asana” series, and at the Yoga Journal Convention in Estes Park, CO.
Hope is married and has three daughters and two grandchildren. An understanding of the demands of work and family inform her teaching style, which is both nurturing and challenging. Hope especially enjoys and appreciates the way yoga balances apparent opposites, simultaneously providing playful seriousness, radiant grounding and a calm joy.
Stuart’s association with Julie Gudmestad began when he was referred to her for physical therapy following an injury. He quickly learned that her yoga-based exercise approach to physical therapy (PT) was not only successful to his own healing, but also inspirational in his physical therapy career. Stuart is a substitute teacher for us now. He is a great story teller and shares his sense of humor along with his deep knowledge of anatomy with his students.
In 1990, shortly after recovering from his back injury, Stuart became a yoga student of Julie’s as well as a co-worker, incorporating yoga into his private physical therapy practice. His specialties include sports-related injuries, low back and neck problems as well as knee and shoulder problems, both acute/post-surgical and chronic.
Stuart graduated from physical therapy school in the Netherlands in 1979, and began teaching yoga at Gudmestad Yoga Studio in 1993. His energetic nature, keen eye, and New York sense of humor not only keep his students entertained while working on perfecting their poses, but eager to learn more.
An avid European traveler, much to his students’ delight, Stuart has led an annual (since 2006) weeklong yoga retreat to Tuscany. To find out more about Stuart’s Physical Therapy practice and to schedule an appointment go to www.stuartstarkpt.com.
Laila believes that Iyengar yoga with its roots in alignment, coupled with yoga’s emphasis on breath work and relaxation, truly allows the body, mind and soul to transform.
Her Physical Therapy training becomes evident in her teaching and as a bonus students learn more about their anatomy. Laila’s approach is athletic yet, supportive, encouraging students to be both strong and flexible. Her sequencing is very well thought-out.
Laila was guided to Julie Gudmestad while rehabilitating a chronic low back injury. After spending two years mentoring with Julie, Laila adopted Julie’s approach to healing by integrating this style of yoga with her physical therapy.
Laila has been teaching yoga since 2002. Wanting to learn more she became a Certified Iyengar Instructor in 2014. With a teaching style that is relaxed and supportive, Laila merges her knowledge of anatomy, physiology and biomechanics with specific yoga poses, creating an effective atmosphere for change and healing.
Laila received her Master’s degree in physical therapy from Pacific University in 1998. Prior to this career change, Laila enjoyed all the stresses and postural faults a CPA in corporate America could experience.
A former competitive U of O swimmer, Laila also enjoys biking, skiing, rock climbing, and just being in the great outdoors. She is married to a Norwegian and has a grown daughter. She travels annually to Norway to visit her family.
To find out more about Laila’s Physical Therapy practice and to schedule an appointment go to www.lailadeardorff.com.
Caroline took her first yoga class in Eugene in 1991 and remembers holding Virabhadrasana II for what seemed like a very long time while the morning sun streamed in through high windows of a beautiful old gymnasium. And she was hooked. After moving to Portland in the late ‘90s, she signed up for a Level I class at Gudmestad Yoga on the recommendation of a friend. She is grateful to have been taught by almost all the teachers at Gudmestad Yoga over the years.
Caroline strives to work her knowledge of the body and enthusiasm for body mechanics seamlessly into her teaching. Though Caroline explored yoga at other studios, she always returned to Gudmestad for the consistent focus on anatomy and alignment, and found herself developing a love of kinesiology – the study of the mechanics of body movements. This inspired her to leave a career in software in 2008 and enroll in a two-year Physical Therapist Assistant program. Since graduating in 2010, Caroline has worked in an outpatient physical therapy clinic where she gets to spend her days teaching patients about body mechanics and safe movement as they work to get back to doing the things they love.
In 2017 she took the next step on her yoga journey and completed a 200-hour alignment-based teacher training. After graduating, Caroline spent a year teaching Yoga Basics at the physical therapy clinic where she works and was delighted to join the yoga teaching staff at Gudmestad in the Spring of 2019.
Originally from Wisconsin, Caroline spent much of her childhood outside – tending the gardens and feeding animals on their small farm, skiing in the winter, sailing in the summer, and identifying plants and birds year round with her bird watching botanist (and now yoga-practicing octogenarian) mother.
