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Academy of Yoga Science Blueprint 2020/25 Summary

Updated: Apr 6, 2020


Expectation

  • Promote Yoga practice/service for community groups and individuals

Outcome

  • Sustainable use of resource from a valued Yoga legacy, for example

  • On-line network resource

  • Project / Program support

Ambition

  • Be truthful about the past and open to possibilities of the future

  • Connect the members in a new forum

Priority

  • Involve the wider yoga community and attract new interest in Yoga Science

  • Develop an on-line resource with community input

Implementation

  • Invite new Voting Members who can become future Directors

  • Invest to resource a grant program


Introduction

The Academy of Yoga Science (AYS), an Australian Public Company, Limited by Guarantee and a registered Charity is at a pivotal point in its history. AYS was formerly known as the Satyananda Yoga Academy, established in 1997, to provide a Diploma Course and manage property assets. The final students graduated (2019) from the Yoga Diploma course and the last asset was being sold.

The Board of Directors (3) are supported by committee members (4) who are all volunteers and there are over 700 people who have registered interest in the future direction of AYS.

Visit the current temporary website: www.aysintransition.org

Interested Yoga practitioners recently registered their interest in the future direction. They were sourced from the Database of Yoga Teachers, Students, past visitors and residents of the NSW Yoga Centres now closed. Huge changes have resulted from the Royal Commission investigation into Institutional Abuse (Dec 2014 and April 2015) and the ongoing adoption of recommendations:

  • Distinction between spiritual and operational roles

  • No submission to the Guru- Disciple relationship for the organisation or its leaders

  • Operational change to eliminate risk of Abuse

  • Leadership positions be compliant with best operational practice

  • Independence from external parties in conflict with RC recommendations

  • Remove the lack of objective review, discussion and dissent from Guru authority

  • Review process of leaders for decisions with affected parties

These recommendations made a huge impact and provoked much organisational review and personal refection on the system of Satyananda Yoga. Individually and collectively it has been a reparation process of release, whilst observing connection to traditional and classic practices.

This 5 year blueprint offers up a future potential for AYS with a commitment to the principles of best practice at its heart.


What is Yoga Science and what does this means for the Academy

It is important to define what we mean by ‘Yoga Science’, as the term ‘Science’ can be ambiguous, science from the Latin word ‘scientia’, meaning "knowledge" in our context experiential learning. Therefore Yoga is the systematic method of testing experience and predicting nature in relation to the universe. The knowledge of Yoga is based on Ancient scriptures which are now being validated by Modern Science. What does this mean for our organisation?

The outcomes we aspire to

A collective outcome was arrived at during a Director workshop last year. It is multipurpose and could be fulfilled in many ways. What does it suggest now we are ready to move forward?


Create opportunities for people to live their best life through Yoga – Purpose 2025

To aspire is to realise our ideas. This is similar to setting an Intention or resolve which is also known in Sanskrit as Sankalpa. This brief statement is described as ‘the Sankalpa brings the energy and benefits when affirmed regularly’.


A Collective Vision for a perfect outcome and the realisation of our aspiration is to:


Be a platform for innovative programs and projects benefitting communities through Yoga principles and practices for a purposeful, peaceful life - Vision 2025

In order to achieve this, our needs would include:

  • A flat structure responsive to needs

  • Connecting members within our community

  • Engagement with programs based on Yoga Science

  • Making a meaningful contribution to society at large

  • Creating a space where people come together to share information, research and support

  • Organising people to work together

Our intention for the next 5 years

A transition is underway and AYS seek to progress to a clear vision of the future, by:

  • Compassionate action

  • Networking within the Yoga community

  • Sharing our resources

  • Finding a context for our archived Ashram material

  • Find narrative for the legacy of the Ashram years

  • Supporting a culture of Yoga Science in Australian


Implementing the Blueprint

Since 2015 we have maintained a solid organisational foundation and respected the needs, feelings and opinions of those who are closely affected by the changes. Governance in regards to the Australian Authorities is faultless. The tide of history is taking its course, many people made challenging personal decisions, life changes and adapted to new circumstances.


Our message

The Academy of Yoga Science came about in 2016 through a name change from Satyananda Yoga Academy. Our relationship with India was broken in 2014 during the Royal Commission into Institutional Abuse, when they did not support the Mangrove Yoga community. The legal action of the Bihar School of Yoga (India) removed the licence to use the name Satyananda in Australia to protect their Brand in India.

