Mukanda Stiles, founder of Yoga Therapy Center in Boulder, Co., and author of several yoga books, died Feb. 18. In his definitive 2001 book, Structural Yoga Therapy, Stiles encapsulated his life’s teachings and education on the integration of the human body with the spirit. A lifelong student of hatha and raja yoga, Stiles explored the non-violent and systematic movement of every joint in the body, providing learned instruction on the full and natural range of motion of each joint to enhance mobility and relieve long-held pain.
Structural Yoga Therapy is widely seen as an indispensable resource for yoga therapists, teachers and practitioners, and Stiles has long been considered a leader in the field of healing through yoga. He spent the better part of four decades pursuing his own personal yoga path, a journey strongly influenced by the teachings of Baba Muktananda. Stiles also studied under Paul Copeland, B.K.S. Iyengar, Rama Jyoti Vernon and Indra Devi.
A member of the board of advisors for the International Association of Yoga Therapists, Stiles had a deep understanding of the spiritual philosophies of yoga and amassed an equally profound understanding of human anatomy and kinesiology. His teaching was grounded in Ayurveda and the spiritual and devotional essence of Tantric Yoga.
In Structural Yoga Therapy, Stiles wrote: “The body can and does adapt itself to injuries – physical as well as emotional and mental…Through in-depth study of the gross physical body, the subtle body can be appreciated more – as can Albert Einstein’s words, “God is subtle.” To know the subtle workings of the body is to appreciate and respect the indwelling Being that remains changeless as our appearance changes from infancy to childhood to adulthood to old age.”
In addition to Structural Yoga Therapy, Stiles authored Ayurvedic Yoga Therapy, Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Ayurvedic Yoga Therapy and Tantra Yoga Secrets. He also edited multiple books on Ayurveda.
Throughout the years, Mukunda held a wide range of esteemed faculty positions within the yoga world, including the SYDA ashram in Boston, the Mind Body Medical Institute, the Rocky Mountain Institute for Yoga and Ayurveda, and the International Ayurvedic Institute. In 1995, he co-founded the American Yoga College. He died just four days shy of his 65th birthday.