Meru Institute Faculty

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O'Brian, MA, is the founder and Spiritual Director of the Center for Spiritual Enlightenment (CSE), and the founder and president of Meru Institute. She was ordained to teach in 1982 by Roy Eugene Davis, a direct disciple of Paramahansa Yogananda who brought Kriya Yoga from India to the West. Yogacharya O’Brian has taught throughout the US and internationally for over three decades. She is the author of several books on spiritual practice including Living the Eternal Way: Spiritual Meaning and Practice for Daily Life; the Editor of Enlightenment Journal, a quarterly yoga magazine; and host of The Yoga Hour, a weekly radio program. 

Rev. Sundari Jensen, BS, MDiv, RYT, serves as a Senior Kriya Yoga Teacher at CSE where she has studied with her teacher, Yogacharya O’Brian, since 1992. Sundari has over 30 years teaching experience including serving as faculty at Mills College, JFK University, and Meru Institute. She is a regular contributor for the Enlightenment Journal, and has taught yoga and meditation at UC Berkeley, West Valley College and at various conferences and seminars. She is a member of Yoga Alliance (YA), International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT), National Ayurvedic Medical Association (NAMA), and CAAM (California Association of Ayurvedic Medicine).

Cynthia Ambika Copple, BA, MA-Ayurveda, Master Ayurveda mentor, speaker, and author, is Director of Lotus Holistic Health Institute (since 1982) and President of Lotus Herbs. She is co-founder and past President of the National Ayurvedic Medical Association (NAMA), and Co-Founder and past Dean of Mount Madonna Institute College of Ayurveda. She has practiced Ayurveda for over 33 years, and Yoga and Meditation for over 40 years. She is the author of the soon-to-be released book, Know Your Blueprint: The Ayurvedic Secret to Restoring your Vitality and Becoming Unstoppable. 

Suhas G. Kshirsagar, BAMS, MD (Ayurveda), is a world-renowned Ayurvedic physician and educator from India, born of a traditional Vedic family. He holds an MD in Ayurvedic Medicine, with a Gold Medal, from the prestigious Pune University in India. Dr. Suhas has traveled worldwide popularizing Ayurvedic Medicine, offering courses for both medical professionals and laypersons, and has provided Ayurvedic consultations for thousands of patients. He is an internationally-acclaimed motivational speaker and a faculty member at Ayurvedic schools worldwide, as well as a researcher, herbal remedy formulator, and consultant. He often shares the stage with motivational speakers such as Deepak Chopra, Tony Robbins, and Wayne Dyer. Dr. Suhas has been a featured presenter on the Dr. Oz Show, NBC and several other TV and radio shows. He is the author of the best-selling book, The Hot Belly Diet,  He is the Director of Ayurvedic Healing, an Integrative Wellness Clinic in Santa Cruz, California.  

Dr. Manisha Kshirsagar, BAMS, DY&A (Ayurveda), graduated from Pune University, India, with a Bachelor’s degree in Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery. She also trained at the Indian College of Naturopathy and is a certified Yoga Instructor from the renowned Kaivalyadham University in India. Dr. Manisha has been teaching and practicing Ayurveda and Yoga for more than fifteen years. She is a faculty member at Kerala Ayurveda Academy, Maharishi University, Mount Madonna Institute College of Ayurveda, and several other Ayurvedic institutions. She is the author of the award-winning book,”Ayurveda: A Quick Reference Handbook.” She is currently the Co-Director at Ayurvedic Healing, an Integrative Wellness Clinic in Santa Cruz, California.

Indira (Ann) Bulkin, BA, MPT, met her teacher, Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati (Dr. Mishra), in 1971 and began teaching Sanskrit in 1973. In 1993 she graduated with a B.A. in Sanskrit from UC Berkeley before going on to earn her Master’s degree in physical therapy. Indira served as the head of the Sanskrit Department at the Yoga Society of San Francisco from 1980-2010, at which time she and her husband, Shanta co-founded the East West Sanskrit Institute. She has continued her Sanskrit studies with Dr. Ram Karan Sharma since 1999. Her personal interests include Yoga-Vedanta texts, Sanskrit hymns, Panini and Sanskrit poetry.

