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Yoga Norman Kicks His Frame

YogaNorman_courtesy_Vicki Challancin

By Jeff Spurrier

On October 16, Norman Popovsky, 79, passed away.

A resident of San Miguel de Allende since 1981, he was known to many locals as Yoga Norman. On his website he explained how he got the name more than 35 years ago.

“There were three Normans living here then. English Norman was an English professor from England. Ice Cream Norman, a Canadian, had an ice cream store. And, I, Yoga Norman, an American, taught yoga.”

Norman Popovsky was born in Granite City, Illinois, a rough steel town just across the river from St. Louis. It was there, at age 30, that he started studying yoga as part of his martial arts training.

He came to San Miguel to get a master’s degree in fine arts from the Instituto Allende and to write fiction. The Instituto program fell apart, but Norman stayed.

To sustain himself he taught yoga. Much of his teaching was informed by his membership in the Self Realization Fellowship (SRF), the worldwide religious organization created by Paramahansa Yogananda, the author of “Autobiography of a Yogi.”

“He was working as an electrician in Phoenix and he had to reinvent himself here,” says Victoria Challancin, his widow. “Yoga was a means for him to stay in San Miguel, and he ended up dedicating his life to yoga and SRF.”

Along with Cornelio Hoogesteger and the late Bob Haas, Popovsky started the San Miguel chapter of SRF, which since 2001 has met on Sundays at the Meditation Center on Callejon Blanco.

For 12 years he worked as a volunteer yoga teacher at the SRF summer youth camps in Los Angeles. When his son, Zachary, was old enough, he took him along.

“Of all the people I’ve known in my life, I’ve never known anyone as dedicated to service as Norman,” says Victoria. “He really, really lived to help people—spiritually or physically through yoga. It was a mission for him. He walked his talk. Norman had a core of beliefs.”

It would take forever to cross the Jardín with Norman because he would have to stop and talk to anyone he knew, remembers one friend who described him as “a loving and kind man with a little bit of Granite City crust.”

In later years Norman specialized in yoga for older or injured practitioners while his online blog and videos offered extensive and specific yogic solutions to many physical, emotional, and spiritual ailments, from how to do a yoga shoulder stand to why you should have a glass of lime water to start the day. His online presence is still live at

And his style of yoga really worked. John Osmond, a friend who had a terrible head-on crash on the Caracol, had constant pain in his shoulders, neck, and arm after the accident. “Within a month he had taken a lot of that pain away,” Osmond said. “He adapted the exercises to what I was capable of—which wasn’t much.”

Norman Popovsky, aka Yoga Norman, is survived by his wife Victoria, his son, Zachary, and his brother, Victor.



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