Rama Jyoti Vernon
Founder, International Yoga College
My spiritual path began in my childhood, as I was fortunate to have parents who were natural healers and metaphysically minded people. From my earliest memories, they taught me profound principles of metaphysics and mysticism.
My father came from a long line of holy men and mystics from the Middle East, and both my parents were pioneers in the holistic and natural health movement. My father's work as a chiropractor and naturopath was either several years ahead of his times or thousands of years behind. "All diseases emanate from the spine," he taught. "Align the body, enlighten the self." My mother, who was a physical therapist specializing in Zone Therapy (also known as Reflexology), emphasized the importance of a balanced base in the feet.
In addition to the influence of my parents, I was also exposed to the wisdom of the many guests and friends whom my parents entertained in our home. Edgar Cayce, Dale Carnegie, Norman Vincent Peale, Ernest Holmes, Joseph Murphy, and many others would visit and discuss issues with my parents around the kitchen table. I became enthralled with Yoga at the tender age of 15. The practice and wisdom of yoga revealed to me a place of inner peace within my being, and I discovered I could send that out to the world. For the next 30 years I studies the postures, breathing and philosophy of Yoga with many great Yoga Masters. Along the way, I became a teacher, and then a teachers' teacher.
I spent many years studying Yoga directly with Mr. B.K.S. Iyengar. Another major influence on me was Dr. Haridas Chaudhuri, a close devotee of Sri Aurobindo and Mother Mirra, who was asked by them to travel to America to bring about a synthesis of East and West. As a result, he founded the California Institute for Asian Studies in the early 60s, now known as the California Institute for Integral Studies. Over time I studied Sanskrit language and vedic philosophy and became fascinated with the insights of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and the universal wisdom of the Bhagavad Gita.
Although my early approach to teaching Yoga placed an emphasis on form and structure, I felt a need in later years to move to a more organic, integrative approach to the asana postures, emphasizing the breath above all. The goal is for one to achieve in each asana an integration of the breath with the body, energy, mind, philosophy and one's own appropriate structural alignment. This approach, relying on the breath to lead the movement, allows the gentle and natural unfolding of each pose, in which the student discovers a state of inner poise within any dynamic posture. I attempt to infuse my instruction with an awareness that preserves the ancient wisdoms of Yoga while bringing these wisdoms into practical application in contemporary life.
To fulfill the growing need of teachers throughout the country, I founded and co-founded numerous organizations including the California Yoga Teachers Association (original publishers of the Yoga Journal), the California Institute for Yoga Teacher Education, the B.K.S. Iyengar Association of Northern California, Unity in Yoga International, Women of Vision and Action, the Center for International Dialogue, and the International Yoga College (formerly American Yoga College).
My purpose in the development of the International Yoga College is to provide a comprehensive, integrative and non-sectarian approach to yoga education. Its programs are designed not only for yoga teachers seeking continued education and certification, but for any dedicated yoga students wishing simply to expand and deepen their practice. Our goal is to establish a deep understanding of Yoga's ancient traditional roots along with its practical significance in today's world.
Rama Jyoti Vernon
California Yoga Teacher's Association
Center for International Dialogue
American Yoga College
Unity in Yoga
Women of Vision & Action