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Meet the Owner...

Ayanna Makalani, owner of HEAL: Pilates, spent her childhood competing as a gymnast and turned to modern dance in college. Introduced to Pilates during rehabilitation for knee surgery, she found it to be the most effective therapy for her. Pilates stabilized and strengthened her knee & guided her back into her body with patience and understanding. Ayanna's also used Pilates to manage chronic back and neck pain. She is a certified instructor through BASI-Body Arts and Science International, and has been teaching Pilates since 2007. 

Ayanna's instruction is currently virtual only.

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Synthia Malina

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In New York City, Synthia studied dance through her twenties, Pilates integral to her training. Studying anew, parallel to a career in fundraising and adventures in parenting, Pilates offered rich pathways through spondylolisthesis and a shoulder injury. Synthia uses Classical Pilates principals coupled with contemporary movement and thought in classes and private instruction.

Elise Smith

Elise is a body positive instructor who came to Pilates and the GYROKINESIS® method through studying ballet as a young person. During her 15 years of classical ballet training, Elise discovered that the more seriously she trained the more frequently her hypermobile body was injured or in pain. Her ballet background and personal injury rehabilitation experiences inform her teaching on physical and emotional levels. In 2007 she received a comprehensive Pilates Instructor Certification through Long Beach Dance Conditioning under Marie-Jose Blom. In 2019 she became a certified GYROKINESIS® instructor. Elise has a trauma informed and harm reduction approach and works best with people healing from injuries, hypermobile people, queer and trans people, dancers, and people with eccentric personalities.

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Vanessa Naja

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Vanessa Naja is a Rehabilitation Specialist, Postpartum Corrective Exercise Specialist, Dancer and lover of nature.

Vanessa’s interest in anatomy, kinesiology and the therapeutic application of movement led her to Pilates in which she is comprehensively certified through Balanced Body University. She has done extensive studies both privately and academically in anatomy and body mechanics and she uses this knowledge to help her clients achieve balanced and effortless movement in their activities of daily living as well as any sports or dance activities in which they participate.

Vanessa's instruction is virtual only.

Nadya Lateef

Apprentice Instructor

Nadya is a Berkeley native who began practicing Ballet at the age of four. She's explored a variety of dance and movement styles: from Yoga, to Krav Maga, Tai Chi, and Pilates, ultimately leading her to study dance at Cal State University Long Beach.

While Pilates was always a part of the repertoire, it was not until the birth of her first child in 2018, that movement and care of the body was no longer just a passion, but a career choice. Nadya found that Pilates eased her body out of the residual pain of childbirth & re-strengthened her whole body and core. Nadya is now pursuing her Comprehensive Teacher Training Certification through Balanced Body at EHS in San Francisco.


Rebecca Redman

Apprentice Instructor


Rebecca’s love of movement was shaped as a child in the world of competitive dance. She quit dance as a young adult and eventually found herself with persistent pain in her low back and arthritis in her knees, for which a doctor prescribed a future of pain management. She rejected that and found Pilates.


She received her certification in Pilates mat and reformer from Body Harmonics. She's currently working toward her comprehensive Pilates certification, a secondary specialization in post-rehab, as well as an eventual doctorate in Occupational Therapy to someday work as a pelvic floor therapist. She's certified in pregnancy and postpartum corrective exercise, NASM personal training, Booty Barre instruction, and she has studied the work of the Postural Restoration Institute and the Buteyko Breathing Method.

Samira Yeganegi

Samira is an administrative manager for HEAL. With past experience in small business management and human resources, she hopes to help the studio run smoothly and thrive.