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.

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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

 

IYISFWe would like to take a moment to thank Patti for her time and dedication to the Institute. Patti Martin has served on the board for the last 3 years helping guide us for the future with her expertise in HR among many other contributions. Her time has come to part ways from the board, and we wanted to show our appreciation for all of her contributions by dedicating this blog post to her.

We recently interviewed Patti on the topic of growth within IYISF and what sets us apart from other yoga schools. In this time of transition her words solidify the continuing  transformation and  exciting future of the institute.

Since you have joined the board can you discuss how much the organization has grown?

“When I joined the board IYISF had the front door at Taraval Street closed and locked during most of every day.  To the persistent public, during the hours that the Institute was open, you needed to walk around the corner and through an unmarked door to enter the building.  Once you entered the building it was rather dark and after you walked by the trash bins you were presented with a flight of stairs going up.  When you reached studio level there was no-one to greet you.  It was only the hardy that made it as far as the office which was only open a few hours a day, a few days a week.  Needless to say, business was not booming!!  The fact that IYISF survived is totally a testament to the great teaching that was happening and how word of the teaching was spread by word of mouth. 
 
You can see for yourself how we have changed!”
 
What are some of the main areas of improvement you have seen take place in the last three years?
“We are more welcoming to new students.  Our new more welcoming approach combined with the more central location has resulted in a fresh lively stream of new people being introduced to Iyengar yoga.  It is exciting to spread the value of the practice with a greater number of people.
 
A greater number of classes at new days and times, and an increase in the number of instructors makes yoga more accessible to people with busy schedules.
 
We have invested not only in a beautiful new studio, but have also invested in hiring and training smart, engaged people who want to help us fulfill our mission to spread the teachings of BKS Iyengar and his family.  The right people make all the difference.”
 
 
What are three key things that set us apart from other yoga schools? 
“1.  We are a nonprofit.  Profit is not a motivation for us.  Our goal is to spread the teachings of BKS Iyengar and family.  However, this is not to downplay the importance for us of having sound and prudent financial planning since this is essential to fulfilling our mission.  Income is important for us to repay the costs of the relocation; to pay our teachers, faculty and staff a living wage; to improve our existing programs; to extend our current boundaries with new programs; and to provide a legacy for those who will follow in our footsteps.
 
2.  We are not responsive to fads and/or providing people with “entertainment”.  We help people awaken to the value of yoga in their lives.
 
3.  We do not have a “target demographic”.  Our yoga is for everyone.  We are not trying to appeal only to people who “look good” in spandex.  (The great thing about Pune shorts is that absolutely no-one looks good in them!)”
 
Anything else you would like to add? 
 
“I encourage people who love what is happening at IYISF to become more involved.  You can volunteer your time in a myriad of ways.  You can make a contribution to sustaining our mission and securing our legacy by making a financial donation.  You can offer a scholarship so that a deserving student who wishes to train to be an Iyengar teacher but does not have the financial resources can join the program.  You can serve on a committee or consider becoming a board member.  Or, you can create your own niche, and contribute in a way that is unique to you.  We our grateful to all our contributors.”