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In Memory of Richard Jonas

Dear Fellow Travelers in Yoga,

It is with deep sadness that we convey the news that our very dear Faculty Member, Richard Jonas, passed away peacefully yesterday, Sunday, January 24, bolstered by the love and support of family and loved ones. Although we will miss his physical form, we take comfort in this quote by Rabindranath Tagore, that “death is not extinguishing the light; it is only putting out the lamp because the dawn has come.”

The bravery, gentleness, kindness and love he exemplified in his approach to practice, life and in the face of death are an inspiration for all of us who knew him.

A dedicated, enthusiastic and curious student of Iyengar Yoga for many years, Richard joined the Institute Faculty in 2005 and touched us with the generous way he taught and shared his love of the subject. Many benefited from his teaching here at the Institutes in New York, as well as at the YMCA, the community project SAGE, on the Upper West Side and more. His meaningful writings, editorial suggestions, and his tireless approach to volunteering for the National Board of IYNAUS, as well as here at IYAGNY, and as a member of the Faculty, are examplary.

We are bound together in our sorrow and the knowledge that he leaves behind a space no other can ever fill – full of dignity, gentleness, honor, warmth and his wonderful laugh.

In his honor, we are launching the Richard Jonas HIV Scholarship Program. Donations are being accepted through our website. We will be planning a community-wide ZOOM memorial service within the next several weeks where we can come together and grieve, laugh, cry, and remember him in the presence of our community.

Be comforted, if possible, by the timeless wisdom in the following passage from The Bhagavad Gita. These are the words that Geeta Iyengar shared with us upon Mary Dunn’s passing. This is taken from the translation by Barbara Stoler Miller:

Nothing of non-being comes to be,
nor does being cease to exist;
the boundary between these two
is seen by men who see reality.

Indestructible is the presence
that pervades all this;
no one can destroy
this unchanging reality.

Our bodies are known to end,
but the embodied self is enduring,
indestructible, and immeasurable;
therefore, Arjuna, fight the battle!

He who thinks this self a killer
and he who thinks it killed,
both fail to understand;
it does not kill, nor is it killed.

It is not born, it does not die;
having been, it will never not be;
unborn, enduring, constant and primordial,
it is not killed when the body is killed.

Arjuna, when a man knows the self
to be indestructible, enduring, unborn,
unchanging, how does he kill
or cause anyone to kill?

As a man discards worn-out clothes
to put on new and different ones,
so the embodied self discards its worn-out bodies
to take on other new ones.

Weapons do not cut it,
fire does not burn it,
waters do not wet it,
wind does not wither it.

It cannot be cut or burned;
it cannot be wet or withered;
it is enduring, all-pervasive,
fixed, immovable, and timeless.

It is called unmanifest,
inconceivable, and immutable;
since you know that to be so,
you should not grieve!

If you think of its birth
and death as ever-recurring,
then too, Great Warrior,
you have no cause to grieve!

With Love and Peace,
All of us at IYAGNY 

Iyengar Yoga
Institutes of New York
227 West 13th Street, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10011

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