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Our Staff

‘Through your love for each other, through learning the art of making one person happy, you learn to express your love for the whole of humanity and all beings.
Please help us develop the curriculum for the institute for the happiness of one person.
Don’t wait until we open the school.
You can begin practicing right away.’
– Thich Nhat Hanh


Thomas William Morisette, Founder
Thomas is a skilled and determined entrepreneur responsible for the creation of Present Moment. His background in fine art and design, coupled with a lifelong passion for indigenous culture, has inspired the manifestation of this beautifully-detailed environment.

Tom is continually enhancing the guest experience by creating stunning landscape designs, providing expert communications, offering unmatched guest relations and by sourcing many of the international artifacts and stylish wearables available in the boutique.

 

 

CJ Ananda Page, Co-founder

As one of the creators of Present Moment Retreat, CJ spent several years dreaming and journaling about creating a sacred space for healing and transformation. As this dream became a reality, she realized the power of creation and manifestation, and now uses these skills to dream her world into being with great gratitude every day. Prior to Present Moment, CJ had the opportunity to work with some of the most talented therapists and consultants in the industries of health, wellness, and beauty, through her global marketing position at the Aveda Corporation in Minneapolis. Currently, she manages Present Moment’s health and wellness division, and facilitates the Yoga Teacher Training Courses held at Present Moment. As a passionate instructor, you’ll find her teaching and coordinating a variety of yoga, meditation, and movement classes. She is also greatly skilled in the areas of Thai yoga massage, shamanic energy healing and spiritual counseling. CJ is a national champion gymnast and a skilled choreographer with Bachelor’s degrees in Exercise Science, Psychology and Dance from Gustavus Adolphus College.

 

Wellness Team

Michelle Helfner
Michelle spent years working as an artist, waitress and even corporate investigator before listening to the clear voice in her heart guiding her into alternative medicines. While in New York, in 2001, she first studied massage and was quickly guided to a Master’s in Chinese Medicine. Those inspired messages are a constant blessing in how she works and shares her love of the healing arts. In 2008 she came to Guatemala for a change in perspective and was changed on every level; physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. She moved to San Marcos and to attend the a meditation center to study esoteric metaphysics. Michelle continues to work with the center visiting every year for a few months, her studies there included hermetic kabbala, tarot, numerology, lucid dreaming and astral traveling, astrology, yoga, fasting and periods of silent meditation. In San Marcos, she also had the opportunity to study and teach at a therapy center. She was also lead by her heart to receive her 200hr yoga teacher certification from the School of Yoga Institute at the Mystical Yoga Farm in Santiago. During these studies and being surrounded her Mayan culture and traditional ceremonies she became deeply interested in the Shamanic aspects of acupuncture. During her first drumming ceremony the vision of herself as a drummer was clear and so began her own exploration as a guide for other into the non-ordinary realities. Whether through acupuncture, massage, energy work or sound she believes that through providing a safe and sacred space, each person, through their own experience can explore other realities and understandings of well-being. In this space they have a stronger ability to heal and become their truest selves. Michelle met our co-founder, CJ Ananda, in Guatemala in 2010 and was invited to Present Moment Retreat.

Michelle now resides between Mexico, Guatemala, and the East Coast of the United States. She has been an integral part of our wellness team for 6 seasons now.

She is on The Bhakti yoga path of devotional love. She likes to read, meditate, enjoy the beach, nature and spend time with family and friends.

Services provided by Michelle:
Shamanic Acupuncture 120min, Acupuncture 60min, Flow/relaxation massage 60/90min, Chakra Balance with Crystals and Sound Healing 60/90 min, Cranial Sacral 60min, Combo session 90min, Cacao Ceremonies 90min

Michelle’s websites :
www.michellehelfner.wordpress.com and www.facebook.com/Infinitluv

 

 

Natalie Ritenour
Natalie is a Yoga Teacher and Massage Therapist who has been spreading the light for Present Moment Retreat since 2007, specializing in Thai Massage, which she refers to as “applied yoga”. In one session of this amazing two hour treatment one can experience what may take years of a personal practice in yoga to build up to. She promotes it as one of the deepest forms of meditation, both for the receiver (moon) and the practitioner (sun). It’s the body and mind’s ultimate way to restore itself back to its natural state of union. There is no better place besides Thailand to experience this practice.

