Developing a relationship with a teacher through having regular practice discussions is an essential part of Zen training. Zen is the practice of being present right here, right now. It is learning to meet everything that arises with an open mind and heart. To do this, a serious student can benefit from the experienced guidance, encouragement, and presence of a teacher. Our Head Teacher and Practice Leaders are available to meet with Austin Zen Center members to discuss their practice life. Austin Zen Center is a member of the Soto Zen Buddhist Association. The qualifications for being a Practice Leader at AZC are having practiced Zen for many years, having been Shuso (Head Student) for a Practice Period, and a close relationship with a Zen teacher.

 AZC Guiding Teacher – Rev. Choro Antonaccio

 Rev. Choro Carla Antonaccio began formal Zen practice at Chapel Hill Zen Center in 1999. She received lay precepts from her teacher, Rev. Josho Patricia Phelan, in 2001 and priest ordination in 2010. She was shuso in Chapel Hill in 2016. Rev. Choro has practiced at the three temples of San Francisco Zen Center including practice periods at Tassajara and Green Gulch Farm. In Chapel Hill she served for multiple years in the positions of Tenzo, Work Leader, and Ino and also served as member at large and president of the board of directors. She decided to end her career in academia in 2018 and moved to Austin to practice with the sangha at AZC in 2020, serving as Tanto (Head of Practice). In 2021, she received dharma transmission from Rev. Konjin Gaelyn Godwin, Abbot of Houston Zen Center, and became Guiding Teaching in 2022. She is a full member of the Soto Zen Buddhist Association and also of the American Zen Teachers Association. She may be reached for practice discussion at

AZC Lay Entrusted Teacher – Pat Yingst

ShiOn Pat Yingst began practicing Zen meditation in 1988 and has been a member of Austin Zen Center since its inception. She received Lay Entrustment from Rev. Doshin Mako Voelkel in March 2022.

She has served on previous AZC Board of Directors,  worked for several years as the AZC bookkeeper, taught Buddhist meditation for many years in Central Texas prisons and was one of the two founding editors of Just This – originally the AZC journal  which continues to this day as an online blog.  Currently she is a member of the practice committee, and administers the Saturday Morning Zazen Instruction program.  Pat may be reached for practice discussion at 

Senior Dharma Teacher – Rev. Unzan Doshin, Mako Voelkel

Doshin Mako Voelkel began an early practice of transcendental meditation in 1986 but turned to Zen in 1997 when she started sitting at the San Francisco Zen Center. In 2002, she ended a Philosophy teaching position at City College of San Francisco to become a full-time monastic resident at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, where she lived and worked for ten years as a Zen student. Ordained by Ryushin Paul Haller in 2004, Shuso (Head Monk) at Tassajara in 2009, and Dharma Transmitted in 2019, Mako served in several temple positions including Work Leader, Head Cook, Fire Marshal, Head of the Meditation Hall, Director, and Tanto (Head of Practice) before becoming AZC’s Head Teacher in 2017. She stepped down from that position in 2022, and will become Abbot of San Francisco Zen Center’s City Center in 2023. Mako may be reached for practice discussion at