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at Mount Madonna, California

Institute Leadership

Integrating mind, body & Spirit

Mount Madonna Institute was founded in 2006 as an academic institution to formally train and graduate exceptional practitioners. Before that time, Yoga and Ayurveda programs were regularly offered by Mount Madonna Center since 1978. With the formation of the institute and subsequent accreditations, our curriculum is among the most comprehensive in the western world.

Our administrative faculty and staff are exceptionally trained in their fields, and our graduates meet the modern standards of practice and education as set by professional associations in the United States, including the Yoga Alliance, the National Ayurvedic Medical Association, and the International Association of Yoga Therapy.

Mission Statement

Integrating Mind, Body & Spirit

Mount Madonna Institute is committed to holistic wellness and positive transformation. We offer graduate education and certificate programs that integrate ancient systems of Yoga and Ayurveda, within community, for contemporary life. Graduates are well prepared for careers in integrative health professions.

Mount Madonna Institute is a private, non-profit educational institution located in redwood forests in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Small class size and classic Vedic sources foster authentic student learning, integrating theoretical knowledge and experiential education. Distinguished faculty offer a Master’s degree and two certificate programs.

Classical curriculum and clinical experience preserve and extend the 5,000 year old science of Ayurveda, the world’s oldest known system of natural medicine and healing. The classical system of Ashtanga Yoga, as taught in the West by Baba Hari Dass, informs both practice and philosophy taught by devoted resident faculty.

Mount Madonna Center offers guest services, both meals and lodging, for students. Situated on 380 acres of land, on a mountain top, the campus overlooks Monterrey Bay. Mount Madonna Institute is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC), a regional higher education accreditation body.

The College of Ayurveda is approved by the National Ayurvedic Medicine Association (NAMA). Mount Madonna’s Yoga Teacher Training is approved by the national yoga registry, Yoga Alliance. Mount Madonna Institute is also affiliated with the International Association of Yoga Therapists. Mount Madonna Institute is also approved by the California Bureau of Private Postsecondary Education.

Board of Directors

Mount Madonna Institute

sarada judith
Interim Chair

Sarada Judith Diffenbaugh, PH.D., E-RYT 500

Ph. D. (Education), Stanford University, Stanford, CA; E-RYT 500, RCYT

Sarada teaches Yoga Sutra, Samkhya Philosophy, Bhagavad Gita, Eight Limbs of (Ashtanga) Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, children’s yoga, ethics and meditation. Sarada is the founder of Mount Madonna School where the ancient system of yoga has been translated into contemporary American education. She is one of the founders of Mount Madonna Center, serves as President of Sri Ram Foundation, which publishes Baba Hari Dass’ writings, is an Advisor Trustee of Sri Ram Orphanage, and serves on the Mount Madonna Institute Board’s Executive Committee.

jen rand

Jen Rand, M.A., RYT 500

M.A. (Ayurveda), Mount Madonna Institute; RYT 500

Jen completed her 200 and 300 hour trainings in classical Ashtanga Yoga with Mount Madonna Institute. She is experienced in teaching students of all ages both in-person and online and works with students in Ayurveda and Yoga at Mount Madonna. Her yoga practice is deeply influenced by her studies of Ayurveda, which allow her to offer options and modifications to help students tailor their practice to what they need. She is currently pursuing her studies in Ayurvedic Yoga Therapy.

dayanand john diffenbaugh
Board Member

Dayanand John Diffenbaugh, B.A., E-RYT 500

B.A. (Religious Studies), University of California, Santa Cruz, CA; E-RYT 500

Dayanand teaches Yoga Sutras, Samkhya Philosophy, Eight Limbs of (Ashtanga) Yoga, Tantra Yoga, Nada Yoga (Inner Sound), and meditation. He is editor of Baba Hari Dass’ Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, A Study Guide for Books I-IV. He also teaches World Religions at Mount Madonna School. A musician, “DN” leads kirtan and Vedic chanting. Dayanand has been instrumental in all of Babaji’s projects, including serving as the Founding Director of Mount Madonna Center, as a founding board member for Hanuman Fellowship, Mount Madonna Institute, Advisor Trustee of Sri Ram Orphanage, and as a member of the panchayat (Council of Elders) of Hanuman Fellowship.