Originally trained in India, she has studied classical Raja and Hatha Yoga at her ashram in Nasik, Maharashtra. She has spent about one year total in India seeking the ancient wisdom. She has led retreats and adventure wellness vacations in Mexico, India, Thailand, and Indonesia. Each year she returns, to Chiang Mai, Thailand to continue her studies of Thai Yoga Massage to bring back different therapeutic techniques to share with you! Visit her website of www.thailandwellnessadventures.com to find out about her next yoga trip!

Natalie is also one of our local surf guides and can help you find a practice on the mat as well in the ocean! She looks forward to working with you and guiding you on your soul’s journey.

Services provided by Natalie:
Private Yoga Class 90min, Circulatory Table Massage 60/90/120min, Thaï Massage 60/90/120/180min, Cupping 60min, Thai Acupuncture 60 min, Reiki Session 60min, Earlybird Yoga for Surfers 60min, Therapeutic Rope Yoga 60min, Qi Gong 60min, Surf Lessons and Tours

Natalie’s website:
www.studi-om.com

 

Leela Francis
Leela has been teaching yoga and dance, practicing massage and leading group retreats at Present Moment Retreat for 10 years. She lives half the year in Troncones and the other half in the Pacific North West.

She first discovered Present Moment when she sought to lead a retreat in a beautiful tropical paradise. Then she realized that it wasn’t just a week in paradise that she craved, but a life in paradise! Making the shift to a more healthy and nature based lifestyle was the beginning of living fully on her terms. She has never looked back and has inspired many others to take the leap to start living fully, NOW!

After studying fine arts in Europe and working with the sensual medium of clay, Leela began her healing studies 30 years ago becoming certified in modalities such as massage therapy, shiatsu, Rosen Method and Reiki to create a flowing, nurturing style of hands on healing.

A teacher of yoga for 20 years, her practice and classes are a blend of hatha flow, vinyasa flow and most recently weaving in her explorations of Ashtanga into her yoga offerings. She loves yoga philosophy and draws inspiration from the sutras, the 8 limbs of yoga and mystical poetry. Her dance classes blend her many certifications including Nia, Journey Dance, Dancing Freedom and Trance Dance to name just a few. Leela often says that dance is her medicine and she loves to create a safe and sacred space where authentic heart and soul healing can take place through honest self expression. Her dance journeys are a great complement to group retreats and she’s often invited to facilitate a special class for visiting groups, weaving in their retreat theme.

Leela is also a Cleansing Coach, Embodiment Coach, and Heartmath Stress Resilience Coach as well as a certified Raw Holistic Chef and guides group and individual cleanses.

Her two published books, Vividly Woman; Textures of a Life Richly Lived and Woman’s Way Home; Navigating Your Path to Embodied Power, are written testimonies of the inner work that guides her path and the life experience that is infused into her classes, retreats and private sessions.

Services Provided by Leela:
Private Yoga Class 90min, Table massage 60/90min, Reiki 60min, Cleanse/Embodiment/Heartmath Coaching 60min, Gourmet Raw Meal Prep Class 120min, Vinyasa Flow Yoga 90min, Gentle Yoga 90min, Dance 60/90min

Leela’s Website:
www.leelafrancis.com

 

Brianne McKenzie
Brianne is from Campbell River, British Columbia, Canada. She obtained a Doctorate of Chiropractic from The Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College in Toronto and a Biomedical Neurofunctional Electroacupuncture certification from McMaster University in Hamilton in 2014. During that same year, she was selected to appear on the Bachelor Canada reality television show, and decided instead to take the 200 Hr Yoga Teacher Training and Reiki Levels 1-3 at Present Moment Retreat. In January 2016 she came back in Troncones to join our wellness team as a healer, providing chiropractic care, acupuncture, massage therapy and reiki. She also teaches gentle and vinyasa yoga.

Brianne enjoys living a life full of adventures, traveling, studying with healers from around the world, surfing, reading and playing soccer. Guiding her fellow human beings to tap into their own ability to heal and inspiring others to live their lives with a little more ease and peace through yoga with a lighthearted attitude are her greatest passions.

