Born on the island of Oʻahu in the state of Hawaiʻi, Jo is a teacher of Yoga, mindfulness, meditation, and wellbeing, currently pursuing her PhD in clinical psychology.
Jo has been blessed to teach mind-body-spirit approaches to wellbeing with practitioners in Arizona, California, Thailand, the UAE, Hawaiʻi, India, Dublin, and New York since 2006. Her honored teachers include Prahlad (Sivananda), S.N. Goenka, Priscilla Potter Mahatarananda, Lisa Schrempp, Dharma Mittra, Pandit Raj Kumar Vajpayee Yogacharya, and Surinder Singh. Jo is certified as a Yogacharya (master) at the 750-hr level by the Yoga Alliance and holds certifications in Yoga for Kids, Prenatal Yoga, Back Care Yoga, and two certifications for Yoga and Mindfulness for Trauma, Anxiety, Depression, and Substance Abuse. Sharing the wisdom of somatic, contemplative, and positive approaches to wellbeing with clients seeking relief from suffering and a healthful abundant life is a great source of joy and meaning for her.
As a clinical psychologist, Jo is interested in the design and adaptation of prevention and treatment programs in service of optimal wellbeing trajectories following traumatic experience across the lifespan for underserved communities. Jo’s master’s work at Columbia University examined the role of exercise and discrimination in the development of health (self-rated, satisfaction with life, avoidance, dissociation, and interpersonal difficulties) following interpersonal trauma in youth for Native Hawaiian, Asian American, and Caucasian groups in Hawaiʻi. She is currently in training as a doctoral student at Dr. Akihiko Masuda’s Contextual Behavioral Science laboratory and has co-authored chapters on mindfulness in therapy with Asian Americans, bias in the DSM-5, and cultural competence in establishing rapport in therapy. Jo is a Health Equity Ambassador in training for the American Psychological Association, as well as a lecturer in Health Psychology at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.
Social justice is at the core of current and past seva (service) projects – please get in touch for collaboration ideas!
Hawaiʻi is one of the many places where Jo’s ancestral spirits reside, as well as where she was born and raised. There are many parallels between Aloha, mindfulness, and Yoga. Aloha emphasizes giving without asking in return, akahai (kindness through tenderness), lōkahi (unity through harmony), ʻoluʻolu (agreeableness through pleasantness), haʻahaʻa (humility through modesty), and ahonui (patience through perseverance). These concepts are central to the way Jo lives and the way she offers classes. Coming from a long line of healers, Jo feels a deep responsibility as a teacher, facilitator, and co-creator in the healing process. Her great grandfather was a Chinese medicine doctor in Fukushima, Japan before moving to Hawaiʻi; her father, a therapist, former director of mental health for Hawaiʻi’s state correctional facilities, and musician, was President of the Theosophical Society in Dublin. Jo draws from both svadhyaya (self-study) and the wisdom of her ancestors, alive and passed, to ensure clients experience the healing, transformative, and expansive potential of each class.
Jo was first drawn to a consistent yoga, meditation, and mindfulness practice when the parallels between practice and living became unmistakably clear. As with many teachers, she found healing, clarity, and a new level of emergence through practicing and sharing these practices. Since then, Jo’s pursued studies in a variety of wisdom traditions and modern psychological approaches: a self-designed post-graduate course in the Psychology of Wellbeing involving training in meditation and mindfulness in psychology, the science of spirituality, mind-body medicine, lifestyle science, positive psychology, cultural relevance, and health disparities; Vipassana meditation; mantra; nutrition; the chakra system; Thai massage; and Reiki, an energetic healing technique developed in Japan, another one of Jo’s ancestral root grounds.
Jo’s first teacher training (250 hour) was conducted by a former Kriya monk and several Buddhist medical professionals at a non-profit org in Tucson, AZ. Her second teacher training (200 hour) and her advanced certification (500 hour) were based in ashrams in Madurai and Neyyar Dam, India through the Sivananda lineage.
For her efforts in Karma Yoga, providing free yoga classes to underserved communities – teenagers in half-way homes, Indigenous populations, and young children and adults living in government-subsidized housing – Jo received an award from the Yoga Journal as well as an award and invitation to join the Yoga Service Council. Jo has also been featured on the front page of The Arizona Daily Star and The Gulf News, and in the Hindustan Times and Natural Awakenings; in 2012 she was also quoted on the subject of meditation in The New York Times.
Jo’s commitment to facilitating the healing and flourishing of her communities extends through both her writing and consulting backgrounds. She was an editor of the health and spirituality section of a magazine for women of color in the Bay Area and also served as a co-owner for a collective community health center in Brooklyn, Third Root, led by multiracial, multinational, intergenerational, dis/abled, fat, immigrant, working class, LGBT/gender non-conforming healers. Third Root offers accessible healing through yoga, meditation, acupuncture, massage, and herbs.
To read a few testimonials from former students, please visit the testimonial page.