At the Balance Center, all
teachers have been personally certificed
by Jean Couch in the methodology she has
deveoloped to teach Balance. Teachers
each bring a wealth of prior educational
and physical expertise to the Balance
studio, and each imparts a unique perspective
and style to the student's experience
while teaching the fundamentals of Balance
personally and effectively.
Couchis the author of The Runner's Yoga Book, which has sold over 250,000 copies. Jean has presented workshops and lectures throughout the U.S. and Canada on yoga, movement, stretching for runners, and Balance. Over two decades ago, Balance helped her eliminate sciatica, back pains, pronounced kyphosis and a dowager's hump. She has since devoted herself to spreading spinal health and back relief through Balance. Empirical research of populations with little or no back/joint pain has given her an extraordinary sense of optimal mechanical alignment of the human structure. In teaching her passion across the United States to people of all ages, she has helped people manifest the functionality, efficiency and pleasure inherent in their own bodies: whether it's freeing someone from back, neck, shoulder, knee or hip pain or helping an amateur or professional athlete maximize performance through efficient, natural alignment. Jean gives students the keys to body awareness, allowing them to experience the intelligence inherent in their own body. Balance provides a vital context for exploring body, mind and soul. Jean's vision is that anyone brave enough to explore Balance is fully deserving of the liberation and lightness that is our birthright. With a deep appreciation of the potential of the human body, she is holding the space for you to feel more like you want to.
Since 1988 she has been involved in empirical research studying populations of people who have no back or joint pain. She is the Founder and Director of the Balance Center, where she has developed methods for teaching concrete guidelines for pain free posture. She teaches Balance, yoga, and the Balance Teacher Certification Course. Jean has a B.A. from the University of Iowa and a Master's Degree from Stanford University in Education. Sources such as The Yoga Journal describe her as an "extraordinary teacher." She is an inspirational speaker, and has dedicated her life to helping people conquer their pain. She can help you conquer yours.
Jennifer Shereris a Certified Balance Instructor. Jenn found the Balance Center through her own back pain which has been plaguing her on and off for 25 years. She used to believe that her back, shoulder, knee, foot pain and any overall body tightness was caused by aging or genetics. Having experienced pelvis and bone alignment of Balance, she understands that the aging feeling isn't aging, but chronic tightness ignored until it becomes pain. Balance has helped her revitalized muscles and restored spaciousness amongst her bones. She has learned how to trouble shoot her own pain through body awareness attained by practicing Balance Guidelines. Jenn has B.S. in Product Design Engineering from Stanford University, and more importantly, she's pain free and feels younger and stronger now than she did 5 years ago. She's passionate about having others discover the potential of their bodies at any age, because she knows that the despair of a deteriorating body doesn't have to be tolerated. She loves to give others hope and help them unwind their bodies understanding the physics of their flesh and bone. In her spare time she enjoys golf, tennis, dancing, biking, sailing, walking and spending time with her husband and three children.
Janet Cook, is a Certified Balance Instructor, a California licensed Certified Massage Practitioner specializing in elder and balance-related massage, and a long time yoga practitioner. Janet enjoys teaching all levels at the Balance Center and is a long time massage therapist at Lytton Gardens, a local Senior Community. Introduced to Balance in the late 1990’s by a yoga instructor, Janet was attracted by the rational logic of balance, and stayed on to become a teacher. For years, Janet recognized the lack of symmetry in her own body, saw the regal alignment and effortless movement in balanced cultures during her world travels and wondered from whence her uneven pelvis, slight foot drag and bounce off of door jambs came. Under the tutelage of Noelle Perez, our French mentor and her teachers, and Jean Couch, she came to recognize the effects of scoliosis and began the process of leveling the pelvis, extending the spine, and reducing the awkwardness of a scoliotic body. Janet has a BS from Auburn University in Textile Design. She had a career in project management in pharmaceutical product development before devoting her time to the healing work of balance and massage. She enjoys traveling, kayaking, tennis, backpacking, politics, gardening, and reading. She is most grateful to Jean Couch for providing a community for learning, teaching, caring about underlying structural issues, rather than the treatment of symptoms. Balance, the ultimate yoga journey, has changed her life - physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Jean Farmwald starting practicing yoga in 1990, in part, to relieve back pain that she had since the age of 11. Yoga gave temporary relief, but the pain always returned. She also tried massage, chiropractic and physical therapy, with no lasting results. In 2002, she walked, into the Balance Center for the first time and experienced immediate relief from her chronic low back pain. Jean was hooked and stayed on to take classes, eventually completing the 2 years Teachers' Training program. She now teaches Foundations, yoga, privates and at the Balance Center. In the Fall of 2007 she had the privilege of traveling to Paris to study with Noelle Perez at the Institute Aplomb. Jean loves teaching others how to become pain-free through Balanced alignment.
