John Kepner, MA, MBA, Executive Director
John has served as executive director since IAYT's renewal in 2003. He is a practicing yoga teacher and therapist with a professional background in economics, finance and non-profit managements. John holds teaching and therapist certifications from the American Viniyoga Insitute, and a teaching certification from AG Mohan in Chennai, India. His work and his writings for IAYT often have an economic and public policy perspective. In recent years, much of his work has centered around organizing IAYT's membership and research conferences, developing standards for the training of yoga therapists and accrediting programs that meet those standards.
John has traveled widely on the yoga path, having practiced in several meditative and âsana-based traditions over four decades. In the mid 90's he made extended visits to Findhorn in Scotland and Auroville in India where he found inspiration in their ecumenical and entrepreneurial efforts to integrate spiritual, environmental, economic, and social values. John has also served on the boards of several non-profit organizations, including the Ecumenical Buddhist Society of Little Rock.
One of his evolving interests is the sound integration of yoga with allopathic and complementary and alternatives therapies, while at the same time preserving the classical personal growth, spiritual support, and personal relationship foundations of yoga.
John holds a M.A. in economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, His M. B. A is from Millsaps College in Jackson, MS, with a concentration in Finance. John did his undergraduate work in liberal arts and economics at the University of Texas, Austin.
Kelly Birch, Editor in Chief, Yoga Therapy Today
Kelly is a seasoned editor and yoga educator living in Ashland, Oregon. She spent many years traveling, including a year in India a quarter-century ago that deepened her commitment to meditation and yoga and her desire to serve. At age 37, she earned a biology degree and worked in scientific research in the San Francisco Bay Area for several years before moving to southern Oregon in 2007. Kelly has extensive training in yoga (E-RYT500) and yoga therapy (including a 500-hour certification in Integrative Yoga Therapy). Kelly has taught yoga to diverse populations, including community classes and veterans as well as private yoga therapy clients. In addition, Kelly is a Level II iRest teacher and has trained in medical hypnotherapy, psychology, acupuncture, and Enneagram studies. Kelly is the editor of the online peer-reviewed Journal of Yoga Service, a publication of the Yoga Service Council. She has copyedited over 70 college-level textbooks and is currently working as a book editor, specializing in yoga.
Abby M. Geyer, Advertising Services
Abby began her career at Glamour Magazine, Conde Nast Publications, in New York City and served as both the Accessories Editor and later Sportswear Editor. She moved to San Francisco where she was Advertising and Public Relations Manager for a knitwear firm and later moved to be a Fashion Coordinator for all Northern Stores at I. Magnin.
While in California, Abby was introduced to many holistic therapies and became hooked on yoga, nutrition, and meditation. Abby’s passion for following a healthy lifestyle had begun. In the 1990’s, Abby moved with her husband and son to Las Vegas where, for eight years, she worked as the Director of Marketing, Special Events and Public Relations for Saks Fifth Avenue. It was during this time that Abby was introduced to Ayurveda. She quickly realized that this was the life science that she had been searching for. She has used the principles of Ayurveda in her own life since and is certified as an Ayurvedic Life Style Coach and an Ayurvedic Nutritionist. Abby became the Advertising Representative for the Light on Ayurveda journal in 2004 and still holds that position.
In her role as Advertising Manager for IAYT, Abby enjoys supporting the two sisters of yoga and Ayurveda in synergistic ways and the complementary intentions of these two ancient practices.
Sat Bir Singh Khalsa, PhD, Editor in Chief, International Journal of Yoga Therapy
Sat Bir Singh Khalsa, Ph.D. has conducted research in neuroscience, chronobiology, and sleep medicine since 1978. Since 2001, he has been fully engaged in basic and clinical research on the efficacy of yoga practices. Dr. Khalsa has been personally involved in the practice of a yoga lifestyle since 1971 and is a certified instructor of Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan. He is currently the Director of Research for the Kundalini Research Institute, Research Director for the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, Research Associate at the Benson Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine, and an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He also directs a Harvard Medical School course in mind-body medicine. Dr. Khalsa has conducted federally funded clinical research trials evaluating the efficacy of yoga for insomnia, post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic stress, generalized anxiety disorder, and K-12 students within the public school curriculum.
