Teachers
 

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.

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

Rev. Devin Kent Sodt (Atma) met his guru, Yogacharya O'Brian, in the Fall of 2001. He was initiated into Kriya Yoga in 2003 & ordained in 2009. He is a Senior Kriya Teacher, an Associate Minister, Meru Institute faculty member, and a certified Vedic Counselor. He has been teaching meditation and spiritual growth practices since 2005 and started instructing hatha yoga in 2007—completing his 500-hour hatha yoga teacher training in 2010.

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. Claire Hayes was initiated into Kriya Yoga in 2009 and ordained in 2019. She is a graduate of Meru Institute and completed her 200hr Yoga Teacher Training certification program in 2015. Claire oversees the Seva Residential Training Program, leads the Morning Sadhana team, teaches meditation and hatha yoga, offers Vedic Counseling, and serves as Treasurer on the CSE Board of Directors.

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. 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 & Tai Chi/Qi Gong. She also offers Vedic Counseling, Spiritual Direction, and officiates Sacred Ceremonies. She 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. Rev. Ann offers Spiritual Direction and officiates sacred ceremonies. 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. Jeff and his wife, Rev. Hayes, lead the Santa Rosa Kriya Yoga Meditation Group. He is an Information Technology Director for Health Metrics Systems.

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. Dr. Laurel Prema Trujillo was initiated into Kriya Yoga in 2003 and ordained in 2014. She is Producer and Host of The Yoga Hour, a Unity Online Radio program. Rev. Trujillo is a medical doctor who formerly worked at a multi-specialty medical group with a focus on 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. 

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. Nita Shankari Kenyon was initiated into Kriya Yoga in 2011 at Awakening Kriya Yoga Meditation Center. She was ordained in 2016 and serves as the Spiritual Director at Awakening in Los Osos. Rev. Shankari offers Spiritual Direction, leads and teaches meditation, and serves on the Board of Directors at Awakening. She is an Adult Education Coordinator and Website Coordinator.

Rev. Julie Hitchcock was initiated into Kriya Yoga in 2011 and is an intern at Awakening Kriya Yoga Meditation Center. Rev. Julie supports the teachings of Kriya Yoga at Awakening and serves on their Board of Directors. She shares her wisdom and insight with families in a variety of ways on the California central coast and beyond.

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.

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. 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.


Rev. Molly Burke was initiated into Kriya Yoga in 2011 and serves as a minister at Awakening Kriya Yoga Meditation Center in Los Osos, CA. She teaches meditation classes in Avila Beach, and offers Spiritual Direction.

Rev. Beverly Rajni Kam was initiated into Kriya Yoga in 2010 and was ordained in 2014. She is a graduate of Meru Institute is a certified meditation teacher.  As a member of Silicon Valley Interreligious Council (SiVIC), Rev. Kam supports CSE's community outreach. 


Rev. Pat Kirti Hall was initiated into Kriya Yoga by her spiritual teacher, Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian in 2002 and ordained in 2005. After retiring from her position as Dean of Meru Institute, Kirti now serves as Project Manager and Senior Teacher at Carry the Vision.


Rev. Irma Lovic was initiated into Kriya Yoga in 2015 and ordained in 2021. She serves on Staff at CSE as assistant to Yogacharya O'Brian and manages CSE Press and the Tree of Life Welcome Center and Bookshop. Irma is a graduate of Meru Institute, a certified Vedic Counselor, Meditation teacher, and enjoys supporting others in feeling healthy, energized and inspired by living a yogic lifestyle.

Rev. Zachiah Viveka Murray was initiated into Kriya Yoga in 2017 and ordained in 2021. She is a graduate of Meru Institute, teaches meditation, and provides leadership for 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.



Rev. Genie Palmer, PhD.  was initiated into Kriya Yoga in 2013 and ordained in 2021. She earned her M.Div. from Meru Institute, where she now serves as faculty and is a certified meditation teacher. 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. 

Rev. Crystal Mukti-Devi Lanier was initiated into Kriya Yoga in 2011, earned her M.Div. from Meru Institute in 2018, and ordained in 2021. She serves as CSE's Meditation Programs Coordinator, leads Morning Sadhana, and teaches meditation at CSE, online, and at other venues. Mukti Devi also serves on the Community Care Ministry Team and offers Vedic Counseling, leads chanting, and sings in One Voice Choir.

Rev. Kashi Tina Petrigni met Yogacharya O’Brian in 2007 while studying Yogananda’s teachings. She was initiated into Kriya Yoga in 2010 and ordained in 2021. Kashi is a 2018 Meru Institute graduate, certified meditation teacher, and Vedic Counselor. Inspired by Yogacharya’s book the Jewel of Abundance, Kashi facilitates the discovery of one’s innate bliss & uplifts the wellbeing of all through joy—ananda

Rev. Brahmi Usha Sharma was initiated into Kriya Yoga in 2017 and ordained in 2021. She is a certified meditation teacher and Vedic Counselor. Trained in India and the United States, Brahmi is also a certified hatha yoga instructor and is an author and poet, facilitating poetic medicine as a tool for wellness and supporting souls in opening the heart’s voice.   

Rev. Erin Bhavani Edwards was initiated into Kriya Yoga in 2012, graduated from Meru Institute in 2016, and ordained in 2021. 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.




CSE MINISTRY INTERNS


Kathy Devi McFadden, M.Div.  was initiated into Kriya Yoga by Yogacharya in 2008. She received both her 200-hour Yoga Teacher certificate and Meditation Teacher certificate in 2011 and earned her M.Div. at CSE’s Meru Institute the following year, where she now serves as Dean of Students. Devi is a certified Vedic Counselor. Her intention is to support practitioners of all levels, in nourishing body, mind, & soul through yoga, meditation, & Vedic Counseling.

Daniel Sanjay Duarte, M.Div. is a RYT-200 hatha yoga teacher and a CSE certified meditation instructor. He completed yoga teacher training through Yoga Bharati at CSE and also through the Breathe for Change Yoga Training in San Francisco. Daniel has been studying closely with Yogacharya O’Brian since 2014, and he graduated from Meru Institute with an M.Div in Yoga Studies in 2018. 



Olivia Tulsi Soza-Mendiola, M.Div. was initiated into Kriya Yoga in 2011 and graduated from CSE's Meru Institute in 2015. Tulsi was certified as a CSE Youth Instructor and Meditation Teacher in 2014.

 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 a Senior Meditation Teacher at Carry the Vision.

Deborah Jyoti Dixon, M.Div. was initiated into Kriya Yoga in 2012 by her teacher, Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian. She completed her training in Yoga Studies at Meru Institute in 2020 and is a certified meditation teacher. Jyoti oversees the website and weekly newsletter for CSE’s Blue Lotus Meditation & Yoga Center. She also supports online programs, teaches meditation, and serves as Vice-President on the Blue Lotus Board of Directors.