risa headshot

On the eve of my departure from IYANC I am so very pleased to announce the launch of (I believe) the organization’s first-ever annual report. It feels wonderfully appropriate as my parting gift to the community; a community that has deeply nourished me.

As I reflect back on my first training week in September 2011, it is clear how far together we’ve come. Really, it’s been light years. I trained with a temp worker who’d be hired by the board to cover office duties after the last person left. She’d been there for six weeks before I arrived. My first day she taught me the post-it method of accounting. “For each $20 bill we receive for class,” she explained, “we stick a post-it to the bill and hand-write the person’s name, the class they attended, and the date.” She continued, “Then, on Friday when it’s time for the bank deposit, we enter the information from the post-its into the accounting system.” If you’ve ever had two opposite reactions at once, you’ll know how in that moment I was experiencing both shock and excitement (I learned later that yogis call this ‘dual actions’.) The shock came, of course, from wondering how this organization had thrived for so long using the post-it method. The excitement came from seeing so much opportunity for growth.

Since 2011 we’ve come a long way, collecting important data about our business and saving trees as an added bonus. We went from paper rosters to online registration, from paper checks to direct deposit, and now we’re going from paper transcripts dating back to the mid-70’s to a brand new online learning environment for advanced studies students. Transitioning to online business administration has given us an incredible gift: historical financial and enrollment data that now allow us to identify programming patterns, project cash flow, and most importantly, make data-based decisions that set our organization up for long-term success.

The 2014 annual report is truly the product of our infrastructural expansion over the last 3+ years. It is an incredible accomplishment to be able to report on WHAT exactly we are doing, HOW it is impacting our community, and WHO that community really is. This is the stuff big grants are made of. And this report is only the beginning. 2015’s and 2016’s will be even more remarkable.

annualreportiyanc (1) 1

 

Is your mouth watering yet? Okay fine…you can check it out now ;)

 

A piece of the annual report I am most proud of is that, for the first time, we are describing four clear goals of our work. As part of our process for building this report, we played a version of a game called the Nine Why’s:

“So, what do we really do here at IYANC?”

“We transform people’s lives, and therefore the world, through yoga”

“How?”

“Well, people who practice yoga are more likely to notice and help others.”

“Why?”

“Well, because they are more aware.”

“Why are they more aware?”

“Because after practice they have just explored the deep and subtle areas of their body and mind, and maybe they have calmed some pain or discomfort in their body or mind”

“So our work is around pain and discomfort relief?”

“Well yes, and it is much more than that. Once people are not experiencing so much acute pain and discomfort, they have more spaciousness to perceive and help others, and solve larger world problems.”

“Okay…now we are getting somewhere!”

As you can see, articulating exactly what we do and why it is important is not an easy task, especially given the subtlety of the yoga practice and it’s long, slow development in a practitioner over many years. In this annual report, we offer a starting point in describing our goals, based on the above:

  1. Welcome more students to Iyengar yoga (more students will help more people and solve more problems)
  2. Increase access to Iyengar yoga (see above)
  3. Increase the depth of each students’ practice (deeper practices lead to greater spaciousness)
  4. Increase public awareness of Iyengar yoga’s benefits (thus feeding into #1 and #2)

Over the next 12-18 months, it is my hope that you all will be building on this foundation through a visioning and strategic planning process led by the community, for the community. I trust that with the experience and skills within this community, the roots laid in this report will blossom and flourish, and more and more people will learn just how insightful and necessary the practice of Iyengar yoga is at this time in the world.

I will close by thanking the many folks who contributed to the development of this report; it was a collaboration the entire way: Rebecca Ratzkin, who wrote a fantastic welcome; Cynthia Bates, who wrote and re-wrote much of the copy; Jessica Dexter, who collected data, wrote a large part of the section about increasing access, and proofread multiple times; Rachel Quinlan, who developed and administered the community survey; Barbara McDonald, for designing the report; many certified teachers who offered feedback on a final draft; and Juan Esquivel, our accountant, who reviewed the numbers. And for anyone I’ve left out, thank you too.

In a way, this project summarizes much of my incredible journey here at IYANC: collaborative, growth-oriented, impact work driven by a deeply dedicated community of yoga practitioners who want, more than anything, to transform the world through yoga.

Humbly yours,

Risa

 

We are happy that the Yoga for Sitters Series was a success! Check out some highlights written by on of 2nd year students Theresa Marks:

“Thanks to IYISF and San Francisco Zen Center for making Yoga for Sitters a success! Mentored by Faculty member Shosan Victoria Austin and taught by 2nd year IYISF students James Terburg, Ruchi Murlidhar and myself, this six week series of classes introduced students to a wide variety of yoga poses that built strength, flexibility, and composure for seated practices.

     “This was quite a fortunate situation for all!” said James Terburg, “Victoria is a crucial link between these two warm, loving communities and one that will increasingly benefit students near and far. The San Francisco Zen Center provides an auspicious space where students and instructors feel safe and relaxed. The students provide the essential community support to the instructors-in-training, who also feel the support of Victoria, an exemplar of compassion through her spontaneous response to student needs and skillful application of the techniques found within Iyengar Yoga. This created an excellent overall environment for students and instructors-in-training! What an experience to feel I could really explore the skills learned at IYISF with genuine students and with the safety of a qualified teacher nearby! Thank-you to the San Francisco Zen Center, thank-you to Shosan Victoria Austin, and especially thank-you to the students! Keep practicing!”

    Ruchi Murlidhar agreed that this supportive environment fostered deep learning: “What an enriching teaching experience I have had… I felt for the first time that I could plan the whole class, from creating the sequence and theme, to preparing and executing it for students with different physical challenges. I could achieve all this in a safe environment for first-time teachers and under the supervision and guidance of a wonderful and compassionate teacher and friends.”

FullSizeRender

Ruchi sitting in front of the Buddha at the Zen Center

 

     Students in the classes were enthused and appreciative as well. “These classes were a great introduction to yoga” said student Cheryl Morgan. “I was afraid my physical limitations wouldn’t allow me to keep up, but modifications and clear instructions were offered that allowed me to access different versions of the poses without holding the rest of the class back. At the same time, I could see how practicing might make some of those final versions possible and that was encouraging. All in all these classes were a great experience!”

      Victoria Austin described this collaborative experience as the essence of B.K.S. Iyengar’s vision: “Three pillars of teaching practice are your own practice, the example of your teacher, and learning by doing. Guruji once said that in the beginning, you should pay your students, because you learn from them how to teach. The purpose of this program is to provide a safe, supervised venue for trainees to teach real students, and to receive feedback that nourishes their growth. This is how Manouso so generously trained me decades ago, so naturally I want to pass on the gift to a new generation.”

     Mission accomplished Victoria! Thanks to everyone involved, we are more inspired than ever to share the gift of Iyengar Yoga with the world!”

-Theresa Marks