Yoga Teacher Bios

Anna Laurita


Anna Laurita has studied yoga since 1991. She has since lived in 7 countries (in Asia, USA and Latin America) and experimented with ways of peace and happiness found in each country. She has folded those peace petals into the davannayoga style which she teaches in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico in her yoga shala. Anna is an *E-RYT, *E-RPYT, *E-RCYT through the Yoga Alliance, a Senior Yogic Arts instructor, a certified Dharma Yoga teacher and holds certificates in Vinyasa Krama Krishnamacharya lineage which she continues to study in the US and in India. 

She offers Yoga Teacher Training programs many times per year. Anna also offers mentoring programs ( see “Mentoring” tab on our site). Her teachers include: Master Duncan Wong, Sri Dharma Mittra, Srivatsa Ramaswami and the teachers at the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram in Chennai, India.

She is known for her powerful practice, intuitive understanding of the body and her creative, and engaging teaching style. Anna has led over 5000 hours of yoga teacher training courses and has over 18,000 hours of teaching registered with the International Yoga Alliance.

Genlux Magazine said “Anna is powerful in the most enlightened sense of the word. Her personal journey is inspirational, her wisdom elevating and her teaching transcendent.”

* E-RYT – Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher; E-RPYT – Experienced Registered Prenatal Yoga Teacher; E-RCYT – Experienced Registered Childrens Yoga Teacher; YACEP- Yoga Alliance Certified Education Provider

Yoga Instructor

Sam Cress - Yoga Teacher

Sam Cress


Sam was introduced to yoga in 1981 while growing up in a small town on the Canadian Prairies. Over the years she has realized that yoga is more than the practice of asana and has witnessed the power, magic and benefits of a consistent practice both on and off the mat. Sam has had the honor and privilege to have studied with many amazing teachers in various parts of the world and is extremely grateful to teachers Anna Laurita, Father Joe Pereira, Ryan Leier, and Maria Abad. Sam is living her dream sharing her passion for yoga in beautiful Puerto Vallarta, Canada and the US.

Sam has designed a Yin Yoga Immersion and Training program which is Yoga Alliance Certified and offers 25 hours of CEU’s for those registered with Yoga Alliance. The program has been created to allow for everyone, teachers and non teachers alike to experience the many benefits and magic of going IN with this slow, meditative practice.

Sam believes that through yoga we have the opportunity to open our hearts and recognize that the essence of our being is love. With practice we are able to love more, embrace each day, live in the moment, create joy and welcome every experience. Yoga! A beautiful way to help us create a world filled with loving kindness, compassion and love.

Yoga Instructor

Willis Johnston



Since a very young age, Willis has loved movement. He started dancing around age 10 and never looked back. After pursuing a BFA in dance performance from SMU, Willis danced professionally in New York City and Las Vegas with the Metropolitan Opera, The Chase Brock Experience, and Cirque du Soleil.

Willis found yoga in 2009 through navigating the physical and mental challenges of a professional dance career. Since his initial adventure into the practice of yoga, Willis’ relationship with yoga has only grown stronger.

In 2014, he left his dance career and big city life in the United States and moved to his soul-home of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, where he dove heart first into his 200-hour teacher training with Anna Laurita of davannayoga. Willis began teaching yoga shortly after and has since expanded his trainings, studying 300-hours with Noah Mazé. Willis is also a 200-hour certified Katonah Yoga® teacher. Willis leads yoga classes, workshops, and retreats in Mexico and BEYOND.

Willis believes the practice of yoga offers up an incredible chance for humans to get into their bodies, find a sense of center/agency, and expand into their full potential. Yoga has the power to create great change—not only on a personal level, but also on an interpersonal level.

In Willis’ classes, expect to feel very welcome. Willis holds a space of non-judgement, where you are invited to explore all aspects of your self through pranayama, meditation, and mindful, intelligent movement.

