Class Instructors

Asha Nayaswami serves as Ananda Sangha's global ambassador at the request of her lifelong teacher, Swami Kriyananda. Her many talks on YouTube are a spiritual lifeline to seekers around the world. Asha is one of the spiritual directors of Ananda Palo Alto. She regularly gives Sunday services when she is in the Bay Area, and teaches often on Saturdays and Tuesday evenings (a book study series based on Paramhansa Yogananda or Swami Kriyananda's writings). She is author of Ask Asha, Loved & Protected, Swami Kriyananda as We Have Known Him, and has appeared in the film Finding Happiness. She has been a student of Swami Kriyananda since 1970, and a founding member of Ananda Village. Further links:

Calendar | Asha's classes | Sunday sermons | YouTube Channel
Webinars | Letters from Asha | Transcribed talks
Upcoming tours | More about Asha

Shanti Rubenstone, MD  Loving, enthusiastic, energy personified — Shanti is an Ananda minister and life-long devotee, as well as a Stanford-trained M.D. Her sermons and classes are rich with experiences and stories from her life as a physician, woven together with years of experience on the path and her inherently devotional nature. She coordinates much of Ananda's day to day world, which has grown amazingly complex and rich in recent years to include nearly daily classes, special events, pilgrimages, and a large team of staff and volunteers. She is a much-loved counselor and teacher.   Shanti

David Praver has been the foundation and steady hand guiding Ananda Palo Alto since 1987. He has long experience and patience working with a wide range of personalities (a rare skill, indeed). Under his guidance, Ananda has developed in many areas, expanding East West Bookshop, developing the Living Wisdom School, acquiring a large residential community (Ananda Community in Mountain View), and most recently magnetizing the rather miraculous Ananda Valley Farm that is giving so much joy (and food!) to so many. He has been meditating for over 35 years; he specializes in teaching advanced meditation and Yogananda’s Energization Exercises.

  David Praver
Nayaswami Chidambar (Bonin) is one of Ananda Palo Alto's founding members and long-time manager of the Ananda Community, home to more than 50 Ananda members who live together in an intentional, spiritual community. Chidambar teaches advanced meditation training. He also provides one-on-one support and mentoring for long-time meditators and those with a Kriya Yoga practice (Yogananda's most advanced meditation technique). He is wise, patient, and awake.   chidambar
Brahmachari Tandava is a Stanford and Google alum, and manager of Ananda's East West Bookstore in Mountain View. He's a gifted teacher, whether the subject is meditation, music, dance, computer skills, or anything else, making concepts accessible with humor and clarity. It's hard to find a moment when Tandava isn't cheery, willing, and just on the verge of a terrific one-liner.   tandava
Rammurti Reed has been involved with Ananda for more than 35 years. Books and serving people are his lifelong passion. He has served as the head of Ananda's publishing arm in India. A lifelong book lover, he and his wife, Sita, owned and managed Bookbuyers, a Bay Area used book haven, for many years. He is on staff with Ananda Palo Alto, teaching, counseling, and lending his considerable gifts as an actor and singer to Ananda events.   Rammurti
Sita Reed is a long-time minister with Ananda with special interest in yoga and natural healing, which she has shared for years through classes and yoga instruction. She directs the Ananda Yoga Center with her husband, Rammurti. She is on staff of Ananda Palo Alto, teaching, counseling, and offering a loving heart to all who meet her.   Sita
Steven Manus has been applying spiritual principles in business and academia for many years, and has a Master’s degree in Urban Planning. He has been meditating for more than 20 years.  He is a dynamic teacher with breadth of knowledge and depth of insight.   Steven
Eloisa Fuentes, profesora de meditación, comenzó su propria práctica de meditación durante una época de transición difícil en su vida. Eloisa es médico especializada en patología y ha comprobado de primera mano los beneficios para la salud atribuidos a la meditación. Su deseo es compartir estas enseñanzas con la comunidad latinoamericana.   Eloise
Esther Corona, se acreditó como profesora de yoga y meditación para compartir con los demás los beneficios que estas prácticas han tenido en su vida. Esther es madre de cuatro hijos y empresaria. Ella, a través de la práctica diaria de estas técnicas, ha visto como su vida se ha transformado en una vida con más significado y menos estrés.   Esther
Dr. Connie Hernandez is co- founder and director of Pacific Naturopathic in Palo Alto, and Pacific Naturopathic Retreat Center in Hawaii. In a busy naturopathic medical practice for more than 15 years, she has treated men and women of all ages with many chronic and acute concerns. She believes that Divine Will Healing, as taught by Yogananda, offers the keys to the deepest healing of body, mind, and soul.   Connie Hernandez photo
Saranya LaCosse has immersed herself in the teachings of Yogananda over the past 15 years. She is a gifted educator; her life-long passion has been teaching and working with deaf children of all ages, from babies to college students. She has presented workshops on many topics in English, Spanish, and American Sign Language. She has also taught Sunday School for many years in the Catholic church and with Ananda. You may know her from her rich alto voice in choir and Ananda kirtans.   Saranya