Sukha Carfagno has studied yoga since 1980, beginning with Iyengar, then, Anusara, and finally at the Balance Center. She finds the quiet intelligence of Yoga in Balance most appealing, and appreciates how these movements naturally integrate into the activities of daily life. She holds a BFA from the Art Institute of Chicago, and received a degree in Nursing from Deklab Community College in Decatur, GA. Meditation is the foundation of her life, and Balance has transformed her experience of it. She loves sharing this in "The Art of Sitting for Meditation," a workshop she developed for both beginning and seasoned meditators. Sukha enjoys the on-going camaraderie with other teachers at the Balance Center in their study of this art, walking the hills of La Honda where she lives with her husband, and painting avocationally. She is a Certified Balance Instructor, teaching Foundation and yoga classes in addition to workshops.
Thea Sawyer is a highly regarded Certified Balance Instructor (1992), also certified by Noelle Perez at the Aplomb Institute in Paris, France (1997). Thea's empirical studies of healthy posture have taken her to Mexico, Argentina, India, Portugal, France and The Netherlands. She loves to share her knowledge of pain-free posture and how to maintain energetic movement at any age. Before discovering Balance, Thea was living with crippling back pain, scoliosis and lumbar disk damage that limited her activities, sapped her energy and profoundly affected her life. Frustrated with physical therapy and exercises that brought no relief, learning Balance made a difference right away. As she began to feel and release muscular tension her pain diminished. Today her back pains are gone, she is more fit than ever and the healing power of Balance has made her a passionate practitioner.
Laura Albrecht is a Certified Balance Instructor currently living in Santa Cruz, Ca. She finds the intelligence of Balance to be a grounding presence in her life. After her first workshop with Jean Couch in 2009, she was humbled and motivated to learn more. A year-long apprenticeship under the guidance of Jean Couch and other Senior Balance Teachers revealed much about the nature of her sports injuries, back aches, foot pain and often awkward yoga practice. Mostly, it allowed her to inhabit her body with intelligence and poise–something she never felt in all her years of athletics and yoga. Laura holds a BA in English from UC Berkeley where she also played NCAA Division I Soccer. She has studied at the Ashtanga Yoga Institute at Mount Madonna Center (200 hour certification) and holds a Personal Trainer Certificate from the American Council on Exercise. The gentle and sensible guidelines of Balance inform the way she teaches yoga and trains clients. She has experience working with young athletes and people with disabilities. Visit her website www.yogawithlaura.weebly.com for more information on classes or lessons in the Santa Cruz area.
Raymond Peck is a Certified Balance Instructor. He had back pain since he was a young child, which became severe after he finished his MS in Electrical Engineering at Stanford. He spent the next 10 years trying many modes of treatment for his pain, including Chiropractic, Tai Chi, Alexander Technique and Yoga. All helped to some degree, but the pain would quickly return. In 2001, he took the Intro Class at the Balance Center and could immediately see and feel the clear physical basis of Balance in the slide shows and instructions. A few years later he joined the Teacher program, which he continues weekly, to further his own practice. He has also studied with Noelle Perez in Paris, and other senior Aplomb teachers in Paris and Palo Alto. He has been teaching Foundations classes since 2006.
Balance Instructors located elsewhere
Kay Hackney lives and teaches in Fairbanks, AK. She began her yoga studies in 1977, was certified to teach by B.K.S. Iyengar in 1995 and studied at the Iyengar Institute in Pune , India in October 1997. In 1998 the Balance work of Jean Couch overwhelmingly changed her life as well as her yoga practice and teaching. She is currently a certified Balance instructor. She extends heartfelt appreciation for her teachers along the life long path of yoga, primarily B.K.S. Iyengar, Lynne Minton and Jean Couch. www.interioryoga.com
Morgan Bursiel, RYT lives and teaches in Fairbanks, AK. She hails originally from Minnesota and holds degrees in Biology and Women's Studies from St. Olaf College. She is a lifelong student of dance and music and with local musicians, Anam Cara, has released two traditional Celtic recordings. Morgan has enjoyed a personal yoga practice for well over 10 years. After being introduced to Balance, or naturally aligned posture, by Jean Couch, she began studying locally with Kay Hackney. The combination of yoga and natural balance continues to shape and refine the way Morgan approaches movement and the art of being in her body. She appreciates the gifts of this contemplative practice- strength, flexibility, relaxation, and resilience on and off the mat. She continues to broaden her knowledge at local workshops or when traveling. She has studied with Jean Couch, Judith Lasater, Donald Moyer, Mary Lou Weprin, Dean Lerner, Kay Hackney and Lynne Minton. Morgan is deeply grateful to all of her teachers, past and present, for their teachings and inspiration.
