Yoga for Peace Symposium: Changing the World from the Inside Out


Nawang Khechog

Nawang Khechog is a Grammy nominee and one of Tibet's foremost world music composers and musicians. He is also one of the first Tibetan musicians to be able to break into the international world music scene with his original and authentic musical compositions. In 2007, Nawang received the Tibetan Music Award (Special Recognition, similar to Life Time Achievement Award) and the International Civil Golden Award, the highest civilian award of Nepal. Nawang was a monk for 11 years and studied Buddhist philosophy and meditation with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and many other Tibetan masters.

Elaine Valdov

Dr. Elaine Valdov, a representative to the United Nations, is a peace and human rights activist, conflict resolution specialist and the Founder of Yoga Peace Ambassadors and Yogis Without Borders. Dr. Valdov lectures internationally and is best known for her championship of causes and creation of peace and development initiatives for the UN Millennium Development Goals and the UN “International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World.” She has held many NGO positions at the United Nations, including Chair of the Executive Committee of Non Government Organizations Affiliated with the United Nations DPI and others. She is currently a practicing psychotherapist in New York City and a professional coach focusing on “Finding Your Role in Creating a Culture of Peace”.


Srinivasan is a senior disciple of Swami Vishnudevananda and a practicing yogi for over 35 years. He is a member of the board of directors of the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centers. Srinivasan is the director of the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Ranch and the Acharya for the Sivananda centers and ashrams in the East Coast of the United States. He teaches in the Yoga Teacher Training Course and the Advanced Yoga TeacherTraining Course and offers various programs throughout North America.

Dena Merriam

Dena Merriam began working in the interfaith movement in the late 1990s when she served as Vice Chair of the Millennium World Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders held at the United Nation in New York. She eventually founded the Global Peace Initiative of Women (GPIW), an organization chaired by a multi-faith group of women spiritual leaders. Her work at GPIW has been devoted to creating a global platform for women religious and spiritual leaders, and to engaging the Hindu and Buddhist leadership more actively on the world stage. She has been a student of Paramahansa Yogananda and the great texts of the Vedic tradition for over 35 years, and is also a practitioner of Kriya Yoga meditation.

Amy Weintraub

Amy Weintraub, director of the LifeForce Yoga Healing Institute and author of the bestselling Yoga for Depression and the ground-breaking Yoga Skills for Therapists has been a pioneer in the field of Yoga and mental health for over 20 years. She trains health and Yoga professionals at notable international venues and offers workshops for everyday practitioners.  The LifeForce Yoga protocol is being used in residential treatment centers, hospitals and by health care providers around the world. She is involved in ongoing research on the effects of Yoga on mood, and has produced an award-winning library of evidence-based Yoga and meditation CDs and DVDs for mood management.

Davod Azad

Davod Azad is an accomplished multi-instrumentalist and vocalist from Azerbaijan. He is a Master in the Iranian Classical music, the Azeri folk music, the Ancient Persian music, and the Persian Sufi music, specifically influenced by the music of the Ghajar period in Persian history, a pure form undiluted by western styles.

Swami Omkarananda

Swami Omkarananda is the director of the Sivananda yoga center in Los Angeles and has over twenty years of experience in teaching yoga and meditation. She earned her Certificate in Permaculture Design and Advanced Permaculture from Mid-West Permaculture. In Los Angeles Swami Omkarananda has established a permaculture garden at the staff house and the yoga center is a designated ‘Green Yoga’ studio. She is passionate about bringing Yoga, sustainability and the environment together.

Bill Wilson

Bill Wilson is an internationally recognized teacher of permaculture having hosted and taught at over 40 Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) Courses in just the last 7 years. He is the co-founder of Midwest Permaculture with his wife Rebecca and makes the subject not only easily understandable but brings it alive with possibilities. Bill has delivered 5 PDC Courses at the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Farm in Grass Valley, CA.


Presenter Spotlight Q&A: Bill Wilson

authentic human experience through permaculture


Please share what you do in 10-15 words:

Permaculture designer and teacher of the Permaculture Design Certificate Course.


Why do you do what you do?

I am inspired by the thinking and ethics behind permaculture design and am passionate about sharing it with others.  


What are you currently fascinated by in your work?

How so many people are already thinking and living like a permaculturist but are not even aware of the word yet nor do they understand the significance of their thinking or their contributions.


How did you come to your path? Any aha moments or key teachers?

It began as a spiritual journey to understand how life really works and what is true in this world.  Permaculture, like yoga, is a path in whereby people can peak behind the veil of our cultural illusions and fantasies to find an authentic experience of being human while learning to be an agent of peace and plenty in the world.


What book(s) are you currently reading?

Permaculture Handbook by Peter Bane and The Soul of the Soil by Grace Gershuny.

Becky Wilson

Becky Wilson, Co-founder of Midwest Permaculture, earned her Permaculture Design Certificate in 2007 and her Permaculture Teaching Certificate in 2011, the latter from Rosemary Morrow, a respected scientist, agriculturalist and elder in the permaculture world. Besides being active in family and community life, Becky has served as the Stelle Community Association Manager for 18 years and served as the Community Association Board President for 8 years. From these experiences she has developed a strong understanding of community process and development.  Read more about Bill and Becky.