Committee, Staff & Advisors

Meet the minds and muscles behind the association


Yoga Australia Executive Committee

LeanneLeanne Davis – President

Since the early 1980’s Leanne has developed her interest in yoga into a career pathway through the study of Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda. She undertook teacher training in 1988 with Sivananda Yoga and Vedanta Academy in India. Alongside a continuing personal practice in yoga, Leanne commenced her second teacher training in the tradition of Krishnamacharya in 1996.

Leanne is honoured to have the opportunity to serve, along with the incredible team of Committee members and office staff, as President of Yoga Australia. She has previously participated in the association as Queensland State Representative, as part of the Conference Committee and more recently as the Queensland State Management Coordinator.

She has great enthusiasm for contributing to the profession of yoga teaching and helping to foster the practice and understanding of yoga in our community. She has a particular interest in preserving the authenticity of yoga from its cultural and textual roots while embracing the evolution of yoga into contemporary Australia.

TamaraTamara Ogilvie – Vice President

Tamara has worked in arts administration for not-for-profit cultural organisations and, spent five years working for accountancy and consulting firm Deloitte, where she obtained her Chartered Accountancy (ACA with the Institute of Chartered Accountants England and Wales).

Inspired by the calm yoga brings to her perpetually busy life, Tamara completed the British Wheel of Yoga foundation course in London in 2009 and undertook her formal teacher training in 2011 at Rose Bay Yoga studio in Sydney.

Tamara brings to her role of Vice President the perfect blend of accountancy consulting, small business owner and yoga teaching.

KatieKatie Garnett – Treasurer

Katie first discovered yoga at High School in 1997. She fell in and out of yoga until committing to a regular practice from 2006. Over the years Katie has seen the benefits of yoga in her life physically, mentally, emotionally and socially. Katie began teaching yoga in 2011 and became a qualified yoga therapist in 2015. She owns a boutique yoga studio in Busselton, regional Western Australia. Katie hopes to share her journey and knowledge with others so they too can benefit from the practice of yoga.

Katie is a qualified school teacher and workplace trainer who has over a decade of experience in management, education and training, and quality auditing. She is thrilled to have the opportunity to be able to contribute to the Yoga Australia community.

Robyn2 copyRobyn Lewis – Secretary

Robyn has taught and coached movement to adults, children and athletes for many years as a gym instructor, PE teacher and representative netball coach. In 2011 she completed her formal teacher training in Vinyasa Flow (Trinity) and Chair Yoga (Knoff) teacher training. Robyn went on to complete studies in Core Yoga and Ayurveda and Yoga Therapy. Today she splits her working days between her yoga business and her role as senior manager in the ACT Government.

Office Team

Let’s introduce you to the team who provide the best of support for members, yoga schools, teacher trainees and the general public while ensuring the ‘best-practice’ management of the day to day operations of the Association.


Shyamala Benakovic – CEO

Shyamala is a qualified Yoga Teacher, having completed the Advanced Diploma of Yoga Teaching in 2008. She started teaching in July 2008 before graduation and currently teaches to children, seniors and corporate clients.

Before becoming a Yoga Teacher, Shyamala worked as a Management Consultant. She has over fifteen years experience in this field and has worked for local and International organisations. This experience has equipped her with strong management and administrative skills, which she brings to Yoga Australia.

Shyamala takes pride in her role as CEO of Yoga Australia. She is in the Yoga Australia office Monday through to Thursday ensuring Yoga Australia members are well serviced.

 Phoebe1Phoebe Jamieson – Marketing & Communications Manager

Phoebe is a natural visionary, and her current vision is to make each drive the growth and sustainability of our association.  As Marketing and Communications Manager for Yoga Australia, she brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the association.

In addition to her professional experience and technical skill set, Phoebe has also practised yoga with varying degrees of consistency and enthusiasm since 1998.

Jackie1Jackie Rogers – Membership Manager

Jackie is no novice to membership management and customer service with over ten years experience in the role; she’s responsible for the smooth day-to-day running of the Yoga Australia Membership Department. Her responsibilities encompass many aspects of our business including memberships, billing and customer service. Her incredible organisational skills keep our team running smoothly.

In her spare time, Jackie enjoys spending time with her family and is passionate about her health and fitness. Jackie’ s calm and happy demeanour sets the perfect undertone to our humming office.

ValeriaValeria Ryavkina – Digital Marketing Coordinator

Valeria has over two years of experience in Marketing and PR. Coming from the coldest place in the world, Siberia, she ensures that Yoga Australia members always receive a warm welcome when contacting Yoga Australia.

Valeria looks after our social media platforms, works on weekly newsletters for Yoga Australia members and deals with marketing/advertising and other enquiries.

In her spare time, she attempts raw baking (feel free to send her recipes),  practices all kind of dancing and enjoys spending time with her friends and their pets (since she can’t have her own).

AmyWebAmy Witnish – Admin and Volunteer Assistant

Amy has a strong background in the health and fitness industry. With nine years experience in administration, operations and business development. Amy’s skills in customer service and organisation are exactly what the office needs to ensure the Association is humming along nicely.

Amy provides administrative support to the Yoga Australia Office, and helps support and manage our enormous volunteer base.

In Amy’s spare time she enjoys cooking, making cakes, and entertaining three boys.


Susan Cosgrave – Volunteer Management

Susan’s teenager’s interest in Eastern philosophy coupled with years of trips to Asia and specifically India eventually led to an exploration of yoga. Over time the interest developed as did the practise and the myriad benefits of application of yoga to daily living.  Susan started teaching in 2006 in a variety of environments from workplaces to community centres to gyms as well seeing people individually at her home.

