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The Iyengar yoga community loses beloved teacher Karin O'Bannon

Karin O'Bannon
Karin O'BannonIYASE

“The mind becomes a witness to Absolute Truth and spiritual perception dawns. Although it is something that must happen within my mind it seems very far away.” –Karin O’Bannon, “The Moon and the Mind.” (iynaus.org/articles-essays/moon-and-mind)

Karin O’Bannon, among the earliest Iyengar yoga teachers in Los Angeles, died June 10, 2013, in Louisiana, several months after she was diagnosed with lung cancer.

Her teachings always placed philosophy first and foremost, although she also had a keen eye for precision in poses, both hers and her students’.

She had been a yoga teacher for more than 30 years, including at the Iyengar yoga conference in Washington, D.C., in May 2012. She achieved the teaching rank of Iyengar Senior Intermediate 3 in 1996.

She trained yoga teachers in Southern California beginning in the mid-1990s and served on the national Iyengar Yoga National Association board. She influenced students across the globe, from Los Angeles to Louisiana and Georgia to Taiwan to Rishikesh, India.

She left Los Angeles in 2003 to teach in Rishikesh. There she taught students from around the world. She once said that it gave her renewed appreciation for the value of demonstrating a pose to teach, given so few of her students shared a common language.

She was honored in 2006 by the Iyengar Yoga Institute of Los Angeles with a scholarship created in her name to help students study at the Iyengar institute in Pune, India. She returned to the United States a few months later, settling in Shreveport, La. She continued to teach workshops around the world, including Malaysia, Taiwan and Canada.

She also returned to Los Angeles to teach workshops. At one, focused purely on philosophy, she said that she considered Yoga Sutra 2.15 to be the “axial aphorism” for the entire text.
“The wise man knows that owing to fluctuations, the qualities of nature, and subliminal impressions, even pleasant experiences are tinged with sorrow, and he keeps aloof from them. “ (Translation: Edwin F. Bryant.)

The Los Angeles area community learned of her illness in early April when visiting teacher Manouso Manos read an e-mail she had sent to be read to us. Upon her death, The LA institute published her message the day she died. She wrote, in part:

“I "grew up" at IYILA and my teacher, best friends, and dearest students are still a part of that community. IYILA is a special space. By that I do not mean the place itself but I mean the teachings that are within its walls. Preserve that space by letting it change and evolve to serve the students and community.”

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