IYA of Southern California


In 1977, when the Iyengar Yoga Association of Southern California came into being as a nonprofit charitable organization, chapters were set up in Los Angeles and San Diego. 

Since those early days, the regional Iyengar Yoga community has grown significantly—and in many directions! Now it extends along the coast from Santa Barbara to San Diego, spreads eastward to the Inland Valley, and reaches west across the Pacific to Hawaii. In every part of the region, students have access to the teachings of B.K.S. Iyengar and the Iyengar family. As it has expanded, the community has also sought to come together to guide each other, to share and transmit knowledge, and to help each other through tough times. 

In 2008, after a challenging search, a long-term home was found for the Iyengar Yoga Institute of Los Angeles. One of four institutes in the United States—the others are in New York City, San Francisco, and Champaign-Urbana, IL—IYILA is a physical hub from which learning radiates to other parts of the community. Members united behind the monumental goal of raising funds to secure IYILA’s future. Inspired by the annual Yogathon fundraisers held by the Iyengar Yoga Association of Greater New York, the association held Yog-a-thon West in 2007. A successful Capital Campaign was launched and annual gatherings, dinners, and events continue to raise funds to support IYILA. 

In 2005, when Guruji came to the U.S. for the Estes Park teaching and the Light on Life tour, he visited IYILA in its former location on Third Street, Los Angeles, where a celebration was held in his honor. Guruji answered questions from students about the individual, the world, and the yoga community. He spoke about transformation: our local communities will grow over time, just as the individual practitioner grows in yoga, but we remain united in a single thought of yoga. 

At the opening of the new home for IYILA, in October 2008, there was a screening of a video of Guruji in conversation with Senior Teacher Karin O’Bannon, now of Shreveport, LA. Guruji spoke about how life is dynamic; it moves forward: “As the life is moving forward, naturally your life is moving forward, your body, your fibers have to move, along with life. That means they have to go on studying and educating, observing and educating— moment to moment—so that the stillness is not established in the system.” 

IYASC continues to grow and evolve as a community. Southern California is a widespread area, yet the local neighborhoods in which Iyengar Yoga is taught and studied remain connected to the larger regional community through workshops offered free to members, a monthly email, the biannual IYASC newsletter Yoga Vidya, and organized gatherings. 

The Los Angeles and San Diego chapters have grown sufficiently to function independently as district regions. In 2009, IYILA celebrated its 25th anniversary with a workshop and a gathering at its new, fully-equipped studio on La Cienega Blvd, Los Angeles. Earlier this year, Los Angeles hosted workshops and a 60th birthday celebration for Senior Teacher Manouso Manos. This spring, Los Angeles sponsored an intensive taught by Sunita Parthasarthy, Guruji’s daughter. 

In recent years, San Diego has set up a scholarship fund so that members in financial need can afford to study at conventions, regional workshops, and in Pune, and offset costs associated with assessments for certification. This summer, San Diego sponsored a workshop to train teachers to work with children and adolescents. 

San Diego will host the next IYNAUS National Convention in 2013—23 years after it last hosted a convention. Sarvabhauma Yog, Universal to All, will be open to the wider yoga community with classes for children and teens for the first time. This will be another opportunity for the Iyengar Yoga communities of all ages, local and national, to come together in a “single thought of yoga.” 

As the local, regional, national, and international Iyengar Yoga communities continue to grow, Guruji’s words continue to inspire us: “Always keep in mind to do a little more than you think is possible. Then only the gates of the mind are opened. When you go beyond your limit, then the mind automatically opens up into that vastness.” 

The IYASC Board includes: Los Angeles – President Allen Grodsky (student, Los Angeles), Vice President and Membership Chair Kat Lee Shull (Introductory II, Costa Mesa), Treasurer Brad Sklarew (student, Beverly Hills), Secretary and Standing Committee Scott Radin (student, Santa Monica), Standing Committee members Lisa Walford (Intermediate Senior I, Santa Monica) and Marcella Mee (Introductory II, Studio City), Marketing Chair Eliza Pelham Randall (student, Los Angeles), and Members Eric Small (Intermediate Senior II, Beverly Hills) and Lizet Torres (student, Redondo Beach). 

San Diego – President Cyndy Cordle (Intermediate Junior I, San Diego), Vice President Rob Harris (Introductory II, San Diego), Treasurer Vicky Abbott (student, La Mesa), Secretary Kevin Hainley (student, San Diego), Membership Chair Marilyn Patton (Introductory I, Poway), Yoga Vidya Liaison Bonnie Szumski (student, San Diego), and Workshop Coordinator Nancy Phillips (Intermediate Junior I, San Diego). Catherine Fisher is the editor of Yoga Vidya

Los Angeles has 299 members, with 117 Certified Teachers. Senior Teachers in the region include Manouso Manos, Marla Apt, Anna Delury, Beverly Graves, Rita Lewis Manos, Eric Small, and Lisa Walford. 

San Diego has 139 members, with 51 Certified Teachers. Senior Teachers include Gloria Goldberg, Carolyn Belko, Ariane Hudson, Eddy Marks, Mary Obendorfer, and Cathy Rogers Evans. 

—Catherine Fisher