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Hawaii's 6th Annual International Yoga Day

June 21, 2024, 11am-12.30pm HST

Biographies of the Speakers

Dr Raj Kumar

Dr. Raj Kumar is the Founder of Gandhi International Institute for Peace (GIIP) in Hawaii. He is also the President of the Indian-American Friendship Council (Hawaii Chapter).

GIIP initiated House Bill, HB 349 into the Hawaii Legislature to recognize “June 21 each year as International Yoga Day in Hawaii”, which was signed into Act 102 (Hawaii Revised statue 8-31 2019) by former Governor of Hawaii, Hon. David Y. Ige on June 21, 2019.

Dr. Kumar is a certified Yoga teacher and wellness counselor. He has authored numerous books.

GUEST OF HONOR: Hawaii State Senator, Honorable Mike Gabbard

Senator Mike Gabbard is a former high school English teacher, community college instructor, guidance counselor and Dean. He’s also a former tennis pro, restaurant owner, musician and recording artist.

He served on the Honolulu City Council from 2003-2005 and was elected in 2006 to represent West O'ahu in the State Senate. He has served as the Senate Agriculture & Environment Committee Chair since 2017.

In 2014, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously declared June 21 as the International Day of Yoga.

In 2019, the GANDHI INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR PEACE worked with the Hawai‘i State Legislature to designate June 21 as "International Yoga Day" in Hawai‘i. Senator Gabbard was instrumental in Hawai‘i becoming the first state in the nation to officially recognize “International Yoga Day.”

Kaʻili Trask O’Connell

Kaʻili Trask O’Connell is the Executive Director, Mayor’s Office of Culture and the Arts (MOCA). In this role, appointed by Mayor Blangiardi, she leads the MOCA team in the promotion of cultural and arts programs and events for the City & County of Honolulu. Kaʻili was born and raised in Kailua, Oahu; graduated from Punahou School in 1985; earned her BSBA at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri in 1989; and invested the first 15 years of her leadership and marketing career with national companies, including NCR Corporation, MCI Telecommunications, Maritz, and Momentum Worldwide, in Los Angeles, Chicago, and St. Louis.

She returned home to Honolulu in 2004 where she was the Director of Development at Mid- Pacific Institute for 10 years. She then returned to the private sector as the Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Title Guaranty. Most recently she started her own company, Kaʻili Executive Leadership & Coaching, which works with leaders to be more effective in their roles and to reach their organization’s goals.

Throughout her 35-year career, Kaʻili has developed a passion for leadership and telling the brand story. For her, leadership is about inspiring and motivating teams to accomplish so much more together than they could individually. She does this by embracing each person’s individual talents, empowering their voice, and encouraging collaboration and innovation to deliver amazing results that everyone is proud of. Telling the brand story allows her to tap into her creativity, along with her talent for writing, to connect with target audiences through emotion as well as fact.

Kaʻili enjoys dancing and volunteering to teach hula as Alakaʻi under Kumu Hula Darcey Moniz with Pukaʻikapuaokalani Hula Halau; and training at Eastside Fit Club in Kailua. She serves on the Board of OWL: Organization of Women Leaders.

HAWAIIAN BLESSING by Dr. Kahu Kaleo Patterson

Dr. Kahu Kaleo Patterson is the longtime President of the Pacific Justice and Reconciliation Center, & Nonviolence Educator and Trainer. He is a well-known Hawaiian Priest in the Episcopal Church, founded by Kamehameha IV and Queen Emma in 1662; and Professor of Peace Studies and Social Work. He has been active in International Human Rights and has served ad a Church World Service delegate to many United Nations General Assemblies, Forums, and Meetings related to Racism, Indigenous Peoples, and Hawaiian Sovereignty. He was the Co-Covener of the Racial Justice Working Group of the National Council of Churches USA, and Executive Board Member of the Native American Legal Rights Fund. He has also convened many forum and conventions on Hawaiian Governance and Sovereignty. In 1993 Dr. Patterson was the recipient of the Church of the Crossroads Martin Luther Jr.; the State of Hawaii Martin Luther King Jr. Award, and many other awards and recognitions for is work in reconciliation, Hawaiian Environmental and Social Justice, Peace and Nonviolence. Today Dr, Patterson is active in Prison and Criminal Justice Reform, as the Prison Chaplain of the Episcopal Churches of Hawaii.


