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 

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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”


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


“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,