Mary Sinclair has been on her quest for pain free posture since 1996 and was elated to find her teacher Jean Couch in 2002 when her Balance quest became a reality. Right away she knew she found exactly what she was looking for, sensible solutions and strategies for pain and a path to optimizing her appearance. Her path has taken her from Columbus to California for regular Balance pilgrimages and later to Fairbanks Alaska where she was honored to assist and teach at the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival in 2007 and 2008. She also has been able to work under Noelle Perez Christiaens in Paris and with her certified Teachers at the Balance Center in Palo Alto. Mary is a certified Prenatal yoga teacher and co teaches the prenatal yoga teacher training at Yoga On High in Columbus Ohio. She has a passion for working with seniors and is a regular contributor to various yoga teacher trainings in Columbus and Cincinnati where she introduces the principles of Balance. She is passionate about helping others develop an awareness for pain free posture in their everyday movements and activities and brings enthusiasm, fun and inspiration to all her classes. Learn more at www.marysinclairbalance.com
Dana Davis is a Senior Certified Instructor at the Balance Center. She graduated from Pomona College with a B.A. in Psychology and has a M.A. in Spirituality from Holy Names College. She graduated from the Authentic Movement Institute and has studied Dance Therapy. As a flamenco dancer Dana performed with Yaelisa and the Solera Flamenco Dance Company, Flamenco de la Bahia, and Sol de Espana. Dana has studied yoga extensively both with Jean Couch and other Iyengar teachers. She teaches Balance and yoga classes. Her teaching style is characterized by being particularly clear and kind, buoyed by a generous sense of humor. Visit her web site at sonomabodybalance.com
Barbara Wilkens is a Certified Balance Instructor. She holds a B.A. and M.M. in Piano Performance and Pedagogy and has also studied the Taubman approach to the piano. Because Balance was the only approach that gave her relief from her own shoulder and neck pain she includes Balance as well as the Taubman information in her work with RSI and injured musicians. Barbara has performed in the Bay Area and beyond for many years and has recently produced a CD. She has also authored a video "Sitting in Balance at the Piano."
Stephanie Engelsen is a Certified Balance Instructor and a rehabbed 10-hour-a-day desk-sitter. After suffering with back pain for 10 years and trying every solution under the sun, including surgery, steroid spinal injections, physical therapy, daily pain medication and a host of alternative therapies, it was an hour-long class at the Balance Center that finally began to free her from pain. She is thrilled and honored to inform others about the root cause of their pain and teach them how to eliminate the pain themselves. An avid traveler, Stephanie now explores the world through a posture lens, observing people and the way they move and live in their environment. Visit her website and sign up for a class in San Francisco at www.posturerebellion.com.
Theresia Sawyer in San Jose and Saratoga
Laurie Willard in Grass Valley.
Teaching Methods The
Balance Center is a teaching institution.
While we continue to do original research
into Balance, our main contribution to
Balance is in the teaching. Jean Couch
has developed a visionary method for making
concepts of Balance clear,
accessible and individualized
to all students. All Balance Center teachers
share concrete guidelines and specific
directions, combined with a hearty respect
for each student. We take pride in learning
from everyone who studies with us.
teaching at the Balance Center is concrete
For example, you will be instructed while
sitting to move your back in a particular
way so you feel your body weight in your
Much of the teaching
is done through contrasting
how you feel and look when you are in
and out of Balance. Looking at yourself
in a mirror, you will see when you stand
in Balance your legs are vertical, when
you stand out of Balance your legs are
You will learn to distinguish
the difference between relaxation
and tension. Stressed areas of your body
are tense. It is crucial that you learn
to perceive your tension. You will have
many experiences of tightening and loosening
your back, and tight areas specific to
you. Relaxation is a key component of
being Balanced. Relaxation is a key component
of reducing pain.
Each Foundations class
has slide shows to give you visual
images of how people look in and
out of Balance. The people pictured come
from all over the globe- Portugal, Bali,
Peru, Greece. They vary in age from toddlers
to seniors. They come from all walks of
life -construction workers, great athletes,
and computer scientists. You will see
images of people standing, sitting, sleeping,
walking, bending, lifting, and carrying.
These images help you understand the characteristics
of balance and motivate you to practice.
The teaching is interactive
so students are encouraged to ask questions
and comment to help everyone understand
the guidelines of Balance. Instructors
are skilled in listening. Only you know
how you feel and it helps us guide you
when you tell us what's going. We want
to be in conversation with you. Learning
Balance is accelerated when the experience
Instructors will place
you in Balance and give you individual
feedback. You will get the feel
of Balance and be given individualized
directions appropriate for you.
You evaluate how you
feel at the beginning and at the end of
the Foundation Series and measure
your progress. You will also learn
to use a plumb line to qualitatively measure
Balance while standing.
While the instruction
is serious the tone is encouraging,
up beat, and inspirational. The
curriculum for Foundations is predetermined
but is taught informally so that the environment
is relaxing. Balance consists of aligning
the bones naturally and relaxing. We do
all we can to make people comfortable
emotionally so the body can relax. Our
teachers are optimistic because we have
seen so many people get better. Many times
people with long-term pain are discouraged
because nothing has worked. We welcome
people like this because students who
practice get better. It's easy to be enthusiastic
because we have such a consistent track
record of success with difficult cases!
here to read reviews of our classes