School of Yoga Senior Teachers and Staff

All of our faculty have been directly trained by Master Yogi Sri Baba Hari Dass, who is affectionately called “Babaji”. Mount Madonna is a Registered Yoga Alliance School and our faculty meets YA’s high standards of preparation and training. Our faculty accepts the Hanumān Fellowship Code of Ethics.

Anand Darsie Anand Brian Darsie, BM (Voice), RYT 500, E-RYT 200, RCYT, is a working musician with a passion for sharing Babaji's yoga traditions with folks of all ages. Anand is the main instructor for MMI’s YTT for Educators: Teaching Yoga and Mindfulness to Children, bringing his background in helping children explore nature, music, and yoga to those who wish to share contemplative practice with the youngest generation.

Badri Dass Badri Dass, PhD, Licensed Clinical Psychologist, is a long-time student of Babaji (since 1974) and practicing psychotherapist (since 1978). Badri earned his PhD in clinical psychology in 1986 from Pacific Graduate School of Psychology (now Palo Alto University) and became licensed as a clinical psychologist in 1988. Badri has taught yoga (primarily meditation, pranayama, psychology, and philosophy) since 1975 and has been a teacher in Mount Madonna Center's Yoga Teacher Training since its inception. Badri integrates his experience in Jungian psychology, Buddhism, and Advaita philosophy and practice with traditional Aṣhṭānga Yoga.

Bhavi Bhavani Siegel, began her practice of yoga with Babaji in 1974. She began teaching yoga practice and philosophy in 1976 in Yoga Teacher Trainings, retreats, and seminars. Bhavani specializes in yogic symbolism, Sanskṛit and mantra, sacred sound meditation, and has recorded Surya Namaskar Mantras the Forgiveness Āsana Series, as well as Sanskṛit Pronunciation Tutorial recordings. Considering the teachings of conscious communication an important aspect of the yogic principle of non-harming, Bhavani has integrated this study in helping to facilitate and coordinate MMC’s Yoga & Service programs for over 20 years, and as a resident of the MMC community. She enjoys chanting, mystic poetry, and hiking.

David Prisk David Vishwamitra Prisk, BS (Business Management, San Jose State University), became a student of Babaji’s in 1972 and has been a teacher of Aṣhṭānga Yoga for more than 40 years. He teaches classes in asana, pranayama, and meditation to students of all levels at Mount Madonna Center seasonal Yoga Retreats, Yoga Teacher Training (200 and 300), and ongoing weekly classes. He teaches with a focus on integrating the practice of yoga into daily life to attain peace. He is a founding member of the Hanumān Fellowship and currently serves on the Board of Directors.

Dayanand Diffenbaugh Dayanand John Diffenbaugh, BA (Religious Studies, UCSC cum laude), E-RYT 500, has studied yoga with Babaji since 1971. Founding Director of MMC, Dayanand is also one of the founders of Sri Ram Ashram. Dayanand taught Yoga Sutras, Samkhya Karika, and Vedanta with Babaji, as well as edited Babaji's commentary on the Yoga Sutras. In his classes Dayanand uses his fluency in Hindi and Sanskṛit chanting, as well as Hindustani slide guitar to bring the traditional wisdom to life. Having been schooled in the gurukul system by Babaji, Dayanand feels a deep commitment to continuing the tradition of integrating study, practice, and karma yoga.

Brajesh Friedberg Gerald Brajesh Friedberg, PhD, E-RYT 500, has studied with Babaji since 1978 and has been teaching Yoga since then. He specializes in yoga psychology, yoga and social responsibility, failure and progress in meditation, understanding and applying nonviolence, and yoga in daily life. Brajesh continues to serve as Mount Madonna Center Program’s Director, as he has since 1981. He enjoys working out, taking walks with his sweetheart, a little birding, and lots of nourishing extended family time.

Iris Kachuck Iris Kalpana Kachuck, PhD, E-RYT 500, began her study of Yoga in 1975 as a student of Babaji. Becoming a founding member of the Mount Madonna Center has offered the great opportunity to engage in her passions of Education and Community. She has a particular interest in working with beginning teachers and exploring the practice of Community as a transformational experience. In the field of Education she has served as a K-12 Teacher, School Principal, and Community College Professor. As part of the Mount Madonna Institute, she is currently working with a team to develop curriculum for a Certificate program in Service Learning and Community Studies.