Nayaswami Biraj has practiced meditation for 30 years. His warmth and joy are contagious. He has been teaching meditation and the practices of Self-realization since 1987, including at Ananda's Expanding Light retreat, on the east coast, and in India. He was a founding member of Ananda's newest community in Pune, India, and also spearheaded the first year of the new Ananda Valley Farm project in Half Moon Bay. His passions are singing, selfless service, and connecting meaningfully with others.

Nayaswami Lahari is insightful, wise, and present. She has lived and served in many of Ananda's colonies since 1986, including Ananda Village, Sacramento, Rhode Island, and India. She and her husband, Biraj, helped to found the new Ananda community near Pune, India, and more recently, the new Ananda Valley Farm in Half Moon Bay. Lahari teaches and facilitates the Sadhaka training programs.   Lahari
Navashen Jones helps others fulfill their highest potential through the Ananda teachings in a fun, positive atmosphere. Before Ananda, he was involved in operations services for baseball teams, and as Director of Operations at Facebook’s corporate fitness center. While living in North Carolina in 2011, he discovered the teachings of Ananda and immediately began implementing them in his daily life. Navashen teaches meditation, and also has a gift for working with young children through nature awareness activities and guided play. He serves in many ways with kindness, a ready smile, and a deep wellspring of inner calmness.   photo of Vinny Jones
Saiganesh is a deeply thoughtful, clear speaker. He has an effortless way of expressing complex ideas, and connects easily with people. A world citizen, he grew up in a Brahmin family and today is a Silicon Valley tech professional. He is a trained Indian Classical musician and is a frequent soloist at Ananda. He has a keen interest in nature and photography. He is a whirlwind of service, teaching, developing new projects, filming Asha's webinars, cooking, and more.   Sai
James Noh-Kuhn is a former senior executive with a San Francisco based coffee company. His calm, cheery management style in a fast-paced environment is born of many years of yoga and meditation practice. He began his studies as the first yoga student of his wife, Vivekadevi. Certified as an Ananda Yoga Teacher and Meditation Teacher, he directed the yoga program at Ananda Santa Rosa in 2003. In the corporate world, he was often asked how he remained so calm. He joyfully answered by sharing Ananda's breathing and meditation practices. He brings years of management and strategic planning experience to the Sangha staff. He's a Palo Alto native, and is happy to be back "home" in the Ananda community, after living for many years around the U.S.   James
Lakshmi has practiced yoga and meditation of several years, finding Ananda Palo Alto in 2012. As a full time teacher at a local high school, she dedicates her life to merging mindfulness and academia in a professional setting. This passion permeates her involvement at Ananda, sharing and serving with energy and enthusiasm. Her background in education allows for thoughtfulness and clarity in her expression of these teachings. Lakshmi serves Ananda Palo Alto in various ways, participating behind the scenes at many weekly events and Sunday service.   Lakshmi
David G is a minister and has been with Ananda for 34 years. He has a gift for making complex ideas and situations easy to understand, with clarity and humor. For the past 18 years, he has provided stress and meditation training for government and the private sector. He has devoted his life to understanding the spiritual life and the complexities of the human mind. His greatest enthusiasm is to help others have deep insights that can change their lives.   David
Sharmila Barbara Hoffman has a private practice as a Marriage and Family Therapist in Palo Alto. She helps individuals and couples change negative and destructive thinking and habits, and helps them to reduce anxiety, stress, and depression. She teaches beginning yoga, as well as offering yoga and meditation to people suffering from stress and anxiety who would like to find greater peace, balance, and joy in their lives.   Sharmila
