Yoga Illumined

Yoga Illumined is rooted in lineages of enlightened masters – Gurus.  We – Sumukhi, Kristina Lanuza, Zoe Mantarakis and Kerry Meath-Sinkin – honor the light of our great teachers and offer our teachings in service of freedom, peace and joy for all beings everywhere.  

Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati, Ramamurti S. Mishra, M.D.
Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati, Ramamurti S. Mishra, M.D.

Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati, Ramamurti S. Mishra, M.D.

Sumukhi, Kristina Lanuza, lived at Ananda Ashram in Monroe, NY where she was steeped in Guruji’s teachings.  Guruji emphasized learning Yoga directly through the vibration of the Sanskrit language and Silent meditation.  Yoga Illumined’s 200-Hour curriculum and readings are heavily inspired by Guruji’s teachings. 

From Ananda Ashram’s website:  

“Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati, also known as Ramamurti S. Mishra, M.D., was a highly respected spiritual teacher for countless students and devotees from all walks of life. A prolific author on the science and philosophy of Yoga-Vedanta, he combined the universal message of these teachings with his deep knowledge of both Eastern and Western medicine and psychology. His areas of specialty ranged from Ayurveda to modern psychiatry and neurosurgery.

Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati is the Founder and Spiritual Director of the Yoga Society of New York, Inc. (1958) and its country center Ananda Ashram (1964). He also established the Yoga Society of San Francisco, Inc. (1972), known as Brahmananda Ashram, and inspired several other centers of meditation.

He was a master of the Sanskrit language, and his lifework can be considered a comprehensive and authentic modern synthesis of the ancient teachings. His written works include Fundamentals of Yoga, The Textbook of Yoga Psychology (a commentary on Patanjali’s Yoga Sūtras), Self Analysis and Self Knowledge (on Shankaracharya’s Ātma Bodha), translations of Upanishads and other ancient Sanskrit texts, as well as numerous essays and stories. In addition, much of his teaching exists in recorded form.

His life was dedicated to the integration of Eastern and Western sciences, culture and philosophy, and he presented the timeless message of meditation and Self-realization in a truly contemporary form. Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati left his physical body in 1993, yet his spiritual presence and teachings continue to be a source of inspiration and guidance for all.”

Her Holiness Amma Shri Karunamayi
Amma Shri Karunamayi, Her Holiness Amma Shri Karunamayi, Guruji, Guru, Our Gurus, Yoga Illumined, Yoga Illumined Studio

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Amma Karunamayi was born in South India in 1958. Karunamayi’s mother was a devotee of Sri Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi. On one rare occasion Ramana whispered to Karunamayi’s mother that she would give birth to “Thai” or the divine mother who would help heal the planet.

Sri Karunamayi is revered in India as an epitome of Divine Motherly Love, due to the love and affection that she showers liberally on all people, animals, and even plants, the spiritual knowledge and guidance that she gives freely to all of humanity, and the humanitarian works that she has undertaken.

“Amma” as she is warmly called by her followers, is simply the Telugu word for “mother”- Telugu being Amma’s native language. Although it is not possible to convey the experience of being in Amma’s vibrant presence, we humbly attempt to provide a brief glimpse into her nature, through a brief biographical sketch and a description of Amma’s mission.

In response to the innumerable problems and needs of humanity, Amma’s mission seeks to address both physical and spiritual suffering of today. During her time in the Penusila forest, which is in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, Amma became closely familiar with the special difficulties faced by the villagers living there, including a lack of access to adequate health care and education. Amma’s humanitarian and charitable mission grew out of this experience to the problems faced by rural villagers in South India.

Sources:, Wikipedia

Ramana Maharshi
Ramana Maharshi

Ramana Maharshi

Known as “Bhagavan” or “God in human form,” the great Guru Ramana Maharshi taught mainly through Silence, giving students a direct experience of the Self.  His second method of teaching was self-enquiry by asking:  “Who am I?” The next sentence in his famous booklet with the same question as the title supplied the answer: “Consciousness [arivu] itself is I.”[1]


He was born on December 30, 1879 in a village called Tirucculi about 30 miles south of Madurai in southern India. His middle-class parents named him Venkateshwara, although a few years later he enrolled in school under the name Venkataraman. His family were Iyers, members of the Tamil Brahmin caste. His father died when he was twelve, and he went to live with his uncle in Madurai where he attended American Mission High School.

