Marian S. Garfinkel, 88, a yoga instructor who wrote academic papers on the healing benefits of the practice, died Friday, Aug. 28, of organ failure at Wyncote Place, a senior residence in Wyncote.

Ms. Garfinkel, who also held a doctorate in health education, focused her research on yoga as a complementary medical treatment, especially for a variety of hand injuries from repetitive use and also from osteoarthritis.

“My mother was very devoted to yoga,” said son Simson. He said she sometimes had a difficult time with the larger yoga community: “She found fault with a lot of people interested in yoga to make money.”

For 40 years, Ms. Garfinkel studied yoga with B.K.S. Iyengar, founder of Iyengar Yoga, a form of the discipline that concentrates on sequencing of postures to create a complete alignment of body, mind, breath, and soul.

She was a certified teacher and director of the B.K.S. Iyengar Yoga Studio in Philadelphia.

Ms. Garfinkel traveled to India at least 25 times to further her studies with Iyengar, whom she first met in Ann Arbor, Mich., in 1974, her son said. She studied with him until his death in 2014.

Simson Garfinkel said his mother usually spent one month in India during the summer and another month there during the winter. In addition to India, she regularly traveled to yoga centers in France, California, and Michigan.

Ms. Garfinkel was born in Altoona in 1932, the youngest of four children of Philip and Charlotte Schwartz.

After graduating from Altoona High School, she earned a bachelor’s degree in English at Pennsylvania State University in 1954. Then she taught for two years at Linden Hall, a boarding school for girls in Lititz, Pa.

She earned a master’s degree in English, literature, and humanities from Penn State in 1966. In 1992, she completed her doctorate at Temple University. Afterward, she taught at Temple and the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

In 1994, Ms. Garfinkel was the lead author of a study, “Evaluation of a yoga-based regimen for treatment of osteoarthritis of the hands,” in the Journal of Rheumatology. And in 1998, she was the lead author of a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showing how yoga could be used to treat carpal tunnel syndrome.

She married Marvin Garfinkel in 1963. For a time, the couple lived at Cobble Court, a historic house in Haverford. Their marriage ended in divorce in 1989.

Her son said his mother had a beautiful voice and loved to sing and dance when she was young. She wanted to be a cantor, but at that time, women were not allowed to be cantors.

His mother loved the arts and studied at the Barnes Foundation. Before their divorce, she and Marvin Garfinkel influenced the sculptor Robert Engman to create the sculpture After B.K.S. Iyengar, which is at Morris Arboretum. Another casting of the sculpture is owned by the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington.

In addition to her son, Ms. Garfinkel is survived by her former husband, three grandchildren, and other relatives and friends.

A private graveside ceremony was held Sunday, Aug. 30. A memorial is planned for Aug. 29, 2021, when the headstone will be unveiled.

Marian S. Garfinkel is shown above to the right with a group of women who also studied Iyengar Yoga in India.
Courtesy the Garfinkel family
Marian S. Garfinkel is shown above to the right with a group of women who also studied Iyengar Yoga in India.