With small classes and private sessions, 

we believe in being here for you.  We are not only inspired by the practice of yoga, but by the great privilege of witnessing you move better, feel better and we deeply appreciate the joy that brings into the lovely business of living.

ABOUT Melissa

     Sharing movement as an invaluable tool for physical and emotional freedom for people of all abilities and inclinations has been Melissa Montilla’s life work and passion. She has been the owner and director of Sanctuary Yoga in Gainesville, FL since 2003, and began practicing yoga in 1990 with the beautifully talented Elaine Grey. Melissa has enjoyed the privilege of working with many wonderful teachers in the states and  India.  


     Practicing Ashtanga yoga for many years opened her up to the possibilities of yoga as a process for health and wellness. This encouraged an ongoing exploration that broadened her practice and teaching perspective by studying functional anatomy, alignment, kinesiology and therapeutics with the provocative teachings of Jenny Otto, Tzahi Moskovitz, Judith Lasater, and other teachers informed by a diversity of traditions.


      Melissa defines her teaching as “Movement Therapy.”  It is influenced not only by yoga, but also an array of movement practices that have supported her wellness and longevity as a dancer, runner, and horseback rider. Along with all of that movement, she practices stillness with a meditation practice fostered by Vipassana teachings, as well as an investigation of contemplative craft and the expansive wilderness of hearts and minds in natural horsemanship.


      She holds a BFA in Dance from Florida State University, with a strong focus on anatomy, kinesiology, and movement education as well as a Master’s of Landscape Architecture from the University of Florida and serves as a Faculty Member of the Department of Theatre and Dance at UF teaching Yoga and Kinesthetics. Melissa is an E-RYT (Experienced Yoga Teacher) and certified by Yoga Alliance at the 500hr level, as well as an accredited Yoga Therapist with the IAYT.  She has taught Ashtanga, Alignment, Therapeutic and Restorative classes and trainings throughout Florida since 2001. She believes that curiosity, consistency, and joy are the keys to a long and fulfilling life of movement.




Movement has always brought Lisa a sense of freedom.


As a child, she was a gymnast, tree climber, and all around wild child.  Lisa discovered yoga in the mid 1990’s, and her practice has evolved throughout the years.  What began as asana practice led to Lisa’s immersion in Indian culture when she spent three months in southern India studying yoga (in the style of Krishnamacharya) and Ayurveda in 2007.  During this time, her meditation practice deepened substantially as a result of an experience in Tiruvannamalai, where Sri Ramana Maharshi meditated, lived, taught, and reached samadhi.  The question of “Who Am I” was the main teaching of Sri Ramana Maharshi, and became a question always lying under the surface for Lisa, one she experiences as leading to deep exploration of self.  She later became involved in Zen meditation, sitting retreats offered by the Gateless Gate Zen Center and Thich Nhat Hahn.

Lisa has taken a second yoga teacher training with Tzahi Moskovitz, with a strong focus on anatomy and kinesiology, as well as workshops on therapeutic yoga with specialists from S-VYASA University of India.  She is a licensed massage therapist and reiki master/teacher.  Lisa has also taken personal growth workshops and life coach training through Satvatove Institute.  Additionally, Lisa began running in early 2012 and is now an avid runner who has finished two full marathons.  


Lisa experiences all her practices as yoga = ways to connect and to grow healthier psychologically, spiritually, and physically.

Lisa has experience working with athletes, the elderly, children, women in prison, and Veterans.  Working with such a variety of people, with varied levels of health and diagnosis, has allowed her to see and experience the invisible thread which binds us all to one another, as to the earth.  Lisa offers her students an invitation to simply be present to their experience, and to explore with an open heart and curiosity.


"Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field.

I'll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass the world is too full to talk about."


ABOUT the Space

Sanctuary is housed in the Historic Bed and Breakfast District in southeast Gainesville.  It is sweet and quiet, nestled in a lush garden, with brick walls, a pitched heart pine ceiling and bamboo floors - truly a sanctuary and completely dedicated to wellness.  


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Wellness from Within 

We believe in the natural intelligence of the human body, mind, and heart. It is our work to create experiences that support your innate capacity for healing; for wellness.  

Wellness is a process, and crafting a wellness practice is individual and instinctive. 

At Sanctuary, we encourage the creation of wellness from within. 

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