Pema Khandro

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About The Teacher

Pema Khandro is a teacher in the rare lineage of Buddhist Yogis from Tibet. Her teachings get straight to the heart of Tantric Buddhism and Tibetan Medicine for finding sanity and wisdom within every experience of life. Rinpoche is a Buddhist teacher, humanitarian and author who founded Ngakpa International and the Yogic Medicine Institute, a thriving clinic servicing clients both locally and internationally. Rinpoche works to promote the methods of Buddhism as a resource for inspiration, insight and transformation. She shares advanced teachings in a direct and essential way, making them accessible to people in all walks of life.


Pema Khandro Rinpoche became Buddhist teacher after long-term apprenticeship and training with her teachers. Rinpoche was recognized and enthroned as the tulku (reincarnation) of Pema Khandro, who was a nineteenth century emanation of Varayogini who taught and practiced in the Nyingma and Kagyu lineages in Eastern Tibet. Rinpoche continues the legacy of Pema Khandro’s teachings focusing on Dzogchen, Chod and the Six Yogas. Rinpoche first learned Buddhist meditation when she was five. Later she studied with Gangteng Tulku Rinpoche, Ngak’chang Rinpoche, Tsewong Rinpoche and Lama Pema, each of whom have also given teachings to her students over the years during their visits to her centers. Her recognition and enthronement was conferred by His Eminence Gyaldak Rinpoche who has encouraged her to spread the esoteric teachings of Buddhism in North America and throughout the world. Rinpoche was ordained as a Ngakma in the Nyingma tradition and received authorization to pass the non-monastic lineage of Buddhist Yogis onto her students, a task which she has dedicated Ngakpa International to since 1999.

Tibetan Medicine

A major feature of Rinpoche's teachings is the prioritizing of the physical body as a key to transformation. Rinpoche studied Tibetan Medicine with Dr Pasang and Tibetan Medicine and Ayurveda with Drs Naram. In 1999, she founded the Yogic Medicine Institute with Derrick Pawo where she teachers co-directs a natural healing clinic, has created over a dozen yoga teacher trainings, yoga therapy trainings and Panchakarma trainings, authored the curriculum for the Health Educator Training, the Ayurvedic Practitioner Training and more.

Teaching Activities

In 1999, she founded Ngakpa International, opening a public center, clinic and several residential training facilities in Southern California. Since then at over five hundred public teachings for the past decade, she shared the practices of the Buddhist Yogis in public programs, in retreats and trainings, articulating the view of Vajrayana Buddhism through the life stories of the Buddhist Yogis and legends of the MahaSiddhas, especially focused on their distinctly simple style which emphasizes the view as the path and discovering that path in everyday life. She developed a school within Ngakpa International along with her friends and students who first joined her in 1998 – 2000, most of whom are still with her to this day. As the community has grown, several of her students serve their local communities as senior practitioners, mentors and instructors of classes in meditation and introductory courses on Buddhist teachings.   A yearly project of Rinpoche’s community has been to fundraise for the Himalayan Kids orphanage, which supports children rescued from the Dolpo, the highest inhabited region on the planet.  In 2003, she also opened the multi-level training program through which specific levels of the path and teachings are presented to make available the whole scope of the Buddhist teachings from the ground up, including the most introductory and advanced phases of practices. Thus through the Vajrayana Training and the Ngakpa Seminary she continues offering long term Buddhist education for serious students. Her teachings are web-cast as well to students and friends all over the U.S. Rinpoche has been featured in Yoga Journal, in TV and numerous radio interviews and continues to be an advocate of the relevance of non-monastic Buddhist traditions as Buddhism takes shape in North America.

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  • Daniel Aaron Davis   July 12, 2016

      A Real Connection

    I am new to the teachings of Buddhism and attended a weekend retreat with Pema Khandro Rinpoche in Berkeley, CA. What struck me was her ability to articulate such challenging aspects of the spiritual path. I felt a deep resonating within me while she spoke... as if my channels were completely open. This was the first time in my life that I felt this connection. Even though I am still learning, and technically not Bhuddist, I am a better human being thanks to Pema Khandro Rinpoche.