Shanta Bulkin, co-founder of East West Sanskrit Institute, met Dr. Mishra in the summer of 1972 at Ananda Ashram in New York State and began studying Sanskrit immediately. Sanskrit became the powerful tool for his healing at a time when he was trying to find meaning in his life.  Shanta started teaching Sanskrit in the late 90s and has been continuing his studies with world-renowned Sanskrit teacher and writer, Professor Ram Karan Sharma. 

Rev. Pat Kirti Hall serves as a Kriya Yoga Teacher at CSE where she has studied with her teacher, Yogacharya O'Brian since 1997. Her teaching experience extends over three decades including as faculty at Denver Community College and Meru Institute. She has taught many enrichment classes both nationally and internationally and has taught meditation and Kriya Yoga classes at numerous outreach locations as well as at CSE. As a member of the Meru faculty, Kirti trains and supports meditation instructors who serve at CSE and in the greater community.  Kirti completed level one Hatha Yoga Teacher Training and teaches weekly classes. She also holds a Transformational Coaching Certification from the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology (Sofia University). 

Sumathi Uma Lingappa, MS, CAP, is a Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner currently pursuing her Masters in Ayurveda at Mount Madonna Institute. She has an Ayurveda practice in San Carlos, CA. Sumathi is a practitioner-level member of NAMA (National Ayurvedic Medical Association)

Carol Parvati Knight, BS, RYT500, has over 40 years of teaching experience. She served on the faculty at West Valley College from 1982-2014 where she taught Hatha Yoga, hiking, and coached volleyball. She has been practicing and studying yoga since 1991 and sharing the teachings of hatha yoga since 1999. Parvati is a Yoga Alliance certified instructor at the 500 hour level and has a BS in Kinesiology. She has served on Meru Faculty since 2007 and taught in CSE’s Yoga Teacher Training programs.

Anil Surpur, ERYT, MBA, BE, is President and co-founder of Yoga Bharati. He received BKS Iyengar yoga training, Chennai, in 1986 and has been practicing Yoga since. He completed Yoga Teacher Training (YICC, VYASA) in 2003 and is on the faculty for Yoga Bharati YICC and Meru Institute YTT. Anil is a registered Experienced Yoga Teacher (ERYT) with Yoga Alliance (YA). 

Ashwini Surpur, ERYT, has a Diploma in Yoga Therapy from Vivekananda Yoga University (SVYASA), Bangalore, India and is Director of Yoga Education at Yoga Bharati. After 15 years as a software engineer, Ashwini retired in order to support Yoga Bharati full-time. She has spoken at various conferences on Yoga and Hindu philosophy. She writes articles for various magazines and news media on Yoga. Ashwini is pursuing her MA in Sanskrit and composes poems in her free time.

Rev. Marcella Shanti Macartney, MDiv, was initiated into Kriya Yoga by her spiritual teacher, Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian, in 2002 and ordained in 2006. She serves as part of our CSE Community Care Ministry – offering spiritual direction, care for the ill and dying, and officiating sacred ceremonies.

Savita Joshi, ERYT, MBA is a passionate yoga teacher and presently Director of Therapy Services at Yoga Bharati in collaboration of Yogaksema. Savita has more than eight years of yoga therapy teaching experience in areas including women's yoga such as Prenatal, Postnatal, Fertility, and many other various psychosomatic ailments. She has completed training in Diploma in Yoga therapy and has conducted various workshops and spoken at retreats and conferences. Savita is also a faculty for yoga foundation course and yoga therapy training at Yoga Bharati. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering and Master’s degree in Business Administration with double majors.

Dr. Rucha Kelkar, BAMS, MPT, director of Ayurbliss, LLC-Ayurveda Wellness for Mind, Body and Spiritual Health, received her graduate degree in Ayurveda from University of Pune, India and her master’s degree in physical therapy from California State University, Long Beach. Dr. Kelkar is an accomplished clinician, educator, speaker and writer. She has been an Ayurveda practitioner for over 13 years and has an extensive clinical experience in Ayurveda and physical therapy. She is a faculty for leading Ayurveda schools. Her Ayurveda and Panchakarma clinic is located in San Mateo, CA. 

