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2020 AGM – President’s opening remarks

08 November 2020 marked the first time the Iyengar Yoga Association of Canada (IYAC/ACYI) held its Annual General Meeting in virtual format. Below are the opening remarks made by Patricia Fernandes, President of the Association.

Welcome to our very first IYAC/ACYI virtual AGM!!! Thank you for joining us as we take this plunge, and thanks to Jane Kruse and the team of volunteers who are managing the behind-the-scenes magic.  Please be patient as we all navigate these new waters.

What a year this has been.  Who knew a year ago when we decided to hold our AGM on line, it would be required.  “Physical distancing” was not in our vocabulary eight months ago. Yet, here we are, distanced yet together.

Since the shutdowns and spread of Covid-19 in mid-March 2020, we have had to adapt, adjust and evolve in so many areas of our lives.

Overnight, our homes became our workplace, school, shopping space, restaurants and entertainment and recreation centres. We relied on internet and phone links to connect us to those we loved, the news and the wider world. Life was turned on its head. On May 25, the police killing of African-American George Floyd, in Minneapolis USA, sparked outrage around the world. There were protests and demands for action.

We have suffered personal and collective losses – loss of income, loss of workplaces, loss of social connections, loss of loved ones, loss of the ability to mark life’s moments such as births, anniversaries, graduations and deaths, in the ways familiar to us.

It has also been a time of opportunity:

  • Using technology to attend classes with teachers from around the world, including Prashant and Abhijata Iyengar – no need for a 15-hour trip halfway around the world;
  • Expanding our reach as teachers via technology;
  • Getting creative in how we connect with loved ones – car parades to celebrate life’s milestones are just one example.

Through it all, the work of the Association continued.

Please read the committee reports to get a sense of the depth of work and commitment of our volunteers to making Guruji’s work known to many.

Some highlights from the past year:

  • In a five-week period, IYAC/ACYI planned and hosted a five-day virtual workshop with Abhijata Iyengar. Over 600 people from 18 countries participated – a record for anything we have hosted.
  • We financially supported two senior teachers to attend the meeting in December 2019 called at RIMYI where the new assessment guidelines were introduced to all national associations. The final guidelines from RIMYI were sent to all our members in July 2020 and the Professional Development Committee is busy working on understanding what is being asked of us and how we will implement those changes.
  • The move to online teaching meant lots of work was done by our insurance registrar to clarify the insurance coverage offered by our carrier.

What’s ahead:

  • The Professional Development Committee will be sharing the results of their deliberations on how we will implement the new guidelines on teacher apprenticeship and assessment in the coming months;
  • In the new membership year, certified teachers and teacher apprentices will be asked to sign an updated trademark agreement;
  • We are putting the final touches to the online shop so that you can more easily purchase books and other study materials;
  • We are exploring diversity, inclusion, equity and justice issues and what that means for our association and our members;
  • We are exploring ways to bring more professional development workshops to our teaching members, and ways to engage and encourage our student members.

All this and more will be communicated to you via email, the website and social media.

It’s easy to have ideas, but much harder to put the time and effort into action, sort of like our yoga practice.  No amount of reading about yoga will compare to the understanding and insight that comes from longterm, dedicated practice.

I implore you to consider how your talents and skills can contribute and to join us in our collective work.  One thing Covid-19 has highlighted is that our individual actions have a ripple effect to an entire community.  This also applies to our positive actions.

I’d like to take a moment to say a huge thank you to my fellow Board members and to the active members of the committees.  Your dedication and efforts is what makes our Association work.  A special thanks to departing Board members, Barbara Young, Professional Development liaison; Jane Kruse, vice president; Sharoni Fixler, membership chair; and Stephanie Tencer, communications chair. They have all worked incredibly hard during their three-year terms.

The world has shifted in ways we have never experienced before. We are all learning to ride the waves of loss, to embrace ambiguity rather than push it away.  We are on a threshold.  Let us take the next steps together.

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