  • Kundini Funk   January 12, 2016


    It seemed like an ordinary day that day, I didn't know that as I went about my ordinary day, a most extraordinary occasion would mark my life as one of the most fortunate, and life changing events. That evening I heard Pema Khandro Rinpoche speak at a public teaching, and was deeply moved by what I heard. I knew that very night, that what was being spoken were the words that made up the fabric of my path. I was not looking for a teacher, nor a path, however once I heard Pema Khandro Rinpoche, I recognized that a precious jewel was being revealed, and I could not resist the resonance and brilliance. I was suddenly longing to understand more, to learn more, to grow and to unravel my own confusion. For the first time ever, I heard in these words a tangible and profound possibility for authentic growth. The way Rinpoche could decode and present teachings to my western mind, and the way her own presence and heart could reach the depth of my own fervor for awakening to life, was astonishing. It has been 13 years, and I still feel the same way, more so. Rinpoche has continued to bring the Dharma to life in a way that speaks to my every day life and tribulations, and also to the sublime which sparkles through. I have taken several teachings a month, for over a decade, and each and every one has held a fierce freshness of passion and precision that have kept me longing for more. I meet so many people who talk about having some kind of existential angst, a kind of restlessness within; I feel so grateful to have met Rinpoche and to have the opportunity to study with her, because even though life has its ebbs and flows, I feel that I have found a sense of peace. It is a refuge accumulated from my relationship with my teacher, the teachings, practices and the community of practitioners. This is a precious gift, one which I hold dear, and to Pema Khandro I am ever grateful.

  • Dawa Jig'med   August 04, 2015

      Something for Everyone

    I've been taking teachings with Pema Khandro for about 14 years now. When I first started attending some of her talks I was moved by the way she conveys the teachings in a lighthearted but potent way. She has a wonderful sense of humor and it's as if she intimately knows her audience. She has profound ability to deliver the teachings in ways that have allowed myself and others to understand them in extremely meaningful ways, which has helped me to work with and apply Buddhism with life-changing skill. Being a westerner I feel as though my practice has greatly progressed taking teachings from a Western teacher. Sharing the same culture has helped me to get to the meaning of some teachings that seemed a bit vague just reading about them in books or listening to teachings online from non-western sources. Being around Pema Khandro and getting to see first hand how she has dedicated her life to Dharma, and how she cares for her sangha and friends is inspirational. I've learned a lot just from her just about simpler things in life such as just being kind to all beings and working to improve myself in that way as a practice. Sometimes enlightenment isn't about gaining awesome siddhis and magic powers like we hear about in different stories. I've learned that the path can often be just being kind and learning to expand that inwardly and outwardly as well.

  • Preston Cox   April 23, 2015

      A Precious Jewel

    Pema Khandro is one of those rare teachers with deep knowledge whose enthusiasm fills you with a wish to learn. That enthusiasm was apparent from my first encounters with her via telephone classes and then internet webcasts. Being cautious, I reserved my opinion of her until I had the chance to meet her in person, and to know her students. I can now attest to the depth and breadth of her knowledge, and to the joyous effort she uses to illuminate her classes. But for me, her students were the real proof. They clearly put into practice what she teaches, especially about compassion and the genuine wish to help others. Tibetan Buddhism is not an easy subject to grasp. A teacher who can explain it with enthusiasm and joy, with a depth of experience and contemplation that add relevance, and with the capability to impart meaningful lessons to her students - such a teacher is a rare jewel. May your own journey bring you to a precious jewel of a teacher such as Pema Khandro.

  • Ray Snow-Shiva   March 10, 2015

      Brilliant Living Example

    I have studied with Pema Khandro Rinpoche for nearly 15 years, and I am thankful every day for the opportunity. Having a living teacher who is so clear and so dedicated to the benefit of all beings has changed my life. She is a brilliant example of living the buddhist teachings. Her compassionate wisdom, sincerity, intellect and playfulness combine to pierce and uplift. Pema Khandro Rinpoche illuminates the teachings of the Mahasiddhas, and shines a light on the oft minimized role of the Ngakmas and female enlightened masters in buddhist history. She is a scholar of supreme dedication, and her breadth of understanding and willingness teach are a gift everyone should experience. I can't say enough. I am humbled and honored to have a friend and teacher like Pema Khandro Rinpoche. I hope every living being get's the opportunity to bask in such light. Eh ma ho wonderful!

  • Khalden James Heidt   January 24, 2015

      Teaching on the radical tradition of finding goodness

    Pema Khandro Rinpoche is a down to earth brilliant scholar who's bound to change how westerner's view Buddhist tradition....but not only that, she's helped me weather the most challenging aspects of my life with humor and dignity. There is not an inkling of 'more holy than thou' lingering in her lovely community or 'Sangha' and I've been surprised to find the relevance of ancient buddhist thought address the most gripping current issues of life in the 21st century (like money, relationship, work etc...). I had a lot of aversion to what I thought Buddhism was because the ultimate expression of it always seemed aloof, disconnected, and in some ways other words someone I could not see myself becoming while maintaining my life commitments ....well I came to find out, there has always been a rare tradition of serious practitioners who felt the same way since the very beginning of buddhism in fact and Pema Khandro has put me in touch with this amazing life changing tradition