Mangrove Mountain Ashram is associated with the physical and sexual abuse of Children in the between 1974 and 1989 to devastating effect. The Academy was a registered training organisation from 2007 to 2017 based at Mangrove and a separate legal entity from the Satyananda Ashram.

The current Directors were welcomed to the Academy of Yoga Science in 2015, an Expression of Interest for assistance was sought after the Royal Commission with the purpose to restructure the organisation and take responsibility to implement the findings of the Royal Commission Case 21.

The current members of Academy of Yoga Science were not elected members of the Satyananda Ashram and have no affiliation with any Satyananda organisations in Australia, overseas or within the Satyananda Guru Lineage.

AYS is aware of the deeply traumatising effect of the Royal Commission on many people and is has sensitively implemented the findings, we respect the survivors of abuse and seek forgiveness for any perceived short comings in the efforts of the community.

The Academy’s organisational operations were unclear and complex and any renewal proved impossible. Consequently, the Diploma Course ceased, the Ashram closed and Assets have been sold. The personal and collective trauma of the survivors is a tragedy and we trust the opportunity to retell their story, be heard and receive compensation goes some way to address the wrong. All organisations are closed or dormant and there is no intention of reinstating them in the future or allowing any further abuse.


We now seek input and new voluntary members to strengthen the team and take us into the new decade and beyond. A fresh approach that we can be proud of. To become the best we c

Achievements

Following the recommendations of the Royal Commission Case 21

  • Financial compensation for the survivors

  • Disconnection to the Guru lineage or tradition

  • Appropriate Child Protection policies & practices put in place, training programs provided

  • Spiritual mentors stood down from executive organisational roles


Commitment to the Safe Practice

  • Reparation program for the Survivors

  • Engaged the services of Bravehearts Foundation for training and awareness (Nov 2016)

  • Circulated a formal apology for sexual and physical abuse in the 1970s and 1980s and notice of settlement agreement to the Teaching Community (Oct 2017)

Actions to address substantial financial loss and organisational change

  • Sale of properties for Financial Compensation for RC Case 21

  • Board Meetings on regular basis Minuted and recorded by the Secretary

  • Audited accounts confirmed at the yearly AGM

  • Consultation with lawyers and resolution on financial and legal issues


Change management

  • Initial Strategic Assessment of the organisation’s structure for sustainability and continuation of the Mangrove legacy (Dec 2017)

  • Appointment of a General Manager and rebranding as Mangrove Yoga and Retreat Centre

  • Decommissioning the Farm and Ashram

  • Workshop on Communication & Strategy (Jan 2019)

  • Strategic Review – The Wellbeing Foundation (May 2018)

  • Third party Review - ‘Survivors of Cult Abuse’ (2019)

  • Discussion and Assessment of the National Re-dress Scheme for its complexity, and administration resources required

Proposal to donate the AYS School Building Fund to the Yoga Foundation (2019)


Our position

We acknowledge the dedication and commitment of our community across the field of Yoga Practice. The landscape of the next 5 years and societal shifts i.e. RC Case 21 finding, exposure of Abuse in Spiritual movements, the ‘Me Too’ movement, the future emergence of new expectations of teachers and practitioners gives us opportunity to serve.

We are able to:

  • financially invest to provide a foundation for the future

  • Establish a structure of governance based on our existing business and charity entities.

  • Provide funding for programs to give positive outcomes for our community and the public

  • Give experience to the meaning of Yoga.

This is a massive shift from the Satyananda International arena and a global interest to one based on the interests and of supporters over the last decade or so, who have maintained contact.

At this a significant point in time, we trust this seed will grow healthy and strong.


AYS Guidelines and Yoga Principles

The Academy of Yoga Science has its origins in traditional Yoga based on ancient knowledge and respects the Yoga Sutra’s of Patanjali as the guidelines for ethical and moral principles. The Classical eight limbs of Yoga are:


Yamas are restraints to work with for achieving the clarity and simplicity needed for good governance. They deal with ethical standards and a sense of integrity:

  • Kindness (ahimsa) limiting harm to others, ourselves by not being overly critical

  • Truthfulness (satya) being compassionate in our words, present for others and honouring what they are going through and not judge while still standing up for what you believe in

  • Honesty (astheya) in where we stand and know that everyone and everything has a value

  • Acknowledge balanced living (brahmacharya) with higher awareness, accept that we are working on ourselves for a greater good

  • Believe in abundance (aparigraha) and keep only what is of service and benefit and not be overly controlling in our approach.

