March 1, 2014 Update

Dear Kula Evolution Community,

It’s with a heavy heart that we reach out to you today.  The five of us have decided to set aside our plans to build the Teacher training website.

As most of you know, we have been meeting every week since the summer of 2012 working on this project that had a number of different directions and intentions.  The one consistent intention was to build/be a source of high-quality yoga information.

We came very close.  We had settled on creating an online teacher-training manual written by a faculty of writers.  We even had an incredible meeting with the writers.

In fact, the whole process from start to finish has been wonderful for the five of us.  Beyond becoming close friends, we have all learned so much from each other about yoga and about working in community in a post-Anusara world.

Unfortunately, the obstacle we weren’t able to overcome was the business side of the process.  Basically, we had “kicked the can down the road,” on how we would organize both the revenue from eventual subscribers and the distribution of payments to the writers.

In short, once we got to the place where a corporation (bank account, accountants et al) needed to be established, the five of us very reluctantly decided that the task was too daunting.

The reality is that this project ultimately needed someone (or a group of people) ready to give a full-time commitment.  And even though each of us never lost our excitement for the idea, that kind of commitment was simply too much.

We want to thank you for all of your support along the way.  We know that each of you who kept interest in what we were doing shared the vision that yoga in community is a wonderful thing.

We stay open to other possibilities of working together and in some way staying connected with each of you.  And our sincere hope is that this experience contributes in some way to the collective wisdom we all share on this path of yoga.

Blessings, The Kula Evolution Group

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July 15, 2013

Dear Kula Evolution members,

Warm greetings to all of you from the Kula Evolution team. When we began this journey towards the creation of a yoga organization, we started by writing a mission statement that is found on our website. It begins: “It is the mission of the Kula Evolution Network to create high quality educational Yoga programs which encourage students and teachers of all levels to experience their true nature and deepest essence.”

We see these elements as fundamental to what we are doing:

1) Contextualized asana and pranayama – Practices with an intention for and with reference to spiritual development

2) Skillful use of alignment – Asana taught and practiced with principles that insure safety and overall health

3) Authenticity – Each teacher and student is encouraged to find their own voice and add their unique stamp to the grand yoga conversation

4) Supportive community – Students and teachers encourage each other to further study and spiritual practices such as seva, scriptural study and meditation.

In recent months we have been creating a curriculum for a Yoga Studies Program. We’re approaching the completion of a first draft of this curriculum to present to the membership.

We’re currently focusing on three other projects:

1. We’re working on creating a business organization to hold our legal structure. If you have any expertise in this area and would like to volunteer a little time to help or advise us, please contact us at kathy@pulsationyoga.com.

2. Also, as you know, we have been working with all of you to select a new name. To be prudent, we are waiting to have the legal structure in place before presenting the name and the logo to you all.

3. We’ve been developing a unique and exciting website which will offer a teacher directory, many very practical curriculum materials, and the opportunity to share collective wisdom about our path of yoga. We are putting a lot of time into this and hope that you will be happy with the result.

So as we enter the month of July, things are moving along at a steady pace. We meet regularly, despite full teaching schedules and other life responsibilities. We hope to have more results of our efforts available to you very soon.

If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or just want to communicate with us, please feel free to do so.

In service,

The Kula Evolution Team

Aside

March 3, 2013

Greetings!

We hope everyone is having a great beginning to 2013 (and now The Year of the Snake in the Chinese calendar).

As most of you know Kula Evolution began as a way for teachers and students to stay connected and as a potential resource for yoga teacher training.

When we formally launched Kula Evolution, we knew that we were doing so without having worked out all the many issues involved in building either a network or a yoga school.  We decided to move forward, however, believing that it would be worth the risks and difficulties of establishing something, as long as we could do so in a way that was patient and mindful of the uncertainties, and that we did so in a communal way.

Even still, there was a paradox.  Before we could gather the input of the members, there needed to be actual members.  And in order to have members we needed to have criteria to allow people to decide whether or not they wanted to be a part of the general vision.

When we announced our network, we opened it to those who had held either Inspired or Certified status with Anusara, as well as anyone who signed up on our website to stay in touch. There were of course pitfalls with using this as the invitation source.  And in fact, we debated it for some time since there was/is a question of whether a tiered system was the right way to go.  But we decided to move forward with hope that if we were making a mistake it could be corrected as things developed.

Similarly, we felt obliged to delineate general guidelines of what a typical class would look like from a network teacher.  We knew that one of the first questions people would rightly ask was, “what is a KE class about?”  So we worked on the class guidelines, hoping to strike a balance between having some distinction but remaining open.