Vedajna is a 50-year student of Vedic Culture and Hare Krishna movement. He is also Founder and President of Krishna Books which has printed and distributed over 15 million books on the science of self-realization authored by Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Proactive vegetarian since 1970 founding several restaurants and now managing Creative Cuisine a plant-based catering service. Founder of Share Bliss! a movement designed to resolve conflicts through self-introspection.

Michele Santos

Having spent her childhood living in Brazil, Sun Yoga founder Michele Santos found a special connection to Hawaii at the age of eighteen while attending Hawaii Pacific University. The light and warmth of the islands spoke to Michele and guided her to make Hawaii her home.

She took her first teacher training through Bikram Yoga in 2007 and soon realized that yoga was her true passion finding great joy in fostering connections with her fellow practitioners. In 2012 Michele fulfilled her dream and founded a Hot Yoga studio; Sun Yoga is her labor of love, a calling from her heart, a unique practice that helps others fulfill their desire to feel happy and fit, experience peace, personal growth and heal within.

Throughout the years of practice and many certifications & trainings, she discovered that yoga is much more than a physical practice for health and wellness. Yoga is a way of living. It is a gentle reminder that helps us to let go of the suffering that comes from living in the past, or the anxiety about the future. Yoga is the art being, living the magical present moment. For Michele yoga is love- a path of much aloha!

Cliff DeVries

Cliff DeVries is a teacher of the Transcendental Meditation technique. Extensive research has been done on the TM technique showing that it improves all aspects of life including mental potential, health, interpersonal relationships and world Peace.

Cliff started TM for his own personal evolution and growth but this has grown into helping society develop its latent potential. He has a PhD in World Peace from Maharishi European research university in Vlodrop Holland.

The TM Organization is sponsoring a demonstration of world peace with 10,000 advanced TM meditators attending a course in December. We believe in the idea of non-violence to bring about a peaceful world as Mahatma Gandhi did. Published research shows that if a very small % of the people of the world are at peace with themselves, then world peace is inevitable.

Kusha Devi Dasi

Kusha Devi Dasi is born and raised Kanaka Maoli Kahuna bloodline of the Keao clan from Hana. She lived in India studying Bhakti yoga for 19 years, spending 53 years with the Hare Krishna movement, and is the current Temple President of ISKCON Hawaii now going on her 7th year.

Dr. Soraya Faris Applegate

Dr. Soraya Faris Applegate is a Licensed Doctor of Acupuncture and Holistic Medicine and a certified teacher of different styles of Yoga including Kundalini Yoga and Hatha Yoga. Dr. Soraya has a private clinic in Kaneohe where she offers a wide range of holistic treatments including acupuncture, sound healing, meditation and yoga therapy. Soraya has taught Kundalini Yoga in Hawaii for the last 12 years, she has also taught in Japan, Hong Kong and England.

Richard Hennessey, LCSW

Richard Hennessey, LCSW, first learned mindfulness meditation in 1989 with Stephen Levine in preparing to do hospice work. After interning at the UMass Medical Center Stress Reduction Clinic, he began teaching Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction in 1994 at Boston Regional Medical Center. He has taught medical staffs locally at Queens, Straub, and Wilcox Medical Centers, Schofield Barracks, and KKV Comprehensive Family Services, plus at United Self- Help, Unity Church of Hawaii, Chinatown Peace Center, and now at the Bodhi Tree Dharma Center. Since 1999 he has also taught the vipassana-based teachings of Anthony de Mello SJ, a Jesuit priest from India. Richard has practiced psychotherapy for over 45 years in various clinical settings and currently has a private practice in Honolulu.