Marty Wuttke is a pioneer in developing Neurofeedback therapy and has over 30 years of research and application in both neuroscience and the yogic science of consciousness. Marty was affiliated with Ridgecrest Hospital and Woodridge Psychiatric Hospital from 1984 – 1995, where he designed and directed the first inpatient Neurofeedback program in the US. He then went on to implement meditation and Neurotherapy programs on a larger scale, eventually leading to the establishment of The Wuttke Institute of NeuroTherapy with affiliated centers in the USA and Europe. His offices are in Carpinteria, California, where he is in private practice treating clients, conducting research on the brain and consciousness, and leading Kriya Yoga meditation groups. 

Savitha Nanjangud, B.Tech, MS, RYT, has been a Yoga teacher with Yoga Bharati since 2009 and is currently a faculty member for Yoga Bharati's Hatha Yoga Instructors Course (YIC). She enjoys teaching Yoga asana, meditation, and philosophy. To further her passion of bringing the healing qualities of yoga into people's lives, she is working towards her Post Graduate Diploma in Yoga Therapy (PGDYT). Savitha holds a Bachelor’s degree in engineering from Indian Institute of Technology, Madras and a Master’s degree from Penn State University. She worked as an engineer in the semiconductor industry for fifteen years before finding her true passion in Yoga. 

Rev. Paula Whang-Ramos, PhD, MDiv, has studied Kriya Yoga with her teacher Yogacharya O'Brian since 2011 and serves as the lead Kriya Yoga Teacher and Director at CSE affiliate center, Blue Lotus Meditation and Yoga Center, in Gilroy, California. Dr. Whang-Ramos is a licensed psychologist who has been in practice for over 20 years. Her experience with western psychology and eastern philosophy & healing systems supports and informs her teaching. She has taught in Meru Institute, hospitals, universities, and health care agencies primarily in the areas of holistic self-care and stress management and end-of- life care.  She is also a QiGong and Tai Chi instructor and has taught these disciplines for the last 25 years.

Rev. Laurel Prema Trujillo, MD, obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Biology-Chemistry from University of the Pacific, her MD from University of California San Francisco, residency training in Primary Care Internal Medicine at UCLA Medical Center, and completed a fellowship in the California Health Care Foundation’s Health Care Leadership Program. She worked at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF) from 1995-2014, serving as PAMF’s Medical Director of Quality from 2010-2014.  Dr. Trujillo began studying Kriya Yoga philosophy and meditation at The Center for Spiritual Enlightenment in 2002.  She served on CSE’s Board of Directors for nine years and as President of the Board from 2013-2014.  Ordained in the Kriya tradition by Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian in November, 2014, she currently serves on the faculty of Meru Institute and as a regular guest host for the online radio program, The Yoga Hour.

Amarnath Michael Scott, MA, has been a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist since 1982 and serves as a child custody mediator for the County of Santa Cruz Superior Court. He is an educator offering workshops both nationally and internationally on marriage, parenting education, personal and professional development, conflict resolution, and the developmental needs of children. Amarnath has credentials in Pupil Personnel Services and Multiple Subject Teaching. He is a member of the Academy of Professional Family Mediators and the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists.

Rev. Elena Kanti Fritchle, BA, M.Div., oversees the Youth Spiritual Education and Family Ministry at CSE where she teaches Yoga practices and philosophy with children, teens, and families. She has served on the Meru faculty for several years, teaches yogic principles as part of communication classes for adults, and regularly contributes articles on youth and family spirituality to the Enlightenment Journal. Her passion for training youth and supporting families began in her young adulthood as she took on the challenge of homeschooling her own children. Rev. Fritchle has studied the teachings of Kriya Yoga with Yogacharya O'Brian since 1995. 

Rev. Christine Kamala Sodt, MA, MDiv, has been an educator and worked with children and families for over 30 years. She is currently serving as adjunct faculty at Mission College in Santa Clara, California, and has also taught at San Francisco City College. She managed her own Early Childhood Education program for 18 years. Christine leads the Teen Rite of Passage program at CSE where she has been studying Kriya Yoga with her teacher Yogacharya O'Brian since 1999.