Board Member

Anima Paula Holtz, PH.D., R.N., F.N.P.

PH.D., R.N., F.N.P.

Anima Paula Holtz is a Clinical Psychologist in private practice in Santa Cruz, California, providing diagnostic evaluation, treatment planning, and individual psychotherapy services to adults. Dr. Holtz served as a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, University of California, Santa Cruz (2003-2011) providing psychiatric services including psychiatric evaluation, psychiatric diagnosis, treatment planning, prescribing medication, medication management, referral for psychotherapy services both on campus and off campus, consultation and coordination of care with Primary Care, Counseling, and Psychological Services. Her special interest is in the role of neurobiology on health and wellness.

timothy avinash
Board Member

Timothy J. Walsh, J.D.


Avinash is a retired Attorney. He currently serves on Mount Madonna Instiute’s Finance Committee and as Chairperson of the Governance Committee. He also serves on the Board of Directors for Mount Madonna Center. He met Babaji in 1975 at a Camp Swig retreat in the Santa Cruz mountains. He lived at Mount Madonna Center in the summer and early fall of 1979 with his wife Sarojani and stepson Jason (Jagadish). He has been practicing Babaji’s system of Ashtanga Yoga for almost 50 years. He regularly attends weekly classes in-person and online. He is interested in ensuring the endurance of Babaji’s teachings and the continuing vitality of Mount Madonna Institute.

Board Member

Ashoka Clayton Caroon, M.A., RYT 200

M.A. (Political Science), University of Colorado; B.A. (English), The Ohio State University: RYT-200

Ashoka has been connected with Mount Madonna in various capacities for over 20 years, including completing the 200-hour summer residential yoga teacher training (YTT) program in 2003. During his university studies, he conducted grant funded research in India, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, Taiwan, South Korea, and the People’s Republic of China. In 2010 and 2011 he served as a cultural liaison and project coordinator for Native-led economic development initiatives with the Northern Arapaho Council of the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming and the Confederated Tribes of The Colville Reservation in Eastern Washington to assist tribal governments with the creation of portfolio-based economic development plans that reflect the cultural, social, environmental, and spiritual goals of the tribal community. With funding from the National Science Foundation, Ashoka assisted Spirit of the Sun (501(c)(3) in partnership with OptTek Systems, a global leader in simulation and optimization technology, to offer tribal governments a dynamic combination of community-based, goal-driven planning backed by digital optimization analysis. As a member of the Mount Madonna Institute’s Board of Directors, Ashoka has served as a member of the Alumni and Financial Development Committee and also as a member of the Governance Committee. He is also tenured teaching staff at Aptos High School, a comprehensive secondary school in Aptos, California, that has earned recognition as a California Distinguished School for academic achievement.

madhavi nadendla
Board Member

Madhavi Nadendla, M.Tech., RYT 500

M.Tech. (Computer Science), B.S. (Mechanical Engineering), Andhra University, Visakhapatnam, India; RYT 500

Madhavi currently actively works with and supports many nonprofit organizations based both in the San Francisco Bay Area and in India. Some of these organizations include Akshaya Patra, Silicon Andhra, Isha Foundation, and Home of Hope. Previously, she has worked as an educator at Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University, Hyderabad, India. Madhavi completed YTT 500 at Mount Madonna Institute in 2021 and actively conducts yoga classes both in Mount Madonna Center and in her private practice.

Board Member

Sanjeev Kak, M.B.A.

M.B.A., B.A. (Computer Engineering), and Executive Leadership Program, Stanford University

Sanjeev Kak is an software executive at a world renowned Silicon Valley company with over three decades of experience in the field. He has dedicated his career to promoting community well-being and human rights causes. His expertise lies in community program development, and strategic planning. Sanjeev’s experience includes work with a non-profit dedicated to bringing back the Vedic Studies, Hindu Cultural, Religious and Spiritual Values to the Valley of Kashmir. He was recognized by KHF for volunteering to bring in and organize many discourses by community activists from India as well as with ThereWithCare and St. Judes Hospital for exceptional fund raising work. To the MMI board he brings skills and experience in community outreach, strategic planning, religious and spiritual wellbeing, and program management. Sanjeev envisions MMI as a catalyst for positive change, where collaborative efforts drive impactful projects that uplift communities physically, mentally and spiritually.