Services provided by Brianne:
Rehabilitation sessions 60min, Private classes/Yoga therapy for injuries: 90min, Chiro Assessments/Treatments 60min, Neuromuscular Integration 120min, Massage Therapy 60/90/120min, Coaching and Counselling 60/90/120min, Reiki Session 60min, Vinyasa Flow Yoga 90min, Gentle Yoga 90min

Follow Brianne on Facebook:
www.facebook.com/Dr.BrianneMcKenzie

 

Katie Randall
Katie is a native Minnesotan and met our Co-Founder CJ Ananda at the Minneapolis Yoga Conference in 2014. She has joined the Kula Collective on their Shamanic retreats the last two years in Peru and was invited to join the team at Present Moment.

Over the last 15-years Katie has been a practicing Yoga from a variety of lineages and has spent the last 6 years teaching Yoga in the Caribbean and in Washington D.C. She began practicing for the physical benefits of having a regular practice only to discover the depth of spiritual evolution that was taking place as her practice evolved. After experiencing trauma and PTSD in early 2012, Katie turned to Yoga Therapy as a means to connect back with her true nature. She received her Master of Science in Yoga Therapy shorty after and has been practicing Bodywork and Yoga Therapy since. Over the last couple of years she has worked with Plant medicine and teachers in Peru that have guided her in developing her work as a Shamanic Energy Practitioner and Bodyworker. Katie is highly attuned to energy and her sessions offer an experience that relaxes and revitalizes the body through removing blockages, bringing the body, mind and Spirit into a more balanced state. Katie sees the essence of the Divine within each Being she shares space with, and has a passion for sharing in the Sacred nature that resides in and around us all. She has a passion for Social Justice work in the Healing arts and holds deep reverence for Mother Earth. Her life’s work is informed by these passions.

She encourages students and clients to come from a curious mind, reframing judgments we so often have towards ourselves and others. In this way, we become more accepting, allowing our experiences in Life to come from a place of Love.

Services Provided by Katie:
Shamanic Energy Healing 60/90min., Yoga Therapy 60/90/120min., Private Yoga Class 90min., Shamanic Energy Healing w/ Massage 60/90/120min., Wellness Coaching and Counseling 60/90/120min.

 

Emily Henderson
Emily is a Wellness Practitioner originally from Vancouver, Canada. Since 2008, she has been an integral part of our wellness team for 8 seasons now, combining yoga and shamanism. She uses a compassionate and intuitive approach to help people integrate their mind, body and soul to make change, create balance and find joy and passion in their lives. She works with guests to assist in gaining clarity to create balance in all facets of life: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Through a holistic approach to wellness, she helps facilitate transformation and release blocks to clear the pathway to inner peace and ease in life. Her mission is to provide a safe and sacred space in which to help you enliven your body, stimulate your mind, express your emotions and renew your spirit.

Emily loves to say that she is a student of life and is drawn to helping others so she is continually reading, taking courses and working on herself so that she can be the change she wishes to see in the world. With more than 9 trainings as Reiki Master, Yoga Instructor, Deep Flow… she tailored each session specifically to your needs in the moment.

Emily blends a rich sense of humour with a gentle graciousness that allowed you to explore your life more meaningfully and thoroughly. She is able to take steps towards not only examining your lifestyle, but also taking actions towards achieving your goals in all areas of my life. She is passionate about learning, evolving, playing and flowing. She loves connecting with people, traveling and enjoying life’s adventures!

Services provided by Emily :
Coaching and Counselling 60/90/120min, Wellness Self Exploration 60min, Deep Flow 60/90/120min, Myofacial Release 60/90/120min, Swedish 60/90/120min, Relaxation 60/90/120min, Reflexology 60/90/120min, Reiki Session 60min, Reiki Training Level 1/Level 2/Level 3 (ART)/Master, Sacred Cacao & AUM Sound Ceremony 90/120min, Vinyasa Flow Yoga 90min, Gentle Yoga 90min

Emilie’s website:
www.touchoflightwellness.ca

 

Jess Rose
“Yoga will ruin your life,” Richard Freeman once famously quoted. For Jess Rose, this statement hits the nail on the head. Before yoga, Jess had a safe, clearly-defined life with a 9-5 job, and a circle of friends who got together once a week to chitchat about work and marriage–a good and easy life. But, in 2007, Yoga started creeping into Jess’ world and ruined the stable, automated life she had gotten so used to. Which was the best thing that could ever have happened to her. She transplanted to an Ashram in the foothills of India to immerse herself in daily 5 a.m. meditation, the powerful effects of chanting mantra and practicing kirtan, the selfless service of karma yoga, and the energetics of a strong physical asana practice coupled with pranayama and an ayurvedic diet.