Nayaswami Ramani is a Lightbearer at Sunday worship services, and a longtime meditator. She has deep experience with Yogananda's healing techniques and has served for many years with the Healing Prayer ministry. She has given years of loving service to Ananda's works in Berkeley, New Delhi, Pune (India), and most recently Torrance and LA in Southern California. She has a passion for healing, plants and sustainable farming as deep as her love for helping people.   Ramani
Rita Deierlein is a lifelong professional in body mechanics and movement — as a fitness trainer, yoga instructor, and dancer. In listening to the music of Kriyananda and Yogananda, she feels a powerful, uplifting energy deep within her being. This energy inspires flowing movement, expressed in spiritual choreography for herself and others. Her exquisite dances are a part of many special events at Ananda. She is also a long-time Ananda Healing Prayer minister. She helps others experience the healing power of flowing movement combined with Ananda music, prayers, affirmations, and inspirations from the masters of Ananda's lineage.   Rita
Amara Fiesterman teaches classes in meditation, healing and yoga, and is a warm, welcoming friend to students. She is co-manager of the Ananda Community, serves on staff at Ananda's East West Bookstore in Mountain View, and lends her kind presence to everything she does.   Amara
Rose Atwell has been teaching young children in Living Wisdom School for years (she is now "famous" for her appearance in the Finding Happiness movie with the very young ones). She has many years of expertise in teaching nature awareness, yoga, and music to young people. She is a gifted singer as well, her soprano solo voice gracing many Ananda performances.   Rose
Chris Thorman is a computer programmer working in the high-tech industry since 1986, and a senior IT executive for the Episcopal Church pension fund since 2004. A longtime meditator and kriyaban, he's been been especially drawn to Swamiji's and Yogananda's teachings on the Bhagavad Gita, Sanaatan Dharma, and yoga philosophy. He's also had a deep interest in languages, and has devoted time to understanding the Sanskrit words and phrases that we encounter in spiritual texts and devotional music.   Chris T
Marcel Hernandez is a lifelong naturopathic doctor and medical professor by profession. But he shines in the evenings as a thespian and play director. As a young man, a play he'd written won a national competition and was aired by PBS. Stanford spotted it and offered him a full scholarship as a theater major, where he studied with acting greats such as Otto Preminger. He brings deep sensitivity and experience to stage direction, and together with Kristy Norfleet, brings Ananda plays to magical life on our small stage.   Marcel
Kristy Norfleet-Andrews is a frequent soloist at Ananda and a professional singer. Before Ananda, she was a professional actress and performer who toured throughout the United States. She was a Cheers finalist for the ongoing role of Ted Danson's girlfriend and taped a show; regretfully, they were looking for someone less intelligent. :) Happily, we are enjoying that keen intelligence and stage experience with Kristy's gift for theater. She works with Marcel in directing Ananda plays and programs, to the delight of our audiences.   Kristy
Nayaswami Anandaprem serves as an administrator for the Sangha and is often the warm voice on the other end of the phone when you call for any reason. She is a counselor, a friend, and a support for all. She spent 30 years in high-tech electronics, raising 3 children as a single mother. Her passion is creating beautiful and welcoming environments for devotional celebrations at Ananda.   Anandaprem
Eric Munro, a retired high tech executive, has been a member of Ananda for over 17 years. He serves at the Living Wisdom School as their Development Officer. In addition to meditation, he uses daily spiritual walks for upliftment. Drawing from his personal practice, he teaches a class in Devotional Walking at Ananda.   Eric Munro photo