The class guidelines were not intended as a complete guide to curriculum or teaching style or to speak to the substantial body of knowledge that teachers draw from when teaching. It was simply done as another method of illustrating what the network vision was/is.

Our overall hope is that the network, the class guidelines and eventually the training materials will serve as a way for teachers to identify themselves to their students and communities without limiting the creative freedom they enjoy by teaching in their own unique and authentic style.

The similarities and distinctions between Kula Evolution and Anusara Yoga

Many people have asked how Kula Evolution is similar to or different from Anusara yoga. The short answer is that the two are completely separate in every way.  There is and never has been a financial connection between John Friend/Anusara and Kula Evolution.

The connection, of course is, at this point, that Kula Evolution members are either former or present Anusara teachers. We understand that the decision to include present Anusara teachers in our membership confused some, but we made that decision in order to avoid any amount of exclusivity. Also, there are some aspects of our practice and philosophy that are similar. One important one is this: We all are teachers who love teaching yoga and who believe what we do on our mats makes a difference in how we act in the world.

At the same time, the question about whether Kula Evolution is different from Anusara yoga is a difficult one because it assumes a binary answer – yes or no.  In essence, that question is about values and, as we all know, those answers are complex to say the least.

There are differences, including that we are a brand new organization still exploring how to best serve our small community and how a yoga organization like Kula Evolution should function.  For now, our primary intention is to continue stating our vision and values in a way that clearly illustrates what Kula Evolution is all about.

For instance, we hope by open communication like this letter we are exhibiting our intention to build KE with transparency.  Similarly, we are working hard to move toward greater member participation.  In order to establish the network and just get the ball rolling, initial decisions needed to be made.  But as with the survey we used to establish the class guidelines, our intention to be a truly grassroots organization is happening, and it will continue with the upcoming membership involvement in curriculum building and the naming of the school (see below).

At the same time, we’d like to humbly remind everyone that we are learning as we go along.  We are trying our best to build this in a sensitive and honorable way.

That’s why, for example, we chose not to require a fee for membership at this time.  We decided that until there was more clarity on who/what Kula Evolution is, it wasn’t right to charge any money for membership. We do anticipate having administrative fees in the future, and any membership fees will be established with the approval of the full membership.

What’s Next?

Curriculum: One of the major next steps in the development of KE is to produce a curriculum.  We are currently creating the outline of one and discussing how to involve the membership in this process. In the near future we will be contacting everyone about how they can participate.

The Name: Will the school be named something else? There seems to be a building consensus to rename the network as we move closer to being a school/style of yoga.  Many people have pointed out that it doesn’t quite work to answer the question, “What kind of yoga do you teach?” with, “Kula Evolution.”

Our intention was to have the initial network be named something more generic, less like a style, in order to not move too hastily and possibly bypass the time needed to reflect on the difficult lessons of the past year.  Skipping directly to a name felt rushed and dishonorable given the rawness and complexity of what we all went through.  Therefore, a general network (and generic sounding name) before the formation of a new school was our way of moving forward at a prudent pace.

Now we are discussing a name and we plan to involve the members in the selection process.  As with curriculum development, we are working on logistics to involve members in procedures to rename the network and/or the eventual school.

Multiple Certifications: Many of you have asked if Kula Evolution allows for its members to be certified in other styles simultaneously.  Without having a certification process ourselves, it seems quite premature to set limits.  And, even when/if a certification process is developed, it might make sense to continue to allow teachers to hold multiple certifications.  We want to balance healthy boundaries with creative freedom.

This issue is worthy of contemplation by the full membership with time to reflect on all the different facets of the issue.

Thank you again for all your love and support, and we welcome your participation.

The Kula Evolution team: Darcy Lyon, Deb Neubauer, Ellen Saltonstall, Kathy Simonik, Ross Rayburn

January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

On Wednesday, October 3, 2012, we launched the first phase of Kula Evolution Network, which we described in our newsletter as “a registry of network member teachers”. Since then, over 70 teachers have joined the network, and you can find their location and contact information at our website: www.kulaevolution.com

In our October newsletter we shared our Mission Statement:

It is the mission of the Kula Evolution Network to create high quality educational Yoga programs which encourage students and teachers of all levels to experience their true nature and deepest essence.  Through experiential practices such as asana, meditation, chanting, study, self-inquiry and karma yoga, Kula Evolution aspires to touch students’ lives with the self-actualizing teachings of the Yogic traditions.  Our world-wide cohesive community is committed to maintaining a culture of kindness, respect and integrity.

