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Jyoti Hansa

Thetford Center, Vt. — Jyoti Hansa, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, mentor, teacher, shaman, and yoga teacher extraordinaire died in the early evening in Lebanon, N.H. on Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014, after reassurance from one of her beloved students that Lady, her dog, would be well cared for upon her departure.

Born Sept. 14, 1934, with a traditional name, she was given the name Jyoti (light) by a Swami during a yoga initiation in the 1960s. An African American mother with five young children, she began practicing and teaching yoga in the greater Boston area and Indianapolis, at the birth of yoga awareness in the U.S. In the 1960s and ‘70s, Jyoti established the first yoga programs in both cities, where she began to train the first generation of U.S. yoga teachers.

In 1973, Jyoti read Light on Yoga and devoted the rest of her life to living and teaching the tenets of yoga as delineated and practiced by B.K.S. Iyengar. She enjoyed direct training with Mr. Iyengar through an invitational teacher intensive and received certification directly from him in January 1983.

For over 40 years, Jyoti taught thousands of yoga classes in diverse settings across Massachusetts, Indiana, Vermont, and New Hampshire. A diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome in the late 1980s slowed her down, but she continued to lead classes and workshops, and direct teacher trainings.

Although the Iyengar tradition served as her lodestone, Jyoti possessed boundless curiosity about human potential. She explored the teachings of yoga masters in many traditions, and became adept in spiritual counseling, numerology, and Shamanic healing therapies. Her teaching and counseling, informed by intensive study of yoga and spiritual literature, remained grounded in the here-and-now. She urged her students to “Ask Spirit” before making a decision or taking any action in life.

In the last few years of her life, Jyoti lived in Thetford Center. Along with her much-loved pets, her one-room home featured three components critical to her happiness: a yoga rope wall, a MacBook, and a large flat screen television.

An aficionado of films, television shows, and cable channel mini-series, Jyoti loved science fiction, especially Star Trek, The Next Generation, and the X-Files. Her passion for the Westminster Dog Show and the NCAA basketball championship (especially Sweet 16) was absolute.

However, none of these entertainments came close to Game of Thrones. Jyoti read the first five GoT novels three times each, and eagerly awaited the publication of volume six. Students and friends hoped the new season of GoT would entice her to hang on through the spring, but Jyoti knew best when it was time to depart.

Jyoti’s amazing legacy to the planet is five children; eight grandchildren; eight great-grandchildren; and hundreds of yoga students who work, teach, and live better and wiser lives because of her.

To share comments about Jyoti’s life and influence, go to www.jyotisnowleopard.com.