From there, Jess’ cells were abuzz and her spirit was soaring, and she gave in to the powers that be by eschewing her full-time job to practice and teach yoga as well as make music and create a meaningful, expressive existence for herself in Europe. From her original training in India, Jess has gone on to become an RYT-500, and has undertaken trainings in Anusara, vinyasa flow, Jivamukti, and restorative yoga methods.
Jess has been teaching all over the world since 2012, basing herself in Berlin, Germany, but leading classes, workshops, and retreats throughout Europe, South America, and Africa, and having the honor of teaching thousands of students through her online programs on DoYouYoga.com.
Jess feels a deep connection to her Anusara roots, which translates into a powerful practice woven together with heart-themes, physical and energetic alignment principles, and just a touch of silliness. At the core of her teaching is the idea of an innate ‘goodness’ underlying everything we experience — from poses, to practices, to students, to ourselves, and life in general. Her yoga is not one of fixing problems or trying to escape reality. Instead, it is a way of opening to the magic and intrinsic goodness in all of life’s beauty, experiences, and pain. This worldview inspires Jess’s teaching and practice by allowing space for modifications for every student, inviting in individuality and personal expression, and creating a sense of inclusion and empathy into every breath, pose, and class.

You can join Jess’s meditation, vinyasa flow, and gentle yoga classes at the Present Moment through April 2017, practice online with her at DoYouYoga.com and join her teacher trainings in Indonesia and Thailand.

Services offered by Jess:
Meditation 30min, Vinyasa Flow Yoga 90min, Gentle Yoga 90min, Private Yoga Classes

Jess’ website:
Follow Jess on Instagram and Facebook

 

Jakie Zavalza
Jakie was born in Mexico and has been living a nomadic lifestyle for the past two years, mainly splitting her life between Mexico, The United States, Guatemala and Peru.
When she realized that the life that she was living in San Francisco wasn’t serving her anymore she decided to take some time off and do a 200 hrs Yoga Teacher Training by Kula Collective in Present Moment. That’s how she discovered Present Moment almost three years ago. Her time with us was incredibly transformational and profoundly healing. She found the strength to make the necessary changes in her life and the inspiration to start following her dreams and live a life with purpose.

Since 2014, she works around 3 months seasonally.

She is passionate about life, travel, diving deep into the human consciousness and leading a life that reflects your highest potential. She believes that everyone comes with a unique purpose in life, and the process of discovering and fulfilling that purpose fascinates her. She found her connection in Yoga, Meditation, Shamanism, Mysticism and other spiritual practices. And her hope is to inspire others to live the life that has always waited to be lived by them.
Jakie attained her Reiki levels 1, 2 and 3 by Jean Ferris and Emily Henderson, a Thai Massage course by Randi Schiffman and studied metaphysics, Astrology, Kabalah and Tarot by the retreat center Piramides del Ka in Guatemala.

Services provided by Jakie:
Restorative Yoga and Morning Vinyasa Flow 90min, Crystal Reiki infused with Egyptian Energy Techniques 60/75min, Tree of Life Tarot Card Readings 45 min

 

Vivienne Simchowitz
Vivienne was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. She is a true “Renaissance Woman” and a holistic pioneer. She began studying Yoga and metaphysics at the age of 12.
She has studied with master teachers from India including Ashtanga Yoga with Pattabhi Jois and Shamanic Healing with Native American Shamans. Vivienne holds an International Teaching Credential and a Masters Degree in Transformational Psychology. She studied Pilates with a teacher trained in Joseph Pilates’ original studio in New York City.

For 40 years, Vivienne has been giving Astrology and Tarot Readings. She has taught yoga, therapeutic movement, rhythmic dance, and breathwork. She created her own intuitive and dance journey through the chakra. Her experiences include a wide range of prestigious international centers: The Beverly Hills Country Club in California, the Studio Maui in Hawaii, The One&Only Resort in Cape Town and Kalani Honua Cultural Center Hawaii for 12 years.

Vivienne is also a flutist. She has performed and recorded with Madala Kunene, who represented South Africa at the 2012 London Olympic Games. Her CD BellaV was voted no.2 on the Internet Charts. She uses her live flute music in her classes and retreats.

