Intermediate Junior II
Naghmeh began studying yoga in 1999 with James Murphy and Kevin Gardiner. She continues to study and apprentice with James, her mentor and primary teacher. She has taught since 2002, having completed the teacher training program at the Iyengar Yoga Institute of New York, led by senior teacher Mary Dunn. She has studied with Geetaji Iyengar on several occasions, and returns to Pune, India every two years to study with the Iyengar family.
Prior to teaching yoga, Naghmeh worked in several international organizations in France and the United States in research, production, and translation. She is fluent in French and in Farsi, her native language.
She was also a practitioner of M’Keka Do karate, a Japanese martial art form. She found its discipline similar to Iyengar Yoga, where involvement is total. Naghmeh has a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature, where her focus of study was the epic form. This interest, too, is fulfilled by the study of yoga—through its sources, its sacred texts, and its practice based on a respect of tradition through the ages. She plays piano or paints on a whim.
The neutral state that Iyengar Yoga calls forth—where a united breath, mind, and body equally embrace the self—continually draws Naghmeh to practice and share this path. Naghmeh strives to bring to class a focused, attentive, and energetic environment where students can experience yoga safely and completely.
“Yoga shows the way, the tools, and the temple.” Her advice to students: “Study on a regular basis with one teacher and learn the foundations well. Be content with your efforts.”
Intermediate Junior III
Lara Brunn has studied yoga since 1986 and taught Iyengar Yoga since 1994. She studied in India once with the Iyengars. Her primary teacher was Mary Dunn.
Lara first encountered Light on Yoga at the age of 12. She was enthralled, and began practicing yoga within the year. At university she practiced with a Shingon Buddhist group, combining Chinese Yoga, seated meditation, and martial arts. When her teacher went away, Lara filled in. From that first class she knew she wanted to teach yoga. After receiving a bachelor of science degree from the University of East Anglia, in England, Lara moved to Brooklyn, where she founded the HipJoint Yoga Studio.
Lara worked in Brooklyn as an organizer with the Council on the Environment of New York City, where she helped hundreds of high school and intermediate school students to organize and participate in environmental improvement projects in their neighborhoods, schools, and homes. Through yoga, she believes, transformation is more tangible and personal. “As dedicated practitioners of yoga we are empowered on a very visceral level to make positive and lasting changes in all aspects of our lives.”
Lara also has room in her life to perform as a flamenco guitarist with the Brunn Project, a flamenco sextet.
Lara has an energetic presence and beautiful demonstrations, and she teaches classes that are dynamic and challenging. She serves on the Institute’s Executive Council.
Intermediate Junior III
Carolyn Christie has practiced yoga since 1988 and taught since 1995. Mary Dunn was her primary teacher. She continues to study with Robin Janis, Patricia Walden, and Gabriella Giubilaro, and has studied at the Iyengar Yoga Institute of San Francisco. Carolyn has studied five times in India with the Iyengar family.
Carolyn has a bachelor’s degree in art history and painting, and remains an art enthusiast, spending some of her happiest hours looking at art. She was an avid cyclist, leading bicycle trips around the world.
She served in the Peace Corps in Thailand, where she was introduced to Buddhism and yoga—a “life-changing” experience. Since then, she has endeavored to study and practice the teachings of the Buddha and of B.K.S. Iyengar.
With a teaching style that is “grounded, energetic, and kind,” Carolyn advises students: “Have faith in the practice and the teachers—and yourself. The Iyengar method teaches students to be in an asana fully, with complete involvement, creating awareness that allows one, eventually, to study the mind.”
Carolyn believes it is possible to experience all of one’s life as yoga. “I try to practice when I’m walking, sleeping, looking at art. It’s about bringing the practice into daily life.”
Intermediate Junior I
Colombian-born, Marcela began studying yoga in the 1970s and teaching in the 1980s. She is fluent in Spanish, and manages to stammer some French, a little less Sanskrit, and even less Tibetan. Trips to India and studies with the Iyengars continue to shed light on her practice and teaching.
Marcela became an ordained Tibetan Buddhist nun in the Sakya Tradition in 2003. She feels deep gratitude toward all her wonderful yoga teachers, including Mary Dunn and Manouso Manos, as well as all her spiritual mentors, including the Dalai Lama and Pema Chodron.
