Teachers
 

Active CSE Ministers and Teachers

Our Founder and Spiritual Director, Yogacharya Ellen Grace O'Brian, eleven Kriya Teachers (Associate Ministers), and many other CSE Teachers and Interns support the work of the ministry at our CSE World Headquarters and beyond. 

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O'Brian is the Founding Teacher and Spiritual Director of Center for Spiritual Enlightenment in San Jose, CA. Yogacharya was ordained to teach in 1982 by Roy Eugene Davis, a direct disciple of Paramahansa Yogananda who brought the teachings of Kriya Yoga from India to the West in 1920.  

Yogacharya O'Brian is the author of several books on meditation and spiritual practice including Living the Eternal Way: Spiritual Meaning and Practice in Daily Life, and is the Founding Editor of Enlightenment Journal, a quarterly yoga magazine. A published author of devotional poems, she is also the lead singer of Gitanjali, a kirtan band that offers devotional chanting.

(read full bio)

  

Rev. Sundari Jensen met her spiritual teacher, Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian, in March of 1992 and was initiated into Kriya Yoga by her in 1999, and ordained in 2002. She is a Senior Kriya Yoga Teacher and serves as CSE’s Executive Director and Board President. As Provost of Meru Institute, Rev. Sundari oversees the training and preparation of CSE teachers and leaders, as well as all classes and retreats related to yoga and meditation. In addition to being a Senior Kriya Yoga Teacher, Sundari is a certified Hatha Yoga teacher, Meditation teacher, Vedic Counselor, and IAYT certified Yoga Therapist.

Rev. Devin Atma Sodt was initiated into Kriya Yoga in 2003 and ordained in 2009. He is an Associate Minister, Meru Institute faculty member, and a certified Vedic Counselor. 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

Rev. Marcella Shanti Macartney 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.

Rev. Pat Kirti Hall was initiated into Kriya Yoga by her spiritual teacher, Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian in 2002 and ordained in 2005. Kirti serves as the CSE Ministry Team Manager, oversees the Learn to Meditate Classes and student teacher training, is a Hatha Yoga instructor, a Meru Institute faculty member, Restore! teacher and curriculum coordinator for Carry the Vision.

Rev. Elena Kanti Fritchle was initiated into Kriya Yoga in 2002 and ordained in 2007. She is an Associate Minister and directs the Youth and Family Ministry, overseeing CSE Youth Spiritual Education, Teen Rite of Passage program, and annual Youth Summer Yoga Camp. Rev. Fritchle also serves as part of our Community Care Ministry offering Vedic Counseling, Spiritual Direction, officiating Sacred Ceremonies, and is a certified Hatha Yoga teacher.

Rev. Paula Vandana Whang-Ramos was initiated into Kriya Yoga in 2007 and ordained in 2012. She is a CSE Associate Minister and is the Spiritual Director of CSE's Blue Lotus Meditation & Yoga Center. She is a Meru Institute faculty member and teaches meditation and Tai Chi/Qi Gong. She also serves as part of our Community Care Ministry offering Vedic Counseling, Spiritual Direction, officiating Sacred Ceremonies and is a psychologist with a private practice in Gilroy.

Rev. Ann Sarasvati Hayes was initiated into Kriya Yoga in 2000 and ordained in 2007. She is a CSE Associate Minister, Meditation Teacher, and Meru Institute faculty member. Rev. Hayes and her husband, Rev. Jeff Collins, lead a Kriya Yoga meditation group in Santa Rosa, CA. She is a retired Registered Nurse and serves as a Hospice volunteer.

Rev. Jeff Collins was initiated into Kriya Yoga in 2000 and ordained in 2007. He is a CSE Associate Minister, Meru Institute graduate, Meditation Teacher, and Men's Ministry Leader. Jeff and his wife, Rev. Hayes, lead a Kriya Yoga meditation group in Santa Rosa, CA. He is an Information Technology Director for Health Metrics Systems.

Rev. Sylvia Karuna Lunt was initiated into Kriya Yoga in 1987 and ordained in 2000. She is a CSE Associate Minister and served as a staff minister at CSE until retiring in 2018.

  

Rev. Malika Lynn Pojhola was initiated into Kriya Yoga in 2002 and ordained in 2007. Malika is an Associate Minister and leads the CSE Prayer Ministry. She teaches prayer, affirmation, and meditation and offers support in the CSE Community Care Ministry. She is a graduate of the Meru Institute. Malika is a Benefits Analyst and volunteers as a Pathways Hospice Volunteer. 

