IYNAUS Archives: Preserving the Past for Generations to Come

Kim Kolibri

The IYNAUS archives play an essential role in our mission of disseminating the teachings of the Iyengars. Ongoing preservation efforts, including the rescue of print, audio, and video materials that would be lost to decay or would become unusable because of obsolete technologies, was given new impetus last year with a $10,000 grant from IYNAUS. The archives also bring the Iyengar Yoga community exciting new material, including, most recently, DVDs of the teachings of Geetaji last year at Yasodhara in Canada, which are now available for purchase at the IYNAUS Store (http://www.iynaus.org/news/post.php?id=22).

The purpose of this article is to inform the IYNAUS membership about the IYNAUS archive and the work being done by the Archive Committee. In companionship with this article, a video interview with the Archive Director, Eddy Marks, can be seen by visiting the Yoga Samachar page via the IYNAUS website.

The IYNAUS archive was officially formed shortly after the formation of IYNAUS, in 1990. Initially, the archive consisted of materials that were owned by Eddy Marks, an Intermediate Senior I teacher practicing in San Diego, California. As a devoted student and teacher of Iyengar Yoga, Eddy started collecting materials related to the teachings of Guruji, Geetaji, and Prashantji, as well as of Iyengar Yoga in general. After the formation of the archive, many others began donating similarly significant items. Over time, the archive has became a safe repository for multimedia items such as film, videos, written materials, audio tapes, photographs, and slides. Many of these items are one of a kind and therefore add another level of importance to the mission of the IYNAUS archive.

The primary purpose of the IYNAUS archive is to insure the preservation of materials and content directly related to the teachings and historical documentation of Guruji and all things Iyengar Yoga. Beyond that, the goal of the archive is to assist in making the past, present, and future teachings available in a usable and secure format, not only for current practitioners, but for generations to come. With these purposes in mind, much has been done, but there is still much more to do.

What has the archives project accomplished to date and how does the IYNAUS archive currently serve the members of IYNAUS?

In preparation for the Odyssey 2001 convention, a request for a display of archived materials was put forth by IYNAUS. That was the beginning of the IYNAUS archive project. The initial idea was to present a visual display at the convention. The project turned out to be a significant undertaking and required the volunteer efforts of many members of the San Diego Iyengar Yoga community. A seven-person ad hoc committee was formed and work got underway. In many ways, these were exciting times. There was very little funding, and the work was time and labor intensive. That said, the committee members enjoyed the process of organizing, investigating, and preparing the material.
It was the first time that all the archived materials were reviewed. A functional database was developed, and it felt like we were doing important work. The first display and archive project book was completed and presented to Geetaji at the Odyssey 2001 convention.

After the convention, some of the volunteers turned to other archive projects. The conversion of the original analog audio recording of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras into digital CD format was achieved and has proved to be a valuable contribution to the students of yoga. A revised printed version of the sutras accompanied the CDs, and both were released at the Iyengar Yoga convention in Minnesota in 2004. The display made in 2001 was shipped to Minnesota and, with additional content, again was available for viewing. The film Atma Darshana, which was prepared specifically for the 2004 convention, almost entirely comprised video footage that is stored in the archive collection.

In preparation for and during Guruji's Light on Life tour in 2006, the archive and its volunteers were able to fulfill needs and uphold duties that only it could. The archive continued to be an essential and effective resource for the containment and distribution of priceless materials.

For the 2007 Las Vegas convention, the same volunteer committee went back to work and a new and improved version of the archive display was produced. A refined hardcover version of the Archive Project Book also was completed and presented to Geetaji at the convention. Convention participants also were able to sit and watch video footage such as Guruji practicing in Switzerland in the 1950s and a BBC interview.

The primary goal of the IYNAUS archive is to preserve materials and their content; thus, it has become necessary, almost urgently so, to convert the various media formats into a secure and universally acceptable digital format. This is true for a number of reasons. First and foremost, the older materials, in particular the film and video, have a questionable shelf life at best. It is of the utmost importance to copy the content before it is lost. There is also a large variety of film and video formats in the archive. The machines needed to run these old formats are becoming less available and quiet costly. That said, access to technology that digitizes content from the old formats has become much more available. Thanks to funding from IYNAUS, equipment has been purchased, and this next task is well underway. To date, thanks to the expertise and volunteered time of committee members as well as the advisors, Francois St. Laurent and Marie Giroux, the archive now has more than 300 hours of moving picture content that has been converted from analog to digital format. This is a significant accomplishment that insures the preservation of many of the teachings of our beloved teachers. In addition, some previously unknown jewels have been revealed. For example, at least two films containing footage of Prashantji practicing have been discovered and preserved. A brief clip of one of these films can be seen in one of the video interviews.

Besides the preservation of old materials, the IYNAUS Archive Committee is actively involved in the production and distribution of new materials. Recently, a DVD version of the Yasodhara Canadian Intensive with Geetaji was released and is now available for purchase. The archive committee was fundamentally responsible for that footage being converted into a common and usable digital format and also for the timely release of these priceless teachings.

As you can see, the IYNAUS archive and its committee members continue to secure content and produce items that will assist in the preservation and posterity of Iyengar Yoga for generations to come. It is our dearest hope that any and all of these precious resources will become available to students of yoga everywhere. However at this time, the primary goal of preservation is paramount. As soon as that work is completed and all necessary business tended to, we will continue–with Guruji's blessings–to strive to make available, in a universal digital format, any and all recorded and documented teachings of Guruji, Geetaji, Prashantji, and Iyengar Yoga.

The IYNAUS archive always welcomes donations of materials related to Iyengar Yoga, in particular, any older and one-of-a-kind items. The archive also is happy to receive financial and volunteer assistance. Volunteer efforts by those with knowledge and ability is how this work is accomplished. Contact Chris Beach, Archives Committee Chair of the
IYNAUS Board, at beach59@hotmail.com to offer your support in whatever way you are inspired.

Kim Kolibri is a certified Introductory level Iyengar Yoga instructor who has been teaching for eight years. She began practicing Iyengar Yoga in 1997 and has studied at RIMYI twice in the last four years. Kim is a Southern California native and currently manages the B.K.S. Iyengar Yoga Centers of San Diego. She is also the IYNAUS archives assistant.