IYA of New England

A NEW BEACON SHINES OVER A LONG-ESTABLISHED YOGA COMMUNITY 

The Iyengar Yoga Association of New England (IYANE) was incorporated as a nonprofit organization in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on October 30, 2009. More than 20 years earlier, Senior Teachers Patricia Walden and Victor Oppenheimer had been instrumental in forming the Iyengar Yoga Association of Massachusetts, which sponsored the national convention held in Cambridge in August 1987. Over the course of many years the Massachusetts association eventually became inactive and was dissolved. 

As Iyengar Yoga continued to blossom, developing a strong presence in all six New England states, an association focused exclusively on Massachusetts and the Boston/Cambridge metropolitan area would no longer meet the needs of the New England Iyengar Yoga community, which includes students and teachers in rural, mountainous areas of Vermont and New Hampshire; Atlantic coast communities in Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island; and the many towns nestled between the mountains and the shore.

Clearly a New England association was needed. The impetus for creating this broader-based regional association grew out of IYNAUS’s first regional conference, Shining Light on New England, held Oct. 16-18, 2009, in Providence, RI. Linda DiCarlo, past president of IYNAUS, and Patricia Walden proposed having New England host the conference to the New England community, even though at the time there was no official regional association. The community embraced the idea, and countless volunteers—students and teachers alike—worked for more than a year putting the conference together. 

Shining Light on New England brought together more than 400 students and 22 teachers from the New England region and throughout the U.S. to deepen the practice and understanding of Guruji’s teachings. The conference served as a unique way to gather together as a yoga community and to foster closer, stronger ties. Its success created tremendous enthusiasm and excitement. Just a few weeks later, IYANE was officially established. 

The end of 2011 marked the completion of IYANE’s second year. The current board includes President Greg Anton (Intermediate Junior I, Provincetown, MA), Vice-President Patricia Walden (Cambridge, MA), Treasurer Lynnae LeBlanc (Introductory II, Plymouth, MA), Clerk/Secretary Mary Wixted (Introductory II, Arlington, MA), and Membership Chair Kathleen Swanson (Introductory II, Foster, RI). 

Membership has increased by more than 30 percent from 2010. As part of a membership drive, Certified Teachers in New England offered free workshops to association members. Before the annual meeting on Oct. 2, Patricia Walden taught a special class, The Light of Wisdom: Getting to the Heart of Guruji’s Teaching. IYANE donated the money raised to Guruji’s Bellur Trust. 

IYANE also created a community service committee to help underserved populations closer to home. In June 2011, Mary Wixted taught yoga classes at Rosie’s Place, a Boston social service organization that provides housing and other needs to homeless and indigent women. This year Mary plans to teach more classes at Rosie’s Place and hopes to make Iyengar Yoga a permanent fixture there. The community service committee is currently seeking proposals from IYANE members to bring yoga classes to underserved populations in their local communities. IYANE plans to fund these proposals by paying the teachers directly so they can offer classes free of charge. 

A scholarship program, which offers an annual $1,000 grant for study at R.I.M.Y.I., was established. The association website lists Certified Teachers in New England, gives information on membership and association activities, and has links to scholarship applications and past issues of the newsletter. The newsletter, with articles about study at R.I.M.Y.I., regional workshops, and personal yoga journeys, is published twice a year. Most recently IYANE sponsored a workshop in January with Edwin Bryant, Ph.D., on the Bhagavad Gita

A lighthouse is a common feature along the New England coast, which is why one was included in the regional conference logo. A lighthouse is also prominent in IYANE’s logo and its newsletter is called The Beacon. An association member says: “Over the many years I have studied with Patricia Walden, I have often heard her say, ‘Make of yourself a house of light.’ We are fortunate to be able to look to Guruji, whose light continues to shine brightly as inspiration to all.” 

IYANE, now in its third year, looks to grow and increase the number of events, programs, and services it offers so that its members will be inspired to give back to their local yoga communities and continue to explore the vast and wonderful subject of yoga. 

—Greg Anton