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About Our School

The Hard & The Soft Yoga Institute (from the Zen proverb which says "Only when you can be extremely pliable and soft can you be extremely hard and strong") was founded by Beryl Bender Birch in 1975 as The Hard and The Soft Institute for Humanistic Studies in Winter Park, Colorado. The Institute began the teaching of yoga classes in Colorado (Winter Park, Denver, Boulder, etc) with Yoga for Skiers course. Our other activities included writing grants for several humanistic projects, such as an energy-efficient recycling system and a cultural review of the history of the Railroads of the American West.

The Institute moved to New York City in 1980 and became The Hard & The Soft Yoga Institute. Beryl began teaching yoga classes in New York at the New York Road Runners and was appointed the Wellness Director of the Club in 1981, a position which she has continued to hold until 2004. During that time over 100,000 people took the Power Yoga courses offered by the New York Road Runners.

In addition to offering yoga classes, workshops, vacations, and retreats, the Institute began training yoga teachers on an informal basis in 1985, offering annual week-long programs in classical astanga yoga. In 2001 we formalized the curriculum and began our 200/500 hour yoga teacher training certification courses.

Our Business The primary and only business of The Hard & The Soft Yoga Institute, for these past 26 years has been the teaching of yoga and the training of yoga teachers. We were among the early teachers of yoga in the United States, going back to l974. Beryl has been teaching yoga for 35 years.

We have taught yoga to doctors, lawyers, CEO's, bankers, and brokers - to the FBI, the NYPD, the NYFD, AT&T, PepsiCo, GE, numerous corporations - to children, actors, artists, runners, seniors, to professional athletes and prisoners - and to dozens of folks from every walk of life imaginable.

We have also worked and continue to work with numerous celebrities (as a policy, despite constant requests from the media to the contrary, we do not release names of well-known persons training with us, or anyone else for that matter.)

Our Students and Graduates We have students and graduates of our Teacher Training programs working all over the world. Many of our students have opened yoga studios of their own in cities and towns from north to south and coast to coast. These oases of yoga have become beacons of grass roots light, offering excellent training in yoga and yoga life style to their particular communities.

Our Philosophy Our focus is on presenting a non-dogmatic, non-exclusive, non-injurious (both physical and mental) style of yoga. Our teachers are trained extensively in the moral and ethical tenets of yoga, as well as the anatomy of asana. It is extremely important to us that our teachers understand ethical and moral appropriateness. We also believe it is important for a teacher to be visually and verbally confident, interesting, and energetic. Our training includes work on personal hygiene, public speaking, voice training, leadership qualities, etc.

Note: Our organization is an approved, accredited 200/500 school with Yoga Alliance, a national registry for yoga teachers. All of our teachers are either registered yoga teachers (RYT) or E-RYT or in the process of completing the training. Due to the length of time our Institute has been in business, we have graduates of our program and/or contacts in nearly every major city and town in the US.