  • Chhi'med Drolma   January 23, 2015

      A Teacher For The Modern Buddhist

    When I met Pema Khandro Rinpoche 10 years ago, I had never heard of a Buddhist who did not shave their head, live in a monastery, or live a celibate life. I was amazed when Rinpoche taught very practical, down-to-earth teachings on love, work, time, conflict and communication, cultivating obstacle-free energy, and how to work with intense emotions such as anger, depression, grasping, jealousy/fear, and insecurity/controlling behavior. Rinpoche also advocates the natural healing methods of Ayurveda & Tibetan Medicine and teaches that our mind state is inseparable from the state of our body. All these teachings are offered in addition to Buddhist teachings on Emptiness, Self, the Five Precepts, the Four Thoughts That Turn The Mind, along with the Heart Sutra, Chod, Inner Yogas, Yidam practices, and too many wonderful others to list here. Pema Khandro Rinpoche is a teacher brimming over with a palpable love of Buddhism which she shares through real life examples and tales of female and male masters of the non-monastic lineage. These masters were regular people like you and me who diligently practiced Buddhism, and despite every obstacle imaginable were able to meet all sorts of difficult and horrible situations with sanity and a sense of possibility. I highly recommend Pema Khandro Rinpoche's sensible, profound, humorous, kind, brilliant, contemporary teaching style and am grateful for her selfless dedication to Buddhism for the benefit of all beings.

  • Mikyo Marie Martin   January 22, 2015

      Very Applicable

    I have been going to retreats with Pema Khandro Rinpoche for over 10 years and they keep getting better and better! One of my favorite things about her retreats and teachings is that they are given in a way that is easy to take and apply into my own life and experience. The way she teaches makes me feel empowered and encouraged to use the methods in my own life and find out what is or isn't useful for me personally towards the goal of finding sanity and wisdom in everyday life. Her teachings are very intelligent and I appreciate her emphasis on view and methodology. She has a wonderful sense of humor also, and her passion for Buddhism is very inspiring. Her compassionate warmth and presence really shine through to me as beacon of what is possible when we put these teachings in actions in our lives. Her retreats always leave me refreshed and rejuvenated with a lot of energy and inspiration to integrate into my life. I have continued to grow in many difficult areas of my life because of her teachings and support. I would highly recommend them to anyone interested in Buddhism in the modern world.

  • Dé dzin   January 21, 2015

      Rare Vajrayana teachings found with Pema Khandro

    As Tibet becomes over run by China the very real threat of losing precious teachings, teachers and history are all too real. What Pema Khandro is bringing to the West is the very heart of what is being lost: sanity, love, kindness and the lived meaning of tantric buddhist teachings. She is a bridge to vast worlds of teachings we would otherwise never know because she is fluent in Tibetan and has been translating texts for many years now. How rare and precious and wonderful it is to be able to understand ancient texts in a clear, concise way that makes sense in our modern times. No translator, nothing lost in translation, just pure heart and wisdom in plain English. Her scholarly knowledge is radical and vast and in my experience she answers questions from 2-3 viewpoints so one can get a really full picture of what is possible. I hope her teachings flourish all over the world so that all beings everywhere may be free.

  • Chö-ying Gigi Pellegrini   January 15, 2015

      Radiantly Wise and Clear

    I have been attending in person retreats, web classes and tele classes with Pema Khandro for the past 10 years and my experience of her has been life changing. I always walk away feeling like I have a deeper understanding of the Tibetan Buddhism's Nyingma Lineage, Her knowledge is vast in this subject and yet she is able to make it accessible to any level of training. I love her style of teaching, and I appreciate that she is down to earth, joyful, kind and humorous. I find that her teachings are deeply nourishing and they have helped to open up my world view and shift in ways that have been very beneficial to my life. She is a masterful skillful teacher. I look deeply forward to each and every training and am very grateful that there are teachings and training's that can be done online as well, in this age of technology that is a great way that I stay connected no matter where I am or if I'm not able to attend in person, I know I can attend via the web. Very cool!!

