Faculty

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.

Ginger Hooven Kamalesh Ginger Hooven, MA-Ayurveda, Mount Madonna Institute, Watsonville, CA, 2016. Ginger is Chair of the School of Yoga, Program Director of the Ayurvedic Yoga Therapy Program, Coordinator of the Advanced Yoga Studies (YTT 300) program She has been teaching in the Mount Madonna Center Yoga Teacher Trainings since 2005. In addition to her studies at Mount Madonna, she completed a 700-hour Yoga Teacher Training with the Yoga Research and Education Center (2001-2002) led by scholar Georg Feurstein. Ginger completed two years of graduate studies in Philosophy at University of Memphis (1972- 1974). She attended Cabrillo College (Aptos, CA 2010-2011) for Anatomy, Physiology, Chemistry and Nutrition and was an assistant instructor of Anatomy and Physiology at Cabrillo College. Ginger is also the Program Coordinator – C-AP Program, College of Ayurveda.

Sean Bio Picture Sean Neesley, Co-Chair, School of Yoga. 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.

Priska Priska Bitterli , RYT 500, started teaching regular classes in 2012 after receiving her YTT 200 training from Mt. Madonna Center. Her passions are pranayama and meditation, she loves to help students discover the beauty of the breath, letting go of the mind, and the acceptance of self and others that yoga brings. Born and raised in Switzerland where she studied orthoptics, she was introduced to yoga as a child and has been a regular practitioner for over 17 years and absolutely loves it. Her other passion is teaching backpacking classes each spring where she likes to incorporate yoga sessions. She also loves to paint, to be outdoors, and to spend quality time with youth. As a Girl Scout leader and robotics coach she teaches kids various after school activities.

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.

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.

Dayanand Diffenbaugh John Dayanand Diffenbaugh, BA, Religious Studies, University of California, Santa Cruz. Dayanand is editor of The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, A Study Guide for Book I, Sadhana Pada and Book II, Sadhana Pada. He has taught Yoga philosophy, meditation, and related practices (1974-present) at Mount Madonna Center, Salt Spring Center (British Columbia, Canada), Ashtanga Yoga Institute (California), Ashtanga Yoga Fellowship (Toronto, Canada), and Sri Ram Ashram (Haridwar, India). He is a Founding Board Member of Hanuman Fellowship, Founding Director of Mount Madonna Center, a Trustee and teacher of World Religions at Mount Madonna School, a Founding Board Member of Mount Madonna Institute, and a Trustee of Sri Ram Orphanage. John has been a student of Master Yogi, Baba Hari Dass since 1973, when he began studying the Yoga Sutras in depth. Since 1980 Dayanand has been teaching Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras alongside Baba Hari Dass at weekly classes at Mount Madonna Center.

Sarada Diffenbaugh Judith Sarada Diffenbaugh, PhD, Education, Stanford University, Stanford, CA. E-RYT 500. Judith 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 Sutra, Samkhya, Gita, and Ashtanga 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.

Jd Farley Janardan Kieran Farley, BA, Psychology and Science, San Jose State University, San Jose, CA. Janardan has been a practitioner of yoga since 1972 and has been a student of Baba Hari Dass since 1974. He has been a resident of Mount Madonna Center since its inception in March 1978, serving the community as a Personnel Administrator, Construction Supervisor, Yoga Instructor, Pujari (priest) of Vedic Ceremonies, and Head of Development and Operation of the Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple Complex. His primary area of study and teaching for Mount Madonna Center is focused on Ashtanga Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Tantra Yoga, and Vedic Rituals. He has served as a Board Member of the Sri Ram Foundation for many years and has been actively engaged in the Sri Ram Orphanage Project in India since 1984.

Brajesh Friedberg Gerald Brajesh Friedberg, PhD, Political Science, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA. B.A. (Honors), Cornell University, 1960 Gerald designed the original curriculum for the 200-hour yoga teacher-training program. In addition to his degrees, he holds several directorships: Teaching Fellow, Harvard University, 1962-64, Assistant Professor, Political Science, University of California, Davis, 1964-68; Associate Professor, Fordham University, 1968-70; Founder-Director, The Lorillard Children’s School, 1969-70; Co-Founder-Director, Arrakis Educational Center, 1970-71; Program Director, MMC, 1981-present; 19 years on the MMC Board of Directors; Principal, Mount Madonna School, 1984-85 to 1989-90; Administrator, Mount Madonna School, 1980-1984 and 1990-2002; teacher at yoga retreats, in yoga teacher training programs at the 200 and 300-hour levels, to students in the Yoga, Service, and Community program, and in talks to other groups, offering talks and classes, which include Ashtanga Yoga, Meditation, Pranayama, Yoga and Social Responsibility, Karma Yoga, Gandhi and the Gita, and Teaching Yoga – 1979- present.

