Thank you to all who participated in Benefit Classes for Nepal on International Yoga Day, June 21st! The events were a resounding success and we raised over $1,000 for two wonderful non-profits actively involved in earthquake relief efforts in and around the Kathmandu Valley, Nepal: The Kopan Nunnery and Tsoknyi Nepal Nuns. We’ve also received word that several of you donated straight to these organizations, so the total offering is even higher!

At the Institute, Victoria Austin and Year 2 Teaching Training Students, including Loran White, Valerie Ehrlich, Ruchi Mulidhar, Theresa Marks, Maryann Shinta and James Terburg, taught Geeta Iyengar’s International Yoga Day special sequence. Nora Burnett and her Sunday morning class also contributed to raising awareness and funds for the cause. Not only did the teacher trainees shine in their teaching, together we gathered and donated $1008. At Bija Yoga CIYT Larry Lopez, Ana-Mari Hamada and David Sirgany also led a class using Geetaji’s sequence and raised $250!

A special thank-you to those who volunteered their time, skills, and money to make this event a success. Your efforts are greatly appreciated!


The Kopan Nunnery and Tsoknyi Nepal Nuns are tightly linked to the Tibetan monastic community and the relief teams are composed of local monks and nuns. The small Tibetan refugee communities and traditional Nepali villages in the foothills around the Kathmandu Valley are not easily accessible via regular modes of transportation. These are some of the worst-hit areas, with several villages losing 80-90% of their structures to the earthquake. The Army and international agencies are not as well equipped to access these small villages as the monks and nuns who grew up in them. The organizations you donated your resources to are able to provide life-saving and life-sustaining relief to these villages that may otherwise never receive any help. They are small, light, responsive, and already fully integrated into the community. Supporting efforts like these reinforces the sustainable practices that result from a local community built on a foundation of care and compassion. From them to you; Thank-you!!!

Although the funds we sent are marked specifically for earthquake relief efforts, both these organizations have much broader missions producing extraordinary benefit for some of the world’s most critical needs. Some of the staff at IYISF have been fortunate enough to gather first-hand experience with them and can hardly begin to express the love, kindness, and compassion that is the very fabric of all they do. We can tell you with utmost confidence: your money will be put to good use, for the benefit of those in need, in the wake of this tragic disaster.


Unknown-4The Khachoe Ghakyil Ling, also known as Kopan Nunnery, is a branch of Kopan Monastery which was founded by Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche in 1969. The nunnery is located on the outskirts of Kathmandu and is home to 400 nuns from Nepal and Tibet, many of whom come to Kopan nunnery from orphanages or refugee communities. The nuns are provided with food, shelter, medicine, and clothing and are given free tuition in the traditional Buddhist curriculum, including Buddhist philosophy, classical Tibetan, memorizing sacred texts, and annual retreats, alongside more modern subjects such as English, math, and science. Not surprisingly, once given access to scholastic training, the nuns have shown an intense determination to excel in their studies. Their goal is to become qualified Dharma teachers so that they may teach others at their mother nunnery and in Dharma centers internationally. The Kopan nunnery is currently renovating their nunnery to include a new Puja hall and residences for the nuns. Meet some of the Kopan nuns.

Tsoknyi Nepal Nuns is an international organization under the guidance of the Venerable Tsoknyi Rinpoche III, which supports a growing number of Tibetan Buddhist nuns of the Tsoknyi Lineage in Nepal. This wisdom tradition has been preserved in Tibet since the 19th century and was designed and developed as a system of practices for the transformation and enlightenment of female practitioners. Tsoknyi Rinpoche The First envisioned a time when these women would become among the most accomplished Buddhist practitioners in the world.

During the Chinese invasion of Tibet, and the years that have followed, many nunneries were destroyed and nuns were killed, imprisoned, and tortured. The devastation to the tradition of the Tsoknyi Nuns was so extensive that the lineage was almost extinguished. Today, nuns are still being driven from Tibet into more accommodating countries such as Nepal. The journey out of Tibet is arduous; many of the nuns, ranging in age from pre-teen to old age, arrive penniless and with only the clothes on their backs. Five Tsoknyi Nuns from Nangchen, Tibet made this crossing in 1994 and many more have journeyed there since. Once the nuns have left Tibet, they receive no familial or community support and are left to fend for themselves in a foreign country. It is organizations like Kopan Nunnery and Tsoknyi Nepal Nuns that assure their care and give them a home in Nepal where they can practice, study, and grow in the Dharma. Currently about 40 nuns from Nepal and 82 girls live and practice at Tsoknyi Gechak Ling and there is a waiting list of over 100 girls to come to the nunnery. Tsoknyi Gechak Ling has plans to accommodate these growing numbers, although Rinpoche needs your support to bring these plans to fruition!

If you feel so inclined, please explore the websites of these two extraordinary organizations:



Written by James Terburg and Sandra Lamerson

IYISF has been going through a series of changes in the last few months, some more challenging and others very positive!

Introducing some new and friendly faces to the IYISF community is one of those positive and exciting changes:

IYISF is pleased to introduce Sandy Lamerson, our new Studio Manager!  We are excited for what the summer holds as we welcome Sandy and continue to grow as a community.  Check out Sandy’s bio to learn a little bit more about her, her yoga journey, and why she was inspired to join the IYISF team:


11150669_550295625123721_1748406214727221403_nI was introduced to yoga as a teenager in a community center in the Hudson Valley of New York where I grew up. I majored in East Asian Studies with concentration in religion and Chinese language. During and after college I spent four years living in Asia – in India, Nepal and China and began to study and practice Yoga and Buddhism. In 2012, I completed a 200 hour yoga teacher training and moved into the San Francisco Zen Center, a community that has a strong Iyengar Yoga presence. Through my connection with B.K.S. Iyengar’s books, and my Zen teacher Victoria Austin, I began to practice Iyengar Yoga. Before coming to work at the Institute I taught hatha yoga classes and co-Managed a yoga studio and wellness center, called ZaZen. My main motivation for applying for the position was to become more involved with Iyengar yoga community, broaden my knowledge of managing a yoga studio and non-profit, and to deepen my yoga practice. My vision for the Institute in the coming year is to approach my work as seva, or service; I hope that through mindfulness, diligence and collaboration I will be available for others and able to help the Institute thrive. I look forward to taking all the teachers classes and getting to know the community. Mangalam!


We’re also excited to announce the promotion of Jessica Dexter to Studio Coordinator!

Read more about Jessica and her journey to Yoga and San Francisco in her bio:

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Jessica was born in Seattle, Washington and moved to the Bay Area in July of 2014.  Jessica attended school at Pacific Lutheran University with a dual Bachelor of Arts degree in Religious Studies and Global Studies, emphasizing in cultural diversity and transnational movements.  Jessica used her religion degree to explore Christian theology and history, Buddhism, and Hinduism and she utilized her Global Studies degree as a form of experiential learning, studying abroad in 5 different countries.  During her time at PLU, Jessica spent several months living in Rwanda, studying genocide and peacebuilding, and doing research with rescuers and perpetrators of the 1994 genocide.  After returning home, she developed a consistent yoga practice, using it to find healing, faith, and drive.  Jessica graduated in May, 2014 and moved to Berkeley, in order to better herself and the world, increase her understanding and work with nonprofit organizations, volunteer, and actively focus on deepening her yoga practice.