When yoga was taught in India in ancient times, all lessons were taught one-on-one. The teacher tailored the instructions to meet the needs of the participant. Today, not everyone can avail themselves of private yoga lessons, but we try and have respect this ancient model of learning even while teaching group classes. To that effect, we keep our classes small so that postures can be adapted to the needs of the participants. Yoga postures are always taught in coordination with proper breathing. Practiced this way, the practice becomes a form of meditation that calms restless thoughts, supports energy, and strengthens the immune and nervous systems.
The founder of Upstate Yoga Institute, Mary Louise Skelton, began her study of yoga in 1969 with world famous yoga master Sri T. Krishnamacharya (1888-1989). Sri T. Krishnamacarya had mastery not only in yoga but also in various aspects of Indian philosophy, Ayurveda, and music. He was very influential in bringing yoga’s remarkable healing potential into the 20th century and has left his mark on many forms of yoga taught in the West today.
In 1974, Mary Louise became a student of Krishnamacharya’s son, T.K.V. Desikachar (1938-2016). Two years later, she invited T.K.V. Desikachar to teach a month long course on yoga at Colgate University. Out of that course came the book “Religiousness in Yoga: theory and practice”. If Krishnamacarya was among those great masters who pioneered a renaissance in the practice of yoga, his son TKV Desikachar was truly a path-breaker in making the ideals of yoga comprehensible to Westerners. His well-known book “The Heart of Yoga” was put together as a rewrite of the original book “Religiousness in Yoga”.
Urged by TKV Desikachar to transmit the knowledge and methodology of the lineage, which at the time was known as “Viniyoga”, Mary Louise founded Upstate Yoga Intitute in 1983. At that time, yoga was not always well received. She worked tirelessly to make the teachings of classical yoga available to Central New Yorkers and beyond. She passed away in 1995, leaving behind a large following of dedicated students who continue the work of sharing the precious teachings she received directly from Krishnamacarya and Desikachar.
Each teacher at our school is deeply committed to the on-going practice, study, and re-transmission of the teachings of yoga as transmitted by Yoga Master Sri Krishnamacarya and brought to the West by his son, T.K.V. Desikachar.
“Let us turn over together the treasures that wise men have left us, glad if, in so doing, we make friends with one another” – Socrates
Martine Burat – Director of Vedic Chant Studies. Martine began practicing and studying yoga while finishing her post-graduate degree in clinical psychology in France. Soon after moving to Syracuse, Martine met Mary Louise Skelton who had recently founded Upstate Yoga Institute. Mary-Louise became Martine’s teacher, mentor, and friend for the next 10 years. After Mary-Lou’s passing, Martine continued her studies with Mr. Claude Marechal, from Belgium, and with Mrs. Sonia Nelson, director of the Santa Fe Vedic Chant Center.
David Jacobs – Director of Yoga Studies. David began studying yoga at Upstate Yoga Institute and, as his interest deepened, became certified to teach through Gary Kraftsow, a long-time student of Desikachar. David has also received certification through Nischala Joy Devi to teach yoga to cardiac and cancer patients. He received training at the Center of Mindfulness, University of Massachusetts Medical Center, in the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction model developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn. David has taught MBSR at Syracuse University to students through the S.U. counseling center and in a separate program to the faculty and staff through a Wellness Initiative.
Jennifer Masters – Jennifer has been practicing yoga for over 20 years. In 2017, she completed a year-long intensive teacher training program in New York City to augment her studies with Martine at UYI and to become a certified teacher in the lineage of Krishnamacarya and Desikachar. Jennifer has taught at UYI, Syracuse University (graduate and undergraduate students at the Newhouse School), and Hospice of CNY (for family members who recently experienced the loss of a loved one.)