Amber Ricci

Amber Ricci – She has studied and taught her brand of Inner Fire Yoga for Everybody a fusion of Kundalini, Hatha, Qi Gong and Pilates), guided sound healing and meditation, ecstatic movement, belly dance, creative song writing, SELF TANTRA and for Committed Couples Tantra here in Hawaii and Internationally in 28 countries with Inner Fire Yoga and Adventure Retreats for 24 years now. Amber feels her beloved guru Dr. Freddy Weaver (SP) has passed a torch so to speak for her to continue his teachings of Selfness, cosmic consciousness and self-study through the Chakras. Amber enjoys holding yearly Fundraisers for the Hawaii Animal Sanctuary, sharing ways to express authentically through the path of love, raising a son to be kind and compassionate, and traveling to exotic lands bringing her dear friends and family with her to explore / open and connect with themselves on deeper levels of consciousness. The next Inner Fire Retreat to Sri Lanka this December. Ambers is “going first” by stepping fully and courageously in her power to witness without judgment, to love without fear and to have awareness of her ego mind trying to keep her in her illusion.

Nilanjan Sarker

Nilanjan Sarker grew up in India then moved to the USA after college, lived for more than 2 decades in San Francisco Bay Area since early 1990s and afterwards in Jan 2019, he relocated to Honolulu, Hawaii.

He learnt Indian Classical Music for a few years but primarily perform as well as teach singing, semi-classical kirtans/bhajans/ghazals as well as contemporary Bollywood songs. He also plays and teach Indian style Harmonium (Keyboard). He also has yoga teacher certification from India and learnt and practiced various lineages of Buddhist and Vedic techniques of meditation, and holistic wellness.

He has also composed a number of fusion songs and hosted musical or dance sessions and sound production and monitoring for others.

Yogi Ramesh Pandey

Yogi Ramesh is an International celebrity Guru to stars and laughing icon of You Tube. He is founder of laughing yoga, Universal Yoga for the last 30 years in Palm Springs, California.

Dr. Suhas Kshirsagar BAMS, MD (Ayurveda)

Dr. Suhas Kshirsagar BAMS, MD (Ayurveda) is a classically trained Ayurvedic Physician with over 30 years of Clinical Experience. He is a Best-Selling Author, Motivational Speaker and an acclaimed Educator in the field of Ayurveda & Integrative Medicine. He has traveled around the globe popularizing Ayurveda, Yoga, Meditation & Natural Medicine.

He has Chaired & designed curriculums for several Ayurvedic schools including Mount Madonna College of Ayurveda, Kerala Ayurveda Academy and Maharishi University. He is an adviser to National Ayurvedic Medical Association.

He was featured in many popular Podcasts, Radio & Television shows. He is an Adviser to the Chopra Center and is the Director of Ayurvedic Healing, an Integrative Wellness and Pancha Karma Clinic in Santa Cruz, CA. His popular books are: The Hot Belly Diet, Change Your Schedule Change Your Life & The Art & Science of Vedic Counseling.

Leticia Sharp

Leticia Sharp has been trained for nearly 3 decades in sacred healing techniques including, Reiki, body work, sound, shamanic traditions, essential oils, crystals, and energy work. This was activated for her when she was 5 years old and she comes from a strong lineage of diverse healers. Leticia invites you to ignite your own unique light within and find your healing in this life.

Closing Remarks by Harendra Pannalal, M.S.E., P.E.

Harendra Pannalal, P.E. who is the President of GIIP. All ancestors of his wife and him were born and raised as Jains. His family has lived in Honolulu for over fifty years. He is a retired mechanical engineer in construction industry. He is on the board of All Believers Network. He is president and vice president of two large condominium boards in Honolulu.