Our Story

The Story of Bloom

Welcome to Bloom Retreat, a wholeness center for women.

As women we tend to give pieces of ourselves away – to our families, careers, and loved ones. It can be really hard to create space for the life we dream of. We often end up feeling tired, broken, lost, and alone. Bloom creates a sacred container for each of us to feel held, nurtured, and part of something meaningful.

Bloom is a wholeness center, meaning we are here to support all of you—body, mind, and soul—and help you put back the broken pieces so that you can remember who you truly are.

We can find wholeness when we commit to ourselves, connect deeply with other women, and find a place where we belong. Bloom is set up to help you do this.

At Bloom we are on a mission to bring women together in community and sisterhood using yoga, movement, and wellness as vehicles to open us to each other and ourselves. We offer specialized yoga and movement programs, including The Practice® and our Bloom Signature Series, all focused on empowerment, commitment, and connection. We also offer holistic wellness services including massage, acupuncture, therapy, and chiropractic care to support all of your needs. It is a very personal experience, where everyone knows your name and you feel seen.

Bloom gives you permission to return to yourself and come home to your tribe.

COMMITMENT

One of our biggest struggles as women can be commitment and devotion to ourselves. We commit to everyone one around us, but not to ourselves. At Bloom we know that change and growth require commitment. That’s why we offer specialized yoga and movement programs based on the commitment model. You get to schedule your workouts like you do other appointments—at the same time and same place each week. This will keep you accountable to your goals and help you achieve the life you long for. We also offer Devotion Packages for each of our wellness services. These are a chance to design your own custom healing program with our practitioners and have a team of wellness professionals supporting you along the way.

CONNECTION

As women, we crave authentic connection and community. But in our culture, it is often difficult to connect and form close friendships with women who get us. Everything we offer at Bloom is set up to help you connect with other women. Each class, service, and program at Bloom is laced with heart-felt conversations to help you connect to yourself and see that you are not alone in your struggles. As women we want to talk about real life, love, the messiness of it all. You don’t just come to class and then leave, like other yoga studios. You get to hang out, have a cup of tea, chat with friends, and get to know the community. This is what is beautiful about Bloom.

SISTERHOOD

At Bloom, we lead from a place of sisterhood. Instead of a top-down, teacher/student approach, all of our teachers and wellness practitioners are in it with you. Our staff are just like you—they get it. They’re here to help you, lift you up, and see you shine. Whether you are taking a class or having an acupuncture session, you will feel held and seen. Because of this, there is no more hiding behind judgment and perfectionism. At Bloom, you get to let all of that go, and show up just as you are.

Michelle Long

Michelle Long, Founder

I’m Michelle Long – dreamer, yogi, mom of two, and founder of Bloom Retreat and The Practice®. This is my story.

The idea for Bloom Retreat started long ago, in the middle of the night while I was rocking my colicky, 3-month old baby to sleep. At the time, my mom was dying of breast cancer. My life, my world, and everything I knew to be true was being turned upside-down. That night I had a vision of a healing space where women could come together and support each other in community, love, and authenticity. I had a vision of Bloom Retreat.

So I set my heart on building this sanctuary. My dream was to create a space built by women for women, with yoga, movement, wellness services, and anything else that could bring us back to ourselves.

Since Bloom Retreat opened its doors in 2012, it has continued to evolve. At first I thought it was simply a special place for women to come to and take care of themselves. But as I got to know the women in our community (and myself) better, I started to understand a deeper need, which I realized was the reason that we are really here, and what we are really doing.

You see, my mom wanted to be well, to feel better in her body, and to pursue her dreams, like all of us do. But things always seemed to get in her way. She was held back by guilt, lack of self-worth, putting everyone else first, not being able to carve out time, and the fear of change…. I knew this at the time, but at Bloom I was seeing these same things show up for my clients. It’s like my mom’s struggles were being reflected back to me through Bloom.

So I started asking big questions. Why are we not showing up for ourselves? What is getting in the way? What do we really need and desire? What can I create that actually serves these women (and myself) in the way that we need?

women's yoga class

This process of questioning became something of quest that lasted years and pushed me to my edge and then over it. It made me surrender. Then I had a second vision.