satya cathy hutton
Board Member

Satya Cathy Hutton, M.B.A., RYT 500

M.B.A., B.A. (Social Psychology), University of Southern California in Los Angeles; RYT 500

Satya is a fundraising professional with 25 years of philanthropy and nonprofit management experience. She has served as Director of Major Gifts at both El Camino Hospital and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, and as Associate Vice President of Philanthropy at Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland. Since 2012, Satya has been at Stanford University as a major gifts Director in Medical Center Development and has raised over $30 million in support of cardiovascular patient care and research. Satya is Korean-America, was born in Seoul, Korea and grew up in Iran, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. Serving the community by sharing yoga is a personal passion for Satya. She earned her 500 hours certification as a yoga teacher at Mount Madonna Institute, and now serves on the board. In addition to teaching classes, Satya leads yoga retreats for students pursuing personal transformation.

Board Member

Mike Cairns, M.B.A., C.P.A.

M.B.A., UC Berkeley Haas School of Business; B.A. (Business Administration), University of Hartford

Mike is the CFO for Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, CA. He brings years of diverse experience in finance and operations, spanning Fortune 500 companies, start-ups, and several institutions of higher education. For the past 20 years, Mike has served in executive positions, including Interim CFO for and CFO and Vice President for Finance and Administration at Saybrook University, a graduate school rooted in Humanistic Psychology. Mike emigrated to the U.S. from Scotland. He is a Certified Public Accountant. In his spare time, Mike enjoys the teamwork of Tough Mudders. Mike is committed to his family in both Scotland and the U.S.; he is a dog lover and enjoys reading The Economist.

Administrative Staff

Mount Madonna Institute

President, Accreditation Liaison & Institutional Research Officer

Swarup Wood, PH.D.

Ph.D. (Biology), BA. (Biology), University of California Santa Cruz

Dr. Wood serves as President of Mount Madonna Institute. He recently retired from a long career as Professor of Chemistry in the School of Natural Science at California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB). He also served as coordinator of the First Year Seminar, a CSUMB program that provides an introduction to academic life and a foundation to learning as a lifelong process. A lifelong educator, his commitment to helping students identify the knowledge, skills, and abilities they need to meet their personal, social, academic, and professional goals align well with Mount Madonna’s Mission. Swarup has been part of the Hanuman Fellowship, Mount Madonna Institute’s parent organization, since 1985 when he lived at the Mount Madonna Center while attending Cabrillo College.  Swarup also serves on the Panchayat (wisdom body) for the Hanuman Fellowship.

Rucha Kelkar
Chair of College of Ayurveda

Rucha Kelkar, D.P.T., B.A.M.S.

DPT, Doctor of Physical Therapy, The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN. Bachelor of Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery (BAMS), University of Pune, India 1999

Dr. Kelkar, a renowned faculty member at Mount Madonna Institute, holds over 23 years of experience as a clinician, educator, and writer. She’s the founder of Ayurbliss, a San Mateo-based integrative wellness center. With a solid foundation in Ayurveda and Physical Therapy, she’s also a NAMA Board Director. She holds a Doctor of Ayurveda degree from Pune University, India, and a Doctoral degree in Physical Therapy. Certified in Yoga and Ayurvedic Yoga Therapy, she’s mentored at Stanford and introduced Ayurveda at UCSF. An award-winning presenter and author, she’s highly respected for her expertise and teaching skills. Dr. Kelkar truly embodies Ayurveda’s essence.

Chair of School of Yoga

Kamalesh Ginger Hooven, M.A., E-RYT 500

M.A. (Ayurveda), Mount Madonna Institute, Ayurvedic Yoga Therapist, C-IAYT, E-RYT 500, YTT 700, Yoga Research & Education Center

Kamalesh teaches Samkhya Philosophy, Ayurveda, Core Asana, Asana Biomechanics, Hatha Yoga and meditation, and the Eight Limbs of Ashtanga Yoga. She serves as Chair, School of Yoga; Program Director, Ayurvedic Yoga Therapy; Program Coordinator, Advanced Yoga Studies (YTT 300); and Program Coordinator, Certificate: Ayurvedic Practitioner and MA. She has been leading and teaching Mount Madonna Yoga Teacher Trainings since 2005. She lives in Guatemala and in Watsonville, CA.