Willis believes the practice and teachings of yoga allow us to contribute to the greater good by providing us deeper resources of presence, compassion, and patience. His teaching style is fun and creative with great focus on the movement/breath connection. To Willis, transitions can be just as important as the postures, so prepare to feel the beauty in the “in betweens” – for life is about the journey and not the destination. Come flow, feel, and go deeper into your own yoga practice in a supportive, inclusive environment. Hoodie-Hoo!

Yoga Instructor

Emily Cesca - Yoga Teacher

Emily Cesca


Emily is trained in Vinyasa yoga, Restorative yoga, Yoga Nidra, and Stand Up Paddleboard yoga. She completed both her 200-hour teacher training and her Yoga Nidra training with Anna Laurita. She also has the honor of leading Restorative yoga teacher trainings for davannayoga 200-hour students.

Emily is currently working towards a 900-hour certification in Yoga Therapy, a deeply embodied and transformative practice that holds space for exploring the edge in body, mind, and spirit. Combining yoga asana with mindfulness and psychology, Yoga Therapy offers space for shifting out of narrative referencing and into direct experience.

Emily believes there is space for all in yoga. Her classes encourage exploration, safety, and acceptance, honoring the body where it is in the present moment.

Yoga Instructor

Leona Downey

Leona Downey


Leona started practicing yoga in her early 30’s, initially to try to help with some chronic back pain she had suffered since her teens. She quickly realized that yoga helped her back pain, but also had myriad other benefits, including overall physical fitness, improved sleep, decreased stress, and a general sense of peace and joy that began to spill over into her life off the mat. As she began to practice more regularly, she realized that she wanted more of this peace and calm in her life. She and her husband decided to slow down and simplify their lives, focusing more on a healthy lifestyle, so they retired and moved to Puerto Vallarta in 2015. Shortly after moving to Vallarta, she found Anna’s shala, and fell in love with the davannayoga style and community. A passion arose in her to learn more about the origins of yoga, the philosophy behind this amazing practice, and why it works to improve our bodies, minds, and spirits in so many ways. Leona is a davannayoga certified teacher and is looking forward to share the practice with you.

Leona believes that yoga has something to offer every single person in every stage of their lives. We all come to yoga with different needs and goals for the practice, which will likely change and grow over time depending on our life circumstances. Sometimes we may not even know what our goals are, but yoga will still be there guiding us. Leona’s hope as a teacher is to help each student accomplish whatever he or she is seeking, and in the end to help students discover how yoga allows us to uncover and embrace our true selves, as the radiant, healthy, blissful, and loving beings that we are deep down.

Yoga Teacher

Alejandra Suarez

Alejandra Suàrez


Ale has been on a self discovery path for as long as she can remember – even before she was knew what self discovery was! She was naturally drawn to Buddhist meditation first – and that was 20 years ago.

Five years later she fell in love with yoga asana and all the other traditional moorings of yoga. The first moment she stepped (bare) foot on a mat, she knew that this was yet another beautiful tool to help her come back home to herself. Yoga and meditation have been her constant companions ever since.

In 2010 she became a 200 hour RYT at Davannayoga and has taught full time until 2017 when she took a break from teaching to deepen her personal practice . In February 2019 she completed a 100 hour extended education training with Anna Laurita and started teaching again.

She is very grateful to have learned from the most amazing teachers including her two sons. She is grateful also to Anna for her loving and compassionate guidance throughout the years. By being of service and sharing what she loves, Ale finds connection to herself and others and believes that planting the seeds of yoga and meditation can help heal the world.