Jd Farley Janardan Kieran Farley, BA (Psychology and Science), has been a student of Babaji since 1975. As one of the Founding residents of Mount Madonna Center, Janardan has served the community as Personnel Administrator, Construction Supervisor, Yoga Instructor, Board Member of Hanumān Fellowship and Sri Ram Foundation, Pujari (priest) of Vedic Ceremonies, and Head of development and operation of the Sankaṭ Mochan Hanumān Temple Complex. His primary areas of interest are Vedic rituals, Tantra Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Ramayana, classical Aṣhṭānga Yoga, and classical dance and music forms of India.

Jaya Maxon Jaya Maxon, E-RYT 500, began her spiritual journey when she met her teacher Baba Hari Dass in 1974. She has devoted her life to the study of yoga and attempts to bring the teachings to life in practical ways on a day-to-day basis. She has taught the methods of Aṣhṭānga Yoga and Hatha Yoga for 40 years and over most of those years helped coordinate and evolve the Yoga Teacher Training program at Mount Madonna Center. She believes that life always offers the opportunities for the growth we need, and currently finds herself challenged to deepen her practice of patience, compassion, and contentment as she engages in the work of this stage of her life.

Ginger Hooven Kamalesh Ginger Hooven, BA (Philosophy), MA-Ay, E-RYT 500, began teaching yoga in 2000 in Guatemala. In 2003 she began studying with Babaji as she completed a 700 hour YTT with Georg Feurstein. Kamalesh joined the MMC YTT teaching staff in 2004. Her studies with Babaji made her realize the importance of threading Ayurvedic principles throughout yogic teachings. As a Certified Āyurvedic Practitioner she teaches yoga and Ayurveda, specializing in applying Western and Āyurvedic anatomy and physiology, pranayama, meditation, Eight Limbs, Sāmkhya, and Sequencing Āsana at MMI and in Guatemala. Her greatest accomplishment is raising two young men, educated at Mount Madonna School, who are happily finding their own paths.

Jessica Fortino Karuna Jessica Fortino, BA (Dance), E-RYT 500, was introduced to Yoga and Babaji through Tom Tobias in Tulsa, OK. She first came to Mount Madonna in 2007 for YTT 200. Wanting to study with Babaji and his students further, she has continued to apprentice, assist, coordinate and teach in the YTT programs since that time. Her main areas of focus are Asana, Sadhana, and Yoga History. Karuna also has a great love for Ayurveda and Prenatal Yoga, and teaches and learns within these programs as well.

Kpy 6217 Kathy Páez, E-RYT 500, completed her 200h YTT in classical Aṣhṭānga Yoga at MMC, 500h in Yin Yoga and anatomy with Paul & Suzee Grilley, fascia studies with Gil Hedley, and Sanskrit under Dr. María Elena Sierra at The University of Barcelona. Kathy is an international Yin & Vinyāsa Yoga teacher trainer, with a functional approach that requires a specialized understanding of skeletal variation, muscles, myofascial pathways and the subtle body.

Niraja Lyn Lyn Ackley, Niraja, YTT 500, completed her 500 hour Yoga Teacher Training in 2014. Since 2012 she has been teaching private and group classes, workshops, and retreats. Her continued curiosity and love of yoga leads her to participate regularly in workshops and training courses in the US and India. Experiencing the results of regular yoga practice, she enjoys sharing the practice of yoga with others. Her studies and teachings include pranayama, asana, and meditation, and all of the eight limbs of Aṣhṭānga Yoga. She is thankful to Babaji, her teachers, students, and the enriching opportunities to “teach to learn.”

Mangala Norskog Mangala Norskog, RN, RYT 500, CAP, is a student of Babaji’s and continues to “teach to learn". Her instruction integrates devotional intention, anatomical reference, and subtle body physiology into pranayama, meditation and asana. Mangala leads weekend workshops in “Āsana and Sacred Sound” and has been teaching at MMC since 1996. She instructs privately and to a variety of age groups. In her professional practice Mangala bridges classical training in Āyurveda and Yoga, experience as a Registered Nurse, and enthusiastic advocacy for health, safety, and wellbeing. She serves on the Yoga Administration of Pacific Cultural Center and volunteers regularly Sri Ram Orphange.