Niyamas are observances, recommendations for self-reflection are an essential part of integrated thinking for business and in personal life:

  • Clarity of mind or a cleanliness (Saucha) in and stable workspace, is linked to the ability to release old accumulations, before habits are formed, to get on and get the task done.

  • Contentment (Santosha) is the indication that all is well and being happy with what is your purpose and surrender to it the outcome.

  • Austerities (Tapas) mental and physical restrictions to get our priorities right and focus on our opportunity.

  • Self-Study (Svadhyaya) is to recollect the self and practice the yamas and niyamas and learn to recognise when you are in harmony with your goals and unconsciously acting counter to them

  • Self-surrender (Ishvara Pranidhana) is the act of giving ourselves to a higher purpose.

Asana the yoga postures are meant to reduce the quality of turbulence that disturbs the mind. The practice of Asana can be seen as the fundamental preparatory work for a Pranayama (breath and the movement of energy), Pratyahara (turning within) or Dharana (concentration) practice because it helps to settle the prana (body energy).

Dhyana is meditation, which when regularly practiced gives us awareness of ourselves which leads to Samadhi is union with the divine.

The practice of Yoga is at its core the Science of well-being, therefore it is our commitment to practice yoga, all eight limbs, that gives us the balance to have knowledge and understanding in all areas of life, Dharma (purpose), Artha (duty), Sama (pleasure) and Moksha (freedom) as they are known in Ancient scriptures.AYS values and practices


Looking at values in our Member Workshop 2019 and we agreed that the following were our priority and we each expressed what that value meant to us:

Safe Space

  • The freedom to question the status quo and to have one’s requests, needs, and suggestions heard and evaluated with an open mind.

  • Offering respect and being respected as equal.

  • Acknowledgement of people’s intentions even if what they do turns out to be a ‘mistake’. A lot of learning happens by making mistakes and to feel safe in a group or as part of a community it is important that people feel okay with getting things wrong at times.

  • Transparency - to have things out in the open, to not keep information hidden and to not keep people ignorant of what is going on even if such reports/conversations will cause momentary disturbance or require extra time to be worked through.

  • Appropriate procedures and ethical guidelines for people to seek support if they feel that the organisational culture is not able to protect, support or resolve their concerns.

  • To genuinely create a safe place, we need to go beyond writing a guide for ethical conduct. It has been stated by many spiritual teachers and world leaders alike that to change the world, we need to change the individual, which is ourselves.

  • It has been suggested that in future people in governance and those holding positions of importance, are engaged in a regular practice of self-reflection as part of their personal routine, may that be meditation, creative journaling, mindfulness or other avenues of self-reflection and introspection. That is, selecting people for such positions for whom engaging in such practices has become an essential part of their lives that is well integrated in how they live and work.

  • It has been shown that contemplation of one’s own experiences, behaviour, thinking and reactions leads to recognition of one’s limitations, i.e. that despite having the best intentions we don’t always succeed in carrying them out. For example, we struggle to be kind when being triggered, be generous when feeling scared, be open hearted when feeling hurt, etc. When we start to understand that our personal struggle is part of our common humanity, kindness and compassion will flourish with greater ease. We start to develop kindness and compassion for ourselves which easily flows on to kindness and compassion for others.

  • Without having developed kindness and compassion for self and others, it is difficult to remain tolerant, respectful and compassionate with each other when things get difficult or stressful. This does not mean that there will never be harsh words, personal challenges or irrational behaviour by individual members, what it might mean though is that such incidents can be resolved with more grace and insight. If people feel emotionally safe and respected there is less need for putting up defences and mistakes are more easily admitted.

  • What we hope for and are committed to work for is the creation of a flexible, inclusive and organic organisational culture that can respond with integrity, authenticity, generosity, kindness, compassion and transparency to issues arising. This for me is the true expression of safe space, not a space held by fixed rules and regulation but by the genuine good will, transparency and wisdom of its members.

