I was looking at the picture below from Paul Harvey's excellent Centre for Yoga Studies. It's of him standing outside the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram with some of the founders, trustees and teachers. Ramswami was another of the original trustee of KYM, he's not in this picture but Paul mentions in it's caption how he would also have lessons with Ramaswami while studying at KYM with his principle teacher TKV Desikachar.
The Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram was founded by Krishnamacharya's Son as a tribute to his father and mentor, it is a Public Charitable Trust, recognised by the Health and Family welfare Ministry, Government of India.
It gave me pause, why I wondered didn't Ashtanga become a charitable trust after Pattabhi Jois' passing. I know that the Jois family donates money to certain charities but that's not the same as being a foundation.
I tried to work out the income of KPJYI once, what are there around three hundred students a month with the shala open for six months so around 1800 students a season? Some months are less of course shall we bring that down to 1500, is that fair, bit less perhaps? It's what around $500 a month (you pay more for the first month less for the following months), so what's that, around $750, 000 a season. That would make for quite a charitable foundation.
Then of course there are the world tours, large sums involved there....not sure how I feel about this, should it count as separate from the proposed 'foundation'? Sharath is touring as head of KPJAYI though, the vast numbers who attend are partly due to the position he holds and it's also promotion so perhaps including it under the foundation is fair. I'll leave you to work out the sum involved but I imagine if we lump the Mysore Shala, world tours and merchandise income together it comes to well over $1000,000 a year.
I wonder what the expenses of KYM are.
A foundation would have trustees.
Here's a parlour game, who would be the trustees of such a foundation. Sharath, Manju Saraswathi obviously but who else would be on the board? David Williams, Nancy Gilgoff, Tim Miller perhaps, Richard Freeman....you could play this game at home.
Rather than passing directorship from father to son (or grandson) it could be open to election by the board. That might allow for a separation between the shala and the institute, Sharath might find that quite appealing, there could perhaps be a revolving directorship based on election by the board, representatives of the authorised teachers could be elected and perhaps of unauthorised students also. Perhaps a small nominal membership fee offered to shala as well as home Ashtangi's.
As a home Ashtangi I don't have shala fees but would be happy to pay a small membership fee to a charitable foundation. Recently I received email from somebody practicing in a small village in Iran, would be nice to think that a foundation might make short 'scholarships possible for people who would be perhaps unable to get to Mysore to practice any other way, and perhaps to subsidise schools based in deprived areas, more outreach.
There could also be decentralisation, a setting up of centres of teaching excellence recommended and voted on by the board.
Training centres around the world, another parlour game. Which shalas come to mind, those with certified teachers might be a start many of whom were certified by Pattabhi Jois himself.
I like this idea, like the idea of connections and cooperation between shalas, there's something like this happening in Greece actually. Be nice to see it extended to other countries and then perhaps on a continent level....
It turns out I'm more of a purist than I thought. It seems I do feel that you should have been practicing Ashtanga for a number of years before you teach it. Just because you may have been teaching other styles of yoga and can pick up the first two or three Ashtanga sequences in a couple of weeks doesn't seem quite the same to me. There's something about how we learn this practice, that slow grinding it out, whether at home or in a shala, seems to constitute an important aspect of the tradition.
A membership of the foundation would give some indication of how long somebody has been practicing. The Iyengar institue has something like that I think, you need to have been practicing Iyengar yoga for 8 years before being accepted to study at the Institute in Pune I believe. I don't think there should be a similar restriction on when you can practice at the Mysore shala but perhaps length of practice could decide whether you were accepted on a teaching intensive at one of the new training centres.
Whether somebody has or hasn't been to Mysore is of less interest to me personally. More important for me is how long somebody has been practicing and perhaps who their teacher was/is. Authorisation/Certification, whether their name is or isn't on a list this month is of little importance to me either. I imagine there are students at say Tim Millar's shala or Richard's in Boulder who have been practicing for decades and never been to Mysore.
Sharath has stressed in several conferences recently that nobody owns Yoga, the same goes for Ashtanga, it's not a family business it seems to me more of a sangha, an international community of practitioners rather than teachers and students, Sharath too is a practitioner, a foundation might reflect that quite well.