In our newsletter we explained who could join the Network:

All former and current Certified and Inspired Anusara teachers will be grandfathered into the Network at the level they had previously attained:

  • Formerly Anusara Inspired teachers will be called Associate Network Teachers
  • Formerly Anusara Certified teachers will be called Certified Network Teachers
  • Students will be welcomed as supporting members.

Those who were close to reaching Inspired status with Anusara Yoga can submit their documentation and a recommendation to join our Network at the Associate level.

The small group who started Kula Evolution has been communicating and meeting regularly. We realize that this vision of a new school will take time, especially since it is a collaborative effort. As questions from the members and the wider community have come in, we have posted our answers on our FAQ page: https://kulaevolution.wordpress.com/faqs/

Our process now is to work on these goals as part of Phase Two:

  • Articulate an evolved method based on non-dual Tantra philosophy and biomechanical principles of alignment.
  • Create a clear path to certification at the 200 hour and 500 hour levels, with all related curriculum and training materials.

We will be including a wide range of educational offerings in future teacher training curriculum such as:  Anatomy and therapeutics, Ayurveda, pre-natal yoga, teaching kids, teaching seniors, and more.  We look forward to including input from member teachers and related professionals as the curriculum takes shape. The curriculum will be reviewed and revised annually by a Curriculum Committee, and community members will be invited to submit feedback about the efficacy of curriculum in the classroom.

The first step that we have taken to articulate our method has been to create Class Guidelines for Kula Evolution Network classes. Here they are:

Kula Evolution Class Guidelines:

1. Welcome and Centering: Each class begins with an opportunity for everyone to turn inside and connect to their deepest essence and the power of yoga.

2. Philosophical Context: Asana is taught as an expression of the inherent potential and basic goodness of the human spirit.

3. Alignment: Clear alignment instructions support safe, effective asana and engender an ever-deepening practice.

4. Sequencing: The needs of each student in attendance are recognized and addressed by the pace and sequencing of the asana. Variations and modifications are offered as necessary.

5. Teaching Skills: Each class reflects the teacher’s training and skill with class preparation, observation, appropriate adjustments and artful use of language.

6. Community:  The class invites all participants into a culture of kindness, honesty and respect where community among students is fostered. Teaching yoga is seen and valued as a service.

7. Closing: Each class concludes with meditation and/or Savasana.

We feel that the collaborative process that we follow to create something like the Guidelines is just as important as the result. The process used to create these guidelines was:

  1. The founding members wrote a first draft of guidelines.
  2. Then one member shared them with all 70 Network members and asked them for input, suggestions, feedback. She listed all of the submitted feedback for the founding members to read and consider, and then,
  3. Using that feedback, we created this second draft.

We want to emphasize that all the curriculum that we create and other decisions that we make about the direction of the Kula Evolution Network will be reviewed on an ongoing basis, and that we will endeavor to refine, improve, and respond to feedback regularly.

To give feedback on the process or the guidelines, please send us an e-mail at info@kulaevolution.com or leave a comment on our website.

This process is indicative of how we want to act: collaborative, participative, yet productive, leading to high quality curriculum. Our intention as the new year begins is to develop curriculum and a certification process, and to involve members in this process.

If you want to join the Network and join in this exciting discussion, please fill out and submit the application that you can find at kulaevolution.com.

If you are a Network member, be aware that we will continue to keep you informed about what is happening through these newsletters and our website. And that we will continue to offer the invitation to be involved the same way as we did with the creation of the Class Guidelines.

Again, have a great new year,

Kula Evolution Team: Darcy Lyon, Deb Neubauer, Ellen Saltonstall, Kathy Simonik, Ross Rayburn

A message from Jayendra Hanley: Last June, I was invited to join the group of teachers who created Kula Evolution. I considered it an honor to work with such dedicated and selfless people in this exciting adventure. Also in June, I was invited to join a group of European teachers to discuss how to keep Anusara yoga going in Europe where I live. In the past eight years, I have offered many Anusara teacher trainings in Europe. Most of the students from these trainings would like to continue in Anusara yoga and become licensed Anusara teachers. Since this is my number one priority, to support my students and colleagues in Anusara Europe, I am resigning as a member of the Kula Evolution Team, even though I completely believe in what they are doing. The remaining members have asked me if I would like to consult with them on any projects where I can be of assistance, which I am quite happy to do. Thanks to you all.

November 7, 2012

Greetings and welcome to Kula Evolution!

We are a group of yoga teachers and students brought together by circumstance and intention who want to be a part of something bigger than ourselves with yoga as our shared joy.

We invite you to read our Mission Statement, but in short, Kula Evolution arose from a desire to create a community anchored by the teaching and practicing of an ever-evolving understanding of yoga.