Her classroom approach? “I am inspired, humbled, and informed by the challenge of keeping a spiritually-based discipline relevant and personal.” Her advice to students? “Use your body, speech, or mind. Understand that practice is not prescriptive. Know your intention, because it is always influencing your actions. So shop around, because yoga is vast, and find the voice that speaks to you; then embark on the path of learning with full confidence and dedication.
Oh! And remember that even monkeys fall out of trees.”
Intermediate Senior II
Bobby’s study of Iyengar Yoga began in 1972 in the UK—as did a 20-year career in animation. She was certified to teach by B.K.S. Iyengar in 1977, and has made subsequent trips to Pune every two years ever since. She considers herself blessed to have studied directly with B.K.S. Iyengar. “The profound and cathartic effect of the intensive work I’ve done with him remains with me to this day.”
At the Institute Bobby teaches levels II, as well as restorative, a women’s class, plus a class for patients and survivors of breast cancer. She also teaches workshops throughout the US, Europe and Asia (most recently in China). She contributes to the blog, www.franklipman.com.
For more information on Bobby’s blog and her teaching schedule check her website: bobbyclennell.com
Bobby’s publications include three yoga manuals—The Iyengar Yoga Glossary, Props and Ailments, and A Cosmic Body Map. She is also the author and illustrator of The Women’s Yoga Book: Asana and Pranayama for All Phases of The Menstrual Cycle and a children’s book, Watch Me do Yoga. Her contributions to Yoga Samachar include “Letter from Pune” (2008) and “Art and Yoga” (2009).
Her animated film, Yoga Yantra, which is generated from filmed footage of B.K.S. Iyengar, can be viewed here or on YouTube.
Bobby offers special thanks to Geeta Iyengar, who inspired and informed her work with women; and to Prashant Iyengar, whose knowledge of yoga and its philosophy, history, and culture has always inspired her. She also remains grateful to the late Mary Dunn for her teaching and her selfless work in establishing the New York Institute.
Of her own teaching Bobby says, “I try to help students restore the balance between the constant pull of the external world and their own, oftentimes neglected, individual heart.”
Intermediate Senior III
Lindsey Clennell has studied yoga since 1970 and was awarded a senior teacher qualification by B.K.S. Iyengar in 1977. He has travelled to India 19 times to attend further teacher training, intensives, and general classes with B.K.S. Iyengar—his primary teacher—and the Iyengar family.
Originally a medical student in England, he changed course and became a documentary filmmaker and writer, producing and directing more than 100 music videos, concert series, and documentaries, with production companies in London, New York, and Los Angeles. Among his subjects were Muhammad Ali and Mikhail Gorbachev, and he was nominated for an award for Outstanding Contribution to British Cinema by the British Film Academy.
Reflecting on one of his last film projects—which led to the release of 30 American hostages before the first Gulf War—Lindsey refers to a favorite quote from Sri Aurobindo: “All life is yoga.” Although having studied Vivekananda and Aurobindo’s writing, Lindsey points out that understanding the yoga concepts that those great men express was unobtainable for him without the realism and clarity of Iyengar’s teaching.
Since 1991, teaching full time, Lindsey has focused solely on Iyengar Yoga and its physical and psychological healing effects. A student of philosophy, Lindsey imparts the in-depth teachings of B.K.S. Iyengar’s presentation of Patanjali’s Astanga Yoga through the practice of asana and Pranayama.
Lindsey’s most recently completed film, Addiction, Recovery and Yoga, free on the Internet, is a 90 minute feature documentary on how people have used yoga as part of their journey in recovery programs from serious addiction. He is currently working with Jake Clennell on the documentary, Sadhaka: The Yoga of BKS Iyengar.
“Iyengar Yoga enables students to envision new possibilities,” he says. “It gives them a process for discovery and evolution.” He advises new students to be realistic and to “start with a short but regular practice.”
Intermediate Junior I
At five, Jeanne-Marie began swimming competitively. She started her teaching career at 16 as a swimming teacher, coach, and gymnastic instructor. She went to school for art, studying painting and sculpture. She was introduced to Iyengar Yoga in 1983, and realized as she studied Light on Yoga that her life’s efforts had synthesized on these pages—from the yogic and Vedic philosophy, to the spiritual reverence, to the refinement and discipline of the asana study.
