Richard and Kirsten run the Centre and teach many of the classes. We also have a select group of other fully certificated and experienced Iyengar Yoga teachers.
Kirsten Agar Ward
Kirsten’s professional background is psychology – she gained her honours degree in Experimental Psychology from Oxford University in 1987 followed by a PGCE, a few years as a school teacher and a successful career as a Chartered Educational Psychologist.
She took up yoga in Adult Education classes after leaving university in 1988 and soon realised that it offered a more complete analysis of the human condition than Western Psychology. Since then she has practised Iyengar Yoga continuously and has taught full time since 2000.
Her initial Iyengar Yoga teacher training was in Manchester, qualifying in 1997. She studied for her Junior 1, 2 & 3 and Senior 1, 2 & 3 certificates in London and Bath.
She travels at least annually to the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute in Pune, India to study with the Iyengars. She is qualified to Senior level 3, is an approved teacher trainer and assessor of teachers for the IY(UK) and is invited to teach all over the UK and internationally. She taught the Swedish national convention in 2012 and the Bermuda Yoga Festival in 2016.
She was Honorary Secretary of the Light on Yoga Association UK for some years and now serves on various committees of the IY(UK). As well as teaching yoga she is also a keen student of Indian philosophy and mantra.
Richard Agar Ward
Richard first became interested in Yoga at the age of 14 through reading a book but did not start attending Iyengar Yoga classes until the autumn of 1975, aged 19, while at the University of Oxford. He considers himself extremely fortunate to have discovered B.K.S. Iyengar and his teaching to which his life is devoted.
His first class with Guruji came soon after in the summer of 1976 in London. Richard’s first visit to the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute in Pune came in 1977 where he attended an intensive course taught by Guruji. He has attended intensive and other classes at RIMYI in Pune on 23 visits since then. He now returns annually to attend classes with the Iyengars.
Richard began to teach Yoga in the autumn of 1977 and was awarded the Introductory Certificate in 1984, the Junior Intermediate Certificate in 1988 and Level 3 Senior Intermediate Certificate in 2004. He also gained a PGCE certificate in 1981. He is an approved teacher trainer and began training Introductory level Iyengar Yoga teachers in 1990. He conducted Intermediate Junior teacher training at IYI Maida Vale, London 1996 – 2012. He also conducts Intermediate Junior and Senior teacher training in Bath. He is a Moderator for the IYA (UK).
Richard helped to found The Light on Yoga Association (UK) in 1988 and was chairperson from 1988 to 1999. He helped found the Bristol (now Avon) Iyengar Yoga Institute in 1989.
Dr Gabriele Kociok-Kohn encountered Yoga in 1993 in the hope of improving her ice skating skills, unknowingly choosing the path to her true passion; discovering the advantages of this ancient practice in both body and mind. She has been practising Iyengar Yoga under the guidance of Kirsten and Richard Agar Ward since 2002, trained to be a teacher with them and acquired her Introductory Level certificate in 2013. She is studying for her Junior Intermediate certificate. Yoga plays an essential role in her daily life. If she find herself without props, Gabriele likes to improvise with her surroundings using ‘street furniture’ as yoga props! She works at the University of Bath spreading the message of Yoga to her friends and colleagues helping them uncover the benefits it can bring to their day-to-day lives.
From studies of classical dance, Deborah Ralls, subsequently developed a passion for yoga and began to practise it in Rome in 1985. She qualified as a teacher in 1996 and has studied with Richard since 2009, after preparation with him passing her Intermediate Senior 2 assessment.
In 2004 she founded the Studio Iyengar Yoga in Rome. She frequently travels to India to study and deepen her knowledge directly with Geeta and Prashant Iyengar. Through these experiences she is combining her passion for travel and languages with the study of yoga.
We are fortunate that Deborah loves the city of Bath and teaching at our centre when she is here.
Lois began practising yoga 24 years ago and says “I was fortunate that the Adult Education class I attended happened to be taught by an Iyengar Yoga teacher. Several years later I trained to teach and have now been teaching Iyengar Yoga for 16 years. I am qualified up to Junior Intermediate level 3 and have learnt from some of the most experienced senior and advanced level Iyengar yoga teachers in this country. I have also studied in Pune with the Iyengar family.
“Personally I have found that regular practice of Iyengar yoga has improved my health and general well being, including helping me cope with a busy family life.” She has recently moved to the area and is base in Frome.
Jess remembers looking at the photographs in Light on Yoga as a child. Being brought up in rural Dorset it was her unexpected good fortune when her doctor, who happened to be Indian, drew a series of yoga postures to help relieve and correct her spine after falling from a tree.
Jess began regular classes with the Iyengar Yoga Society at Edinburgh University, liking the focus on precision and alignment in the postures and the feeling of well-being after class. Since then yoga has been an important aspect of her life and she has had the good fortune to study at RIMYI in Pune, India. Jess feels that yoga keeps her healthy and balanced and hopes to pass the benefit of yoga to students.
After taking a degree in Psychology followed by postgraduate work on the minds of human and gorilla babies, she crossed over into the television industry and worked as a Producer / Director in several areas of factual television. Yoga feeds the curiosity she has for self-exploration.
Jenny has been a student of Iyengar yoga since 1998, and qualified as a teacher more than 10 years ago. She now holds the Junior Intermediate 1 certificate and is studying for the next level. She is continuing her yoga studies and has made several trips to attend general classes at the RIMYI in Pune to benefit from teaching by the Iyengar family. Jenny teaches classes for us on an occasional basis. When not teaching or working with her Composer husband, she’s sometimes to be found afloat.
Harriet St Leger
Harriet went to her first Iyengar yoga classes back in the 70’s purely out of curiosity. It made a big impact, she loved the completeness of the stretching and extending, reaching every part of the body. She continued with classes and experimented with various other styles of yoga but found none were ever as fulfilling as Iyengar.
In the 80’s Harriet moved to Bristol and attended Richard Agar Ward's classes regularly which she found inspiring. Harriet has always had a strong interest in dance of every kind, both performing and watching it and so the studying of how bodies move and the extent to which they can go has fed into her yoga practice. She finds it fascinating how the mind and the body are united and affect each other so strongly in yoga – and dance - but are so often completely separate in everyday life.
Harriet’s job is a jewellery designer and maker which involves sitting working at a bench for many hours. Yoga is perfect to counteract the effects of sitting in this position, - opening the chest, shoulders back, - essential for all those sitting at desks!
As she has got older her practice has changed but it is clear how important it is to continue yoga practice. There are so many ailments and difficulties which can be avoided or lessened with regular practice.
Harriet passed her teaching assessment this year after training with Richard and Kirsten and is looking forward to teaching.
Kirsty Oakley - Administrative Assistant
Kirsty has been working at BIYC since 2013 as our administrative assistant.
She first met Richard and Kirsten in 1999 when she started lessons with them.
She is now a full-time Mum of 2 boys who keep her very busy but when she's not knee-deep in mud and creepy crawlies or being tested on her dinosaur knowledge, she can be found at the centre! She currently works one evening a week.