IYASW is a non-profit volunteer organization working to bring the pioneering teachings of yoga master B.K.S. Iyengar to the Southwest. Iyengar Yoga is one of the most widely taught and trusted methods of yoga in the world. With its attention to alignment, wise sequencing of poses, clear instruction and emphasis on safety, Iyengar Yoga already has helped millions of yoga students to experience freedom in their bodies and peace in their heart. IYASW hopes to introduce the method to more people and communities.
IYASW strives to foster a climate of purposeful inclusion of all people. We welcome members regardless of age, race, religion, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, range of abilities, financial means, education, and political perspective. We offer financial scholarships to members and have created a Community Service Program to encourage our teachers to bring yoga to underserved populations. IYASW hosts regular workshops with Senior Teachers, and strives to bring additional special events to its members.
History of IYASW
Our regional association began in 1996 as the Southern Nevada Association, serving the Iyengar community in Las Vegas. As interest in Iyengar Yoga grew in Arizona, the two states came together in 2012 to form the Iyengar Yoga Association of the Southwest. Today IYASW represents Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and West Texas.
Our mission is to study, teach, disseminate, and promote the art, science and philosophy of yoga according to the teachings of B.K.S. Iyengar. Our purpose is exclusively educational and charitable.
Board of Directors
2023 - 2026
President: Adam Vitolo
Adam is a Certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher and has been teaching the Iyengar method since 2000. Adam has been a faculty member at the Iyengar Institute of New York since 2007 and has recently relocated to Las Vegas, Nevada. 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; allowing them to have an experience that is full and profound. He incorporates Yogic Philosophy and humor into his teaching to help his students not take themselves too seriously, and give them the opportunity to understand that Yoga is not just a practice that takes place on the mat in class, but an opportunity to develop an internal awareness that can truly transform their life.
Vice President: Leah Flaks
After doing a bachelors in dance at Simon Fraser University, I started taking Iyengar Yoga (IY) classes in Vancouver, B.C. It soothed my nagging back pain and plaguing stress, and I was immediately hooked.
After moving to San Francisco, a few years later, I took classes at the IY Institute and in Oakland studying with many great yoga teachers and had the amazing opportunity to meet BKS Iyengar.
I spent several years working in Fortune 100 companies as an Executive Assistant where I obtained professional writing, communication and marketing skills all the while practicing yoga at home before and after work. Still devoted to the Iyengar method, I taught a couple of yoga classes a week at local gyms.
Fast forward many years, I found myself in Iyengar Yoga classes in Berkeley, CA and in 2015 enrolled in an Iyengar Yoga Teacher Training program due to my love of Mr. Iyengar and the Iyengar family. As I felt these studies and teaching opportunities deepen my practice, I became a CIYT in 2018 and started teaching at the Berkeley yoga studio. I also became the Assistant Manager of the busy studio and the liaison between the owner, teachers and students handling sales, communications and marketing. I was fortunate to study with many senior IY teachers during this time.
During the Pandemic, I took the opportunity to move to New Mexico where I am practicing and teaching IY on zoom and in person and also serve as the IYASW Regional Rep on the IYNAUS Board of Directors.
Treasurer: James 'Jim' Osti
Jim’s yoga journey began when he was incapacitated by a pair of frozen shoulders at the age of 59. Even though Jim was a registered nurse with 2 advanced degrees, the outcome of his malady seemed very much in doubt. A co-worker suggested yoga and for the past 14 years he has not only talked the talk, but also walked the walk. When he retired almost 2 years ago from a position as an administrative analyst for the local health department he immediately started his yoga teacher training. Jim is a 200 hour RYT with certifications in Vinyasa, Yin, Yoga Nidra, and advanced yoga training in working with individuals with paralysis. He started his Iyengar practice during his yoga training and is an avid fan of Iyengar. Jim was approached about being the treasurer of the Board of Directors for IYASW and he gladly accepted. His board experience includes being the treasurer of a non-profit organization for 2 years. Jim was also the executive director of a non-profit and is committed to helping IYASW reach its goals.
Secretary: Rachel Polednak
Rachel Polednak has been Physically and Spiritually active for her entire life. Rachel was born in Southern Michigan to a mother who was a dancer and father who was a musician. She was groomed to be a ballet dancer at a very young age and studied at The National Ballet of Canada in Toronto. Rachel also had great interest in the field of science. She decided to give up on a Ballet Career and get her BA degree in Biology from Washburn University in Kansas. Rachel married her magnificent husband Donald, whom she has been married to now for 32 years. The two of them moved to Las Vegas and had three beautiful and thoughtful children. After working for several years as a Toxicologist at a forensic lab she found her interest moving towards a more spiritual life as she began to discover Yoga. Rachel has been practicing yoga for 27 years and teaching Hatha yoga for 18 years. Rachel has been practicing Iyengar yoga for the last eight years with Aileen Epstein-Ignadiou and Gloria Glodber and is a CIYT. As well as Yoga she also teaches Pilates and Strength Training. And most important: Rachel tries her best to live a Yogic and Ayurvedic lifestyle. Namaste All.