Creating community can be a daunting endeavor.  The benefits of community and structure are fairly well noted and understood: friendship and shared knowledge that inspires individual and communal growth.  However, community also holds many challenges.

So, our deep desire is to be open and transparent, to be clear and communicative, and for the community to participate in the complex but highly rewarding experience of a dynamic, fluid and adaptable Kula … Kula Evolution.

Welcome!

October 3rd, 2012

Most of you receiving this letter have been associated with Anusara yoga in some way. Obviously our community has undergone profound shifts. When the Leadership Committee finished its work in June, a few of us began talking about what might come next. We focused our attention and contemplation on the parts of the Anusara experience that worked, and those elements that needed to change.  We wanted to maintain the highest standards of professional integrity, communication, curriculum development and teaching practices.

We now want to open the conversation up to the larger community of current and former Anusara yoga teachers, and share our vision for the future. We have redesigned the Kula Evolution website to serve as an evolving interactive hub for connecting to each other across the globe, and for listing teachers’ contact information and events.

We invite any to join us who:
a.    Practice asana as an expression of the inherent potential of the human spirit.
b.    Share a common vision of teaching as service.
c.    Seek to uphold the values of human dignity, kindness and respect on and off the mat.

Our mission will unfold in two phases. The first one is called the Kula Evolution Network. We hope to have this first phase in place by late 2012. The updated website will serve as a registry of network member teachers.

Who can join the Kula Evolution Network?

• All former and current Certified and Inspired teachers will be grandfathered into the Network at the level they had previously attained:
Formerly Anusara Inspired teachers will be called Associate Network Teachers
Formerly Anusara Certified teachers will be called Certified Network Teachers
Students will be welcomed as supporting members.

Our mission in Phase Two is to:

• Articulate an evolved method based on non-dual Tantra philosophy and biomechanical principles of alignment.
• Create a clear path to certification at the 200 hour and 500 hour levels, with all related curriculum and training materials.

Trainings will feature a wide range of educational offerings, with topics including anatomy and therapeutics, Ayurveda, pre-natal yoga, teaching kids, teaching seniors, and more.  We look forward to including input from member teachers and related professionals as the curriculum takes shape. The curriculum will be reviewed and revised annually by a Curriculum Committee, and community members will be invited to submit feedback about the efficacy of curriculum in the classroom.

We envision a fair, efficient, affordable, multi-level certification process that is clear and empowering to the person pursuing certification. We will establish objective criteria so that competence is elevated over style, and the process can be completed in a reasonable amount of time. For those that were in process at either level, all hours accumulated to date will be honored regardless of the status of the training teacher.

• Register with the Yoga Alliance as an international school with each member teacher as an affiliate location
• Form committees such as communications and community service to ensure a healthy, responsive organization.
• Remain open to many more yet unknown ideas that are sure to evolve from the vast reservoir of talent and wisdom in our global community.

We realize that this vision of a new school will take time, especially since it is a collaborative effort. We intend for this new organization to be highly responsive to the voices in the community, while maintaining high standards of teaching.  We hope to avoid divisive or dogmatic tendencies, and to foster equality and authentic individuality among teachers.  One of the main ways we hope to accomplish these goals is to provide clear and effective channels of communication among members, with opportunities for teachers and students to have input on the direction and shaping of the network and shared curricula.

We have begun work on establishing very general guidelines for network registered classes so that our collective unity reflects common values.  These guidelines will insure that a student can predict a level of quality when they attend a class, yet the guidelines will not limit the teachers’ individual creative freedom and personal expression. We have also begun revamping curriculum for Immersions, 200 hour and 500 hour teacher training programs.

How will the Network be administered and funded?

We will serve as the initial core volunteer leadership team. We will solicit the community for interest in serving on the various committees and will appoint the first set of committee chairs, who will then select the committee members. Each committee will be responsive to input from the wider community through clearly delineated channels of communication. A clear code of ethics and grievance procedure will be established.

Membership is free for the remainder of 2012. In 2013 we will establish a fee structure to help cover administrative costs.

If you would like to become a member of the network and be listed on the website, please download the application from this link, fill it out, and send it to  listings@kulaevolution.com. If you are not a teacher but would like to join as a supporting member, please feel totally welcome to do so.

We are also looking for volunteers to work a few hours a week.  If you would like to be involved, please write to listings@kulaevolution.com and let us know your skills and interests.

We look forward to the unlimited evolutionary possibilities that emerge when inspired individuals join collectively to forge a new path.

Thank you.

Jayendra Hanley
Darcy Lyon
Deb Neubauer
Ross Rayburn
Ellen Saltonstall
Kathy Simonik