Don Stapleton, Ph. D.
Creator of Self-Awakening Yoga

From his early childhood in New Mexico and Texas, Don Stapleton felt a calling for the inner journey. Stimulated by his interests in drawing and painting, his family and teachers aided him in developing his creative abilities. He was awarded a full scholarship in painting to Pepperdine University, which transplanted him into the crossroads of California at a time when discoveries in the fields of creativity, humanistic psychology and spiritual consciousness were transforming culture. Motivated by his curiosity into the creative process, he studied early childhood development and the educational climates that either fostered or thwarted creative self-expression and individuation. Pennsylvania State University granted Don an NDEA Fellowship to continue his development as both an artist and an educator. His doctoral studies in the creative learning process earned him a doctorate degree in 1976. In his career as a professor at the University of South Florida and the Philadelphia College of Art, he had the opportunity to prepare teachers for innovative approaches to education.

While teaching in Florida, Don had a "heart-opening" experience with Yogi Amrit Desai. His passion for the creative process was soon rerouted from the arena of fine arts to that of consciousness. Leaving his paints, brushes and canvas behind, he moved to Kripalu Ashram in 1977 to practice another form of art—evolving body and mind through consciousness.

His preparation as both an artist and an educator provided a strong foundation for translating the insights from his yoga practice into a vocabulary of experiences that for over 18 years gave shape to Kripalu Yoga and Kripalu Yoga Teacher Training. Under his yoga names of "Samadarshan" and "Brahmanand", Don taught thousands of practitioners and yoga teachers to look within their own experience for wisdom and guidance for their journey.

Influenced by Moshe Feldenkrais, Buckminster Fuller, Joseph Campbell and Margaret Mead, inspired by numerous pilgrimages to study in India with many swamis, and drawing from his many years of discipleship to the path of yoga as taught by Yogi Desai, Don has evolved an interdisciplinary appreciation for the spectrum of consciousness—from the physical health of the body to the fulfillment and peace of the individual.

Don's relationship with Amba has been transforming throughout the many stages of their lives for over 40 years and has now blossomed into the love they share in their home on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. As co-founders and directors of Nosara Yoga Institute in Costa Rica, their lives are centered around developing professional yoga educators who are not only capable of teaching, but have the capacity to evolve yoga into forms that nurture culture at its growing edge.

Their favorite pastimes include walking the Nosara beach with Pepe, their Labrador Retriever and watching the sunset over the Pacific from their hammock swing chairs.

Don's book, Self-Awakening Yoga: The Expansion of Consciousness through the Body’s Own Wisdom, is his story and the seeds of his insights that led him into the discovery and formulation of his unique approach to lifelong learning through the practice of yoga.