I realized that we need more than just access to services. We need a sacred container to hold us through the transformation process. We need a structure that will help us stay devoted to ourselves. We need other women. We need community.

So to address this need, Bloom has pioneered a new model for women’s self-care based on devotion, connection, and sisterhood. Our specialized yoga and movement and programs create a sacred structure to help you commit to yourself in a new way. Our wellness services, offered by women just like you, can support you in your efforts to heal and to feel your best.

This model works like magic. Since putting it into place, I’ve seen women create lasting connections and friendships, transform their bodies, open their hearts, show up for themselves in a real way, and heal—the way I originally envisioned it.

This is my work. This is why Bloom Retreat is here.

To glowing women, and lives gorgeously lived,

Michelle Long, Founder

Who We Are

  • We are soul-driven women committed to creating lives we love.
  • We know that taking time for ourselves is the secret to living vibrant & fulfilled lives.
  • When we feel good in our bodies we are strong, confident, and calm.
  • We surround ourselves with like-minded women who cheer us on.
  • We spend time in places that bring out the best in us.
  • We practice speaking our voices and letting out our roars.
  • We follow our passions, and these feed our souls.
  • We aspire to be the women who inspire our children.
  • We live to create the lives of our dreams while our children watch our every move.

Our Instructors

MIchelle Long

Michelle Long

For me, yoga is about cultivating patience, compassion, and love for myself. I feel like yoga brings me back to who I am.

Born and raised in Walnut Creek, I have been practicing and teaching yoga for more than 12 years. I was first introduced to the historical and mystical roots of the yogic traditions on an extended trip to Nepal. Since then, I have trained with leading yoga teachers across the country, including Bikram Choudary, Sri Dharma Mittra, Jason Nemer, Jane Austin, and Mark Horner. In addition, I hold a Master’s Degree in Holistic Health Education.

In my yoga classes, I draw on many different styles of yoga, my formal education in Holistic Health, and the wisdom I have gained as a mother, a leader, and entrepreneur. My goal is to help students find peace in their bodies and mind.

Anna Ritner

I am a California state-licensed acupuncturist and herbalist with a Master of Science in Traditional Chinese Medicine from the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in San Francisco.

Chinese medicine is a natural, non-invasive medicinal art that heals the root cause of illness, rather than just the symptoms, by addressing all the interdependent components of the person—body, mind and spirit. My healing philosophy empowers women to embark on a guided journey toward self-cultivation and awareness, and I approach each client with the ideology that our bodies are exquisitely designed to restore themselves to their original blueprint of health.

Combining the best of holistic Eastern wisdom with Western functional medicine principles, I take a multi-faceted approach to helping clients achieve their health goals. A trained birth doula and placenta encapsulation specialist, my passion is women’s health and peri-natal care, and I have received advanced training in pre-conception and fertility medicine, pregnancy and labor support and general women’s wellness, including hormone balancing, mood, skin and digestive disorders, and autoimmune conditions.

My treatments are customized according to the specific needs of the individual. Modalities that are commonly used in addition to acupuncture are Chi Nei Tsang — a type of abdominal massage that brings awareness to the belly and pelvic floor — therapeutic massage, nutritional and lifestyle counseling, herbal medicine, nutritional supplements, and mindfulness practices.

Carolyn Roney

I feel the most aligned with my purpose teaching yoga, and coaching women. I have been teaching yoga since 2011 and have over 500 hours of yoga training. My classes are creative, strong, and challenging and also provide the space for my students to feel held and nourished. I am also a certified life coach and I work with women who struggle with feeling stuck in patterns of addictive behaviors; step into lives beyond their wildest dreams. Here is my favorite quote is written by Patanjali, the father of the Yoga Sutras and reminds me daily of the miracles available to us when we tap into inspiration: “When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds: Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great, and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties, and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.”