Rev. Beverly Rajni Kam, M.Div., was initiated into Kriya Yoga in 2007 and ordained in 2014. She is a graduate of Meru Institute, serves on the Board of SiVIC as a representative of CSE in the community interfaith dialog. She maintains an active private practice as a licensed Marriage & Family therapist.

Rev. Christine Kamala Sodt was initiated into Kriya Yoga in 2003 and ordained in 2009. She is a Meru Institute graduate, Meditation teacher, and teaches classes for adults and families, including the Teen Rite of Passage. Kamala is a Social Worker supporting at risk youth in Santa Clara County. She is an early childhood education specialist and part time college instructor teaching child development.

Rev. Kay Shama Will was initiated into Kriya Yoga in 2002 and was ordained in 2012. She serves as CSE Worship Services manager, providing leadership with weekly worship services and the volunteer teams that support it. In addition she serves as President of the CSE Board of Directors. She is a graduate of the Meru Institute and a Registered Nurse at Pathways Home Health and Hospice.

Rev. Shawne Anandamayi Smith was initiated into Kriya Yoga in 2006 and ordained in 2012. She is a Meru Institute graduate and a former Social Worker. She currently serves on the CSE Prayer team.

Rev. Dr. Laurel Prema Trujillo was initiated into Kriya Yoga in 2003 and ordained in 2014. She is currently a guest host sitting in for Yogacharya on the Yoga Hour online radio program. Rev. Trujillo is a medical doctor who formerly worked at a multi-specialty medical group with a focus in Quality Improvement.

Rev. Tara Fukuda was initiated into Kriya Yoga in 2004 and ordained in 2009. She is a Meru Institute graduate, Meditation Teacher. Tara is the Controller at Charities Housing Development Corporation, a member of the California Society of CPAs, and the Guadalupe River Park and Gardens previous treasurer and current member. She has served as Board Treasurer for the educational nonprofit, Carry the Vision from 2010 to present.

Rev. Chandra Jyoti Shelley Swan was initiated into Kriya Yoga in 2010 and is a graduate of Meru Institute. She serves as the Executive Director of Carry the Vision (CTV). She is a meditation instructor and teaches meditation to children in schools and adults in service sectors in the community as part of CTV’s Restore Program.

Rev. Priya Friday-Pabros was initiated into Kriya Yoga by her spiritual teacher, Yogacharya O’Brian, in 2002 and ordained as a CSE minister in 2005. She completed her Master of Divinity Degree from Meru Institute in 2004 with a focus on Music Ministry. She leads Meditate & Thrive, a CSE Meditation Group in Lake County, California.

Rev. Ann Bhakti Fisher, M.Div., was initiated into Kriya Yoga in 2004, graduated from Meru Institute in 2012, and ordained in 2014. She is certified a Meditation Teacher. Ann is a Managing Director of Client Relations.

Rev. Joy-Ellen Laksmi Lipsky was initiated into Kriya Yoga in 2001 and ordained in 2012. She is a graduate of Meru Institute. Lakshmi is the Secretary/Board Member of the Silicon Valley Interreligious Council (SiVIC), a member of the Partner Cities Group, and an Advisor at San Jose State University for the Campus Unitarian Universalists and The Listening Post at SJSU. She is a Marketing and Project Manager.

 


CSE MINISTRY INTERNS

  

Rev. Claire Hayes was initiated into Kriya Yoga in 2009 and leads the Morning Sadhana team. She is a graduate of Meru Institute and completed her 200hr Yoga Teacher Training certification program in 2015. Claire teaches meditation and hatha yoga at the Center and other locations. She serves as Treasurer on the CSE Board of Directors.

Kim Sri Bick-Maurischat,  M.Div., was initiated into Kriya Yoga in 1988 and is a graduate of Meru Institute. She is a Waldorf Early Childhood Teacher and is also a certified hatha yoga instructor. She teaches meditation and serves as the Volunteer Manager of CSE’s Meditation Gardens.

Olivia Soza-Mendiola was initiated into Kriya Yoga in 2011 and graduated from CSE's Meru Institute in 2015. Olivia was certified as a CSE Youth instructor and Meditation Teacher in 2014.   She currently serves as volunteer Manager of CSE's community Satsang's with Yogacharya O'Brian and as Co-Manager for the Annual Sheltering Tree of Compassion Event.  Olivia is currently  serving on the  Sunday service greeter team, the Compassionate Care Ministry Committee and serves as a Meru Institute volunteer.

