Who We Are
This section introduces the core group of the community who live at Shanti Yoga Ashram, guest teachers, Honorary members, and to some of the spiritual Masters who guide us.
Victor (Vyasa) Landa, Founder and Director
Vyasa came to this country form his native Peru in 1981. He founded Shanti Yoga Center for Harmony in 1985 in Wheaton, MD to bring Hatha Yoga to that area. In 1992 founded The School of Life Educational Society in order to fill in an educational gap on life skills and an understanding of the purpose of our existence based on the Yoga Philosophy. At the onset of 9/11, in 2001, founded Global Coalition for Peace in order to spread the message of AHIMSA (nonviolence) advocating that to fight violence with violence only perpetuates it. Founded The Essene Church of Peace in 2006 to place Peace as the main goal of society. Vyasa continues to direct these programs along with teaching Yoga Philosophy and Hatha Yoga classes. All these organizations operate from The Shanti Yoga Ashram a live in community in Bethesda MD.
Who Are the Instructors ?
Lakshmi has been teaching yoga since the early 1990’s and helps to manage the ashram and the CSA weekly food program. She initially specialized in prenatal and mother/baby classes, then water yoga, and in 2003 certified as a HypnoBirthing® instructor to bring safe, natural and peaceful childbirth to couples. New developments include private classes for individual needs, special breathing exercises, yoga for one's individual type according to Ayurveda, and the multiple benefits of childbirth education including prenatal psychology. Permanent resident since 1996.
Saraswati is a Hatha yoga instructor at the Shanti Yoga Ashram and at Georgetown University. She has specialized in Water Yoga and Women’s Yoga. She is also a certified Reflexologist with additional training in Spiritual Reflexology. Besides the normal responsibilities shared by all the members of the community, her more specific responsibilities are to manage the lending library and the store, and is the tour guide of the visitors to the Ashram, guiding individuals and groups to see the Ashram and learn about its activities. Permanent resident since 1998.
Durga teaches Yoga for adults and children, specializing in sequences that promote grounding and clarity and release tension. Having been deeply transformed by her Guru Vyasa Deva’s teachings about Yoga as a way of life, she developed a twelve level program that interprets the teachings for children. She also offers a class on positive, spiritual menstruation for tweens and teens. Durga helps with office work, events coordinating, communication, gardening and music. Permanent resident since 1999.
Hanuman was inspired by some of the spiritual traditions to work with his hands and lives up to the spiritual name he bears by serving in whatever capacity is needed. More than a jack of all trades, he participates in the Ashram life where he lives as a member of the community helping with media, transportation, building and grounds maintenance, equipment, etc. as well as major renovation projects. He teaches yoga amongst his other support jobs and enjoys research, connecting with people and daily Agnihotra.
Parvati enjoys teaching the Sivananda routine because it is relatively easy for most people to do and newcomers who may believe yoga is too challenging are unlikely to become discouraged by this practice. She has been involved with the CSA food program for over 10 years doing everything from local deliveries to setting up at the Bethesda location and preparing special orders. She also makes the pasta and butter we carry from the special ingredients of the Spiritual Food program. Permanent resident since 2004.
Gayatri has been teaching yoga since 1999 and completed certification in Vinyasa yoga in 2007. To deepen the study and practice of yoga, she became a resident of Shanti Yoga ashram and in 2011 completed certification as a Shanti Yoga instructor. She specializes in prenatal, postnatal and gentle yoga and is a professor of yoga at George Washington University and American University. In addition to yoga, she teaches workshops on infant massage and Ayurvedic self-care. Gayatri contributes to community life in a variety of ways; and some favorite projects include the ashram garden and preparation of community meals. Permanent resident since 2007.
Purna was introduced to the physical and spiritual benefits of water yoga here at Shanti Yoga Center. Completing Yoga Teachers Training from Sivananda Vedantic Centers in 2010, she returned to teach water yoga where her aim is to make each class a meditation through stretching, yoga poses, and breathing, so participants leave feeling refreshed and renewed. To make this effect more complete Purna was instrumental in the renovation of the water conditioning system created to avoid chemicals and secure an environmentally friendly and health promoting quality of water. Purna shares her journey as a physically challenged individual integrating her training and experience in both Western and Eastern medical systems along with her love for people and organizations from all walks of life.
Mirabai began coming to the ashram from her home in Pittsburgh, PA over fifteen years ago to study yoga under Vyasa. She helped to establish Global Coalition for Peace and developed the Women’s Self Reliance Program which offers instruction in organic vegetable gardening, nutrition and micro-enterprise to women in developing countries. She also teaches our unique blend of Square Foot Gardening and Biodynamic agriculture (called Sattwic Peace Gardens) on a local level. Mirabai edits the School of Life newsletter and manages the websites for Global Coalition for Peace and the Essene Church of Peace. Her website Making Gardens Making Peace features gardening tips and instruction and reports on the Women’s Self Reliance Program.
Honorary members from the extended community are those who have been extraordinary friends and benefactors of the School of Life, long time active participants, or those who have provided exceptional service for our different endeavors.
Dr. Prema Padmanaban
Nils and Gladys Antezanna
Rezvan Ameli, PhD
Roseann (Mirabai) Lord
Abbott James Wiseman
Debbie (Purna) Warden
We honor our Paramguru, our teacher’s guru affectionately called Maestro.
Mr. Oscar Basurto Carbonell.
We honor and study all spiritual traditions and, the masters who have gone before not only teaching the perennial truth but showing the way through the example of their enlightened lives. Many photos and statues have come our way over the years, mainly as gifts, which now grace the meditation hall. We share them with you here