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