Jeanne-Marie’s first Iyengar teacher was Suzanne Hodges, and when Mary Dunn started teaching in New York City, Jeanne-Marie became a devoted student. She currently studies anatomy with Genny Kapuler. She spent many years in women’s yoga studies, and wrote a book, Yoga for Menstruation, in which she illustrated and elaborated Geeta Iyengar’s teachings on women’s yoga. She has taught teacher trainings in women’s yoga. She is an enthusiast of therapeutic yoga, and considers yoga and therapeutics analogous. She also studies Ayurveda. Jeanne-Marie lived and travelled between New York and the Caribbean for many years, running studios in both places, and holding retreats in the Caribbean, Canada, the United States, and teacher training in Japan.
Jeanne-Marie is first an artist, and considers yoga, like art, a reflection of the soul.
Any action done with beauty and purity, and in complete harmony of body, mind, and soul, is art. In this way art elevates the artist. As yoga fulfills the essential need of art, it is an art.—B.K.S. Iyengar
Jeanne-Marie is very much aware of the gift that B.K.S. Iyengar has shared with us all and is in utter gratitude to him.
Intermediate Junior III
Matt Dreyfus has studied Iyengar Yoga since 1994 and taught since 1999. He has studied four times in India with the Iyengar family. His primary teacher was Mary Dunn.
A double bassist, Matt has performed with the New York Philharmonic, and across North America, Asia, and Europe. He draws on the experience and practice of music in his teaching of yoga. His advice to newcomers to yoga is the same he might offer newcomers to music: “Practice. Make it your own. Breathe.”
Matt’s goal in his teaching of Iyengar Yoga is “to guide students toward an understanding of this method, so that they develop a practice and discover for themselves the richness and depth of their own lives.” His teaching style is “dynamic, integrative, and friendly.”
Matt is also a practitioner of Zen Buddhism.
Describing the unique character of the Iyengar method, Matt says, “Iyengar Yoga is incredibly rich. I am drawn towards the endless refinement. The more I practice, the simpler it seems, and the more I realize that I have hardly scratched the surface.”
Anna Golfinopoulos has practiced yoga since 1975 and has taught since 1979. She has studied in India twice with the Iyengar family. Her primary teacher was Mary Dunn.
Clear communication is the fundamental component which Anna attempts to transmit in her teaching, which she describes as “simple and exacting: to sharpen the student’s perception, to emphasize awareness as the precursor to action, and to encourage acceptance of what is in order to meet new challenges.” She advises potential students to “be attentive” and “follow instructions.” She believes that interest is the most important quality a student can bring to the study of yoga. “At the very least, curiosity, attentiveness, then willingness.” The key to further progress? “Practice. It’s that simple.” Her greatest joy as a teacher comes when a student has a “realization,” demonstrating new understanding.
For Anna, the unique character of the Iyengar method is its “completeness—the clarity of the teaching.” Asked how yoga has changed her life, Anna says, ”It gave me a sense of well-being that was inexplicable. And it isn’t just physical; it’s mental well-being, too.”
Judith Isaacs has been studying yoga since 1988 and teaching since 1994. She has studied in India with the Iyengar family. Mary Dunn was her primary teacher.
Since 1972, Judith has been a teacher of the Alexander Technique, a gentle, hands-on approach to postural alignment and unlearning patterns of tension. She practices Authentic Movement, a contemplative process in which one learns to move from the source.
Judith is also a painter and collagist. She is quite taken with her two cats and is a lover of jazz and the Argentine tango.
She describes her teaching style as “earthy, challenging, and compassionate.” Her own Iyengar Yoga practice helped her overcome depression. “After some years of practice, it was no longer an issue for me. I owe this to the method’s ability to effect profound changes in the mind and body.”
She offers this advice to new students: “Stick with a teacher you connect with.” From that commitment comes “a deep trust in the teacher and faith in the learning process itself” that creates a foundation on which to develop a solid practice.
Richard Jonas began practicing Iyengar Yoga in 1990 and teaching it in 2000. He has studied with the Iyengar family in India three times, and will return to Pune in February 2012. His primary teachers are Brooke Myers and James Murphy, and he studied for many years with Mary Dunn.
