Beryl Bender BirchPosted November 04 2012
She was named one of seven American women “innovators shaping yoga today” by Yoga Journal in 2000.
Beryl majored in Philosophy and Comparative Religion at Syracuse University and took her first yoga class in 1971 in California. She then spent several years on the West Coast working as a biofeedback researcher and studying the physiology of meditation. Her early teachers, the Tibetan Buddhist founder of Shambala and Naropa Institute in Boulder, Chogyam Trungppa Rinpoche, and Munishree Chitrabhanuhu, the first Jain monk to leave India and come to the US at the invitation of Harvard Divinity School, shaped her life, her meditation practice, and her teaching style.
Beryl began teaching astanga yoga to a handful of adventuresome and ahead-of-their-time runners in New York City in 1981 at the prestigious New York Road Runners Club. She became the Wellness Director of the Club and slowly continued to grow the classes. She pioneered (along with husband Thom, a world class runner at the time, who joined Beryl as a teacher at the NYRRC from 1985 through 2001) the introduction of yoga to the traditional athletic community.
Beryl is the founder and director of The Hard & the Soft Yoga Institute (since l980) in East Hampton and Vermont. She now teaches yoga - the Middle Path of Jina Yoga (incorporating the classical astanga 8-limbed methodology) - all over the world, guiding and inspiring students of all levels with her down to earth style. She resides in East Hampton with her 6 Racing Siberian Huskies, Hopi, Nellie, Carmel, Cheaten, and Mo - and her new addition to the team, Troy, and with whom she competes on the New England Sled Dog Club circuit of sprint races in Vermont, New York, and New Hampshire in January and February.