my light and my teachers
I am a passionate, devoted yogini, teacher, student of life, health and food enthusiast, art lover, world traveler, warrior goddess and spiritual seeker, a committed loving wife, earth momma to two daughters and soul sister to many friends.
I arrived where I am today after a powerful life event, which led me to a place where I struggled to heal and find my way back to light and joy. I am grateful to have discovered and studied with many master teachers, who introduced me to the power of yoga and nutrition. These two components have had a profound effect on my healing journey and transformation to feeling vibrant, happy, and peaceful, and living and creating the best life possible! Yoga and food have become my medicine.
As a certified Yoga Instructor and Holistic Nutrition and Health Coach, my mission is to share what I have learned over the past fifteen years and to help others on their journey towards better health. Together, we can align with our highest self to balance, nourish and transform the body, mind and spirit.
In my previous life, I was an art dealer and gallery owner with a focus on contemporary art, representing hundreds of artists and curating exhibitions over a period of 22 years. At the age of 26 I owned and operated Art Mecca Gallery in 1989 and then Melanee Cooper Gallery, from 1999 until 2010.
Although I have practiced yoga since the late 90’s, my true journey down the yoga path began when I met my guru, Ruzika Weisen. A guru is someone who helps you when you are in a dark place, and through the practice of yoga, helps move you toward the light. That is what Ruzika did for me. She became my yoga mom, and I wouldn’t be living the amazing life I am now without her guidance. Ruzika taught from her home, and introduced me to the spiritual practice of yoga, not just the asanas (postures). I was learning what was behind the poses, the yogic philosophy. She became my sole teacher for 7 years, and within that time I never set foot inside of a yoga studio. Ruzika studied with B.K.S. Iyengar and Amrit Desai from the Kripalu Ashram back in the 70’s along with other teachers from around the globe. She passed on her expertise, teaching me meditation techniques, pranayama (breathwork), asana (postures) and yoga philosophy, making an indelible impact on my life.
Closing One Door and Opening Another
I decided I wanted to further my education in food and nutrition and sought further training at the Institute of Nutrition in New York City. I became certified as a Holistic Nutrition and Health Coach combining my passions for food and yoga. In 2011 I opened Healthy Zen, the first holistic health business in downtown Chicago to combine and offer private yoga and nutrition sessions and programs. It was a great synergy!
My business began to grow, but something else was calling me. After 30 years, the pace and stress of the big city didn’t feel right anymore and the cold weather was not aligned with how I wanted to live my best life. My children left for college and it was time to start a new chapter. I love being outdoors and connecting with nature, I am a beach girl at heart. To live my life in alignment with my authentic self I needed to tune into the source of my being. I could not ignore that I needed to find new place to call home to live the fullest expression of myself. The heart needs to feed itself so it can nourish the rest of the body and all that we are in relationship with.
When I first arrived in Santa Barbara I started teaching yoga full time at the local studios and was looking for the right place to establish my own private studio/practice to invite my yoga students and health clients.
I have been living in this magical paradise since the Fall of 2012. What was supposed to be a brief visit turned into my community, my heart, my home. I have fallen in love not only with Santa Barbara, but the quality of my life here. My heart explodes when I walk on the beach, hike in the mountains, watch the sunsets and shop at our local farmers market twice a week—it’s the garden of Eden!
In the summer of 2014 I found a California Bungalow, overlooking the mountains and a few blocks from the ocean: The perfect home for Healthy Zen in Santa Barbara, where food and yoga are medicine.