About Yoga Garden

Meet the Owners: Marisa Toriggino and David Nelson

Marisa Toriggino and David Nelson met in 1998 when they both started working at newly formed Castro Yoga.

Marisa had been practicing yoga for nearly 14 years, while David had only begun his practice a few years before. Their shared passion for the subject and for each other led to this crazy scene where David proposed marriage to Marisa while they were in headstands while leading a yoga retreat in Hawaii. They were married in July 2000.

Castro Yoga, now Yoga Garden SF, has been their passion and livelihood. In 2004 they purchased a commercial building on Divisadero Street and raised their two daughters, Arielle and Ingrid upstairs, running the yoga school on the ground floor. In 2009, they moved out of the building, and Yoga Garden SF took the entire premises.

Through the years of developing a business, raising a family, and nurturing their relationship, the study and practice of yoga in all levels and activities of their lives has been an inspiration and foundation for spiritual growth and a guide for living.

Read more about David here and Marisa here.




Our Mission:

Since we started in 1998, we have developed a commitment to four principles:

  1. Teach yoga safely, always to improve a persons’ health and well being rather than causing harm;
  2. Keep it grounded in real experience, starting with the physical experience and moving to the spiritual practice and benefit as a human revelation devoid of cliche or dogma;
  3. Keep it interesting-yoga works because it is more than relaxation, more than a workout, more than meditation-it’s an unfolding of self discovery, growth and health;
  4. Wellness and mindful practice needs the support of community, and our center is dedicated to unpretentious, real relationships based on trust, respect, and a shared interest in personal growth.

Meet the rest of the Yoga Garden family

David Nelson

Instructor and Owner

David started practicing yoga to seek relief from chronic back pain and found that yoga was a powerful and dynamic medium to explore the meaning of life. David began teaching in 1998, and has studied Bikram, Ashtanga and Iyengar yoga. He was certified by B.K.S. Iyengar from 2005­-2013 and is registered as an ERYT200 with Yoga Alliance. David is passionate about the study and practice of Yoga.  Together with Marisa Toriggino, he owns and operates Yoga Garden SF.

Marisa-thumbMarisa Toriggino

Instructor and Owner

Marisa is one of two partners at Yoga Garden SF and has been part of the team since it opened in 1998.  She is the primary instructor of the prenatal program which includes weekly classes, workshops  and teacher training. In her free time she enjoys spending time with her children, writing poetry and being physically active.

Kerri-thumbKerri Stimson

General Manager

Kerri moved to San Francisco from her home state of New York in 2009. She began her work at the studio as a volunteer, and has filled many support roles before becoming the General Manager. If you don’t see Kerri at the Yoga Garden front desk, or on the mat next to you in class, you may find her swing dancing in the Mission or playing with her dog at Coyote Point.

Jean Mazzei

Instructor, Advanced Studies Director

Jean Mazzei, ERYT-500 is proud to help nurture and administer the Advanced Studies program at YGSF. She earned a Master’s degree in Educational Administration in 1991, so being the “principal” of a yoga school is a dream come true! Jean has been practicing and teaching yoga for over 30 years. She continues to grow as a teacher and practitioner, and excels in bringing curriculum to life both on and off the mat.

Adrienne Taraborelli

Assistant Studio Manager

Adrienne has experienced a profound curiosity for intelligent movement since she began studying dance at the age of five. As a student at Drexel University in PA, Adrienne became a certified Pilates Instructor. Thrilled by the life-changing experiences she witnessed students have in the studio, she embarked on a career path in the fitness studio industry. Adrienne moved to San Francisco in 2014 and serves as the Assistant Operations Manager overseeing instructor relations, scheduling, retail and facilities.

Cynthia Koch

Enrollment and Admissions Manager

Cynthia is from the Great White North (Canada), and enjoys living in sunny San Francisco. She is the resident expert of all things Teacher Training and Advanced Studies at Yoga Garden SF.  When she’s not passionately speaking about the transformative effects of yoga through her studies, her teachings or her classes, you can find Cynthia playing her guitar, singing at local venues, taking long walks around the city and taking in the sights and sounds of the various people she meets.

Charmie Stryker

Communications Associate

Charmie’s homeland may be the Philippines, but she’s found a piece of home in many countries during her 2 years of backpacking around the world. While she was in India, she deepened her practice by earning her RYT 200 at the Himalayan Yoga Institute and began teaching throughout her travels. She now calls San Francisco home and continues to express her love for creativity through yoga and design as Yoga Garden’s Communications go-to.

Amy Early

Client Service Associate

When Amy is not writing about herself in the third person, she can be found greeting students at the front desk of Yoga Garden and engaging them in small talk about the weather, what they ate for dinner, and the meaning of life. She completed a 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training program in 2013 and is profoundly grateful for the ways in which yoga continues to enrich her life. Amy meditates off the mat as a writer, musician, and antique restorer.

Becky Parker

Client Service Associate

Becky began her yoga practice in 2006 while spending a summer in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. There, she discovered yoga’s ability to awaken one’s creative energy and ease the stress of city living. Outside the studio, Becky is active in the San Francisco arts community as an art advisor, where you will find her visiting local galleries, museums and artist studios looking for new inspiration and talent.

Mikka Bonel

Client Service Associate

Mikka has always been drawn to expression through movement. Her background includes teaching and performing dance and movement, choreographing and devising theater pieces. Mikka has always incorporated yoga type movement and philosophy throughout her career as an instructor and educator. When she is not at The Yoga Garden, you can find her biking, hiking, hanging in her own garden, performing and not taking life too seriously.


San Francisco yoga studio offering  Ashtanga | Mysore | Iyengar | Vinyasa Flow | Pre-natal Post-natal Yoga | Senior Yoga | Yoga Teacher Training

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