IYA Southeast

FROM GURUJI’S REQUEST, AN INTEGRATED COMMUNITY TAKES SHAPE

In 1984, Guruji asked for the creation of a more integrated Iyengar Yoga community in the southern United States. Twenty eight years later, IYASE hosted Maitri, the Iyengar Yoga Regional Conference held in May in Washington, D.C., gathering yogis of all traditions for asana, Pranayama, and a celebration of friendliness. 

Responding to Guruji’s request in 1984, Kathleen Pringle (Intermediate Junior III, Atlanta), Linda DiCarlo (Intermediate Junior III, now of Pawtucket, RH) and Suzie Muchnick (Intermediate Junior III, Naples, FL) developed the framework for the Iyengar Yoga Association of the Southeast. 

Community members recognized the need to offer teachers in the region continuing education and preparation for assessment closer to home. New teachers sometimes faced heartbreaking hardships on their way to establishing themselves; many needed mentoring and financial guidance. 

“The three of us believed in the mission,” Suzie recalls. “We were confident that the resources and interest existed, and that our efforts would energize our region.” 

The group reached out to other Certified Teachers across the large region, which includes the states of Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Alabama, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, District of Columbia, Tennessee, and Mississippi. Among the early planners were Jan Campbell (Intermediate Junior III, Nashville, TN), Bobbi Goldin (Intermediate Junior III, Miami, FL), Judi Rice (Intermediate Junior III, Goshen, KY), Cindy Dollar (Intermediate Junior I, Asheville, NC), Kandy Love (Introductory II, Ft. Myers, FL) and Nancy Watson (Introductory II, now of Castine, ME) and the three who spearheaded the association. “We explained our feelings to them,” Suzie says. “When one of us is struggling, all of us have to work harder. The more isolated we are, the more we need such a group.” These teachers embraced the dream. In its first year, 1994, IYASE had a membership of 77. 

“Remember that in 1994, the tools that are so important today didn’t exist,” Suzie says. “LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter have become important, but when we started we depended on the telephone and face-to-face meetings to make the network grow. Even email didn’t go global until 1993, and the Internet wasn’t widely known until 1995.” 

During those “invigorating and heady days,” members developed talents and abilities to help them meet their goals. Adding members, the group totaled 100 by 1996, when Kandy Love was working on the third issue of its newsletter. In 1998, a Scholarship Fund was established, funded mostly by donations from the 161 members and a generous anonymous donation. 

IYASE became a strong presence at R.I.M.Y.I., too. In 1996, four teachers from the region took part in the International Women’s Convention in Pune—Kathleen, Carol Fridolph (Introductory II, Stuart, FL), Cindy, and Suzie. In 1998 more than 15 members from Florida alone traveled to Pune to celebrate Guruji’s 80th birthday. The group hosted its first Introductory assessment in Atlanta in 1996. A year later, John Schumacher agreed to be the association’s Senior Teacher, supervising its Continuing Education program. IYASE hosted two workshops that year, a Junior Intermediate workshop for 25 teachers and an Introductory workshop with 22 attendees. 

Membership—both students and teachers—continues to grow, and volunteers continue to do the work of the association, even when duties sometimes infringe on personal lives. The result? IYASE is flourishing! In 2012, the association is 344 members strong, including 102 Certified Teachers. 

IYASE leadership understands that the association mission is very simple: to disseminate the teachings of B.K.S. Iyengar, Geeta Iyengar, and Prashant Iyengar in a responsible and professional manner. Teacher Certification is among the ways to help Iyengar Yoga shape a unified message, while simultaneously creating a professional core of trained teachers. 

Certification is one link which binds IYASE and the other regional associations to IYNAUS and the national associations around the world. Due to the Southeast region’s teachers and the enthusiasm they helped generate, the importance of the Iyengar Yoga certification process has spread. The region also hosts regular Assessments. 

The Maitri Conference was only the latest manifestation of the strength of IYASE and the dedication of its volunteers. “Those who dreamed of having this conference and making it a showcase for our teachers planned, thought, cajoled, negotiated, and worked to manifest a stage for all of us to participate in the yoga we love, with the friends we have made through the practice.” 

The board includes President Susan Marcus (Introductory II, Sarasota, FL), Vice President and Membership Chair Diane Martinez (Intermediate Junior I, Prince George, VA), Secretary Graham Williams (Introductory II, Raleigh, NC), member Aretha Blevins (Intermediate Junior I, Nashville, TN), IYNAUS Liaison Alex Cleveland (Introductory II, Louisville, KY), Treasurer and Scholarship Chair Margaret Carr (Introductory II, Morgantown, WV), Public Relations and Communications Chair Karyl Tych (Introductory II, Myrtle Beach, SC), Newsletter Chair Lori Lipton Ritland (Introductory II, Washington, DC), Advanced Studies Chair Tedrah Smothers (Introductory II, Memphis, TN), and member Marilyn Rubin (Intermediate Junior I, North Miami Beach, FL).

—Suzie Muchnick