At age 16, he became spontaneously self-realized. Six weeks later he ran away to the holy hill of Arunachala where he would remain for the rest of his life. When he arrived he threw away all his property including the thread which marked him as a Brahmin. For several years he stopped talking and spent many hours each day in samadhi. When he began speaking again, people came to ask him questions 

and he soon acquired a reputation as a sage. In 1907, when he was 28, one of his early devotees named him Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi, Divine Eminent Ramana the Great Seer, and the name stuck. Eventually he became world-famous and an ashram was built around him. He died of cancer in 1950 at the age of 70.

His Self-Realization

At age 16, he heard somebody mention “Arunachala.” Although he didn’t know what the word meant (it’s the name of a holy hill associated with the god Shiva) he became greatly excited. At about the same time he came across a copy of Sekkilar’s Periyapuranam, a book that describes the lives of Shaivite saints, and became fascinated by it. In the middle of 1896, at age 16, he was suddenly overcome by the feeling that he was about to die. He lay down on the floor, made his body stiff, and held his breath. “My body is dead now,” he said to himself, “but I am still alive.” In a flood of spiritual awareness he realized he was the Self.

Amma - Mata Amritanandamayi
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Amma – Mata Amritanandamayi

Amma – Mata Amritanandamayi was born in a remote coastal village in Kerala, South India in 1953.

Even as a small girl, she drew attention with the many hours she spent in deep meditation on the seashore. She also composed devotional songs and could often be seen singing to the divine with heartfelt emotion. Despite her tender age, her compositions revealed remarkable depth and wisdom.

When she was nine years old, her mother became ill, and Mata Amritanandamayi was withdrawn from school in order to help with household tasks and the care of her seven siblings. As she went door-to-door gathering food scraps from neighbors for her family’s cows, she was confronted with the intense poverty and suffering that existed in her community, and in the world beyond it.

Where Mata Amritanandamayi encountered people in need, she brought them food and clothing from her own home. She was undeterred by the scolding and punishment she received from her family for doing so. Amma also began to spontaneously embrace people to comfort them in their sorrow. Responding to her affectionate care, they began to call her Amma (Mother).

Amma was deeply affected by the profound suffering she witnessed. According to Hinduism, the suffering of the individual is due to his or her own karma — the results of actions performed in the past. Amma accepted this concept, but she refused to accept it as a justification for inaction. Amma contemplated the principle of karma until she revealed an even more profound truth, asking a question she continues to ask each of us today. “If it is one man’s karma to suffer, isn’t it our dharma (duty) to help ease his suffering and pain?”

With this simple yet profound conviction — that each of us has a responsibility to lend a helping hand to those less fortunate — Amma moved forward with confidence in her life of service and compassionate care for all beings, uniquely expressed by the motherly embrace she offers to all who seek solace in her arms.

In Amma’s community, however, it was not permissible for a 14-year-old girl to touch others, especially men. Amma explains, “In India, women are expected to remain in the background. It is said that ‘Even the walls should not hear them.’ My family could not understand my way of reaching out to people; they had no idea of the spiritual principles.”

But despite adverse reactions, Amma followed her heart, later explaining, “A continuous stream of love flows from me to all of creation. This is my inborn nature. The duty of a doctor is to treat patients. In the same way, my duty is to console those who are suffering.”

Amma says that love expressed is compassion, and compassion means accepting the needs and sorrows of others as one’s own.

Vasant Lad, B.A.M.&S., M.A.Sc.

DrVasantLadVasant Lad, B.A.M.&S., M.A.Sc., brings a wealth of classroom and practical experience  to the United States. He received the degree of Bachelor of Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery (B.A.M.&S.) in 1968 from the University of Pune, in Pune, India and a Master of Ayurvedic  Science (M.A.Sc.) in 1980 from Tilak Ayurved Mahavidyalaya in Pune. For 3 years, he served as Medical Director of the Ayurveda Hospital in Pune, India. He also held the position of  Professor of Clinical Medicine for seven years at the Pune University College of Ayurvedic Medicine, where he was an instructor for many years. Vasant Lad’s academic and practical training includes the study of allopathic medicine (Western Medicine) and surgery as well as traditional Ayurveda. In 1979, he began traveling throughout the United States sharing his knowledge of Ayurveda and, in 1981, he returned to New Mexico to teach Ayurveda.

