Leadership and Change within One Yoga

I would like to introduce One Yoga as a discussion piece for next Tuesday's class. Below I have briefly explained the organization, the changes that have taken place, and my role as a stakeholder within the organization. I have posed a few questions and ask that you bring your thoughts to class. Some readings that might be of service to you are Kotter, O'Toole, Terry, and Crosby (Leadership for the Common Good). You may also go to www.one-yoga.org for more information about One Yoga.


One Yoga is a nonprofit yoga studio, gaining its status as a nonprofit in 2003. Since then, One Yoga has brought thousands of people into the practice of yoga within the studio walls. In 2008, the board and teachers decided that they needed to bring their service beyond their walls and establish partnerships with other government and nonprofit organizations to bring yoga to those who would not otherwise come to the studio. They started by compiling a list of specific clientele of which the teachers had expertise in teaching and the organizations who served these people. For example, one of the teachers wanted to serve women who are victims of abuse. Under that category, they listed Jeremiah House as a possible partnership. After much thought, a master list of organizations was compiled, which amounted to over 100 organizations.

The second step of this process was actually finding out if these organizations were at all interested in a partnership, if they could contribute, and when they were interested in starting. In many ways, this step is proving to be the most breath-taking steps of the process and is where I entered the organization as their outreach coordinator. I was involved in the studio previous to my appointment, both as a volunteer and a yoga student. My interest in yoga matched with my experience in nonprofit management and I realized this to be a great opportunity to serve my community while facilitating in change. I created my position as an internship and, at first thought that I could be active in all parts of the organization. I quickly realized that the organization could most benefit from having someone to facilitate and track outreach, so I shifted my focus to work on that. Currently, my main focus is maintaining relationships with the active partnerships we have and communicating with other organizations who have independently expressed interest in working with us.

As it pertains to the growth of the outreach program, is it better to serve fewer organizations and establish deep relationships with these? Should we be reaching out to more organizations as a service-only model, providing the service but not holding much personal relation with them? What are the possible outcomes of each scenario, both positive and negative?

In detail, my job consists of maintaining the collection of organizations, both active and potential, to which we serve. Part of my challenge this year is collecting the information into a database that can be easily accessible to the board and teachers. I have also looked into using GoogleCalendar and Googledocs as online reference tools for One Yoga. This is proving to be more difficult than I originally assumed because the those involved are unfamiliar with it and many have expressed not wanting to learn how to use it. I have played around with how to best utilize the internet as a communication tool without overloading the teachers.

Do you have any suggestions on how One Yoga could enter the world wide networking to grow the organization while? Which network would you recommend for One Yoga?

My internship will eventually become a paid staff position. For right now, though, it is volunteer in exchange . When it becomes a paid position, the person will be in charge of much of the outreach program management. I would like to see the position take over most of what the ED has to do for the outreach right now, initiating contacts with organizations, meeting with all of the organizations, being the leader in explaining what the partnership could involve, being the liason between the teachers and the orgs, etc. Is this a realistic hope or should the ED continue to be responsible for this?

As an intern, how can I make myself most effective within the organization? Is it more important that I work throughout the entire organization, learning the various components that fit together to make up a nonprofit or is it more beneficial for both the organization and myself to be committed to one of the changes within the organization?

Employment... The studio is now run with one staff member, our managing director. We have a part time ED and a board and employ teachers as private yoga instructors. The weakness in this model is that the teachers can only devote a minimal amount of extra time to the growth of the studio as they teach other venues as well. We have been considering employing a “core group” of One Yoga teachers full time, which would obligate this group to the major parts of the studio. The teachers would work for One Yoga as staff personnel but would have to stop teaching elsewhere in order to be employed through the studio. Other teachers would be hired on contract to sub and conduct workshops, etc. The problem with this is the studio has too many teachers currently to hire all as full-time employees. With the studio changing so much right now, we don’t even know if this is sustainable and teachers are hesitant to completely devote their energy to it.

Do you think a shared-power type of leadership that we have now is most effective? Should we consider the "core" teacher model?

Brief history of the yoga practice and how it carries over into One Yoga:

According to Iyengar Yoga Resources: “The word Yoga comes from the Sanskrit word "Yuj" meaning to yoke, join or unite. This implies joining or integrating all aspects of the individual - body with mind and mind with soul - to achieve a happy, balanced and useful life, and spiritually, uniting the individual with the supreme.”

“According to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the ultimate aim of Yoga is to reach "Kaivalya" (emancipation or ultimate freedom). This is the experience of one's innermost being or "soul" (the Purusa). Then one becomes free of chains of cause and effect (Karma) which tie us to continual reincarnation. In Kaivalya one is said to exist in peace and tranquillity, having attained absolute knowledge of the difference between the spiritual which is timeless, unchanging and free of sorrows, and the material which is not.

This is considered desirable as life is analysed as ultimately full of sorrows and pain- even pleasure and joy leave pain and loss when they have gone as nothing in the material world is permanent. Yoga therefore is a spiritual path...”

Briefly, here is the foundation of One Yoga. For more information, please visit www.one-yoga.org

Mission: One Yoga offers health and well-being through the practices of yoga, specifically inclusive of people who traditionally lack access. Vision: Regardless of age, ability, ethnicity, income or limiting circumstance, One Yoga aspires to offer an experience of yoga practice that is appropriate to the unique needs of each person and audience served, thereby supporting the physical, emotional and spiritual health and well-being of all people.

Values: One Yoga believes in: The transformative benefits of yoga Making yoga accessible for all Building a community of yoga practitioners Sustaining an environment that is conducive to personal growth and compassion

Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs