Three Last Posts–Families– National, Original and Yogic

An Evolving Poly- Eco- Yoga Humanifesto, from Pegasus at the Balance

Eighteenth Deep Breath

Yogis of the world unite and take your yoga off the mat and into the wider world!!

Codes of Conduct, even for the Most High, especially for the Most High

The three women and six men now serving on our Supreme Court have a lifetime appointment and were not elected by popular vote but nominated by Presidents, questioned by senators and approved by a Senate vote. Unlike all other Federal workers for the US government, they serve without a Code of Conduct. This seems to me to be a precarious situation for our democracy.

Last year, we had an emergency annual meeting of the National Iyengar Association of the US (IYNAUS). We heard from various folks about conflicts that had arisen and not been settled. Some alleged having been harmed and had filed ethical complaints. These complaints came to nothing, so a meeting was called.
It turned out that our association, like the Supreme Court, does not have a Code of Conduct. Even though an attorney-member of IYNAUS had recommended that IYNAUS adopt such a code three years ago during an older ethical crisis, it had not been done.
I do remember that when we formed the association, we thought that the yogic principles we have from the classical yoga tradition—the Yamas (ethical precepts) and Niyamas (moral obligations) would give us a strong framework for a code for certified teachers. As it turns out, this was not enough. It is not enough for two reasons: 1) it does not address the complexities of sexual harassment complaints during the present era, and 2) it does not include the wider community of Iyengar practitioners, the volunteers for IYNAUS, nor the staff of IYNAUS. It was drafted to include only Certified Iyengar teachers.
As a growing nonprofit, IYNAUS needs basic revisions to its governing documents and in my opinion, a code of conduct that will include all who participate in the organization: from board members, certified teachers and volunteers to paid staff.
As a corollary to this, there must be clearly communicated procedures in place to deal with breaches of the Code when and if they occur. I have spent many hours during the past year on these issues and would like to see them resolved.
I am taking 20 deep breaths right now to orient my intention/sankalpa in that direction.

An Evolving Poly- Eco- Yoga Humanifesto, from Pegasus at the Balance

Nineteenth Deep Breath

Yogis of the world unite and take your yoga off the mat and into the wider world!!

Women’s Voices: “This Common Story”
(read the book when you have time) and “I always thought you would write” (Mom to me)

This Deep Breath and the next, final Deep Breath are dedicated to my Grandmothers and mother. Since I never met my grandfathers, “Big” and “Little” Grandmas figured prominently in my early memories of growing up.

My mother’s mother was Polish and stout—Big Grandma. My father’s mother was Irish and slender—Little Grandma. Big Grandma–Victoria Gil Drombosky–had come as an infant on a boat from Poland, probably through France, England or Ireland into New York Harbor. Her mother died shortly after they arrived, and her father disappeared. She was raised by her mother’s sister, great-aunt Sonia. Even though copious records are now available on Ellis Island, I could find no trace of the arrival of Joseph and Maria Gil from Rzeszów, Poland, other than that they arrived with an infant girl.

Sonia and her surprise foster child Victoria somehow made their way, sometimes, my mother used to say with a quaver in her voice, “in the poorhouse.” Sonia became a hatmaker in New York City. Victoria found herself married in her teens to a young Lithuanian coal miner George Drombosky. They lived in Nemacolin, a small town in Western Pennsylvania coal mining country. He made a nickel a day in the mines. My mother had kept a copy of his pay records (which she also often spoke of in a quavery voice). After finishing high school in Nemacolin, my mother made her way through nursing school in Pittsburgh. It was in her role as nurse that she met my father when he was starting out as a young doctor.

Little Grandma–Mary Kerin Long married Thomas Long, both of them of English/Irish heritage. The Kerins were from County Clare. All I know about Thomas is that he played piano and deserted Mary and her four kids shortly after the twins were born. My father Robert and his older sister Peggy were already part of the family. Maybe facing twins was more than Thomas could do. It was the depression. Families were hungry, people were standing in soup lines and many were out of work. Mary never spoke a bad word about him.

Mary Long took her four children on a train to Youngstown, Ohio, where she put them all in an orphanage. Then she went to the Big City to work. She would visit and send money when she could, but basically the four of them grew up as near-orphans. Robert did well in school and was trained to be a carpenter. He had other ideas, though, and instead attended the University of Michigan and Columbia Medical School. After graduating he entered the Army as a medic. After marrying my mother, dad was sent to Panama just at the end of the Second World War. It was there that I was born.

Robert and Victoria raised me and my three brothers outside of Boston for 10 years. My father continued further medical training (he became a psychoanalyst). After a near-fatal heart attack, my father persuaded my mother to move the family south to Dallas where he would teach at the medical school and open a practice. The thought was that in the sweet, sunny South, the living would be easier. The year was 1963. Dallas, Texas, in those years to us as northeasterners was an enormous shock, for reasons you may imagine.

Big and Little Grandmas passed away during the summer of 1961. Victoria developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and after receiving treatment in Boston, died in Pennsylvania. Mary developed lung cancer after a lifetime of smoking and died in a hospital in New York City. I am grateful that it was possible to get to know them both.

An Evolving Poly- Eco- Yoga Humanifesto, from Pegasus at the Balance
Twentieth Deep Breath, Winding up

Yoga on the mat as a place for self-inquiry, self-care and self-knowledge, and Yoga Centers as beacons of light for growing communities of practicing yogis

We need a new definition of human success—a world inhabited by non-shoppers, and refusers of the mantle of financial one-upwom/man-ship. Let’s stop paying multinational corporations to advertise to us. Let’s stop pretending that freedom consists mainly in the ability to compare prices and not get hoodwinked into paying more for something than we have to. Let’s get to know our neighbors and check in regularly to be sure they have what they need. Many more new definitions are necessary: a new definition of essential, a new definition of spirituality, a new definition of simple happiness and yogic contentment (santosha), which is a practice, not a goal.

My father was a man who emphasized education for his kids and also encouraged us to “trust our feelings.” He counselled us to pay close attention to our dreams. Earlier in this manifesto, I described the dream I had at 19 in which Iyengar invited me to the yoga path. He was a man who lived at the time of the overthrow of the British Empire from India and stood tall to inspire his countrymen and the entire world with his confident example of a practicing yogi. Both of these men provided me and others with examples of how it is possible to “pull oneself up by one’s bootstraps” and became educated and respected. My mother and Geeta Iyengar provide examples of women who supported their families and kept up a profession, nursing in my mother’s case, teaching in Geeta’s. May the spirits of all these ancestors be honored and thrive. May yoga practice and sharing continue to thrive both on and off the mat.
The Humanifesto is a work in progress. For now, I am taking a break. Your thoughts are welcome.

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