Yoga Alliance Welcomes Three New Members to Its Volunteer Board of Directors

New Members' Deep Expertise in Yoga Service, Inclusion, and Accessibility Will Help to Steer Yoga Alliance's Continued Transformation

Published: May 17, 2018


Arlington, Va. (May 17, 2018) –Yoga Alliance, the largest not-for-profit organization serving the yoga community, today announced the addition of three new members to its board of directors. These individuals are recognized leaders within the global yoga community who have unique perspectives and expertise that will help the organization advance its mission to support the development of yoga professionals and advocate for safety in yoga.

"We are so pleased to welcome our new board members as an important step in the continued evolution of Yoga Alliance,” said Board Chair Kerry Maiorca. “Each individual has made a personal commitment to expanding the accessibility and inclusivity of yoga and to honoring the roots and integrity of this great tradition. Their shared insights and experience will be integral as Yoga Alliance continues to advance the state of yoga teaching today and to evolve and elevate the profession in the years to come.”

Yoga Alliance’s dedicated volunteer board of directors provides the overall strategic direction and vision for the organization, which seeks to advance health, healing, and happiness through quality yoga education. These individuals were sought for the Yoga Alliance board based on their diverse experience bringing the gifts of yoga to individuals and communities.

“Our organization is transforming to better serve the yoga community and is evolving with great care and a commitment to living yogic values,” said Yoga Alliance and Yoga Alliance Foundation President and CEO David Lipsius, who joined the organization in May 2017. “Adding these accomplished experts to our volunteer board gives me great hope for the future.”

“Each of the three exceptional people joining our board has demonstrated a commitment to reaching underserved, marginalized, and under-represented communities,” Lipsius added. “They will greatly enhance our efforts to foster inclusion in yoga, and their experience will help support all professional yoga educators holding the Yoga Alliance credential.”

Newly welcomed board members are:

  • Saraswathi Vasudevan, internationally renowned trainer and expert in yoga;
  • Leslie Salmon Jones, founder of Afro Flow Yoga® and social activist bringing yoga to diverse populations, youth, and community organizations; and
  • Thierry Chiapello, a military veteran and athlete, who teaches yoga to underserved populations, including veterans and the Department of Defense military and civilian communities.

"When looking for new Yoga Alliance board members, it is our utmost priority to identify people who live the Yoga Alliance values of unity, integrity, inclusion, inquiry, and seva (selfless service),” said Yoga Alliance Board Governance Chair Staffan Elgelid. “Saraswathi, Leslie, and Thierry live those values every day, and we look forward to having their support and guidance as we improve our services and initiatives for all yoga teachers and yoga schools.”

About the New Board Members:

Saraswathi Vasudevan (E-RYT 500, YACEP, yoga therapist) – Saraswathi is an internationally renowned yoga leader and trainer. She has two Masters Degrees in Nutrition and Psychology from the University of Madras, Chennai, and for over 26 years has been a yoga teacher, teacher-trainer, therapist, and consultant. She was head of the research department at an internationally renowned institute of yoga in Chennai and has conducted workshops around the world on yoga and the emerging field of yoga therapy. Saraswathi founded YogaVahini with the aim of making the healing wisdom of yoga more accessible to everyone and is gifted with an innate capacity to establish deeply nurturing connections with her students.

“I am very excited to join the board, particularly at this time when yoga has expanded its horizons to touch almost all aspects of our life,” said Vasudevan. “The role of a yoga teacher has to be redefined in this context to address the ever-expanding demands on the strength and resources of yoga teachers and teaching communities. Recognizing the vital role we play in actively promoting not just health and well-being, but also harmony, equity, justice, and integrity in daily living, the training of a yoga teacher becomes important. Yoga Alliance has continued to play a vital role in promoting yoga teaching and making it a credible profession. My inquiry and intention today will be, how can we promote yoga and yoga teaching in a way that is transformational and essentially an inside-out process?”

Leslie Salmon Jones – Leslie enjoys a career working with diverse populations, clients, students, youth, and community organizations to help develop mastery over their physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well-beings. Leslie has been cultivating her passion as a professional dancer, yoga instructor, wellness coach, public speaker, and community activist. She completed her BA in interdisciplinary studies in health sciences and dance at SUNY, NYC, and she has had the opportunity to study and train with world-renowned masters of dance, yoga, and spirituality. It was through her intensive dance training at the Alvin Ailey School in New York that Leslie was first introduced to yoga, and nearly 25 years later she remains dedicated to her yoga practice and teaching. A connection with African spirituality, yogic principals, the intrinsic expression of movement through nature’s elements, and a transformational journey throughout Africa and the Caribbean, inspired Leslie to create Afro Flow Yoga® in 2008. Leslie is also a co-creator and faculty member for the Omega Women’s Leadership Intensive and at The Omega Women’s Leadership Center.

“It is an honor to join the board of the Yoga Alliance and be part of this important movement and moment in time that is rooted in love, unity, and action,” said Jones. “I’m looking forward to being of service for the higher good of all and listening to and learning from a diversity of voices, particularly those who haven’t been heard.”

Thierry Chiapello (CIYT, E-RYT 200, RYT-500, YACEP) – As a military veteran and athlete, Thierry first found yoga in 2006 while learning to manage pain from injuries sustained during time in the U.S. Marine Corps. Through regular practice, he has learned how to manage the aftermath of double hip replacement and back and foot reconstruction surgeries. Because of his own quality of life improvements through yoga, Thierry chose to teach yoga to help others facing challenges and to communicate the benefits of yoga through asana and pranayama classes, workshops, and special events. Thierry focuses on teaching underserved populations including veterans, the Department of Defense military and civilian populations, and others experiencing stress. He teaches Iyengar yoga classes and workshops at the National Defense University, the Pentagon, VETOGA Teacher Training, as well as special events in the DC-metropolitan area. His goal is to inform, educate, and share the healing benefits of yoga with underserved populations through compassionate, effective teaching and education.

“I am incredibly pleased to be adding my life experience to the Yoga Alliance board of directors,” said Chiapello. “What I’ve learned is that yoga truly benefits everybody, and everyone should have the benefit of yoga. I’m very much looking forward to helping foster unity in yoga and sharing yoga with the underserved.”

About Yoga Alliance and Yoga Alliance Foundation
Yoga Alliance is the largest international nonprofit association advancing the development and livelihood of yoga professionals and advocating for safety and accessibility in yoga. Yoga Alliance Foundation is a 501 (c)(3) public charity whose purpose is to bring yoga to populations that have been historically underserved, under-represented or marginalized.

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