The Heart of Yoga


A founder of the Iyengar Yoga National Association of the United States, Mary Dunn was a dedicated Iyengar Senior Teacher who took regular trips to study in India. She was beloved by thousands of students, and she worked tirelessly as a teacher and promoter of yoga. She helped to establish the three Iyengar Yoga institutes in the United States—in New York, San Diego, and San Francisco. Her passion for the practice was ignited by her mother, Mary S. Palmer, who is credited with bringing B.K.S. Iyengar to the United States in the early 1970s for his first sustained teaching visit.

Mary had been teaching high school English, but after studying with Iyengar, in the 1970s, she began teaching yoga in San Francisco and, later, in San Diego. When she relocated with her husband and two daughters, Louise and Elizabeth, to Rye, New York, in 1986, she continued teaching yoga, in New York City and also in Greenwich, Connecticut. She was diagnosed with peritoneal cancer, a rare form of the disease related to ovarian cancer, in 2007. At the age of 66, she died peacefully in her sleep on September 24th at her daughter Elizabeth's home in Scarsdale.

Janis Paulsen was a trailblazing co-founding editor of Yoga Journal, which was launched in May 1975 by members of the California Yoga Teachers Association. It was the $500 charged to her credit card that got the publication up and running.

Janis began studying yoga in 1973, and along with Judith and Ike Lasater, Rama Vernon, Rose Garfinkle, Jean Girardot, and William Staniger, she wanted to create a magazine that would unite the growing yoga community and combine the essence of classical yoga and the latest understanding of modern science. She was also a member of the foundation that started Montana's famed Feathered Pipe Ranch, one of the first yoga retreats in the United States.

Former husband Chris Wentworth, with whom she had two daughters, Ciara and Julia, describes her as "the essence of karma yoga, a river of giving and making things happen" and "one of the most unselfish people I've ever known."

Born in San Francisco in 1946, she was diagnosed in June 2008 with pancreatic cancer that had spread to her lungs. She passed away at her home in Mill Valley, California, on August 8, surrounded by her family and friends.