Dr. Khalsa has established relationships and collaborations with fellow yoga researchers internationally. He actively works with the International Association of Yoga Therapists to promote research on yoga therapy, serving as chair of the scientific program committee for the annual Symposium on Yoga Research. Dr. Khalsa is the author of the Harvard Medical School ebook Your Brain on Yoga, has served as ad-hoc reviewer and editor for a number of biomedical journals and as editorial board member on yoga journals including IJYT, and is chief editor of an upcoming textbook entitled The Principles and Practice of Yoga in Health Care.
Debra Krajewski, Conference, Financial, and Membership Manager
Debra began her journey with yoga in 1985, falling in love with Iyengar yoga. She continues to study the Iyengar method, along with meditation and other contemplative practices. Her professional background is in accounting, specializing in tax preparation, with more than three decades of experience in that field. Her most noteworthy accomplishment is the raising of her two wonderful sons. She volunteered at her sons' schools and church, as well as Children's Hospital, for over 20 years.
Devi Mueller, CAS, MAyu, AP (NAMA)
Membership Support and Webmaster
Devi Mueller has been practicing yoga since 2000 and completed her training with the California College of Ayurveda as a Clinical Ayurvedic Specialist in 2003. She has an Ayurvedic Healthcare practice in Seal Beach, CA, and has worked closely with the National Ayurvedic Medical Association (NAMA) since 2003. In 2007, she was elected to NAMA’s Board and completed two 3-year terms before undertaking the position as the Membership and Marketing Manager from 2013 - 2015. She also served as the Conference Manager for most of NAMA’s conferences from 2004 through 2015.
Devi’s previous experience in the corporate world was as the Director of Network Services for Apria Healthcare. Her responsibilities included development of a national network of providers and extensive work as the "super user” for the interface of Apria’s IT system with client organizations’ systems. This required detailed work with the various IT teams helping to develop and document working systems to connect their computer systems seamlessly for use by the end users. She oversaw and did hands on work with the development teams, the IT testing departments, created documentation for the users, and on-site training to assure the interface worked smoothly for both companies.
With her background, she is uniquely suited to serve IAYT as the Membership Support and Webmaster. In conjunction with the entire IAYT team, she will work to assure that the membership system and online tools function smoothly and serve the IAYT membership in the most efficient way possible.
Laura Schmalzl, PhD, RYT, Editor in Chief, International Journal of Yoga Therapy
Laura Schmalzl, PhD, RYT 500 is an Associate Professor at Southern California University of Health Sciences (SCU) where she teaches in the College of Science and Integrative Health. She initially trained as a clinical neuropsychologist, before completing a PhD in cognitive science and post-doctoral work in cognitive neuroscience as well as behavioral medicine. Alongside her academic work, she is also a dedicated yoga practitioner and certified yoga instructor. Much of Laura’s research over the past years has evolved around the development and scientific evaluation of yoga interventions for both clinical and healthy populations. Broadly speaking, her research interests lie in furthering our understanding of the mechanisms through which yoga-based practices can impact cognitive functioning, body awareness and emotional self-regulation.
Aggie Stewart, Accreditation Manager
Aggie Stewart, MA, RYT 500, CYT, is a yoga teacher, yoga therapist, writer, editor, and writing teacher. For most of her editorial career, Aggie has worked in healthcare publishing and for healthcare organizations such as Children's Hospital, Boston, and Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare. As Managing Editor for Accreditation Publications at the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, she was closely involved with the editorial development of function-based accreditation standards. Aggie has taught writing and communication skills at Loyola University, Chicago, and Johnson and Wales University in Providence, RI. In Spring 2013, she co-taught an advanced nonfiction writing course at Brown University that incorporated yoga practiced designed specifically to help student writers achieve academic success.
Beth Whitney-Teeple, Certification and Development Manager
Beth Whitney-Teeple holds a PhD in Health Policy and Bioethics and an MHSA in Health Services and Medical Informatics from the George Washington University in Washington DC. She served 26 years in the USAF and USAFR and has operated an independent consulting firm specializing in information systems and policy development since 1996. She is a graduate of the American Viniyoga Institute's Teacher and Therapist training programs and shares yoga in small classes and private settings. Before much of this she spent years working in wild animal medicine raising lions, tigers, and bears, oh my! She is a talented communicator, facilitating successful exchanges across disciplines with positive outcomes. Beth lives in Steilacoom WA with her husband, Bob Whitney, and their dog, LuTwo.