January 17, 2011




Yogi Vishvketu – Founder 

A teacher of teachers, Yogi Vishvketu facilitates trainings and workshops internationally incorporating diverse aspects of Yoga practice into his classes: asana, pranayama, cleansing kriyas, Ayurveda mantra and meditation. He calls this holistic style of teaching Akhanda Yoga.

A yogi at heart, Vishva-ji has studied and practiced Yoga and the Vedic healing arts in the Himalayas since the age of 8 and holds a Ph.D. in Yoga Philosophy. He is co-founder of the Anand Prakash Yoga Ashram Trust in Rishikesh, India where he lives part of the year. With his fun-loving nature and infectious laughter, Vishva-ji inspires students and teachers from around the world to live the yogic life with joy and dedication. He is also the author of Yogasana: The Encyclopedia of Yoga Poses (Mandala Publications).

Board of Directors


Danielle Vachon – Director (Treasurer)

Danielle (Drishti) oversees and organizes the financial transactions of Helping Hands and is the first point of contact for public inquiries. She can be reached directly at treasurer@helpinghandsforindia.org.

She was introduced to yoga in the 70’s and giggled at the Lion pose/breath. In 2009, she travelled to Rishikesh, India to further explore yoga’s philosophy and to obtain the 500-hour Yoga Teacher Certification. The 5 week intensive re-acquainted her with the Lion pose/breath and she giggled even more, thanks to Yogi Vishvketu. She is currently teaching yoga and strives to unite Pranayama, Asanas and Meditation for an Akhanda, as well as a fun, yoga experience.

Elizabeth Hall – Director (Secretary)

Elizabeth is responsible for taking minutes and preparing and maintaining the official documents needed for the operations of Helping Hands for India.

Elizabeth’s yoga journey began 11 years ago when she started experimenting with different styles of yoga to help with the physical tension leftover from her running days.  She was first introduced to Vishva’s classes in 2013 and was so happy to find an approach that not only nourished her body, mind and spirit, but also brought with it laughter and the reminder to not take herself too seriously. She became a yoga teacher one year later and now teaches simple, soulful yoga that reflects her love of the Akhanda Yoga approach.

She was blessed to be raised with a strong sense of community service that has continued to this day. Her career has largely been spent in advancing social and educational programs and she finds great happiness in volunteering to help people, who have not experienced the same freedoms and opportunities as herself, to improve their lives.

GayatriGayle Poapst – Director (President) 

Gayle (Gayatri) manages the planning of the organization’s activities and delegates the operational tasks to board members and volunteers. She holds a BScN, MBA and is a Registered Nurse and Registered Yoga Teacher.

After a 20 year career in health care, she opened The Bodhi Tree and has been teaching there since 2006. She is a volunteer on the Kemptville District Hospital Board of Directors and is the current president of the Old Town Kemptville BIA.

Sarah Wall – Director (Vice-President)

Sarah (Shobhana) is responsible for managing the web site and for coordinating the fundraising efforts of Helping Hands. Her aim is to establish and maintain cooperative relationships with representatives of the community involved in this project. Sarah can be reached directly at fundraising@helpinghandsforindia.org.

After ten years of practicing asana and pranayama techniques, Sarah decided to further her yoga experience by venturing to Rishikesh, India where she completed both the 200 and 500 hour Yoga Teacher Training programs under the guidance of Yogi Vishvketu.

She is a business coach and yoga teacher, volunteering time in various projects and traveling around the world.

Melanie Charlebois – Director

Melanie (Om Shanti) assists Danielle with treasurer tasks and communicates with Helping Hands for India’s donors.

Om Shanti has been a lifelong yoga practitioner after being raised in a yogic environment. In 2009, she met Gayatri and began practicing at Bodhi Tree Yoga Centre in Kemptville. She quickly fell in love with the holistic approach to yoga and community feel the studio offered and then began her 200 hour YTT with Gayatri. Om Shanti first travelled to India after her first YTT, and soon returned for the 500 hour YTT with Vishva-ji in 2014.

Om Shanti is now the owner of Bodhi Tree Yoga Centre in Kemptville where she teaches yoga, leads YTT and also helps raise money for HHFI through Karma classes.


StuartBuenosAiresFedoraStuart Loewen – Helping Hands Ambassador

Stuart’s (Abhay’s) aim as an Ambassador is to help move HHFI onto a sustainable future by sharing it’s compelling story with charitable foundations, corporations and the broader yoga community. Stuart can be reached directly at sloewen@lszpaper.com.

After 6 years of practicing mostly the physical aspects of yoga, Stuart deepened his yoga practice at Anand Prakash Ashram in Rishikesh, India where in 2007 he completed the 200 hour, and then in 2011 the 500 hour Yoga Teacher Training programs under the guidance of Yogi Vishvketu.

Stuart grew up in a successful business family which has a long history of charitable giving. He then spent 9 years in university studying mathematics and physics, originally known as natural philosophy, the study of the language of this universe. He currently occupies himself in more earthly matters as a consulting physicist of paper and paper-making in mills throughout the world. His passions include friends, family, yoga, mountain biking and motorcycles where he regularly re-earns his spiritual name, Abhay (Fearless).

Alison FrancisAlison Francis – Helping Hands Ambassador

Alison (Anandi) is an Ambassador for Helping Hands, helping to spread the story of the school and to assist with fundraising.

Anandi is a senior yoga teacher and has completed both the 200 and 500 hour programs with Yogi Vishvketu. Anandi is also an Ayurvedic Consultant and trained through David Frawley.  Being an ex-insomniac herself, Anandi’s passion is helping people overcome their sleep issues through the principles of Ayurveda, yoga and in particular the breath.

Barb_22-8x10Barb Pierce – Helping Hands Ambassador

Barb’s (Ratan Jyoti’s) role as Ambassador is to help share the mission for Helping Hands with her community. Barb has served as a long-time board member of Helping Hands since the organization’s inception. In addition to Barb’s love of practicing, teaching and sharing yoga, she is a full-time professional life coach and speaker.

Barb has been practicing yoga since 1998 and has completed the 200 hour and 500 yoga teacher training course with Yogi Vishvketu and the World Conscious Yoga Family in Rishikesh India.  Barb has also completed a ‘Yin yoga’ and ‘anatomy for yoga’ intensive course with Paul Grilley.

Prior to becoming a yoga teacher, Barb enjoyed more than one career including: 13 years as an army engineering officer and 4 years as a high tech project leader. Yoga has helped Barb find a calmness and inner peace that previously eluded her and she wants to share that feeling with anyone who wants to join her.

Anand Prakash Ashram
P.O. Tapovan, Shivananda Nagar, Rishikesh, Pin 249192, Tehri Garwal (U.K.), India 
+91 8449108668 or +91 1352442344

28 Prescott St. PO Box 309, Kemptville, Ontario K0G 1J0, Canada. Registered BN: 835556911RR0001

Email: info@helpinghandsforindia.org