Our Teachers

Leah Nichols*, Tedrah Smothers*, Theresa O'Toole* & Courtney Oliver teach weekly classes at our studio.
Other teachers offer special classes and fill in as needed. See below for bios.
* = Certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher


Achieving Iyengar certification to teach yoga requires years of training, a commitment to rigorous daily study and practice, and passing a 3-part multi-year assessment.

You will find our teaching to be true to the Iyengar tradition’s high standards, with our understanding of yoga drawn from years of experience.



Leah Nichols, CIYT, CYT.

Yoga was a natural fit for me when I began at age 26. A professional stage actor, I used my body in my craft. But I had little intelligence or knowledge about my body. My first yoga class intrigued me. My second one, an Iyengar Yoga class, moved me. I left that class feeling clearer, calmer. It may sound cheesy to say it but I felt more like myself. Not the "self" I show to the world through performing or daily interactions with others. But my real self -- the deepest part of me. Of course, the feeling quickly faded until I went to my next class....and the next...and the next.

Before long, I started practicing on my own. I'm 47 now, and still performing in theatre...but I'm stronger and sharper than I was 20 years ago. All because of yoga.

This journey has been the most adventurous and exciting of my life. In 2006, I started Evergreen Yoga Center because I wanted to create a welcoming environment that challenges each person according to her/his capacity. Iyengar Yoga practice may begin with the body, but it also speaks to your mind, your emotions & your soul.

 I am a Certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher because I want to share the many facets of yoga with my students. Iyengar Yoga is taught systematically -- so from the beginning, each class challenges you at your current level and forms the building blocks for the next challenge. I achieved my Iyengar Yoga Teacher Certification in 2011. As I write this in 2017, I am diligently working toward my next certification level, and will go through assessment in the fall.

I am also a Certified Yoga Therapist. The International Association of Yoga Therapists is establishing yoga as a healing art and science -- and is leading the way in integrating yoga as a respected healing modality among the medical community. 

My long-time teacher, Lou Hoyt of Eastern Sun Yoga, has had a strong influence on me since I took my first class with her in 1999.  She has encouraged me to embrace the questions and develop ways of experimenting in my practice.  I strive to emulate her qualities of integrity, friendliness, joy, compassion, clarity, consistency and courage.

Email Leah.


Tedrah Smothers, CIYT, CYT.

Tedrah began her yoga practice in 1987 at Eastern Sun Yoga Studio with Lou Hoyt. She started teaching Iyengar yoga in 1993 to share with others the  journey  of transformation and self knowledge.

She has been a certified Iyengar yoga instructor (according to the standards set out by the Iyengar Yoga National Association of the US & B.K.S. Iyengar) since 2000 -- and  earned her Intermediate-Junior 2 certification in 2016.  She also holds a bachelors degree in communications from the University of Memphis.

Her community service includes serving as teacher training committee chair for 4 years on the board of the Iyengar Yoga Association of the Southeast.
Tedrah has attended 5 Iyengar national conventions, where she had the great honor to study with B.K.S. Iyengar and his daughter Geeta Iyengar. She has also made the journey to Pune, India to study with the Iyengar family. Over the years Tedrah has attended workshops and teacher trainings with numerous senior Iyengar certified teachers. Some of these include Manouso Manos, Patricia Walden, Mary Dunn, John Schumacher, Kristin Chirhart, Lee Sverkerson and Karin O’Bannon.

Most recently, she attended a week-long, 40-hour intensive with senior Iyengar teacher Lois Steinberg in Champagne-Urbana, Illinois.

Since 2010. she has completed four 50-hour teacher training programs in New Orleans with Karin O’Bannon and Randy Just.    

Since 2012, Tedrah has been invited to teach in Taipei, Taiwan each summer.. She spends a month there each trip and taught multiple public classes, as well as two 30-hour immersions.

Tedrah considers herself a student of yoga, a yoga practitioner as well as a yoga teacher. She lives in midtown with her husband, Kirk and their dog, Cooper.



Theresa O'Toole, CIYT

Prior to pursuing yoga in 2007, Theresa was an avid runner and triathlete. While externally strong, she found it difficult to handle job stress as a School Psychologist, as well as stress of everyday life. Heart issues resulted.

A dear friend introduced Theresa to Leah and Evergreen Yoga shortly after the studio opened. Immediately, yoga became a tool to help Theresa remain much more in the moment, control the fluctuations of the mind, and calm the nervous system. Iyengar yoga provided Theresa the internal focus that she needed to compliment her strong external body. Heart issues resolved.

As her love for yoga grew, Theresa began training to be a teacher. She did her teacher training and apprenticeship with her mentor, Lou Hoyt, of Eastern Sun Yoga. Also, Theresa attended Teacher Training sessions in New Orleans with Randy Just and Becky Lloyd. Theresa passed her Intro 1/2 assessment in 2017 and is a Certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher.

She has participated in several workshops with Senior Iyengar Teachers, including Roger Cole, Manouso Manos, Randy Just, Kquvien Deweese, Peentz Dubble, Judy Rice, Karin O’Bannon, Julie Gudmestad, and Bobby Clennell.   She had the privilege of attending the 2016 Iyengar Yoga Convention with classes taught by Abhijata Iyengar, BKS Iyengar’s granddaughter.

Theresa is grateful for the opportunity to share the gift that Iyengar yoga offers, to build both external and internal strength. When she is not doing yoga, Theresa works with children, to help them find their internal strength, as a School Psychologist with the Shelby County School System.





Courtney Oliver

A life-long theatre performer and dancer, Courtney began practicing yoga with Leah shortly before the doors opened to Evergreen Yoga Center in 2006.  It soon became evident that yoga was a necessary tool for calmness and mindfulness in her fast-paced life in live theatre. In under two years of practice with Leah, she began teacher training.  In 2009 she started teaching at EYC. She has been teaching at the University Club since 2014.