anand brian darsie
Yoga Program Coordinator

Anand Brian Darsie, B.A., E-RYT 500

B.A. (Music), RYT 500, E-RYT 200, RCYT

Uniting his passions for music, yoga, spirituality, community, and worship, Anand brings a unique perspective to his practice and teaching. He spends time in residency at Mount Madonna, where he is immersed in yoga and community studies. He serves as a primary instructor for YTT 200 and YTT for Educators. Anand seeks to promote body intelligence through asana, pranayama, and meditation. Enthusiastic, encouraging, creative, and compassionate, Anand inspires students of all ages through ancient methods delivered with contemporary scientific understanding and a playful, dynamic spirit.



jaya maxon
Accounts Payable

Jaya Maxon

E-RYT 500

Jaya teaches Hatha Yoga, and Eight Limbs of (Ashtanga) Yoga with a focus on pranayama and meditation. She has coordinated yoga retreats and Yoga Teacher Training intensives at Mount Madonna since the inception of the organization. She has also served on the board of Hanuman Fellowship. Jaya is a founding member of Mount Madonna Center and currently serves on the board of Sri Ram Foundation.

jen rand
Assistant to the President, Institutional Research Officer


M.A. (Ayurveda), Mount Madonna Institute; RYT 500

Jen completed her 200 and 300 hour trainings in classical Ashtanga Yoga with Mount Madonna Institute. She is experienced in teaching students of all ages both in-person and online and works with students in Ayurveda and Yoga at Mount Madonna. Her yoga practice is deeply influenced by her studies of Ayurveda, which allow her to offer options and modifications to help students tailor their practice to what they need. She is currently pursuing her studies in Ayurvedic Yoga Therapy.

jennifer dove


Website Specialist

Admissions & Outreach Coordinator

Kelsey Blankenship, A.A., YTT 200

A.A. (Communications), San Diego Mesa College; YTT 200, Mount Madonna Institute

With an emphasis on nature, community, and visual art, Kelsey’s experience is naturally connected to the multifaceted parts of life. Kelsey’s background includes supporting community driven nonprofits that prioritize the well-being of humanity and its relationship with the natural world. Her appreciation for life has been cultivated through her artistic eye, serving as a local photographer in her community and using that medium to connect with others. Kelsey completed her 200 hour training in classical Ashtanga Yoga with Mount Madonna Institute and is continuing to expand her Yoga practice as she enters into the 300 hour training, again with Mount Madonna Institute.

lila ansell


Head Bookpeeper

lizzy gamberdella
Yoga Program Administrator

Lizzy Gamberdella, M.A., RYT 500

M.A., Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner, E-RYT 200, RYT 500

With a teaching career that spans over two decades, a lifetime of yoga practice and formal training in Yoga (RYT 500) and Ayurveda (Practitioner), Reiki Master Level training and an immeasurable passion for healing, Lizzy combines her unique experiences to bring a holistic approach to health. These experiences form the foundation from which she aims to guide others toward personal healing.


Admissions Registrar & Bursar


Chief Financial Officer

shraddha ravani
Research Center Director

Shraddha Ravani, M.A.

M.A. (Ayurveda), Mount Madonna Institute; B.S. (Microbiology), Sardar Patel University, Gujarat, India; Post Graduate Diploma in Medical Technology, CAM Hospital and Medical Research Center, Gujarat, India; Ph.D. Candidate, Maharishi International University, Fairfield, Iowa

Shraddha is a NAMA Certified Practitioner and has been involved in fundamental research in biological sciences, focused on breast cancer at a national laboratory for the last two decades. Currently, she is providing programmatic management for large-scale federally funded research grants to aid in the development and implementation of strategic plans and regulatory oversight. She serves as Mount Madonna Institute’s director of the Ayurvedic Research Center and coordinator of the Research Symposium.

manorath david wheeler


Ayurveda World Manager


mount madonna center icon


380 Acres of Redwood Forest

Mount Madonna Institute is located at Mount Madonna Center, a beautiful school, conference, and retreat campus. Our physical setting offers an ideal environment for learning and exploring within the context of a longtime residential community dedicated to the principles and practice of Yoga. Our students have the opportunity to directly connect with residents, faculty, and other students, as well as the natural world that informs the foundations of Ayurveda and Yoga philosophy.

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