Journey of a Yogi

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Vegan Chef



Classical Musician


Lover of Life

Walk down Joel’s Memory Lane

From Classical Music to Hariharalaya


Classical Music, Tennis and Baseball

Joel was born in a suburb of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States of America. He was a quiet and reflective child, always keenly observing the way things worked.

When he was just 8 years old he took a deep interest in the double bass – he would pursue classical music intensely for the following 10 years. He also started training in tennis and baseball from the age of 7 years old.


Orchestra, Linguistics, Yoga and the Path of Awakening

Joel toured through Europe and Asia with the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra – playing at major concert halls throughout Europe and expanding his view of the world. He also played with the Temple Chamber Orchestra in Puerto Rico – connecting with the roots from his father’s side of the family.

Joel discovered another one of his great life passions during this time – language. He moved to Montreal, Quebec to pursue his studies in linguistics and translation in French. He trained directly under the great Russian linguist Igor Mel’cuk.

Towards the end of the decade he was initiated into Kriya Yoga by Marshall Govindan at Babaji’s Kriya Yoga Ashram in Eastman, Quebec. At the same
time a good friend introduced him to the revolutionary teachings of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. This began a long period of deep love and veneration for the sages and enlightened masters, who he immediately recognized as his family. He began an intense period of sadhana and tapas that carried all through his 30s.


Doctoral Program, Jeweler, Community, Healing Food

This decade marked the period of deep transformation and purification in Joel’s life. He started a doctoral program in theoretical semantics. He moved to Brazil to follow his heart and intuition – on a healing journey of reconnecting with the creativity, wisdom and love.

While in Brazil, he apprenticed as a jeweler and lapidary. He lived and trained with healers, artists and shamans in the villages.

Upon returning to the US in 2003, Joel found himself in the Pendle Hill Contemplative Community where he lived for 3 years immersed in deep community learning process. He spent 1 year looking after the organic garden and then 2 years in the kitchen, preparing healing foods for a community of 60-100 people.

Meeting His Gurus, Chanting and Tantra

In 2005 Joel met his guru Sri Karunamayi in Philaelphia. He was deeply touched by her powerful and graceful glance. He traveled across the US to
spend time in her divine presence during her US tours between 2005 – 2010.

In 2006 Joel also met his other gurus Ammachi (Mata Amritanandamayi) and Sri Sri Sri Shivabalayogi Maharaj.

In 2006 Joel stayed 9 months at the Babaji’s Kriya Yoga Ashram where he had the great blessing to spend 1 month in close proximity with Bhagavan Das who took Joel under his wing. He exposed Joel to the secrets of chanting and tantra.

In 2007 he met with Mother Meera, Sri Vast, Michael A. Singer. He also spent a good deal of time at the Meher Center in South Carolina.

The Path of Embodiment

In 2008 Joel dove into the path of the embodiment studying contact improv with the Philly, NY and DC dance tribes. He attended hundreds of classes, jams and workshops, deconstructing his sense of physical limitation and exploring the flow states of improvisation and non duality.

He trained with Group Motion (Manfred Fishbeck and Brigitta Herman) experimenting with group improvisation s tructures and danced his soul
with the 5 rhythm dance tribes, frequently traveling to NYC to dance with Gabriel Roth, Jonathan Horan and others at Alex Grey’s Soho Studio.


Leaving USA, India, Cambodia, Center for Awakening, Service

In February 2010 Joel left the United States for the last time to move to Mother India and further pursue the path of awakening.

In India, he spent time at the ashrams of Sri Guruvananda, Sathya Sai Baba, and Osho. He also visited the samadhis of Meher Baba, Upasni Maharaj,
Hazrat Babajan and Shirdi Sai Baba.

Joel spent three months of intensive training under the Japanese Butoh Master Rhizome Lee at the Subbody Butoh School and dancing contact improv at the Nest.

After 6 months in India Joel had to leave for 2 full months before he could return and continue the journey… or so he thought. He ended up in Thailand, where Joel received a call to come to Siem Reap for 2 weeks to catch up with an old friend, where he was unbeknownst to him, going to
spend the next 11 years and begin the next phase of his life – service.

Upon arriving in Cambodia, Joel felt like a long awaited homecoming to a home he never knew he had. He was deeply touched by the temples and the haunting and mystical melodies of traditional Khmer pinpeat music

He decided to prolong his stay for a couple of months to connect with the hidden power of Cambodia.

Joel met an old Vipassana master in his 70s, Ajahn San at the ancient Sway Romeat Pagoda. He spent 7 days on retreat with a few monks in their 80s.
When he came out of retreat, he received a powerful and unexpected calling to set up a center for awakening in Cambodia. He had no money, no plans
and was supposed to head back to India… but he had long since learned to surrender to the call of the heart and trust in the flow of life.

It was then, December 28th, 2010 that he moved to the Bakong village to start Hariharalaya from nothing. Little by little people started to come and visit from all around the world, contributing their love and wisdom and receiving spontaneous healing and connection.

Joel met his wife, Srey Pen, in 2011 in the village and they were married in 2012 in a traditional ceremony at Hariharalaya during retreat. He raised his
daughter Srey Saw from the tender age of 6 years old.

In 2013 Joel published a book of dharma talks called Foundations of Stillness which outlines the basic teachings and approach to integration through Yoga, Meditation and Healthy Living.

In 2017 Joel, his wife and daughter spent one month in Amritapuri with Akashannanda already growing in Srey Pen’s belly. Amma rubbed her belly
and blessed his child to be. That year Joel was also invited to chant the Rudram and Vedic mantras at the daily fire ceremonies by the Kalari, a rare
privilege bestowed upon Westerners.

In November 2017 Joel hosted Amma Sri Karunamayi at his house in Siem Reap, and helped organize and prepare for the temple tour.

2019 marked Joel’s first trip to the holy Arunachala Mountain in Tiruvannamalai. He had many transformative experiences and met several siddhas. He also spent time with many Tiru oldtimers who had been with Papaji, Poondi Mahan, Nisargadatta Maharaj and other great saints.