What is Iyengar Yoga?
Iyengar Yoga is a method of yoga named after yoga master B.K.S. Iyengar (1918-2014) and is firmly rooted in the 2500 year old classical yoga tradition of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. One of most widely practiced types of yoga in the world today, Iyengar Yoga emphasizes the alignment of body in yoga poses (asana) in order to achieve balance between the body, mind and breath. This precision builds strength, stamina, balance and flexibility, avoids injury, and provides a deep sense of well-being. While Iyengar Yoga uses the physical alignment of the body as a starting point, the practice eventually leads students to experience greater and greater self-awareness. Intelligence spreads throughout the body and the practice of asana then can become a form of “meditation in action.”
Hallmarks of Iyengar Yoga
Intelligent sequencing of poses keeps students safe and allows them to study in a logical and progressive manner. Sequencing also is used to achieve particular physical and emotional affects such as lengthening the spine or quieting the nervous system.
Use of Yoga Props
Iyengar Yoga also uses props as teaching tools and aids, allowing students of varying abilities to work in the poses with integrity and alignment. Props also are used to educate students and to deepen their experience of asana.
Excellence in Teaching
Iyengar Yoga has a highly developed teaching methodology. Practitioners train for many years to become a Certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher (CIYT). They are precise in their teaching instructions and in their demonstrations, have keen observation and adjustment skills, and know how and when to offer modifications to students to keep them safe in class.
Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja Iyengar (B.K.S. Iyengar) (1918-2014) was born during an influenza epidemic. The 11th of 13 children, he overcame poverty and deadly childhood illnesses to begin his study of yoga at age 16 with his brother-in-law and guru, T. Krishnamacharya. Through his passionate study and practice of yoga, he developed an encyclopedic knowledge on the subject and became an internationally renowned teacher. Promoting yoga as an art, science and philosophy, Mr. Iyengar made yoga accessible to ordinary people worldwide, regardless of race, gender, religion or ability.
B.K.S. Iyengar brought his profound method of teaching to the West in the 1960’s and 70’s and is responsible for today’s explosive growth in the popularity of yoga. Among his many lasting contributions to the study of yoga is his development of yoga props such as blocks, straps, chairs and bolsters so that everyone — regardless of age, strength, or flexibility — can benefit from the study and practice of yoga. For his role in making yoga a ubiquitous element of mainstream culture, Time Magazine in 2004 declared Mr. Iyengar to be one of the 100 “most powerful and influential people” in the world.
B.K.S. Iyengar is the author of many books including the seminal Light on Yoga, Light on Pranayama, Light on the Yoga Sutras, The Tree of Yoga, Light on Life, and Core of the Yoga Sutras.
Dr. Geeta S. Iyengar (1944-2018), the eldest daughter of B.K.S. Iyengar, began learning yoga as a child by observing her father. She began teaching just after graduating high school in 1961 when her father was away on teaching tours, and brought her own passion to the subject. An avid practitioner and scholar with a doctorate in Ayurveda, she went on to become one of the world’s most influential female yoga teachers. After her father’s retirement in 1984, she became co-director of the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute (RIMYI) in Pune, India where her devotion to her father and her students became legendary. Despite painful health issues, she continued to teach until only days before her death. Geeta Iyengar is the author of several books including Yoga: A Gem for Women, a pioneering work on yoga for every stage of a woman’s life.
Sri Prashant Iyengar is the son of B.K.S. Iyengar and director of the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute (RIMYI) in Pune, India. He is a life-long student, practitioner, and teacher of yoga and author of numerous books on the subject of yoga philosophy, ancient scripture and texts. Prashant Iyengar conducts daily classes at the Institute, bringing his own unique style and extensive philosophical knowledge to his teaching. He also is an accomplished violinist.
Abhijata Iyengar began studying yoga at the age of 16 under the direct guidance of her maternal grandfather B.K.S. Iyengar, her aunt Dr. Geeta S. Iyengar and uncle Sri Prashant Iyengar. She received a Bachelor of Science in Zoology in 2003, and a Masters in Bioinformatics in 2005. Rather than pursue a Ph.D., she decided to follow in the footsteps of her family by teaching yoga. She now is a senior teacher at the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute (RIMYI) and regularly teaches around the world carrying forward the profound teachings of her family with charisma, humor and humility. In response to a question about the most important thing she learned from her grandfather, Abhijata said: “I vividly remember he said life is as dynamic as the River Amazon. As that river flows, life flows with that energy, hence your practice and your living has to be so dynamic.”