IYA of South Central US

WORKING HARD NOW, WITH AN EYE ON THE FUTURE

Some regions and some members have a better institutional memory for their history than others. 

“Much like the birth of Patanjali, the genesis of the South Central regional association is shrouded in myth and legend,” says Anne- Marie Schultz (Introductory II, Austin, TX). She serves as board vice president and IYNAUS regional representative and was charged with writing the region’s history. The Iyengar Yoga Association of South Central United States (IYASCUS) appears to have been formed around 1995. Constance Braden (Intermediate Junior II, Houston, TX) served as the first president of IYASCUS. “John Friend and George Purvis (both of Houston at the time) were on the IYNAUS Board in the early 1990s, and they asked me to be the president,” says Constance. She also produced a newsletter. “And then a few years later, Peggy Kelley took over.” 

Kitty Smith (Introductory II, Dallas, TX) and Marj Rash (Intermediate Junior I, Dallas, TX) were also actively involved in the early days of the association. Around 2000, the South Central Region was officially incorporated under the presidency of Randy Just (Intermediate Junior III, Dallas, TX). According to the bylaws, its purpose is four-fold: to facilitate and expedite communication between IYNAUS and students and teachers of Iyengar Yoga in its region (Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Texas), to encourage the organization of local chapters within the region, to publish and distribute an IYASCUS regional newsletter periodically, and to implement IYNAUS decisions and disseminate the policies of IYNAUS and its committees at the South Central regional level. 

Today, IYASCUS maintains a regional website,a Facebook page, an E-newsletter, and a scholarship fund. 

The regional association is small, with only 67 members including 46 Certified Teachers. Most are certified at the Introductory II level, but eight are certified as Junior Intermediates and two are Senior Teachers: Jaya Waters and George Purvis, both of Dallas. Although there is no Iyengar Yoga institute in the region, there are B.K.S. Iyengar Yoga centers in Dallas and Houston, along with numerous other studios dedicated to Iyengar Yoga. The Iyengar method of yoga is also taught in the nooks and crannies of studios, gyms, and churches across the region. 

Sometimes it is difficult to find Iyengar Yoga offerings. To increase awareness of Iyengar Yoga classes beyond the major centers, Anne-Marie Schultz maintains a blog (iyengaryogainaustin. blogspot.com) which covers the Austin area. The regional association hopes that members in other cities might follow this collaborative model of promoting Iyengar Yoga opportunities available in their local areas. 

Current board members are President Pauline Schloesser (Introductory II, Houston, TX), Vice President and IYNAUS Liaison Anne-Marie Schultz (Introductory II, Austin, TX), Membership Chair Rose Bily (Introductory II, Dallas, TX), Scholarships Chair Suzy Shapiro (Introductory II, Houston, TX), Treasurer Sandra Torngren (student, Dallas, TX), Secretary Stacie Jones (student, San Angelo, TX), and Newsletter Editor Mary Scott (student, Austin, TX). 

President Schloesser defines the association’s top priorities as increasing membership and supporting the development of local Iyengar Yoga communities within the five-state region. “We are in a strategic planning process which includes shoring up and enhancing existing organizational tools, and finding ways to support community development in localities across the region. We are redesigning and optimizing our website, making our E-newsletter more professional, creating an original logo, and developing an IYASCUS blog to create broader community participation.” The board is also exploring opportunities to increase membership among regular students (in addition to teachers) and to support outreach activities and events in local communities, especially in Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. 

The association does not currently sponsor any annual events but is avidly looking at the models provided by other regional associations. IYASCUS also hopes to host a regional conference in time. The region looks forward to increased growth in membership and increased involvement in the national conversation about how best to maintain and promote the teachings of the Iyengar family in the complex world of contemporary yoga in America. 

—Anne-Marie Schultz