Gabby Cavagnaro

As a teacher, I draw on the wisdom and guidance offered by my own teachers, Mark Horner and Michelle Long, with whom I trained. But the greater influence on my teaching is that inner voice that compels me to embody the shifts in consciousness—the light—I write about and ponder daily. This approach evolved through the roundabout route of academia. For more than ten years, I wrote about consciousness and the
nature of its evolution, receiving a doctorate in Russian literature from the University of Chicago. In time, it became apparent that the questions I was posing about consciousness and transformation could not be answered by the academy. Yoga presented itself as a path to explore and practice—to live—the
intellectual proposals I had long meditated on. And, for the better part of a decade, it has become a central tool for inner growth in my life and work.

Gabriella Sikorski

Originally from Canada, I grew up a dancer of many styles. While looking to expand my exploration of movement, I attended my first yoga class at age 15. A few years later, I was involved in a major car accident that required learning how to walk again. I attribute a great deal of my recovery and healing to practicing Yoga.
In 2009, I completed a 200-hour RYT with Mark & Shankara Darby in Ashtanga Yoga in Montreal. From 2011 to 2014, I traveled from Hawaii to Asia, living at Anand Prakash Ashram in Rishikesh, India, as well as Satyananda Ashram in Australia. I’ve attended workshops internationally with world-renowned instructors like Elena Brower, Annie Carpenter, and Judith Hanson-Lasater. I also taught weekly classes in Australia before returning to North America, where I now call Oakland home.

 With a deep reverence for the practice of Yoga, my classes weave in body awareness, breathing techniques and the opportunity to let go of the thinking mind. In this delicate space, connection to self becomes more like home every time.

Jenny McCarthy Redman

Teaching yoga deepens my own connection to mindfulness and joy.

It took living in fast-paced Manhattan for this Bay Area native to connect with yoga and uncover an inner source of calm and steadiness.  My practice there led me through 200-hour teacher training certification with Yoga Works New York, and after becoming a mother and witnessing the effects of yoga in my family, I went on to become a certified children’s yoga instructor through Karma Kids New York.  My own practice has sustained and guided me through life, injuries and transitions – especially parenting! I am passionate about helping others tune into the store of tools, strength, wellness and compassion that resides in each of us.

Babies and children are natural yogis, and it fills my heart to teach (& learn from!) them.

Jilliam Bobowicz

Jillian Bobowicz

Since graduating college I have completed two highly regarded children’s yoga teacher trainings: Karma Kids Yoga and Yoga Playgrounds. In addition, I have completed 500 hours of YogaWorks Teacher Training. Particular teachers have had a profound impact on my growth as a teacher including Mynx Inatsugu, Melanie Salvatore-August, Gary Kraftsow and Leah Kalish. It is an absolute joy to teach children yoga and help them build the foundation for a healthy life. My kids classes include age appropriate asanas (postures) and yoga games that promote strength, flexibility and breath awareness and teach relaxation techniques and self-discipline.My adult classes offer a youthful approach to yoga focused on bringing the mind, body and breath into balance. Everything in our adult lives seems to bring us out of balance – even the family and friends we love. Yoga helps us return to ourselves, to balance, and teaches us to operate from that place. This way we can be more present in everything we do.

I invite you and your family to one of my classes at Bloom. It is an honor to support this community of children and adults with a heartfelt approach to yoga that encourages each individual’s authentic self to shine.

Liz Kelly

In 2014 I had a spiritual epiphany of sorts – at a women’s business conference, of all places. That single moment put in motion an avalanche of change in my life, ultimately inspiring me to exit the company I’d founded and spent seven years building, complete my 200-hour yoga teacher training certification, and dedicate two years to studying the historical record of the Divine Feminine. This past summer, my research took me across four countries in Europe with my entire family in tow.

Deepening into my knowledge of yoga and the Goddess have each changed my life in immeasurable ways; merging the two into a practice I can share with others brings me a joy like no other. I look forward to seeing you on your mats and experiencing the collective energy we create together!

Michaela Kissinger

Michaela Kissinger

I am the happy mom of an almost two-year-old daughter who I sometimes refer to as my “live-in Zen Master.” Born and raised in Germany, I have made the Bay Area my second home for work and play since 2000. Combining my skills as life coach and yoga instructor, I have been helping women live happier, juicier, and more fulfilling lives for nearly a decade. I am passionate about the work I do with my clients as I coach them to look within, feel empowered, take their life’s path into their hands, dream big, and stay connected to their own beliefs and values.