Rev. Beverly Rajni Kam, LMFT, MDiv, has studied Kriya Yoga with Yogacharya O'Brian since 2007 and serves as a CSE Kriya Yoga teacher. Beverly has offered meditation instruction, workshops, and retreats for caregivers both at CSE and in an outreach capacity. She has over 20 years of experience supporting individuals in personal development, leadership, and business skills. She is a member of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT) and serves on the Board of Directors for Silicon Valley Interreligious Council (SiVIC), a group of religious leaders from many faith traditions.

Rev. Ann Sarasvati Hayes, RN, MDiv, has been studying Kriya Yoga with her teacher Yogacharya O'Brian since 1998, teaching and leading meditation and Kriya Yoga classes since 2005, and teaching in Meru Institute since 2007. Ann served as Executive Director for Carry the Vision (CTV) and as a leader in Interfaith Community work.  Ann and her husband, Jeff, have established a CSE Meditation Group in Santa Rosa, California.  Ann has also completed Bereavement Training through Sutter Home Health and Hospice, and is a hospice volunteer.

Kathleen Wall, PhD, is a former professor in the PsyD program in clinical psychology at Sofia University, where she had an active research program resulting in several doctoral dissertations and publications. She is a licensed psychologist, the founding executive director of The Mental Health Resource Center in Jacksonville, FL, director of counseling services at San Jose State University, and a previous chair of the Master of Arts in counseling psychology program at Sofia University, where she also served as the interim academic dean. Kathleen’s research and publications focus on spiritual psychology in action. Recently, her research has been focused on spirituality and health using Psycho-Spiritual Integrative Therapy (PSIT) which she co-developed. Psycho-Spiritual Integrative Therapy integrates spiritual practices and a personal sense of the sacred with psychotherapy.

Genie Palmer, PhD, has over 30 years of experience in health and human sciences as a teacher, advisor, and researcher. In addition, her expertise includes years of mentoring students through the dissertation process. Genie’s research is focused on the expansive nature of human experience (meanings and life impacts of non-ordinary, transcendent, and exceptional human experiences) and spiritually transformative experiences of ecstatic states of consciousness (mystical, peak, and epiphany experiences). Other scholarly interests include conscious aging, qualitative research methods and approaches, use of creative expression within a research project, and integral inquiry blended methods. Genie maintains a private spiritual guidance practice, working with individuals and groups to foster spiritual growth and development and facilitate assimilation and integration of spiritual and exceptional human experiences.

Parthenia Kavita Hicks, M. Div, is the Poetry Editor of the Enlightenment Journal and has studied Kriya Yoga for nearly fifteen years under the tutelage of her teacher, Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian. She is the Poet Laureate Emerita of Los Gatos, CA; the recipient of the 2015 Dragonfly Press Award for contributions to literature; the Silicon Valley Arts Fellowship for Literature; the Robinson Jeffers Tor House Poetry Prize and the Villa Montalvo Poetry Prize. She is the editor of the anthology, Song of Los Gatos and teaches and performs spoken word art in the Bay Area.

Jean Wetzel has been studying jyotish (Vedic astrology) since 2009. She is a Clinical Ayurvedic Specialist and graduated from the California College of Ayurveda in 2007.  In addition to teaching, she is available for individual consultations with Ayurveda and Vedic astrology clients at her practice, Monarch Grove Ayurveda, located in Los Osos.  Jean is also a long-time yoga practitioner and teacher, holds a Ph.D in Chinese Art History, and has been a professor of Asian Art History for 25 years.  Jean thanks all of her own teachers – past, present and future – for their inspiration and support.

Rev. Devin Atma Sodt was initiated into Kriya Yoga in 2003 and ordained in 2009. He is an Associate Minister. Devin is a Meru Institute graduate. He has been teaching meditation and spiritual growth practices as well as hatha yoga since 2007, having completed a 500 hour hatha yoga teacher training program.

Devi Kathy Bailey was initiated into Kriya Yoga by Yogacharya O’Brian in 2008. She received both her 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training certificate and Meditation Teacher Training certificate in 2011 and earned her M.Div. at CSE’s Meru Seminary the following year. Devi’s intention is to support practitioners of all levels, in nourishing body, mind, and soul through yoga and meditation.

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