“Yoga helped me work my way through a disabling back injury” he says, “while giving me emotional balance and a spiritual grounding I never had before. I teach to share with others what was given to me. The Iyengar method spoke to me from my first class. The way it tied together body, mind, and spirit made it clear this would be a worthwhile lifetime pursuit.”
A full-term member of the boards of directors of both the regional (IYA of GNY) and national (IYNAUS) Iyengar Yoga associations, Richard was Creative Director of Yoga Samachar, supervising its development into a full-color professional journal of yoga for the national community. He also wrote the website iynaus.org, including materials for Iyengar Yoga teachers to use in promoting their classes. His extensive writing on yoga for Yoga Samachar and Yoga Rahasya reflects his prior experience in advertising (writing TV commercials) and journalism (as a film and music reviewer, reporter, and editor).
Richard co-founded Children of Nowhere, which has raised more than $100,000 to fund health care for children with AIDS in Romania. Richard has taught yoga to people living with AIDS and to incarcerated teenagers at Rikers Island. His teaching style is persistent, patient, and motivating.
He advises new students: “Listen to your teacher, listen to your body. Don’t compare yourself to others, compare yourself to yourself. Watch for progress, it will come—and the watching hones your perceptions. Work with what you understand, and trust that in time your understanding will be enlarged.”
Intermediate Junior III
Genny Kapuler has studied yoga since 1976 and has been teaching since 1980. She has studied three times in India with the Iyengar family. Her primary teacher here was Mary Dunn.
Before the birth of her child, and before she began teaching yoga, Genny performed as a modern dancer; for many years she had her own company. She is also trained as an Alexander Technique teacher and is a practitioner of Body-Mind Centering.
In addition to her yoga training, Genny has studied anatomy extensively. She applies this knowledge to her understanding and teaching of yoga, directing her students toward a deeper awareness in asana and Pranayama through precision of alignment. Genny also uses the poetics of language to guide her students, and to create “a mind-state in the room that is gentle and focused.”
Through Iyengar Yoga, she says, students attain ever more precise alignment of the skeletal-muscular, organ, and nervous systems. Working towards harmony of body, mind, and spirit, they are able to move out into the world with more grace.
Intermediate Junior II
Michelle has practiced Iyengar Yoga since 1994 and has been teaching since 2001. She made her first of several visits to Pune to study with the Iyengar family in 2005. She has studied primarily with the late Mary Dunn and with Judy Brick Freedman.
Michelle began ballet training at the age of eight and performed professionally as a modern dancer for twelve years in San Francisco and New York.
Her teaching is strong and precise. She blends physically demanding asana work with clear verbal instruction. Her aim is to lead her students while allowing them to stay connected to their own experience.
She says: “Come to class with curiosity and enthusiasm. Be patient—explore the process. The results will come in their own time.”
Intermediate Junior I
Jeff began his practice of yoga in 1982 with Mary Dunn as his mentor, and now studies with Brooke Myers as his primary teacher. He has been teaching since 1992, and has studied with the Iyengars in Pune, India.
Jeff graduated from the University of Kansas in 1969 with a BA in psychology and was a vice president of a major regional Long Island bank before finding Iyengar Yoga. He founded his own yoga studio on Long Island in 2002.
Jeff has been interviewed frequently on the subject of yoga by Newsday and has contributed yoga articles to magazines such as Runner’s World, AARP and Yoga Journal. He has authored a chapter in a book on yoga and its modern day teaching that is being published under the auspices of the Philosophy Department of SUNY Buffalo.
A grandfather five times over, Jeff is known for his in-depth, yet light-hearted approach to teaching. His advice to students: “Be in Tadasana.”
Intermediate Junior I
Hugh has studied Iyengar Yoga since 1991 and began teaching in 1997. He has traveled to the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute in Pune, India for two extended stays in order to study with the Iyengar family. He began his studies with Mary Dunn and Manouso Manos. Since 2001, he has traveled regularly to California to study with Donald Moyer, the director of the Yoga Room in Berkeley.
His favorite quote about yoga is:
I do not think that I know It well and yet I know that it is not unknown to me. He of us who knows It, knows That; he knows that It is not unknown to him.