Yoga not only changed Courtney as a performer, but as a person.  Wound tight emotionally, wild socially, and loose spiritually, her yoga practice opened a door to a safe space that allowed her to ask new or better questions, learn new or deeper truths, and find celebration in her self and her own body.  In every body.

Courtney’s full-time life is as Director of Special Events and Resident Company Member, working as an actor, director, choreographer and fight choreographer (recognized as an actor/combatant through the Society of American Fight Directors). She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Theatre & English from University of Alabama. Courtney operates the photography website, FindMemphis, along with photographer Carla McDonald.

Courtney is beyond honored to return to her first yoga home and encourages people of all ages, sizes, genders, races, and spiritual leanings to come on in unapologetically and uncover the wealth of possibilities available to you in your own skin and heart through the practice of yoga.





Erin D. H. Williams

Erin took her very first yoga class in 1993 while studying dance in college but it would not be until 2001, while studying dressage, that she would find yoga again. The horses really appreciated what the yoga did for Erin.

Erin has a BFA in Dance and Theatre from the University of Memphis. She is a Registered Yoga Teacher through Yoga Alliance and a Certified Yoga Therapist. Erin received her 200-hour yoga teacher training through Midtown Yoga and her 500-hour Yoga Therapy training through The Yoga Center of Jackson.

As a dancer, Erin loves to move her body through space but she finds a special healing power in connecting with the movement of her breath within the stillness of a yoga pose. The call to attention is what Erin loves about Iyengar yoga. You have to be present to listen, hear, feel, and find the subtle teachings the practice has to offer. Erin has been studying yoga with Lou Hoyt since 2004 and is grateful to have attended workshops with Iyengar Yoga teachers Peentz Dubble, Julie Gudmestad, and Manouso Manos.
Erin teaches therapeutic physical education and yoga to the students and adult trainees at Madonna Learning Center as well as yoga and dance for the Kaleidoscope After School Arts Program. Erin enjoys encouraging her students to fully embody their being, reconnect with their breath, and find the truth in their movement -- so they come back into and feel at home in their bodies.

When she is not busy being a Mom or teaching, Erin enjoys dancing and choreographing for Project:Motion Modern Dance Collective. Erin loves horses and hopes to soon again be dancing with her Spiritdog friends.


Laura Allen

box-lauraA ballet dancer in her former life, Laura gravitated instantly to the practice of yoga. Yoga filled the void she felt after ending her dancing career. It immediately released physical and mental tension and reconnected her body, mind and spiri

Laura is a mother of two young men and works full time as a Senior Account Executive at a local advertising firm. She has been practicing the art, science and philosophy of yoga for over 13 years. She earned her Yoga Alliance Teacher Certification in 2003 and has been teaching ever since. Over the years she has studied with many talented teachers and attended many workshops. Some of the teachers who have influenced her love for yoga are Shiva Rea, Rodney Yee, Bobby Clennell, John Schumacher, Sarla Nichols, Lou Hoyt, Arline Jernigan and Leah Bray Nichols.

Laura enjoys practicing and teaching many levels of yoga, but is focusing her energy on teaching prenatal. Being a mother herself, she appreciates and understands how important it is to take care of yourself during this special time in a woman's life. She feels fortunate to be able to share her knowledge and benefits of yoga with young mothers and their growing yet-to-be born babies. It's the perfect time to incorporate yoga into your routine and set the stage for a lifetime yoga practice.


Susanne Bulington, CIYT

Susanne has moved her teaching practice to Meadville, Mississippi, but she returns to Memphis often for taking classes, doing teacher training, and filling in here at Evergreen. We still consider her an important part of our community!

Susanne came to her first Iyengar class in 2012 based on the recommendation of a friend. What began as simple curiosity, soon revealed yoga's potential to relieve pain, improve stamina and energy, and quiet the mind. Within the first few years of practice, she recognized the deep and lasting benefits of Iyengar yoga in her own body and mind, and became eager to share this valuable experience with others.

When traveling, Susanne discovered she enjoyed taking Iyengar yoga classes in other cities. As she encountered new teachers, she recognized a distinct consistency in the quality of instruction from teacher-to-teacher and class-to-class within the Iyengar system. The impressively effective clarity of instruction & systematic attention to detail are just some of the reasons why she has chosen to practice and teach in this method.

Susanne has her M.A. in Speech-Language Pathology, and has worked across the lifespan with children and adults with communication, cognitive, and swallowing disorders. Susanne's professional background and experiences have served to deepen her appreciation for the profound benefits of yoga.

Susanne is currently studying, training and apprenticing with her teacher/mentor Lou Hoyt at Eastern Sun Yoga in Memphis. She passed her Iyengar Teacher assessment, and is now a CIYT at the Intro 1/2 level.

To date, she has participated in workshops with Manouso Manos, Kquvien Deweese, Randy Just, Peentz Dubble, and Edwin Bryant – along with a Summer Intensive with Lois Steinberg. Most recently Susanne had the privilege of attending the 2016 Iyengar Yoga Convention with classes taught by Abhijata Iyengar, Mr. Iyengar's granddaughter.

Susanne appreciates and values the supportive and inspiring nature of the Iyengar yoga community in Memphis and beyond. She looks forward to the opportunity to introduce new students to the practice and community.



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Our center's director, Leah Bray Nichols, opened EYC in 2006 because she wanted to teach yoga in an authentic and clear way.
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We are located at 1541 Overton Park Avenue in the historic Evergreen neighborhood in Midtown Memphis.

1541 Overton Park Avenue map
Memphis, TN 38112
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