Manobio David Manorath Wheeler, MA (Ayurveda), CMT, completed his 200hr Yoga Teacher Training at Mount Madonna in 2003. Manorath’s belief in the ability of yoga to transform and illuminate the path of self-development and health is reflected in his daily life at Mount Madonna Center. In addition to exploring the practice of conscious living based on the teachings of Baba Hari Dass, Manorath brings decades of experience teaching yoga and practicing Ayurveda, along with his extensive knowledge of massage therapy together into his weekly yoga classes, Ayurvedic consultations, and work as the manager of Ayurveda World (MMI’s Herbal Dispensary).

Nick Fortino Nick Fortino, Ph.D., teaches yoga and psychology in a variety of venues. Nick studied yoga with Bābā Hari Dāss and with his senior teachers. He completed YTT 200 at MMC and subsequently lived at the center for 3 years.

Paula Holtz Paula Anima Holtz, PhD, RN, FNP, CNM, has been a serious student of yoga and of Babaji's for 30 years. She works as a clinical psychologist/psychiatric nurse practitioner providing psychotherapy. Her special interest is the integration of yoga theory with neuroscience/biology and psychology and related research, which developed from her personal experience that regular sadhana has a physiologic effect on her body. Her classes focus on neuroscience and its relationship to yoga and meditation as based on her study of science and the Yoga Sutras. She enjoys satsang, family, and grandmothering and believes and teaches that we develop together through relationship.

Pratibha Queen Pratibha Melissa Queen, BA, RYT 500, CAS, has studied Yoga and Ayurveda with Babaji since 1976. She completed Yoga Teacher Training at MMC in 1981 and became an RYT-500 in 1993. She graduated from the California College of Āyurveda in 2004 as a Clinical Āyurveda Specialist (CAS). She taught gentle and restorative yoga at MMC and Pacific Cultural Center for many years. Her current focus is sharing Āyurveda with YTT and YSC students at MMC. In addition, she offers a self-care series called “Āyurveda, Yoga and You” in Santa Cruz. She serves as a Board member of Mount Madonna Institute, and the Hanuman Fellowship.

Prem Dass Premdas Rohan, MA (Secondary Science Education), combines his love of science and mathematics with his love of yoga practice in the classroom by teaching Middle School students breath awareness exercises, mindfulness, and postures to calm the mind. He began his studies of Aṣhṭānga Yoga with Babaji starting in 1975 in Miami, Florida. Premdas has taught all ages of students from 2 1/2 years to the elderly. He teaches asana, pranayama, meditation, and Bhagavad Gita. In addition, Premdas serves as a pujari (priest) of Vedic rituals at the Sankaṭ Mochan Hanumān Temple. He enjoys all sports, guitar, and time with his family.

Purnima Conway Purnima Cathy Conway, MS (Nonprofit Management, Northeastern University), RYT-500,has studied classical Aṣhṭānga Yoga with Babaji since 1996 and completed her 200 and 500 hour YTT at Mount Madonna Center. As a resident staff member and Yoga instructor, Purnima embraces the concept of teaching to learn and continues to deepen her understanding of yoga philosophy. She teaches pranayama, meditation, mudra, mantra and sacred sound. Her classes on the eight limbs of Aṣhṭānga Yoga focus on cultivating the yama and niyama to attain peace. Purnima is a musician and leads kirtan and Vedic chanting at retreats and events. Professionally Purnima is Vice President of Hospice of Santa Cruz County.

Radha Mallery Radha Mallery, RYT 500, began her practice of Aṣhṭānga Yoga when she met Babaji in 1971. Under his tutelage she began teaching asanas, pranayama, and meditation at yoga retreats in 1974. During the last 40 years she’s taught extensively at Mount Madonna Center, Pacific Cultural Center, and throughout Santa Cruz County, often with an emphasis on Nada Yoga or meditation on inner sound. As a retired long time hospice worker she is uniquely able to bring the elements of death, dying, and impermanence into her meditation teaching, while keeping a light hearted perspective on life. She enjoys singing, hiking, and learning from others.