He by whom It is not thought out, has the thought of It; he by whom It is thought out, knows It not. It is unknown to those who discern of It; by those who seek not to discern of It, It is discerned.—Kena Upanishad, Section 2.2, 2.3, translated by Sri Aurobindo.
Hugh offers this advice to students: “Examine why you are doing yoga; stay with it and don’t give up. Iyengar Yoga makes the practice of yoga experiential—physically, emotionally, and mentally.” Hugh describes his teaching style as patient, exacting, and humorous. “Do no harm. I aim to observe the student and teach according to what I see.”
Intermediate Junior III
Tori Milner began studying Iyengar Yoga in 1996 and teaching in 2001. She has trained in India twice with the Iyengar family. Her primary teachers are the late Mary Dunn and Robin Janis.
Tori was formerly an account executive for graphic-design and public-relations agencies. She received a bachelor’s degree in English and women and gender studies from Sweet Briar College in Virginia.
In her teaching, she strives to be clear, challenging, insightful, and motivating, and to help students create greater awareness and joy in their own lives. “Having the privilege of watching students progress is very rewarding,” she says. “Also rewarding is helping students to cultivate perseverance and conquer fear and doubt.”
She advises new students to have fun. “Learn to take the practice of yoga seriously—without taking yourself too seriously,” she says, a challenge with which she is familiar. She remembers being a raw beginner herself. “I saw a friend’s 60-something year-old mother do a headstand at a party and was inspired to try yoga. It happened to be Iyengar Yoga, and I was drawn in from the beginning of my studies—amazed that I could indeed lift my kneecaps and explore strength and flexibility that I had no idea existed within my own body or mind.”
Intermediate Senior II
James Murphy began practicing yoga in 1988 and has taught since 1990. He has made ten extended trips to India to study with B.K.S. Iyengar and Prashant and Geeta Iyengar. James began his study of Iyengar Yoga with Mary Dunn and Kevin Gardiner after a ten-year career with the Alwin Nikolais Dance Theater.
Describing his experiences in classes in India, James says, “Besides gaining invaluable insights into the physical aspects of yoga, I observed how Mr. Iyengar works on a psychological level to challenge students to go beyond their limits.”
At the Institute, James teaches a full range of classes, including a class for those living with HIV/AIDS. He also does mentoring and training in the Institute’s teacher training program. Currently the director of the Iyengar Yoga Association of Greater New York, James continues his leadership role in working to create evolving programs and an active interchange of teachers and practitioners in our four-state area.
In addition to his study of yoga, James is keenly interested in people and cultures around the world. Providing yoga study and experiences in people-to-people understanding, James leads groups to such fascinating places as Cambodia, Bali, and Turkey through Yoga Out There.
A yoga practitioner of unusual integration and ability, James is featured in the Yoga Journal book, Yoga, has appeared in the Yoga Journal calendar, and has been interviewed for numerous articles in national magazines.
Through rhythm and sequencing, James creates an experience of integration in his classes that is both challenging and sensitive to the subtler aspects of the practice.
Intermediate Junior III
Brooke Myers has studied yoga since 1973 and taught Iyengar Yoga since 1987. She has trained many times in India with the Iyengar family. Her primary teachers are Geeta Iyengar and the late Mary Dunn.
Brooke’s social conscience informs her teaching. “Yoga should be for everyone,” she says. “We have to make a real effort to go where the need is.” Her outreach efforts have taken her to psychiatric hospitals and a drug rehabilitation center. She co-taught the Institute’s HIV/AIDS class for many years. Brooke has taught special classes for knee and back problems, depression, and menopause.
The spiritual aspect of Iyengar Yoga inspires her teaching style, which is simple, reverent, and aspiring. “To motivate people, you have to first give them the experience. I can’t talk to them about their breath or their inner self. I have to show them that if they learn to come back into their heels and lift their chest, they won’t feel so depressed. I have to find physical ways to show them spiritual and emotional states.”
Brooke’s previous career was in radical experimental dance and theater. Along with political causes, she is active in animal rescue.
“I’m still looking for ways to use yoga to bridge the gulf between all kinds of people,” she says. “It should be possible—one of the meanings of yoga is union.”