Caroline’s current pastimes include trail running/hiking/walking with frequent stops to smell the flowers and take pictures of mushrooms/trees/ferns, stand-up paddle boarding (and SUP yoga!), kayaking, getting creative with beads, yarn, or fabric, gardening, or curling up with tea and a good book.
Denise’s yoga practice began in Berkeley, CA at a climbing gym. She had to search for a while before finding Gudmestad Yoga, and once here, she knew she was “home.” When Denise started her first teacher training program, she just wanted the knowledge for her personal yoga practice. She went on to earn her 200-hour alignment-based teaching certification in 2018, and went on to receive her 300-hour certification in 2020.
Her teaching experience includes volunteering with Living Yoga to teach trauma-informed yoga, which is just one of the ways she enjoys giving back to the community. She has also taught at her local gym, an assisted living unit, and private clients. Denise began teaching at Paxson Yoga Center in Fall 2020, after several months of internship.
Denise shares her enthusiasm for learning with her students, along with her interest in alignment which she expresses with clear instructions. She cares deeply about the experience of each of her students, which is reflected in her warm and inviting teaching style. She believes everyone can do yoga, and is passionate about creating classes that are accessible to students with a variety of abilities.
When Denise isn’t practicing yoga or studying anatomy you might find her hiking, gardening, snowshoeing, biking with her husband, or spending time with family and friends. She loves getaways to the coast as well as international travel. That being said, a quiet pizza-and-movie night is her idea of a perfect way to end a busy week.
Christina is a native Portlander and has been practicing yoga for more than 10 years. Upon arriving in her first class at Gudmestad Yoga with Beth Paxson, she knew she had found the right place to study yoga, and she’s been a regular student here since 2013. Christina has been practicing in Julie’s Level V class since 2016.
She graduated from a 500-hour alignment-based teacher training program in 2020. Christina sees alignment-based yoga as the beautiful practice of maintaining the architecture of the body.
Her teaching style is light and straightforward, and incorporates the technical and alignment-based style found at PYC. With a background as a coach and trainer, Christina values the system set in place by the teachers in the Paxson Yoga community, which allows students to continue to grow and develop safely at their own pace.
Christina started teaching at PYC in Fall 2020. She wants to help empower students to manage their bodies with optimism and discipline.
Karen has been a teacher for much of her adult life, working first as an ESL instructor in Hawaii and then as a French teacher in Rhode Island. She continues that passion now as a yoga teacher.
Karen completed her teacher training under Nina Pileggi and is a Certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher (CIYT), Level 2. She brings her enthusiasm for yoga to each class and strives for a clear and precise teaching style to help her students achieve their fullest potential.
A perpetual student herself, Karen seeks out instruction from Senior Iyengar teachers around the country through workshops and online classes. She continues her mentorship with Nina Pileggi to help prepare for Level 3 assessment.
When not teaching or taking a class, Karen enjoys hiking and skiing with her family and her dog.
Laura is an acupuncturist and 200-hour alignment-based yoga teacher. Her classes are infused with wisdom from her Traditional East Asian medicine studies and practices, and her love of sports medicine and anatomy.
She is happy to have been a student of nearly every teacher at Paxson Yoga, most recently with Hope and Beth.
Laura’s clinical practice is now based at Paxson Yoga Center. You can find more about her offerings here.
Alice came to the practice of yoga after years of ballet and dance. Her initial impression of the practice was that it lacked the physical challenges she had found in dance. But, the more she practiced, the more she began to appreciate the subtlety, grounding, and stillness of mind and body that yoga offers. Twenty-five years into her yoga journey, Alice continues to be transformed in big and small ways.
Alice has explored many styles of Hatha yoga, studying with Donna Farhi and many other teachers. She first discovered Julie Gudmestad through reading her Anatomy of a Yogi column in Yoga Journal, and is ever grateful to have found Julie’s studio for practice when she first moved to Portland. The Gudmestad Tradition of Yoga, as taught at Paxson Yoga & Wellness Center, resonates with Alice – blending the details of anatomy with precision of alignment. She completed a 200-hr. alignment-based Teacher Training certification in 2018.
While her Type A bike racing and triathlon competition days are over, she complements her yoga practice with hiking and climbing Mount Saint Helens as a volunteer Mountain Steward. She’s also a mushroom geek and is most likely to be found foraging wild foods in an undisclosed forest in the Pacific Northwest.
She aspires to bring a blend of exploration, effort and ease to each class – holding space for each student to experience their own practice with gentle, but still challenging and empathetic guidance along the way.