Teacher Training Faculty

Faculty Biographies

The Sunrise teacher training faculty brings together regionally, nationally and internationally-respected leaders in the application of yoga to healing, wellness and spirituality as well as everyday life.

They each combine a lifelong personal and professional commitment as a yoga practitioner with deep formal and experiential training in their specific area of interest, ranging from yoga's philosophical foundations to the ways yoga can help heal the body and much more.


Valerie Kiser

Founder, E-RYT 500, RPYT, C-IAYT, YACEP

Valerie founded Sunrise Yoga Studio in Clemmons, NC, outside Winston-Salem, NC, in 2003. She founded the Yoga Alliance-registered 200-hour Sunrise Teacher Training program in 2008 and the 300-hour program in 2011. She is also a Yoga Alliance Continuing Education Provider (YACEP).

In June 2018, Valerie co-founded the East Coast Yoga Therapy training program, among the first 30 yoga therapy training schools worldwide to be accredited by the International Association of Yoga Therapists. 


Nicolai Bachman

E-RYT 500, M.A. Eastern Philosophy, MS, Nutrition

Widely-recognized author of important yoga references, including The Language of Yoga, The Yoga Sutras: An Essential Guide to the Heart of Yoga Philosophy, and The Path of the Yoga Sutras, and founder of Sanskrit Sounds in Santa Fe, NM, Nicolai teaches Sanskrit, chanting, the philosophy of yoga, and Ayurvedic principles to our teacher training students.

His studies have included the American Sanskrit Institute, the Ayurvedic Institute, the American Institute of Vedic Studies and the Vedic Chant Center.


Elise Browning-Miller

CIYT, C-IAYT, MA, Therapeutic Recreation

Certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher, faculty member of San Francisco's Iyengar Yoga Institute and co-founder of the California Yoga Center in Mountain View, CA, Elise has studied extensively with B.K.S. Iyengar and specializes in the use of yoga for scoliosis, upper and lower back problems, and sports-related injuries.

Author and creator of the Yoga for Scoliosis book and DVD, Yoga for Backcare, and Yoga, Anytime, Anywhere, she has been widely published on scoliosis and other yoga and health related topics in Yoga Journal and elsewhere.


Cindy Dollar


Cindy has been voted “Best Yoga Teacher in Western North Carolina” by Mountain Xpress readers four times in recent years. Founder and owner of Asheville's One Center Yoga until 2017, she emphasizes her belief that yoga can and should be accessible and safe for all, regardless of age, ability, or injury.

Cindy blends her academic training as a licensed pharmacist with her ongoing interest in East/West healing modalities when she steps onto the mat. Her Yoga Your Way: Customizing Your Home Practice book has been a valuable resource for untold students of yoga.


Julie Gudmestad, PT

As the author for many years of Yoga Journal's "Anatomy of a Yogi" column and a practicing physical therapist degreed by the Pacific University School of Physical Therapy, Julie is the founder of a combined physical therapy practice and yoga studio in Portland, OR that emphasizes the integration of yoga's healing powers with Western health and medicine. 

Her advanced training includes orthopedic conditions, chronic pain, sports injuries, and stress-related conditions, and she teaches online classes via Yoga University.


Gwen McLaughline

Gwen McLaughlin, RYT500

Gwen began her yoga practice at home, and quickly realized that yoga would become a lasting part of her daily life. She feels yoga creates a balance between the body and mind which is calming and regenerative.  She entered the Sunrise Teacher Training program to deepen her knowledge so that she could share the joy and insight that yoga brings. She is now registered with the Yoga Alliance as an RYT 500 and is also an iRest ® Level 1 Teacher.  Gwen believes that practicing yoga allows a person to be fully present in the moment, something to which we can all aspire.



Dr. Jarrod Whitaker

Associate Professor, graduate program director, south asian religions, wake forest university

A member of the Wake Forest Study of Religions department, Jarrod teaches courses related to Asian religions, particularly Hinduism and Buddhism. He's the director of the M.A. program in Religious Studies and holds an M.A. with First Class Honors in Religious Studies from the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. He earned his Ph.D. in Asian Cultures and Languages from the University of Texas at Austin.

He is widely published, including numerous articles on ancient India and a recent monograph published by Oxford University Press.