Intermediate Senior I
Carrie Owerko has studied yoga since 1991, taught Iyengar Yoga since 1996, and studied five times for extended periods with the Iyengar family in India. Her primary teachers are Patricia Walden and the late Mary Dunn.
Spectators at a recent “yogathon” saw Carrie express her devotion to B.K.S. Iyengar and the Institute as she performed 230 repetitions of Viparita Chakrasana—continuous flowing backbends. She performed in and was co-choreographer of the yoga demonstration given in 2005 in conjunction with Guruji’s appearances in New York and at the Yoga Journal Conference in Colorado.
“Yoga is also an art form,” she says. “To share it with others is inspiring and fulfilling.”
Carrie earned a Certified Movement Analyst degree from the Laban Institute after in-depth study of the human body and its means of expression. “That is the lens I use to analyze everything else.” She has performed professionally in theater and dance, and taught movement and theater to groups, including young children and incarcerated women.
The philosophy of yoga is central to Carrie’s teaching and practice. Without that “we’re just doing something technical with the body. Yoga in the larger context is what transforms us, cultivating that wholeness that is always within.”
Intermediate Junior I
Dmitri has been practicing Iyengar Yoga for nearly fifteen years. Initially drawn to yoga for its physical benefits and for the relief of back pain, he soon realized yoga’s ability to use the body as a tool to train the mind. Also a musician, with a master’s degree from New England Conservatory of Music, Dmitri continues to find parallels between his two pursuits. He strives to approach both with a balance between practice and a turning away from the familiar.
For Dmitri, yoga happens when an asana becomes less of a series of discreet actions and more of a unified whole, where the various parts are balanced and synchronized. Dmitri’s teaching style is challenging, yet sensitive to those with physical injuries or limitations. It is serious, yet balanced, with a dry sense of humor.
Dmitri’s Iyengar training began in Boston, where he studied primarily with Liz Owen. Upon moving to New York, he began studying with Kevin Gardiner and Brooke Meyers. His primary teacher was Mary Dunn, with whom he studied for ten years and acted as teaching assistant. In the spring of 2003 Dmitri completed a two-year teacher training program at the Iyengar Yoga Institute of New York. Dmitri traveled to Pune, India in 1998 to study with the Iyengar family, and has returned to study at the Iyengar institute in Pune (RIMYI) two times since.
Intermediate Junior II
Lucienne has always had an avid interest in the body and how it functions—as a tool for artistic expression in dance, as a tool for healing through bodywork, and as a tool to sharpen the mind as a yoga practitioner.
She has been a student of Iyengar Yoga—which she began in Amsterdam while studying for her BFA at the School for New Dance—for more than 20 years. Once in New York City, she graduated from the teacher training at the Iyengar institute under the guidance of Mary Dunn and James Murphy.
In November 1999, she founded Studio Spine (studiospine.com) to offer a home to the teaching of Iyengar Yoga. The development of the studio has been central to the progression of Lucienne’s personal practice and teaching. Every year she visits France to study with Faeq Biria, and has traveled to Pune yearly since 2006 to remain close to the source.
Lucienne has also been a certified Hellerwork/Structural Integration practitioner since 2004. Working with fascial alignment as a structural principle has given her a deeper understanding about imbalances in movement patterns caused by any form of stress.
As a teacher, Lucienne will always encourage her students to practice to their fullest potential, and believes that personal commitment is key to a successful yoga practice.
Adam became a Certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher at age 32, having already had nine years of teaching experience. Currently he teaches at the Iyengar Yoga Institute of New York and PURE Yoga studios in New York City. In January 2009 Adam concluded a month of study with the Iyengars at the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute in Pune, India.
Adam found Iyengar Yoga while searching for rehabilitation after being struck by a car while cycling in 1998. He has been practicing ever since. Initially using yoga to regain strength after the accident, he found that yoga not only gave him the ability to strengthen his body, but also laid out the framework to strengthen his mind.
Adam teaches the Iyengar method through his own experience, with clear and mindful instruction. Helping his students navigate through the body with the application of the mind, at the pace which the breath provides, allows them to have an experience that is full and profound. He incorporates yogic philosophy into his teaching in order to give his students the opportunity to understand that yoga is not just a practice that takes place on the surface in class, but an opportunity to develop an internal awareness that can truly transform their lives.