In 1984, he founded and began as Director of The Ayurvedic Institute. Vasant Lad is the author of numerous articles and many books, including Ayurveda, The Science of Self-Healing and Secrets of the Pulse and co-author of The Yoga of Herbs and Ayurvedic Cooking for Self-Healing. His work from Harmony Books, The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies, is a compendium of classic Ayurvedic treatments for common and chronic ailments. He is the author of a series of textbooks on Ayurveda. The Textbook of Ayurveda: Fundamental Principles, Volume 1 and The Textbook of Ayurveda: Clinical Assessment, Volume 2 are the first two of the four-volume set covering the topics he teaches in his eight-month Ayurvedic Studies Program. He is co-author of a book on marma therapy, Marma Points of Ayurveda. The third volume of the textbook series on management of disease will be published in late 2011.

Vasant Lad presently is the Director of The Ayurvedic Institute in Albuquerque, New Mexico and teaches the Ayurvedic Studies Programs, Level 1 and 2 as well as an advanced program in India each year. Vasant Lad also travels throughout the world, consulting privately and giving seminars on Ayurveda, its history, theory, principles and practical applications.

Learn more about Ayurveda at The Ayurvedic Institute ›

Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche
Chokyi Nyiam Rinpoche

Chokyi Nyiam Rinpoche

Born in 1951, in Nakchukha Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche is the son of Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche who is considered one of the greatest Dzogchen masters of our time. When he was only eighteen months of age, Rinpoche was recognized as the seventh incarnation of Drikung Kagyu lama Gar Drubchen. Not long after being recognized as the tulku, Rinpoche was enthroned at Drong Gon Tubten Dargye Ling, in Nakchukha. Rinpoche also studied under Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.

Rinpoche and his family fled Tibet shortly before the Chinese invasion of Tibet. Rinpoche and his younger brother, Tsikey Chokling Rinpoche soon enrolled at the Young Lamas Home School in Dalhousie, India. At age thirteen, Rinpoche entered Rumtek Monastery and spent eleven years Karma Kagyu, Drikung Kagyu, and Nyingma traditions.

Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche left Rumtek in 1974, and established Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling Monastery in Kathmandu, Nepal. Source: Wikipedia

Learn more about Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche

Gelek Rimpoche

Rimpoche_India 2008-thumb-250x288-13032Gelek Rimpoche – Born in Lhasa, Tibet, in 1939, Kyabje Gelek Rimpoche was recognized as an incarnate lama at the age of four. Carefully tutored from an early age by some of Tibet’s greatest living masters, Rimpoche gained renown for his powers of memory, intellectual judgment and penetrating insight. As a small child living in a monk’s cell in a country with no electricity or running water, and little news of the outside world, he had scoured the pictures of torn copies of Life Magazine for anything he could gather about America. Now Rimpoche brings his life experience and wisdom to both the east and the west.

Among the last generation of lamas educated in Drepung Monastery before the Communist Chinese invasion of Tibet, Gelek Rimpoche was forced to flee to India in 1959. He later edited and printed over 170 volumes of rare Tibetan manuscripts that would have otherwise been lost to humanity. Rimpoche was also instrumental in forming organizations that would share the great wisdom of Tibet with the outside world. In this and other ways, he has played a crucial role in the survival of Tibetan Buddhism.

He was director of Tibet House in Delhi, India and a radio host at All India Radio. He conducted over 1000 interviews in compiling an oral history of the fall of Tibet to the Communist Chinese. In the late 1970’s Rimpoche was directed to teach Western students by his teachers, the Senior and Junior Masters to His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Since that time he has taught Buddhist practitioners around the world.

Rimpoche is particularly distinguished for his thorough familiarity with modern culture, and special effectiveness as a teacher of Western practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism. Recognizing the unique opportunity for the interface of spiritual and material concerns in today’s world, Rimpoche has also opened a dialogue with science, psychology, medicine, metaphysics, politics, and the arts.

In 1988, Rimpoche founded Jewel Heart, a Tibetan Buddhist Center. His Collected Works now include over 32 transcripts of his teachings, numerous articles as well as the national bestseller Good Life, Good Death (Riverhead Books 2001) and the Tara Box: Rituals for Protection and Healing from the Female Buddha (New World Library 2004). Rimpoche is a U.S. citizen and lives in Michigan.