Yoga Teacher

Andrew Dowdy

Andrew Dowdy


Andrew is a certified E-RYT 200, RYT 500, YACEP, Yoga Bodyworker and Ayurvedic Health Counselor. He has a passion for nature-based healing, ancestral spirituality, and break-through health and wellness practices that work.
He completed his 200 YTT with Anna Laurita of davannayoga, who he thanks dearly for laying the foundations for his teaching and drive for consistent personal and professional development. In November, 2021, he also became a proud RYT 500, having completed his 300-hour YTT in Forrest Yoga. He offers deep gratitude for the lessons and practices handed down by Forrest Yoga founder Ana Forrest, co-creator Jose Calarco, and Forrest Yoga Guardians.
With a passion for ancestral wisdom and natural medicine, he also logs 750-hours under his Ayurvedic Health Counselor certification. From his love for keeping bodies happy, healthy and in-motion, he also went on to learn Embodied Anatomy with Yoga teacher and Bodyworker Lillee Chandra. In search of sharing more body-bliss, he went one step further getting certified under the guidance of teachers Brian Campbell and Jambo Truong in Yoga Bodywork, a unique blend of bodywork techniques taught through a Yogic movement lens, including myofascial release therapy, trigger point therapy, meridians, craniosacral therapy, Swedish and deep tissue techniques.
Andrew believes that Yoga and Ayurveda, along with other ancestral healing and spiritual technologies, offer countless tools that can be harnessed to deeply transform not only our individual lives, but our collective future. His teaching philosophy is based on the idea that every time we step onto the mat, we are practicing unlearning our barriers to evolution and remembering how to connect to what matters to us the most.
He feels that Yoga teaches us to embody our values, and offers us a sanctuary to practice healing and cultivating the strength we need to live a life of greater truth, love and spirit. Life has shown him a deep appreciation for the degree of grit it takes to cultivate a soft, open heart in today’s world. Andrew’s teaching blends deep embodiment and spirituality – at once compassionate, yet intentionally challenging.

Raoul Diaz De la Garza - Yoga Teacher

Kirtan Master

Raoul Diaz De la Garza


Raoul has been leading monthly Kirtans at davannayoga since 2009. Check our Events page for specific dates. His experience in music and the magic of music in yoga, meditation and life is immense. Raoul’s background includes 2 years at Beijing’s School of Performing Arts, PRC. and two years at UC Berkeley California, USA as well as 5 years of Private Piano Immersion in Mexico City with Piano Masters.

For the past six years he has been the director at Saraswati Multidimensional Creativity. This group explores the creative process of music and language as an expression of consciousness. Prior to his music career, Raoul’s creative background includes being creative director at McCann Erickson, in Mexico, Japan and Hong Kong. He spent five years prior producing, editing and assisting the director for Mandoki films in Mexico City, Mexico.

Raoul leads a meditation group twice per week in his own meditation space in Vallarta and loves to surf, practice yoga and meditate. He has performed live piano concerts in Australia, China, France, India, Japan, Lebanon, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, and the USA. He has produced six CD’s of piano music composed in India, Japan and Mexico.

“The attraction that one finds in music makes one wonder if there is a mystery hidden behind it, if there is a language of sound which could be learned. The answer is that the language of music and sound is the language of the soul. It is our inner language, the natural language of life.”

“It is the tone and rhythm of sound which have an influence on the tone and rhythm of our being. By the help of music we can tune ourselves to the spheres where we wish to be, aiming to higher planes of expression where we can discover the inner and outer balance of our own bright soul, for understanding, freedom and love.”



The davannayoga teacher training was so comprehensive, I really feel I left with a well rounded understanding of the vast spectrum of yogic philosophies, concepts and practices. Anna is fantastic, attentive, extremely knowledgeable and I am so grateful to have had her as my teacher!
Mel R, Sydney Australia
I cannot recommend this program and Anna, an amazing, authentic, beautiful, nurturing, inspiring teacher more. If you are thinking about it, dive into your dreams and you won't look back. I wish I could go back and do it all again!
Louise K, Canada
Davannayoga provides a comprehensive and fun teacher training program, I highly recommend Anna's program to anyone interested in becoming a yoga teacher. I felt prepared to teach the minute I walked out the door.
Jeri K, Canada