  • Satya Shiva   December 29, 2014

      A Scholar and Teacher of Remarkable Kindness

    My experience of Pema Khandro has been consistently positive and life changing. I have studied with her since the beginning of 2001, and I particularly enjoy her poignant scholarly nature, her light hearted humor, and her down to earth teaching style. I find her teachings to be extremely clear, direct and relevant for all levels of Buddhist inquiry. I'm quite pleased that Pema Khandro offers regular classes and retreats for the study of Dzogchen and Vajrayana, as I have found repeated exposure to be particularly helpful for my mind and my practice. I have also found her to be remarkably kind, and I am inspired by her dedication to philanthropy. Her knowledge of Tibetan Medicine and Ayurveda is another notable quality that adds a fascinating dimension to her teachings. My life has been altered in a most beneficial way by her teachings, her community and above all by her presence and state of being.

  • Zat Baraka Elias   November 11, 2014

      Pena Khandro Rinpoche is brilliant and compassionate, authentic and masterful

    Over the past 15 yrs Pema Khandro Rinpoche has been a constant source of inspiration. Pema Khandro Rinpoche is a brilliant teacher with a down to earth and a ‘penetrating to the heart’, clarity of speech. Eloquent and lighthearted, when one hears her teaching, it immediately resonates as true. Her ability to share details is always astounding, but it is her depth of compassion coupled with skillfulness that makes her a rare jewel of a teacher. She has guided through some very dark times. If you have any interest in Vajrayana and or the Nyingma tradition, you will most definitely want to experience her. She has helped so many find a rewarding spiritual life, I know I can speak for myself.

  • Tsal'gyur Priya Dorje   November 02, 2014

      Clear, Relevant and Supportive

    I've taken multiple retreats with Pema Khandro over that past 10 years and have found her down-to-earth teaching style instrumental in making Buddhist methods and views so accessible and applicable to my life. Her skill at communicating these potentially vague treasures in such an inspired, clear and relevant way is easy to take for granted and was only obvious to me after taking teachings where the information was extremely hard to grasp. Often using her own life experience as an example, it is easy to connect with what she is talking about and relate it to my own life circumstances. There are teachings for students at any level of interest, from public teachings that last only a couple of hours to weekend retreats and ongoing in-depth studies via the web, so it is clear that she can teach to any level and does so wholeheartedly. Also, the community is a warm and welcoming group of real practitioners with a range of ages/experience. Through her teachings I have come to find clarity and support that I am ongoingly so grateful for, and that has helped me through some of the hardest and most painful times of my life. For anyone wanting to connect with, understand and apply Tibetan Buddhism’s Nyingma lineage teachings to their life, Pema Khandro's teachings are invaluable.

  • Serge Berliawsky   October 28, 2014

      Life Changing

    I have been a student of Pema Khandro Rinpoche's for 12 years, since I was 21 years old. Her retreats, teachings, and guidance have benefitted my life to an indescribable degree, and have produced significant results in the way I relate with the world. I have taken plenty of other teachings from a variety of teachers in Tibetan Buddhism, Hindu Yogic traditions, and other branches of spirituality. And none have had the same transformative quality of Pema Khandro's work. Pema Khandro Rinpoche possesses a delightful mix of intelligence, compassion, sharp clarity, humor, and earthiness. I have laughed more at some of her retreats than any other times in my life. And I have gained authentic insight into my experiences in the next breath. Some people say, "If you want to judge a teacher, look at their students..." And when I look to Rinpoche's students, I see real practitioners who have developed their capacity for awareness, are lovely to spend time with, and have a sincere commitment to the dharma. It is easy to observe the ways in which they have truly benefitted from Rinpoche's guidance. Highly recommended.

  • Janak Kimmel   October 25, 2014

      My Experience of Pema Khandro Rinpoche

    I have been to many teachings with Pema Khandro Rinpoche during the last 10 years. The qualities that I like about her are that she is very kind and in every situation I’ve seen her, has very high integrity. She is passionate about studying, living and communicating the Buddhist teachings. She impresses me as exceptionally authentic and will speak about having normal human emotions and normal human situations. She is extremely talented at answering people’s questions about the teachings and questions about their personal circumstances. She is dedicated to providing a comprehensive, accessible, profound course of Vajrayana Buddhist teachings through in-person gatherings, web and phone conferences. It’s an eight course meal.

Why Retreat?

We asked people why they go on retreat, here's what they said:

My inspiration is to find some very much needed solace away from the stress of raising 4 children, working (as a dietitian) and trying to get my private nutrition counseling practice launched. I am a registered yoga instructor and have practiced for over 10 yrs, and have always dreamed of taking a yoga retreat just for my own inner well being. Linda

Retreat Guru's Vision

We believe human beings are innately wise, strong and kind. This wisdom, although not always experienced, is always present. Going on retreat is a beautiful way to reconnect to our basic sanity and health. Our aspiration at Retreat Guru is to inspire people to experience authentic retreats and reconnect with their innate wisdom, strength and kindness.

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