Ratna Sturz Ratna Jennifer Sturz, MA, E-RYT 500, has studied with Babaji since 1977 and began teaching shortly after that. Yoga continues to be a constant guide and support for facing challenges as well as for appreciating daily life. Drawing from her background in counseling, psychology, and selective studies in contemplative traditions and neuroscience, her current classes focus on meditation, meditation practicums, and mentoring with an emphasis on transformation of self. She has previously taught History of Yoga, Comparative Systems, Bhakti Yoga Theory, and the Limbs of Aṣhṭānga Yoga and is a certified Viniyoga Instructor. She enjoys hiking and being active outdoors.

Ward Mailliard Sadanand Ward Mailliard, BA, E-RYT 500, is a founding member of Mount Madonna Center. Sadanand began practicing and studying Yoga with Babaji in 1974. He has been teaching at Mount Madonna Center in Yoga retreats and YTT since the Center began. Sadanand has been a teacher of the “Values in World Thought” program at Mount Madonna School for 28 years. He edited Babaji’s commentary on the Bhagavad Gita. He teaches yoga sadhana classes and classes on Subtle Body, Background of Yoga, and Bhagavad Gītā in the MMC yoga Teacher Training and at Mount Madonna Center Yoga retreats.

Sarada Diffenbaugh Sarada Diffenbaugh, PhD (Stanford University, Education), E-RYT 500, has studied yoga with Babaji since 1971. She is one of the founders of Mount Madonna Center, Mount Madonna School, and Sri Ram Ashram. As Principal of MMS she applied teachings of yoga to children's education. Sarada uses her educational knowledge to help create the dynamic, integrated, experiential learning environment at MMI. In classes on Yoga Sūtra, Sāmkhya, Gītā, and Aṣhṭānga Yoga she aims to make the heart and meaning of these ancient teachings applicable to contemporary life. Sarada is married to Dayanand Diffenbaugh, they have two married sons and five grandchildren.

Shantam Galuten Shantam Galuten, has been practicing yoga since 1995, and has studied extensively with Babaji, Chuck Miller, and Hillaire Lockwood. He received his 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training from Mount Madonna Center and has been teaching yoga, performing Vedic ceremonies, and helping to facilitate the various retreats at the Center since 2006. Even as he is a professional jazz musician, software developer, and pujari at the Sankaṭ Mochan Hanumān Temple, he aims to inspire creativity, spread happiness, and continually work for the cultivation of peace.

Soma Goresky Soma Goresky, MS (Civil Engineering), E-RYT 500, is a geotechnical engineer with a consulting firm in the Bay area, as well as a practicing yogini and senior student of Babaji. She works with the principle that the depth of our understanding is based on our own experience through “Regular Sādhana,” and strives to help students be successful in making formal spiritual practice a part of their daily lives. Soma also has undertaken an in-depth study of the yoga philosophy as presented in Patanjali’s Yoga Sūtras and has taught and led study groups exploring these ancient principles for over 25 years.

Sean Bio Picture Sean Neesley, Sean Neesley, BA (Psychology), E-RYT 500, completed YTT in 2013 and discovered a passion for teaching; he has been actively involved in YTT courses ever since. He moved to MMC in 2016 and teaches āsana, sādhana, and ṣhaṭ karma. Sean is an avid rock climber and enjoys the adventurous nature of exploring the outer world as thoroughly as the inner.

Stacy Fuller Stacy Fuller, M.S., E-RYT 500, A.H.C, was a national level gymnast whose love for movement led her to teaching Physical Education; coaching strength, conditioning, and cheerleading; and to pursue her master’s degree in Exercise Physiology. Longing for a more spiritual integration, she found her way to Mount Madonna Institute where she completed the YTT 200, YTT 300, C-YTT, and Ayurvedic Health Counselor programs, and served as an apprentice. Stacy is the founder of Ahimsa Wellness in Gunnison, CO where she provides Yoga, Ayurveda, and Massage; she is the Head Cheer Coach at Western Colorado University; and she also teaches Yoga and Mindfulness to high school and college students. Stacy is passionate about bringing Yoga and Ayurveda philosophy into the world of athletics and has been teaching kids ages 2 –College some form of movement: gymnastics, dance or Yoga, for over 20 years. She is the course leader for Mount Madonna Institute’s Yoga Teacher Training for Educators program (Children’s YTT).