Susan also has a strong belief in the positive benefit of volunteering and the power brought to organisations and individuals through people donating their skills and time. Although now semi-retired her paid work was in management in the public and not for profit sectors. She was involved in developing national standards for good practise in the management of volunteer that are now endorsed by Volunteering Australia and used by many not for profit organisations when they are working with non-paid staff ( i.e. volunteers). She was also fortunate enough to work with the Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games ( SOCOG) on their volunteer strategy. She has also held many community-based volunteer positions from committees of management to arts events and sports coaching.

Susan was on the COM for the Australian Association of Yoga Therapists for its first four years of operation, and now she can marry two things close to her heart – yoga and volunteering.


National Management Committee Members

Liama Aesha McConachie – NSW

Liama trained in Purna Yoga with John Ogilvy at the Byron Yoga Centre. Purnameans “whole” or “complete”. As well as teaching adults, she has a great love of Children’s Yoga as it is all about fun and allowing children to express and learn in a non-competitive environment. Liama is also a certified Acroyoga teacher and brings her love of play into all her classes. She is also a qualified Shiatsu Therapist and specialises in Oncology Massage.

Deborah Roberts – VIC

Deborah has practised Iyengar method of yoga for 20 years. In 2009 she completed a two-year intensive training course with Genius Yoga. Following the birth of her sons, Deborah developed Yogabean Kids and Teens, which is growing within school curricula as well as in after-school programs. As well as her formal training in yoga, she has held executive positions in the public, and private health care sector completed a PhD in Public Health at Melbourne University in 1999 and taught at Monash University in the field of health services management to medical and allied health students. She is currently an Adjunct Faculty member at Monash University.

Patti McBain – WA

Patti has been a yoga practitioner with a daily personal practice since 1974 and became a teacher in 1982 after a 9-month in residence training in Europe. Patti has also completed her BA Science of Creative Intelligence, which included deep studies of Vedic Science at M.I.U in Iowa, USA; Ayur-Veda training in India; fitnessCertificate IV’s in Training & Assessment, and Mentoring & Life Coaching; and she has completed further study in therapeutic yoga and teaching yoga for children.
For 12 years Patti also owned and operated 5 Curves WFitnesscenters. Patti currently owns a yoga studio in the northern suburbs of Perth and offers classes , retreats, and meditation facilitation training & yoga teacher training courses.

Jenny Berrill – ACT

Carmel Gannon – QLD

Carmel began regular yoga at a very busy period of her family life and noticed how she found energy and joy when she practiced. She is a senior yoga teacher, yoga therapist and ayurvedic lifestyle consultant, and has also studied yoga psychology and yoga for trauma. What Carmel loves about yoga is how it recognises the multidimensional nature of people, not only a spiritual practice but a way of nourishing physical and mental health.

Over her years of teaching, Carmel has recognised the great support that yoga is to mental health. She has been drawn to teach in many situations where students have suffered trauma or are struggling with their mental health. Carmel is currently providing group yoga for clients suffering schizophrenia and other mental health issues, in collaboration with the Mobile Intensive Rehabilitation Team (MIRT) for Metro South Addiction and Mental Health Service in Brisbane.

Yoga, for Carmel, is about lifelong learning and growth.

Kathy Arthurson – SA

Kathy has practised yoga for over 20 years. She completed formal yoga teacher training with Gita International Yoga School in Melbourne in 2009. This style of yoga is accessible for all bodies, ages and fitness levels.  Other trainings have included as a Restorative Yoga Teacher with Judith Lasater and the Yoga Ed. teacher training program in the US (certified by Yoga Alliance), which integrates yoga for children, teens and teachers in school environments. As well as her formal training in yoga, she has held senior level positions in the public sector, completed a PhD at Adelaide University in 2002 and worked as a University researcher, writer and teacher for fifteen years.  She currently holds an Adjunct position at Flinders University where she is involved in research projects with medical students and others exploring the links between yoga, and mindfulness-based practices for health and well-being.

Lynn Romeo – TAS

Straddling the professional, creative and personal in the spheres of yoga and social work has brought Lynn to a range of offerings, ‘Making Whole with Yoga.’ Lynn completed the comprehensive Gita International Yoga teacher training course in 1991 and continues her own transformative path through parenting, perpetual practice and teaching, numerous post-graduate courses, writing and community projects. Lynn also draws on studies with the Boston Trauma Center, headed by Prof Bessel van der Kolk -pioneers in research and advocacy for the role yoga can play in releasing the blocks trauma creates. Lynn runs workshops around Tasmania, Victoria and beyond to bring together yoga teachers and human service workers and explore the ways yoga heals and create avenues to make all forms of yoga more accessible. She has been involved with informal teachers networks around Tasmania and is looking forward to supporting these through Yoga Australia.

 Council of Advisors

The Yoga Australia Council of Advisors (YACA) is an honorary group of respected leaders in the field of Yoga and related professions. We are grateful for our Advisors’ independent, authoritative opinions on critical matters related to the operations of our Association and the teaching of Yoga in Australia. Appointment to the Council of Advisors is regarded by the association as an expression of honour and respect.

  • Di Lucas
  • Julianne Wantrup
  • Suzanne Fletcher
  • Leigh Blashki
  • Paul Ellison
  • Janet Lowndes
  • Jean Byrne

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