A Message From Barbara Benagh
I have taught yoga for 42 years and have had the honor and
pleasure to introduce the magic of yoga and be a reliable guide
over the years to so many students and have received so much
back in the process. I’ve said for years that I’ve
been blessed with just enough students who like my quirky style
to make teaching yoga my profession as well as my calling. What
a gift! Thanks to everyone for the loyalty and support you’ve
sent my way over the years.
As many of you know I have been reducing my teaching schedule
over the past few years, giving up most out of town workshops
and holding my final Art of Teaching Yoga course last year.
I am now taking the next step and it’s a big one! In September
I am taking a leave from teaching weekly classes and plan to
spend time traveling and with my family.
I will still be teaching - seven weekends in Boston in 2017
at both Down Under Yoga and Asana Charlestown. Of course, the
Yoga Vacation in Jamaica is still going strong. The February
2017 edition is nearly sold out! I am also working on details
for a long weekend of yoga in May of 2017
Cove on Martha’s Vineyard. Keep an eye for details and
let me know if you’re interested.
My last day teaching weekly classes in Boston will be Sunday,
September 11th. A workshop at Asana Charlestown will be held
Sunday, September 17th. My website has my entire 2016/2017 schedule
listed along with links to both studios.
I hope to see you soon!
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About Barbara Benagh
I’m often asked how I got into yoga so here’s my
I have been active all my life. I took ballet lessons for years
and in college got into cycling; a sport I adore to this day
despite a spectacular spill or two. The simple joy of movement
has always been a pleasure whether from hiking, dancing, or
swimming. I can still remember, as a child, my mother often
telling me to sit still and that chairs are for sitting not
for hanging upside down from. Clearly, yoga was a natural
During college I, like many of my generation, took a sharp
left turn into the hippie world. Within weeks of graduating
from college and disheartened by the war in Vietnam I headed
for London. What a wonderful place that was, especially in the
early 70s! I embraced all that swinging London had to offer.
I loved every second of it but exercise pretty much stopped.
After a couple of years of this behavior I was out of shape
and had gained about 25 lbs. Yearning to move again I decided
to find an exercise class. A friend suggested yoga but picturing
incense and swamis I was not enthused. In a true twist of fate,
the only exercise class at my local adult education center in
Birmingham, England (where I was living while my boyfriend was
in grad school) was in yoga so I enrolled, albeit reluctantly.
I loved it! My first yoga teacher, Elizabeth Keeble, was no
nonsense, made yoga accessible and saw some promise in me. With
her encouragement I progressed rapidly. When we moved back to
London she sent me to Penny Nield-Smith, a truly wonderful woman
with whom I studied for years. Pretty soon I was attending a
yoga class at least four times weekly and beginning to practice
at home. Penny taught the same sequence of poses every
class and I credit her for laying a strong foundation of asana
and rational sequencing that has served me well but I began
to want to explore more. When I asked her about learning
some of the more difficult poses I’d seen in Light on
Yoga by BKS Iyengar, Penny suggested I seek out Kofi Busia in
Oxford; so off I went.
I began going to Kofi’s daunting weekend workshops pretty
regularly, traveling up by train and staying at a hostel. Those
weekends were mini immersions for me. I would go to class, then
back to my room to read and practice. It was there I first read
the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali and the Bhagavad Gita and begin
to experience yoga as offering so much more than poses. I also
started taking classes from Vera Sida, a remarkable woman, who
had started practicing yoga in her late 50s when she became
intrigued by a book on yoga that she was binding in the factory
where she worked! She took me under her wing and offered my
first job teaching. Looking back on it I was woefully unprepared
but I loved it and began to dream about quitting my day job
(which, of all things, was as a fraud investigator for the British
In 1978 my English husband and I decided to move to Boston
where I found the small yoga community; nothing like today in
size but certainly eager and devoted. In 1980 after my daughter,
Sarah, was born I opened a small yoga school on appropriately,
Joy St., Beacon Hill, and stayed there until 2004 when the building
was sold and I had to move. After trying a couple of different
times to open another yoga school I realized that I have reached
a time in my life where what I most want to do is practice and
teach to the small community of yogis that I love. Giving up
the business of running a center, with all that entails, was
easy after that. I now teach in Brookline Village and
Davis Square at lovely studios and love it. I’m also enjoying
training teachers and those interested in more in depth studies.
I still travel around the country a bit to teach and, of course,
spend each February in Jamaica but I most love staying close
to home. It is just right.
I’ve watched yoga grow and change in ways I could have
never imagined and I’ve grown and changed with it. My
first years of yoga were Informed and fulfilled by Iyengar yoga,
by the mid 80s I began to yearn to explore other viewpoints.
I found myself particularly drawn to the inner, exploratory
work of Angela Farmer. Her gift at helping students break up
old patterns was just what I needed at the time. She urged me
to listen to and follow my own voice and guidance; a voice she
said was strong, authentic, and waiting to be heard. With some
trepidation I made a decision to trust that voice and have pretty
much followed that inner guide for the last 20 years. Though
I do not adhere to any method or style my devotion to yoga is
deeply imbedded in my teaching. I try to teach as I like to
be taught – with kindness, patience, optimism and encouragement
to trust in one’s self.
My greatest delight in yoga is that the practice stays fresh
and continues to inform and inspire me nearly everyday. I continue
to marvel at how this simple and practical system taps such
deep places within that sustain in me through life’s inevitable
peaks and valleys. I am also forever grateful that I make my
livelihood doing something I truly love with both longtime students
and the newer faces and seeing how they are as devoted to their
yoga as I am. I am truly blessed.