Genie Palmer, PhD. was initiated into Kriya Yoga by Roy Eugene Davis in 2013 and then later with Yogacharya O’Brian. Genie earned her Master of Divinity degree at Meru Institute, where she now serves on faculty - supporting students with developing and completing their M.Div. Project Papers. She completed Meditation Teacher Training (MTT), is a certified meditation teacher, and enjoys teaching and leading meditation at CSE and in the greater community. Genie previously held the position of Executive Core Faculty at Sofia University where she served as Director of the Writing & Research Center and Dissertation Director. She is also a retired RN, having worked in the medical field for over 30 years.

Zachiah Viveka Murray has been a community member at the Center for Spiritual Enlightenment since 2003.  She is a graduate from the Meru Institute class of 2012, teaches meditation classes, is the Teen  Program Leader for the YSE Program, and is the Assistant teacher in the Teen Rite of Passage program. Professionally, she is a Registered Landscape Architect, Certified Massage Therapist and Active Release Practitioner, and is the author of Mindfulness in the Garden: Zen Tools for Digging in the Dirt

Paula Chacon was initiated into Kriya Yoga in 2011 and graduated from Meru Institute in 2016. She serves as the director of CSE's One Voice Choir, and provides leadership in chanting and music for weekly worship services and special events at the Center. She is a certified meditation teacher, teaching regularly at the Center. Paula volunteers with the CSE's Youth Spiritual Education providing musical activities and performance experiences to our children. She is a therapeutic music teacher and choral director, as well as an experienced classroom music teacher.

Irma Lovic was initiated into Kriya Yoga by her spiritual teacher, Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian, in 2015. She serves on CSE staff as the assistant to Yogacharya O’Brian, CSE Press and Tree of Life Welcome Center Manager. Irma is a graduate from Meru Institute, class of 2018. She is a certified Vedic Counselor, Meditation teacher, and completed her 200-hr hatha yoga teacher training program. Irma enjoys supporting others in feeling healthy, energized and inspired by living a yogic lifestyle

Crystal Mukti-Devi Lanier was initiated into Kriya Yoga in 2011 and is currently a student in Meru Institute. She leads Morning Sadhana and teaches meditation. She leads Sunday service chanting, sings in the One Voice Choir, and is involved with Kirtan at CSE.

Erin Bhavani Edwards was initiated into Kriya Yoga in 2012, and graduated from Meru Institute in 2016. Erin serves in program development for Carry the Vision (CTV). She is a certified meditation teacher and teaches peace education to elementary students in Arizona where she lives with her husband Ryan and her two children Ayla and Austin.

Daniel Sanjay Duarte is a RYT-200 hatha yoga teacher and a CSE certified meditation instructor. He completed yoga teacher training through Yoga Bharati Training at CSE and also through the Breathe for Change Yoga Training in San Francisco. Daniel has been study- ing closely with Yogacharya O’Brian since 2014, and he graduated from Meru Institute with an MDiv in Yoga Studies in 2018. In addition to teaching yoga and meditation, Daniel currently serves as a leader for CSE’s Young Adult Group: Generation Yoga, as well as the Youth Spiritual Education (YSE) Teen Group, and CSE’s Seva Residential Training Program. 

  

 

LOS OSOS, CA: Ministers and Interns

 

Rev. Nita Kenyon was initiated into Kriya Yoga in 2011 at Awakening Interfaith Community. She was ordained in 2016 and is currently the Spiritual Director at Awakening in Los Osos. She is a Meditation Teacher and serves on the Board of Directors at Awakening. She is an Adult Education Coordinator and Website Coordinator.

Rev. Molly Burke was initiated into Kriya Yoga in 2011 and is an intern at Awakening Interfaith Community. She serves on the Board of Directors at Awakening, teaches meditation classes in Avila Beach, and offers Spiritual Direction.

Julie Hitchcock was initiated into Kriya Yoga in 2011 and is an intern at Awakening Interfaith Community. She teaches meditation and Sacred Parenting class.  

Rev. Nancy Amrita Ballinger was initiated into Kriya Yoga in 1998 and ordained in 2000. She is a Meru Institute graduate and Associate Minister and the Founding Minister of Awakening Spiritual Community in Los Osos. She is a retired mental health therapist.