Last March Vivienne discovered Present Moment on the internet while looking into places to share her gifts and talents. Since November she offers Soul Readings, including Astrology and Tarot and Chakra activation, clearing and alignment combined with Breathwork. Every Monday night she plays Bossa Nova and Latin Jazz with Alfredo Moya at our restaurant and teaches a Pilates class on Wednesday.

Services offered by Vivienne:
Soul Readings including Astrology and Tarot 120min, Relationship Readings including Astrology and Tarot 120min, Chakra activation – clearing and alignment combined with breathwork and reflexology 90min, Therapeutic Dance Journey through the Chakras 90min, Pilates 60min, Full moon & New Moon African Dance party, Private Pilates Class 90min, Private Ashtanga Yoga Class 90min.

Vivienne’s Website:
www.soulreadingsandretreats.com

 

Cameron Moffatt
Cameron is a graduate of the Canadian Academy of Osteopathy, a member of the Society for the Promotion of Manual Practice Osteopathy and a teacher at Pacific Rim College in Victoria.
Cameron is passionate about offering patient-centered treatments that focus on the individual’s unique needs, helping them achieve optimum health and expression of joy through mindful living, while not treating symptoms. He looks more deeply into the person as a whole being to find the underlying cause of the dysfunction. He does this through Osteopathy using manual therapy and natural based remedies, both physiological and energetic.
Cameron has been a marathon and triathlete competitor and for the last 20 years has studied traditional Japanese Martial Arts, Tai-Chi and Qi-Gong. He holds a second degree Black belt and has taught Tai-Chi and Qi-Gong in several locations. In his clinical practice he brings this knowledge into his treatments and home care.

Service provided by Cameron:
Osteopathy 60/90/120min.

Cameron’s website:
www.victoriaosteopath.com

 

Brand Manager

Linda Lova
Linda is a French woman with Moroccan heritage. She was far away from home, in search of a new paradise. LovaLinda wears multiple hats: globe-trotter, blogger, community manager, web-designer, consultant, cook and photographer. From 16 to 32, she was a TV host, an influencer, a journalist and much more.

Dedicated to fashion, food, traveling and photography, she created her own blog in August 2011 to share these passions. In December 2013, thanks to her 10 years of experience as a retail manager and her degrees from the Aix-Marseille Graduate School of Management, she started her own business as an Image Consultant. January 2015, she finally realized that she had enough of her luxury routine, so she quit her job to live her dream–travel the world by herself without itinerary, schedule or set duration. After fifteen months exploring Oceania, Asia and Hawaii and discovering many new cultures, in March 2016, she finally fell in love with Present Moment. Here, she decided to stay for a while… Maybe forever?! Since June 2016 she has been our Brand Manager and Communications Director.

LovaLinda enjoys going with the flow, to discover breathtaking landscapes, have adventures, drink lemon water, eat brownies and carrot cakes, be barefoot on the sand, share her “joie de vivre” and take pictures. She is constantly amazed and captivated by the beauty that exists on our planet.

LovaLinda’s website:
www.lovalinda.com

 

Executive Chef

Laura Castro
Born in Colombia, Laura graduated with a degree in Culinary Arts in 2004 (MN, USA). She has experience working as a restaurateur internationally: in Colombia, Brazil, Mexico, and the United States of America. Her passions have allowed her to excel as a Pastry Chef, Executive Chef, Restaurant Consultant, Culinary Instructor, Food Stylist, and Restaurant Owner. She is a person dedicated to gastronomical growth through travel, cultural immersion, and continuing education. “Cooking is my way of giving back; learning different ways to transform food has giving me the chance to connect with the communities that I am part of. I cook with love, which transcends through my food, and nourishes all who receive it!

 

 

Architects


Karina and Gustavo Jasso

Present Moment was co-created through the vision of organic architects Karina and Gustavo Jasso, and built by local craftsman and skilled Mexican artisans. Careful attention has been given to every detail, based on ecological designs that rely on natural building materials — earth, wood, stone, and palm. Walls are finished by hand with “cop” — clay, sand, straw and water — if you look closely you can see the fingerprints of the craftsmen. The Jassos truly articulated the very essence of this project, bringing into reality this dream of a lifetime.

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Playa Troncones Troncones, Guerrero, 40880, Mexico
tom@presentmomentretreat.com US (828) 318-3950 | MX 52 (755) 103-0011