International Yoga Day Honors Yoga Service Award

Yoga day

By Kirthi Jain

During the opening ceremony of International Day of Yoga held for the first year at George R Brown Convention Center on June 21, 2015, the Consul General Harish Parvathaneni presented Yoga Service Awards to individuals who have exhibited exceptional service to the community in the field of yoga. We congratulated the following community leaders who have promoted yoga as a way of life or some aspect of its teachings within complex and often unique environments:

Anne Carolyn Klein

Anne Carolyn Klein, Ph D, a professor and former Chair of Religious Studies, Rice University. She has written six books on various subjects covering mind, body and soul. In tandem with her interest in Contemplative Studies, she teaches at Mind and Life programs at Stanford, Emory and elsewhere. Her central thematic interest is in the interaction between head and heart across a spectrum of Buddhist traditions. We honor Professor Klein for her devotion to help others understand the yoga of the heart.

Bellie Gollnick

Billie Gollnick is considered “The Mother” of Southeast Texas Yoga. She is 88 years old and began her journey by giving lectures on the health benefits of yoga in country clubs, sorority houses, and sociology classes. In 1966, she began teaching classes out of her dining room. She traveled into the Himalayas seeking out yogis in caves. Billie Gollnick has been a huge part of bringing yoga to Southeast Texas over the last 40 years and was one of the first to teach the practice to women in India. We honor Billie for her years of devotion to spreading the benefits of yoga to others.

Robert Boustany

Robert Boustany is a Rice graduate and has a degree in Physics. He has been practicing and teaching yoga for over 40 years. He is internationally renowned for his in-depth knowledge of energetics and anatomy. He has a background in Ashtanga, Iyengar, Forrest, and Sivananda yoga. Robert’s system, Pralaya Yoga, scientifically evolves traditional Hatha and Ashtanga yoga principles to meet the needs of modern society. Robert is the teacher of teachers in Houston and travels the world sharing his unique vision for yoga. We honor Robert for his years of service making yoga palpable to the masses.

Charles MacInerney

Charles MacInerney has been practicing yoga for 40 years and teaching 27 years. Since 1989 he has introduced yoga into schools, universities, governments, corporations and hospitals.  He regularly presents at national and international conferences and has written articles for numerous magazines. He leads yoga retreats and workshops throughout the US and abroad. Charles also pioneered Free Day of Yoga in Austin, Texas held on Labor Day annually in many cities through out Texas and beyond. We honor Charles for his ability to integrate yoga into many systems that bring its teachings to the public.

Daksha Shah

Daksha Shah started pursuing her dream of teaching Yoga 12 years ago. She went to India and stayed at Vivekananda Yoga University for 6 months. She expanded her knowledge by learning the basics and advanced studies in yoga therapy. She is very gentle and passionate in her teaching. Her skills attracted a large number of people to the yogic lifestyle. She has actively volunteered in many yoga projects including the Stop Diabetic Movement. We honor Daksha for her devotion and active involvement in community sharing the principles of yoga.

Dr Alejandro Chaoul

Dr Alejandro Chaoul, Ph D, is a senior student of Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche and has studied since 1989 with many Tibetan Bon and Buddhist masters. After studying with various Hindu and Buddhist teachers, he became a senior student of Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche at the Ligmincha Institute. Since 1995, he has been teaching Tibetan meditation and mind-body techniques in the US, Mexico, Latin America and Europe. In 2006 Alejandro obtained his PhD in Tibetan Religions from Rice University in Houston, TX. He currently teaches courses in spirituality and health at the University of Texas Health Science Center and does research at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, using Tibetan meditation and mind-body techniques with cancer patients

Elizabeth Reeze

Elizabeth “Beth” Reese, a yoga practitioner for over 16 years, Beth, a mother of three OHMazing® yogis under the age of 16. As the founder and executive director of Yogiños: Yoga for Youth®. She authored award winning, bilingual DVDs, CDs, and other printed and digital teaching materials, including the Online Studio & Resource site, The OHMazing Way. Beth serves as a Health & Wellness Instructor in Houston Independent School District via a private foundation where she teaches 300+ elementary students.

Dr Harish Chandra

Dr. Harish Chandra is dedicated full-time to Vedic teachings. He successfully carried the Vedic message to over 50 leading corporations in India, many communities and organizations in Canada, Europe, Holland, Norway, and Kenya. He founded the Center for Inner Sciences (CIS) in 2004 to spread Vedic Spiritual Science and Patanjali Yoga among western people and successfully produced many Vedic teachers in England through teachings of Patanjali Yoga Meditation. ‎He was awarded the title of Ved-Ratna. We are happy to honor Dr. Chandra for his leadership and ability to spread the science of Vedic principles to the masses.

Jennifer B

Jennifer Buergermeister, MA has been practicing yoga since 1992 studying Hatha, Ashtanga, Iyengar, Vinyasa, Anusara, Forrest and a form of South Indian martial arts yoga. She began teaching in 2002. She is also a consultant to HISD for the Sonima Foundation, and the CEO and Founder of Breathe the Cure, a 501(c)3 that facilitates programs for children and adults such as Jennyoga and the Texas Yoga Conference. She is also a journalist and the founder and director of the Texas Yoga Association that changed two laws in Texas to protect the sanctity of yoga. She has released two yoga dvds and co-authored a children’s book called the FUNdamentals of Breathing and Yoga, and has presented at numerous conferences and corporations in the United States.

Kay Wescott

Kay Wescott studied with Billie Gollnick and has been teaching classical Hatha yoga for over 20 years at various locations in the greater Houston area. Kay’s classes are both fun and challenging. She has an expressive and nurturing approach that meets students where they are. She teaches around 20 classes a week at different venues with an eclectic mix of styles. We honor Kay for her devotion to community and support she brings to the masses.

Dr Lorenzo Cohen

Dr. Lorenzo Cohen is Professor and Director of the Integrative Medicine Program at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Dr. Cohen conducts research examining the biobehavioral effects of integrative medicine practices aimed at reducing the negative aspects of cancer treatment and improving quality of life including studies of Meditation, Tibetan yoga, Patanjali-based yoga, Tai chi/Qigong, and other strategies such as stress management, emotional writing, neurofeedback, and acupuncture. He is also conducting research to demonstrate that lifestyle changes can influence cancer outcomes.

Shriram Sarvotham

Shriram Sarvotham has been doing yoga since childhood and began teaching yoga in USA in 2001 through the Art of Living Foundation. During the last 14 years he has conducted over 150 yoga workshops in Houston and all over USA. Shriram regularly presents lectures, demonstrations and workshops at various prestigious conferences. Shriram is also a scholar in the classic yoga literature including the Patanjali Yoga Sutras, Bhagavad Gita, and Yoga Choodamani Upanishad. Shriram has over 5000 hours of yoga teaching experience. We honor Shriram for his devotion to spreading the light of yoga in various communities as a scholar.