Over the past year, the B.K.S. Iyengar Yoga Association of the Southwest (IYASW) has had many devoted volunteers working to get it off the ground. As the newest edition to the family of IYNAUS regional associations, we are very excited to continue the work of our forebears by disseminating Mr. Iyengar’s work and teaching in our region.

The idea to start our own regional association came from Senior teacher, Carolyn Belko, who comes regularly to Scottsdale Community College to hold teacher training sessions. Through the work of all of Arizona’s certified teachers, Iyengar Yoga has gained more interest in Arizona recent years, and Carolyn suggested that having our own regional association would really help to bring the community together and grow it.

At the same time that we decided to begin our association, the Southern Nevada Association was getting ready to formally disband. After starting the association in 1996 and running it for over two decades, Aileen Epstein-Ignadiou was ready to draw the chapter to a close. The association’s numbers had dwindled in recent years, and its remaining members did not have the time to put in to keeping the association going. When Aileen found out about the formation of the new region, she had the brilliant idea to merge the closing Southern Nevada Chapter with the newly forming association in Arizona. Having started the Southern Nevada Region, she realized what a lengthy and expensive process lay ahead for Arizona as a new upstart. Changing the name of the former B.K.S. Iyengar Yoga Association of Southern Nevada to the new Southwest certainly did prove to be a far simpler task than starting up a new non-profit corporation, and the B.K.S. Iyengar Yoga Association of the Southwest was born. An added benefit to this merger, of course, was that the new region would be bigger, encompassing not just Arizona, as was initially intended, but also Nevada, and as the Southwest is typically considered to encompass New Mexico and Northwestern Texas, we welcome members from those areas too.


We have several goals for the future. Something that we really look forward to is being able to hold free or reduced- cost workshops for our members. We have some really great teachers here in the Southwest, and would eventually like to bring in teachers from other parts of the country as well. As bringing the Southwestern Iyengar Yoga community together is one of our primary goals, we would like to hold informal community get-togethers, like potlucks or movie nights to give our members a chance to get to know each other a bit, as there is not often time for it in coming and going to class. We will also send out via email a bimonthly or quarterly newsletter, so that everyone in the region can be kept abreast of events in the Iyengar Yoga community, like workshops and other special events that are being hosted by studios or members.        


Another goal of the IYASW is to have a library for our members to use. We would like to build a collection of books, videos, and audio materials by and about Guruji and the Iyengar family, including harder-to-find materials like issues of Yoga Samachar and volumes of Astadala Yogamala; items that can’t be found in most public libraries.           

In the more distant future, we would like to use our membership dues and donations to offer scholarships to community members in need. It is important that all Iyengar yoga practitioners have the opportunity to attend workshops, regional conventions, pursue Teacher Certification, and even study in Pune. In being able to truly bring Iyengar Yoga to everyone, we feel that scholarships will be an important aspect of our organization.           


As the IYASW continues to grow and branch out, we look forward to seeing Guruji’s gift touch more and more lives throughout the Southwest and beyond.

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