Integrity

  • The quality of being honest and truthful and having strong moral and ethical principles.

  • The basis of integrity is doing the right thing even when it’s not acknowledged by others, or convenient for you. An individual with integrity is the opposite to self-interest.

  • This would apply to the individual (how they act within society), the Board (their processes in making decisions, the quality of Board membership), and the Organisation (its Constitution, Policies, Procedures, Staff etc.). The actions of each of these entities will be judged on “what they say they would do is what they actually do”. It creates trust with those that they interact with.

  • Wikipedia describes Integrity as “the practice of being honest and showing a consistent and uncompromising adherence to strong moral and ethical principles and values …. Integrity can stand in opposition to hypocrisy, in that judging with the standards of integrity involves regarding internal consistency as a virtue, … Integrity is the inner sense of "wholeness" deriving from qualities such as honesty and consistency of character. As such, one may judge that others "have integrity" to the extent that they act according to the values, beliefs and principles they claim to hold”.


Authenticity

  • Authenticity - relating to the world around you from a place of pure consciousness - a mind free of modification-a person able to respond to the environment with an awareness that is not tainted by past conditioning, old experiences and value judgements. A way of being in the world worth attaining to and the very first teaching of the Yoga Sutras. We (our personality) is not this pure mind but it’s distortions, modifications acquired over many years of lived experience. No longer is there a clear glass window between the soul and the mind and it’s environment but a multi coloured stained glass window reflecting all the varying layers of experience. Yoga is ways remedy that and return us to our authentic selves.

  • So, on a practical level, the more we try to remain authentic to our true selves, the more truthful, compassionate and positive our interactions with others.

  • Psychologists tell us to be aware of why we react in certain ways and to try to understand the origins of our entrenched behaviour patterns so that we can to some extent disempower those experiences and behaviours through awareness.

  • Same with philosophy, the more we can understand and eliminate these modifications, distortions, the closer to our true selves we will be and the better we will be able to cope with the ups and downs of life and the better our relationship with ourselves and others.

  • So, to me authenticity, if and when we can achieve it, means that we have been able to peel away the layers of our accumulated stuff and allow the true self to be present in the moment.

  • If we can achieve this then most of the other stuff, arrogance, dishonesty, meanness, violent communications, manipulative behaviour, negative thoughts, fall away.

  • Yoga practices were never intended to be a way to gather even more layers of stuff, ego. Unfortunately to some extent this is what they have now become. Their aim is to remove stuff, strip away the accumulation of junk within our mind and personality so that our inner truths can shine through.

Generosity

  • Generosity is a core value and also a virtue. The ability to give and receive freely is well known for success in spiritual life, it is essential to develop virtues. The Sanskrit word Asteya, the third Yama in the first of the eight limbs of Yoga is understood to be Generosity, being consciousness of Asteya brings contentment and more gratitude, and inspires us to fulfil the genuine needs of others.

  • The attitude of Generosity and the daily expression of Gratitude help us to thrive and spread generosity into every area of our lives. Showing appreciation is a simple and beautiful meditation from the heart, being thankful is a blessing to everyone.

  • When you are Grateful, you are ‘Great’ and ‘Full’ and it attracts positivity to you and your endeavours. The attitude of gratitude is the highest Yoga. Generosity makes everyone feel good, the giver and the receiver, it is perceived as care and concern. This in turn, fosters co-operation and problem solving. Becoming more Grateful boosts self-esteem and combats stress, in ourselves and others, this in turn leads to better health and good relationships.

Transparency

One of the key aspects of creating a safe space.

As an individual

  • Understanding and being transparent with each other as colleagues about one’s intentions, needs, problems and actions.

As an organisation

• not hiding problems and having the courage to talk about sensitive topics in an honest and compassionate way and when necessary admitting to mistakes and limitations.

• strongly and clearly state the organisation’s intentions, mission, vision and values and demonstrate how the organisation is going about realising those. In order to be able to be transparent one needs to have insight into the truth of things. We can easily fool ourselves, twist facts, develop feelings of entitlement or self-righteousness that might distort our decision making or information sharing. That’s why it is important that each person in the governing or managing position commits to developing an honest relationship not just with colleagues and members or clients but with themselves.


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