Regional Conference Buzz: Setting our Sights on 2017

Posted by on Jun 30, 2012 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Regional Conference Buzz: Setting our Sights on 2017

IYNAUS has been looking for a region to host the next regional conference. Several people from the Heartland (Midwest) Conference have been contacting teachers in our region to see if we would like to host the 2014 regional conference.  After the emails were sent around, a core group of interested people in Austin met to discuss the possibility. They were sent reports from the New England and Heartland conferences for further investigation.  After serious consideration and discussion, the group including some Board members, decided that our region was not yet in a position go forward with a plan for a conference in 2014.

This article is about deliberations on a regional conference and how we might prepare to accept this challenge for 2017.

Why host a regional conference? Regional conferences bring senior teachers in from around the nation to our region. Junior teachers from within the region are also invited to teach.  The target group of participants is primarily lYASCUS members and non-members in our region. Here are three good reasons for IYASCUS to host a regional conference at some point:

  • It would be a great opportunity to broaden the appeal of Iyengar Yoga;
  • It would offer students in our region  (within and beyond the Iyengar community) the chance to experience our greatest teachers nationally and locally;
  • These events have the potential to boost regional community.  In other regions, reports have shown that people have enjoyed coming together in teams to work for a conference. Conferences are important events that allow a broad spectrum of people to contribute to the Iyengar Yoga in various ways—planning, writing, marketing, communications, negotiations, sales, promotions, organizing, coordinating–the list goes on.
  • Conferences can help boost membership. People who are being exposed to Iyengar yoga for the first time have an opportunity to join the regional association, and many do. Boosting membership increases the presence and strength of Iyengar yoga in a region. In the Midwest association, membership increased from around 90 before the conference to 297 afterward. They are now working on a post conference members’ retreat to help retain new members.

Where would we hold a regional conference? Our region has five states—Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Missouri. Texas holds the greatest number of IYASCUS members, and the largest urban areas, and might therefore be a logical choice.  Of course, we are open to the idea of holding a conference elsewhere in the region, if there were a strong, active group of members who wanted to initiate the preparations, when the time comes, about 2+ years before the proposed conference date.

What are the factors that might be critical for the host city?

  • A strong cultural destination. The city should have interesting things to see and do so that visitors from out of town have some cultural options and look forward to making the journey.
  • A strong local Iyengar community that is active and interested in taking the lead on committee work. From reports of previously held conferences, it appears necessary to have about 8 volunteer committees with about 4-5 members on each to serve a few hours a week for a two year period.
  • A critical mass of Intermediate Junior and Senior teachers in the region to teach in the conference.
  • A large body of local Iyengar yoga student members to ensure that the conference is well attended by residents of the host city.
  • A large body of local yoga students from other traditions in the area.  Well-known senior teachers can often be a draw for a broad range of students who may not be attending local classes initially. Our hope is that by hosting a conference and opening it up to non-members who practice other methods of yoga, we attract new people to Iyengar Yoga, who will then seek out local teachers after the conference.

Last year at this time, we had around 70 members. Now we have 82. It would be nice to have 100 members before we consider hosting a regional conference. Most of our members are from Houston and Dallas; some of our members actually live outside the 5-state region.

What You can do to help: Encourage other students of Iyengar Yoga to join the association. For more information about why, see our “benefits of membership” section on this website. Send us your thoughts and ideas. Get involved!