Arawana Hayashi first saw Vidyadhara Chogyam Rinpoche in the summer of 1974 when her improvisational dance company auspiciously toured through Boulder. She did not remember anything he said, but she had never seen anyone move through the space as he did. That inspired her to stop and sit down on a cushion.
In 1976 he suggested she join the Naropa Institute as Co-Director of the Dance Program with Barbara Dilley. The following year he asked her to study bugaku, Japanese Court Dance, and to use this form as a basis for creating Shambhala art. She then began studying with Suenobu Togi Sensei, formerly a member of the Japanese Imperial Household Music Department. While at Naropa she created with Lee Worley, Jeremy Hayward, and Jerry Granelli a Rockefeller Foundation Arts in Education program for classroom teachers.
She attended the 1979 Vajradhatu Seminary and the 1981 Kalapa Assembly. In 1981 she returned to Cambridge, MA to found and direct the Jo Ha Kyu Performance Group, which presented performances of new choreography and bugaku. The company also made community-based site-specific performances and school programs. She directed the company for 19 years. She began teaching Shambhala Training in 1982, and has co-directed five Warrior Assemblies.
In 2000, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche asked her to move to Karme Choling where she was teacher in residence for 3 years. In 1994 the Sakyong called together artists at Shambhala Mountain Center to begin a conversation about creating an arts training program based on the visual dharma teachings of the Vidyadhara. Since then, she has been working with the Shambhala Art Program and chairs the Shambhala Arts Council. She has taught in Sutrayana and Vajrayana Seminaries since 1999. She was appointed acharya by the Sakyong in 2005.
Since 2002, she has taught meditation and creative process at ALIA (formerly the Shambhala Institute for Authentic Leadership) in Halifax. She is on the faculty of the Mukpo Institute at Karme Choling and the Authentic Leadership Program at Naropa University. Since 2004 she has been teaching innovative leadership workshops with social researcher, Otto Scharmer, and is a founding member of the Presencing Institute. There she currently is creating a Social Presencing Theater, which applies Shambhala art to organizational and social change projects. She lives near Sky Lake in the Hudson Valley, New York, and is the proud mother of Ayla Teitelbaum and Kobun Kaluza.