Shantam Galuten Shantam Galuten, Shantam 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, Geotechnical Major, San Jose State University, San Jose, CA. Soma is a practicing geotechnical engineer with a consulting firm in the Bay Area. As a practicing yogi and student of Baba Hari Dass, Soma has been teaching methods of pranayama and meditation to visitors of Mount Madonna Center since 1990. She strives to help students be successful in making formal spiritual practice a part of their daily lives. Soma teaches ongoing classes at Mount Madonna in beginning and intermediate breathing practices and meditation and has undertaken an in depth study of the yoga philosophy as presented in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. She has taught and led study groups exploring these ancient principles for over 20 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.

Iris Kachuck Iris Kalpana Kachuck, PhD, Education, University of California, Berkeley, CA, 1988. Kalpana also holds a California Community College Instructor Credential: Valid, Life and a California K-12 Teaching Credential, University of California, Santa Cruz, 1978. Kalpana has held various positions in the field of education in both research and teaching. Since 1987 she has been a Professor of Mathematics and Education at Evergreen Valley College, San Jose, CA, specializing in Developmental Mathematics and Teacher Education. Since 1980, Kalpana has been a resident staff member and Yoga Instructor at Mount Madonna Center. Her classes include the Eight Limbs of Ashtanga Yoga, Hand Mudras, Educational Learning Theory, and Reflections on Teaching. She served on the Board of Directors for Mount Madonna Center for many years and on the Board of Directors at Mount Madonna School.

Ward Mailliard Sadanand Ward Mailliard, BA, English, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, 1969. Ward has been a practitioner of yoga and student of Indian philosophy for the past 36 years. He has a deep interest in understanding how best to build bridges between cultures, and between the spiritual and practical aspects of life. He spent several years editing Baba Hari Dass’ commentary on the Bhagavad Gita and has an abiding interest in understanding the Gita and exploring its relevance to modern life. For over 30 years he has been teaching at Mount Madonna Center retreats and Yoga Teacher Training programs. Other classes include the Background of Yoga, with emphasis on the Vedas, and Subtle Body Theory. He has served since 1976 as President of the Hanuman Fellowship, the non-profit organization that sponsors Mount Madonna Center and is one of the founders of Mount Madonna Center. Sadanand is Vice President of the Board of Mount Madonna School, where he has been developing and teaching innovative values-oriented curriculums since 1989. He serves as Vice President of the Sri Ram Foundation, which supports an orphanage, school, and medical clinic in Northern India of which he serves as a Trustee.

Radha Mallery Radha Mallery, Has taught Ashtanga Yoga, including pranayama (breathing practices), meditation, and asana in various settings including local colleges, service organizations, the Pacific Cultural Center, and Mount Madonna Center since 1974. Her training came directly from Baba Hari Dass and began in 1971 when he first came to the U.S. Radha also teaches Nada Yoga (Inner Sound), meditative asana, and preparation for teaching beginning level Ashtanga Yoga, and serves as a mentor for trainees. She was also a yoga teacher for Mount Madonna’s Women’s Spring Ayurveda and Yoga retreat for 10 years. Since 1987 Radha has co-facilitated and taught the Going Deeper program created by Baba Hari Dass, an annual silent retreat at Mount Madonna Center. Radha serves on the membership committee of Hanuman Fellowship/Mount Madonna Center. She has been the Director of Volunteer Services for Hospice of Santa Cruz County since 1998. Her role in Hospice requires her to teach volunteers how to provide spiritual, emotional, and practical support to people at the end of life.

Jaya Maxon Jaya Maxon, Has been a Yoga instructor since 1975. She has coordinated yoga retreats and Yoga Teacher Training intensives at Mount Madonna Center for 30 years and has been the coordinator of the YTT 200 program since its inception in 1981. She began her training in yoga in 1974 when she became a student of Baba Hari Dass, learning the methods of Hatha Yoga and Ashtanga Yoga directly from him and from the earliest of his students in this country. She has been serving as a Board Member of Hanuman Fellowship/Mount Madonna Center since 1985 and currently manages the office of Sri Ram Foundation.

