2015 Annual Meeting IYISFThank you to everyone who participated from near and far at our 2015 Annual Meeting of the Membership on Sunday, March 29th. We came so close to the 108 members that we called for with 98 people showing up and participating. We are pretty sure that this was a record in terms of attendance in the history of the Iyengar Yoga Association of Northern California!

Teacher, Brian Hogencamp opened the meeting with the invocation to the Sage Patanjali and then introducted visiting teacher and Sanskrit scholar Leslie Freyberg.  Brian read a quote from Geeta Iyengar’s opening speech at the December Yoganusasanam intensive in Pune:

“Having this in our mind, before we start,

I will add one more mantra from the Vedas, from Upanisads,

in which all of us will be reciting,

in which it is said that when the students, the pupils, learn from Guru,

though we are not equal to the Guru,

but yet what he has passed on, the knowledge to us,

we will carry forward, always remaining together.

We will carry that further, with all that honesty in us,

and we will be always together.

In simple words the Upanisad says, the mantra says…

we will eat together,

we will be together,

and we will carry on this knowledge without having any kind of,

jealousy, malaise, or any kind of klesa within us,

with the purity of the mind,

we will carry on the knowledge,

with our teaching process.

And that is how, even if we are,

living on this earth at different areas,

we have to feel that we are always together.” – Geeta Iyengar

Then, Leslie led us in this auspicious mantra from the Upanishads which Geeta mentioned above:

Om Saha Nau-Avatu |

Saha Nau Bhunaktu |

Saha Viiryam Karavaavahai |

Tejasvi Nau-Adhiitam-Astu Maa Vidvissaavahai |

Om Shaantih Shaantih Shaantih ||

May we be protected together.

May we be nourished together.

May we work together with great vigor.

May there be no hatred among us.

May our study be luminous and purposeful.

Om, Peace. Peace. Peace.

2015 Board of Directors IYISFA record-breaking event occurred at the meeting; we had public election of our Board of Directors! We are happy to say that all of our 5 current Board members were re-confirmed and that 5 additional community members stepped up to serve and were voted in. Not only are we now in compliance with our by-laws which call for a Board of 7-15 members, but we now have doubled the amount of energy, expertise and experience in our leadership. Stay tuned for bios from our new Board members: Jeff Sikand, Jeff Renfro, Karen Woods, Erick Thuss & Dan Pelsinger (stay tuned for bios and more info!)

And, after 8 years of hard work by many in the community including past Presidents John Hayden and Heather Haxo Phillips, we were able to pass a revised set of By-Laws that now puts us in compliance and California State code. There was a lively discussion about several of the amendments. Some members were concerned that we were doing away with proxy voting but the majority of the membership in attendance felt that we could manage this by adding electronic voting. Teacher, Victoria Austin spoke of her experience at the Zen Center and offering live/web simulcasts for the Annual Meeting with interactive capabilities. Another concern was boilerplate copy that had been inserted by our pro-bono non-profit lawyer regarding the roles and responsibilities of the Board members. The clause stated that Board Members could be compensated for their service by the discretion of the Board was struck out of the By-laws with a closer vote (60 in favor: 40 opposed). Finally, a concern about a new clause allowing the Board to designate a select group of members to the Board was entertained and discussed but voted down. The Board will retain the right to designate a small portion of the Board as needed based on special skill sets required. The last Amendment was a proposal to lower the quorum to 10% . This did not pass and the quorum will be 20% going forward.

Next Steps! The new Board will be working on an expanded strategic planning process that involves more of the community. We would love for you to get more involved! Here are some opportunities:

  • Volunteer at the Institute: We desperately need help at the front desk right now as well as other cleaning, admin and event shifts. CONTACT Meg meg@iyisf.org 
  • Volunteer your time on a Board Committee. Some of the areas of expertise that we need are: Legal, Finance, Human Resources. CONTACT board@iyanc.org 
  • Join or Pledge the Yogathon on April 25th! We need your help to raise our goal of $25,000. Join as a participant and pledge to raise $108+ OR simply donate to cause. All donations are tax-deductible. For more info, CONTACT Cynthia: cynthia@iyisf.org 

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.”


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