Michelle Cordero

I’ve been teaching yoga and wellness classes in the Bay Area for 15 years, and I’m certified with the Yoga Alliance at the highest level of E-RYT500.  I am a Certified Life Coach, Lead Teacher Trainer and co-Creatrix of Stellarflow 200 HR YTT in Berkeley, and assist my teacher Ana Forrest in her workshops and teacher trainings around the country.  I’ve been studying pole dancing, sensual movement and striptease for eight years, and I’m certified to teach pole dance. I feel stronger, more vibrant and more comfortable with my body as a result of this added dimension to my movement repertoire. Plus, I have never had so much fun working out. So I’ve decided to share this incredible experience with other women. By taking out the pole, I’ve made this movement a little more “user friendly”.

My Sensual Yoga classes include some basic yoga with abdominal strengthening in addition to more sensual moves.  Classes always begin with a brief warm up designed to build strength and flexibility. As part of the warm up, we learn a vocabulary of sensual feminine movement (think yoga meets your natural gorgeous curves). Wear yoga clothes or anything you feel comfortable moving in; and you are invited to wear something that appeals to your sensuality via look, feel, color or texture.

Get ready to play, feel empowered and surprise yourself.

Nicole Harrow

To me, Yoga is a powerful and mystical tool for unearthing your highest potential.  As an experienced teacher and practitioner, my classes are an alchemy of movement, stillness, breath and awareness. With the current cultural climate and busy lifestyles there are many challenges for the modern woman. I offer thought provoking sentiments to deal with these challenges, drawing upon yogic texts including Pantanjali’s Yoga Sutras, and the Hatha Yoga Pradipika. Most importantly, I hold a space that is safe and free of judgement for us to explore and expand our connection to our own inner wisdom and teacher.

Rebecca Hersh

Rebecca believes in leaving yoga classes feeling better. She feels privileged to have found yoga as a way to connect her mind, body and spirit, and is honored to lead others in this quest for wholeness.  Her classes are playful, loving and full of light.  She is dedicated to helping others find the breath of thread within themselves that connects us all with each other. Rebecca was certified by Laughing Lotus in their own unique brand of Vinyasa flow, as well as prenatal yoga by the power house that is Jane Austin. 

Rebecca would like to bow to all her great gurus, including Jasmine Tarkeshi, Keith Borden, Dana Flynn and Joy Nirenstein.

Sarah Cole

Sarah Cole

I am a wife and mom to three little ones. In my free time I enjoy playing with my kids, introducing them to new adventures, and spending time at the beach. I am a lifetime Bay Area resident and have a passion for fitness. My specialty is working with prenatal and postnatal clients. I enjoy designing new fitness routines for my clients and helping them reach their fitness goals. My fitness classes provide a challenging workout, a positive environment, gentle motivation, and a safe place to reach and exceed personal goals.

Tina Dodds

For the last 20 years I’ve been helping women transform their lives through movement and community. Ever since I can remember I’ve felt both electrified (in the best way) and profoundly healed by the power of music, physical activity, nature, and sisterhood. One of my most favorite memories is choreographing routines in the garage of my childhood home and teaching them to my friends.  I was six. “Shake Your Booty” was the jam.

My passion for sharing the transformational qualities of movement and community only got stronger as I grew older. I went on to obtain many certifications in group fitness, earned a degree in Kinesiology (the study of human movement), and still continue to study and explore in the areas happiness, grief, behavior change, and transformational leadership. But I must say, the most critical piece of education I have received (and continue to receive) has come through the vulnerability of the people I surround myself with and their willingness to share what they’ve done when the shit hits the fan.   

I am crazy passionate about helping you root into your confidencelive in your truths, and feel luscious and vibrant in your body – all while not taking yourself too seriously. While you can expect hearty hugs and deep connection, you can also expect hearty laughs and time for play! I offer all of this to you through movement classes, outdoor adventures, retreats, and group coaching programs.