Early Days

My path to yoga was an indirect one. I was born and raised in London. I graduated from the London School of Fashion in 1961, and later completed a two year graduate course in illustration and graphic design at St. Martins School of Art. I spent several years as a dress designer, before starting a career in cartoon animation in 1973, which was to last twenty years.

In 1973, I also discovered yoga. By then I had met and married my husband, Lindsey, and we had two children, Miles and Jake. Lindsey and I attended our first Iyengar yoga class at the suggestion of a friend. It was a pivotal moment for both of us. For me it relieved the stress and insecurity that I often experienced as a young woman. It also connected me to Indian culture, which for some inexplicable reason I had felt drawn to as a child. Perhaps it was my grandmother's wonderfully illustrated books on India that had influenced me. It wasn't until much later that I became aware of my families long involvement with India, and that my father was born there.

Introduction to India

In 1975, when Jake was 5 and Miles was 10, our family visited Pune where Lindsey and I studied with the Iyengars. We have made 16 subsequent trips to date, but that initial visit is the one that springs to mind first whenever I think of Pune. The colors, sounds, smells, and tastes of India made a lasting impression. Most important, the impact of Mr. Iyengar’s teaching was profound and enduring. I had never met a teacher who demanded — and received — such undivided attention. When he teaches, his eyes are everywhere. In class, one must be completely present, and participate fully. Of course, it is integral to the Iyengar yoga teaching to be fully awake and focused, both in class as well as in life, and to have the utmost respect for the practice. To this day Lindsey and I are still committed to the Iyengar method.

We were certified to teach yoga in 1977. That same year, I taught my first yoga class at the Covent Garden Community Center in London.

New Beginnings

In 1989 Lindsey set up an office in New York for his film production company. Our eldest son Miles was 24 and already established in his career as a television editor in the UK, but Jake, who was 19, came with us. It was a new adventure and it was time for change. Still, uprooting and leaving our previous life behind while we started anew was challenging. Our yoga practice kept us close and stable during the hard times.

During this transitional period, I spent a lot of time drawing. I made sketches of Mr. Iyengar doing yoga, and I put them together in an animated film called Yantra. The movie was a bridge for me between my career in animation and my new life as a full-time yoga teacher. Lindsey and I began teaching at the newly formed Iyengar Yoga Institute in 1994, and have remained on the faculty ever since.

©2008 – 2014 Bobby Clennell.