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
2020 - 2022
President: Cindy Berliner
Brand new to Arizona, Cindy, CIYT, worked as an assistant attorney general in Massachusetts before devoting herself to the study of yoga in 1998. Now, she has been teaching group classes and working privately with students since 2006 and looks forward to getting to know the regional community here.
Vice President: Michele Cook
Michele Cook has been practicing yoga since 1994, and a dedicated Iyengar yoga student since 2014. She completed her Hatha yoga training at Scottsdale Community college in 2016 under the mentorship of Carlyn Sikes and became a CIYT in 2019. Michele continues to study with senior teachers Nancy Stechert and Randy Just and is working to deepen her practice and teaching.
Michele is what BKS calls a “householder”; and works to bring her yoga off the mat as a mother and corporate Account Executive. She is the proud mom of 2 young men and 3 dogs, and is also avid hiker.
Treasurer, Membership: Barb Sato
Barb first came to yoga in search of some variety in her physical fitness routine. She was immediately drawn to the precision and discipline of the Iyengar yoga practice. A desire to deepen her study of yoga led her to teacher training and she earned her teaching certification in the Iyengar method in 2015. She believes yoga to be the key to aging gracefully and living a peaceful life. Barb is retired from a long career in Finance and Accounting. She and her husband have recently moved back to Phoenix from the northwest.
Secretary: Danielle Deutsch
After ten years of marathon running, Danielle came to Iyengar Yoga in 2016 and found the tools to help her overcome some physical issues. The intelligent practice and observation of Iyengar Yoga are helping her realize her full potential. She began volunteering her writing and photography skills to IYASW in 2019 and is honored to serve the association as Secretary.
IYNAUS Representative: Lisa Henrich
Lisa is a founding member of IYASW, serving as ad hoc president during the transition from the Southern Nevada Association to the Southwestern Association in 2011-2012. She also served as IYASW president from 2014- 2016 and is honored to serve the Southwestern Iyengar Yoga Community again, this time as the regional liaison to the Iyengar Yoga National Association of the US (IYNAUS). She also serves as the IYNAUS Store chair and Publications Committee.
A Certified Iyengar Yoga teacher since 2013, Lisa is committed to B.K.S. Iyengar’s legacy making the benefits of yoga practice available to all who seek it, regardless of their limitations or experience level, and ensuring that students of all backgrounds get the benefit of practicing yoga safely and effectively. She continues to practice and study regularly with Iyengar Yoga Teachers Carlyn Sikes, Carolyn Belko, Nancy Stechert, and Randy Just. Since 2010, Lisa has also served as Adjunct Faculty at Scottsdale Community College where she teaches Asana as well as the Tradition and Practice of Yoga classes.
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.”