Tonia Tonia Mayerle, BA (Journalism, University of Arizona), ERYT 500, AHC, completed YTT200, YTT300 and Ayurvedic Health Counselor courses at Mount Madonnaa and through the teachings of Bābāji found a community to support her deep desire to study and practice classical yoga. She has been supporting the YTT trainings since 2016. As a veteran she sought training to offer yoga for PTSD and trauma. Living in Tucson, Arizona she specializes in teaching meditation and conflict resiliency and finds daily inspiration in “Teaching to Learn.

Hannah Muse Hannah Muse, Over six years’ experience in the field of yoga training. YTT 500 Yoga Teacher training certificate. RPYT – Registered Prenatal Yoga Teacher with Yoga Alliance.

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.

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.

David Prisk David Vishwamitra Prisk, BS, Business and Industrial Management, San Jose State College, San Jose, CA. David became a student and practitioner of Yoga at Yoga Divya Mandir in northern India in 1970. Having been a teacher of Ashtanga Yoga since 1971, he has taught beginning, intermediate, and advanced level classes in Asana, Pranayama, and Meditation to students in various settings including San Quentin State Prison, UCSC, Cabrillo College, Pacific Cultural Center, and at Mount Madonna Center with a focus on integrating the practice of yoga into daily life to attain peace. He teaches courses in Mount Madonna Center’s YTT200 and 300 programs, and ongoing weekly classes at the Mount Madonna Center. He was a founding member of the Hanuman Fellowship and currently serves on that Board of Directors.

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.

Pratibha Queen Pratibha Melissa Queen, BA, History, University of Washington, Seattle, WA; Counseling Certificate UCSC Extension, Santa Clara, CA. Pratibha served as Resident Manager of the Pacific Cultural Center and of its Ashtanga Yoga Institute from 1997-2005. She completed Yoga Teacher Training at Mount Madonna Center in 1981 and has been a Registered Yoga Teacher (500) since 2002. Her yoga teaching focus is in Gentle and Restorative Yoga. She began the study of Ayurveda with Baba Hari Dass in 1980 and has also studied with Dr. Robert Svoboda, Dr. Trivedi, Dr. Marc Halpern, and Dr. Vasant Lad. She graduated from the California College of Ayurveda in 2004 as a Clinical Ayurveda Specialist and currently maintains a small clinical practice in Santa Cruz. Her classes at Yoga Teacher Training include Introduction to Ayurveda, Prana and Asana, Restorative Yoga, and Ayurveda and Asana. She has also taught in the weekend Spring Retreat for Women at MMC (1997-2006). She is currently serving as a Board member of Mount Madonna Institute.

Bhavi Bhavani Siegel, Has been a teacher of yoga as taught by Baba Hari Dass since 1975 in the areas of Pranayama and Meditation. She also teaches Yoga philosophy, symbolism in Yogic ritual, Bhakti Yoga, Sacred Sound, and Sanskrit and Mantra. Bhavani has served as coordinator of Mount Madonna Center’s residential work/study program, Yoga, Service and Community, where she led participants in experiencing life and practice in a community dedicated to the principles of Yoga. For over 30 years, Bhavani has coordinated and taught the Going Deeper small group retreat, which involves intensive practice for more advanced students. She teaches in the teacher training programs at both Mount Madonna Center and at Salt Spring Centre of Yoga in B.C., Canada. She received an Early Childhood Education Credential from Cabrillo College in California in 1976, and was Head Teacher and Co-Director of several Preschool/Kindergarten programs until 1994. This experience led her to teach Children’s Yoga at Mount Madonna School and at Sri Ram Orphanage in northern India.

Ratna Sturz Ratna Jennifer Sturz, MA, Counseling, Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, CA. Ratna has taught at Mount Madonna Center’s Yoga Teacher Training programs and retreats for over 30 years. She is currently acting director of the Mount Madonna Institute School of Yoga and is a Board member of the Mount Madonna Center and Mount Madonna Institute. As Director of the Pacific Cultural Center in Santa Cruz, CA, Ratna helped form the Yoga Institute, which has been offering daily yoga classes since 1991. She received her MA from Santa Clara University in Counseling and Health Psychology and is currently training with the American Viniyoga Institute in a 400-hour program emphasizing the integration of yoga theory and practice in preparation for yoga therapy.

Debbie Wechsler Deborah Manisha Wechsler, MPH, RN, RYT 500, has a career in Public Health and has studied with Bābāji since the 1980’s. Her interest is the integration of Western sciences with Yoga’s teachings on mind and body. She completed YTT 200 at MMC and 500 hours and Yoga Therapy coursework with AVI. Manisha teaches Kriya Yoga, Chanting, Samkhya Philosophy and Yoga Sutras.

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).