David Eby, professional cellist, music director for Ananda and creator of “The Four Accords of the Inspired Musician, has spent the past 15 years exploring the relationship between music and consciousness. He brings his 30 years of performing and conducting around the world and 25 years of teaching into a relaxed and inspiring atmosphere. Recently he was the music producer and costar for the film, Finding Happiness.   David Eby
Karen G has been performing before audiences since the age of 5, tiny violin in hand, thanks to the coaching of her violinist and concertizing father. Ever since, she's been active in choirs, orchestras, competitive singing, and musical theatre. She's been singing Swamiji's music for over 30 years. She performed with the touring Ananda Joy Singers in Italy in 2002-04, and has coached Ananda Palo Alto's vocal program (choir, ensembles, soloists) for the past several years.   karen
Todd Billingsley is a professional pianist and long-time member of Ananda. started his musical training at age 7, studying piano and singing in the Trinity Church Boys Choir of New Haven. In high school he began to focus on jazz improvisation leading him to the jazz performance program at Ithaca College School of Music, where he continued his classical piano studies as well. He then moved to New York to join percussionist Atilla Engin and his New World Orchestra playing with them through the early 1990’s. Since moving to Mountain View in 1997, Todd has been working as a concert pianist, church organist, and for the past few years, as the resident accompanist with Palo Alto High School’s choral and musical theater departments.   Todd
Karpani Rakela is a Doctor of Oriental Medicine, licensed acupuncturist, yoga instructor, and meditation group leader in Berkeley. In her medical practice, she helps patients achieve greater health through her knowledge of Chinese medicine, yoga therapy, Yogananda's healing techniques, and meditation. She serves as a Lightbearer with Ananda Palo Alto and Ananda Berkeley. She has been the director of Ananda Berkeley for over 25 years.   Karpani
Nayaswami Bhajana teaches part of each year at Ananda Assisi’s retreat center, serving guests from throughout Europe. She is fluent in English, Italian, and her native German. She is a long-time Ananda Yoga teacher, and has many years of experience sharing Yogananda’s teachings on Raja Yoga and healing.   Bhajana
Dana Lynne Andersen is a multimedia artist, writer, playwright and teacher whose paintings have been featured on the covers of books, magazines and calendars. Her artwork and as her visionary thinking has been profiled in newspapers, radio and television. Dana is known as a loving and inspiring teacher, a “Vesuvius of creativity” and an “important visionary for the consciousness community.” She is the founder and creative director of The Academy of Art, Creativity & Consciousness with centers in Portland and Assisi, Italy.   Dana Anderson

Lila Devi founded Spirit-in-Nature Essences in 1977. It's the oldest flower essence firm globally (outside the U.K. where flower essences first began). An engaging seminar leader with 40 years’ experience, she lectures nationally and abroad. She has authored 4 books, the first in 6 languages and used by Doctors Across Borders to train their physicians. Lila graduated with honors with a BA from the University of Michigan and is considered one of the foremost flower essence developers in the world today.

Suzanne Elliott, Master Herbalist and Health Educator, loves to share her deep love and respect for nature, and her passion for everything herbal. She delights in teaching the ancient art and science of herbalism to help create a greater awareness and appreciation of the natural environment and the rich connection between plants and people. She lives and practices her craft in the Half Moon Bay area near Ananda Valley Farm.   Suzanne Elliott



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