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As part of the Food for Thought: Lunchtime Talk series at TIHR, Rachel Kelly, Professional Development Coordinator at the Institute and a teacher of the Alexander Technique, talks to staff and guests about some key concepts, philosophical ideas and the myths and fantasies around the Yoga Event, which has been a part of the annual group relations Leicester Conference for the last 8 years.


Tavistock Institute

April 22, 2016



    Kelly Food for Thought: Lunchtime Talk 10 February 2016 1
  2.  History of Yoga 2  Yoga Sutras - Patanjali

     Practice  The Postures:
  3.  History of the Yoga Event  An event in

    Indian Group Relations conferences since 2001  In the Leicester conference since 2008  In Finnish GR conferences since 2013 3
  4.  What is the Leicester conference?  The original Group

    Relations conference  The only 2-week Group Relations conference  Running annually since 1957 4
  5.  Rationale of Group Relations  “The primary task of

    group relations conferences is to provide opportunities to learn about leadership” (Rice, 1965)  ”to provide opportunities to learn about the nature of authority and the interpersonal and inter-group problems encountered in its exercise” (Rice, 1969)  Leadership in a group can be thought of as representing or embodying the function of the group, especially its major function or primary task.  The Primary task is the task that a group or organisation must perform in order to survive’ (Miller and Rice, 1967) 5 Mannie Sher 2015
  6.  Some Tenets of Group Relations  Analytical and critical

    approach  Boundaries: Time Task Territory  Role  Bion’s Basic Assumptions  Open Systems  Relatedness 6
  7.  What is Group Relations?  A method to study

    the behaviour of groups using a psycho-analytic and systems psychodynamic framework, amongst others;  A way to study the nature of leadership;  Experiential learning in the here- and-now. 7
  8.  So let’s consider Yoga and GR  Boundaries: Time

    Task Territory  Role  Bion’s Basic Assumptions  Open Systems  Isabel Menzies Lyth and Bion on staying with the not knowing 8
  9.  Why a Yoga Event? 9  Another framework for

    studying the behaviour of groups  Integration of the self  Practising the postures together as a group  Learning how to manage your own anxiety and shame
  10.  Is Yoga about posture(s)?  Both yes and no

     Yoga means many things because it is many things, there are many paths:  Union  Yoke  To consciously connect with ourselves and with life – any form of connection  There are 8 limbs of yoga of which the postures are just one 10
  11.  How is the Yoga Event shaped? 11  Time:

    8 sessions in the late afternoon  Task  Territory: spacious room  1 leader and 2 demonstrators on low podium  Mats in rows, spaced out
  12.  What does the Yoga Event represent? Myths & Fantasies

    12  Is the YE more optional than other events in the conference?  Is Leicester only about the mind – psycho-dynamics?  Is the mind more important than the body?  Is Yoga a religion?  Can spirituality only be expressed in the YE and not elsewhere in the conference?  Is Yoga just about exercise and/or stretching?  Is it only for the young and flexible yoga bunny?  Is it just for women?
  13.  13

  14.  What does the Yoga Event represent? Resistances 14 

    Body shame  Slow pace  Yoga Nidra: Fear of death  Conference staff  Female leadership  Non-Indian leadership  The Administrator leading
  15.  How have I found leading it? 15  Changes

    over the 8 years I have led it  Caring for the practitioners  Inner smile  Awareness; widening field of attention  Yoga Team  Dressing for the role
  16.  Research Evaluation 2012 16 9 8.86 8.42 8.18 8.18

    6.89 6.29 9.5 9.38 8.75 8.88 8.75 8.5 9.13 Review and application group Small study group Sustainable society event Large study group Design event Plenary events Yoga event mean rating post conference questionnaire mean rating follow up questionnaire
  17.  Comments from members 2012 17  “The yoga group

    was a powerful space where integration of the variety of experiences could be felt and understood through the sensations in one's body.”  “Yoga was just a nice way to get back in contact with myself. Even though it would have been interesting with more visualization, and the opportunity to do the yoga in a more comfortable room (warmer...”  “My recommendation for such an event would be, either to make it optional, or to have a ""mind and body"" event that incorporates a fifteen minute component or a thread of discussion on how people are feeling physically and mentally in the here and now, within the conference experience, and together practising some methods to attend to this. I feel this would be more effective than running a formal yoga class and calling it an event."  “Haven’t gone – found it boring. I usually go to the gym and like vigorous exercise”  “Decided not to participate and use the time differently (went for runs).”
  18.  More comments 18  “Yoga: important way of active

    relaxing during the day, but what I learned? Yes, that soft stretching really has beneficial impact. (N.B. I liked the yoga of Rachel, so why not teach with a smile?)“  “Was a bit puzzled at first – then I found it useful – I can’t relax generally, so the exercise helps my spine. I feel better after the session – but don’t agree with the atmosphere which is a bit religious.”  “Energises me – never done it before so not very bendy – got a lot out of it, stayed awake”  “The yoga provided welcome opportunity to simply be but little new learning."  “YE: Good. Something loose because of the language."  “For me the yoga event was good. I was able to relax and link with the whole group in a different setting."  “Yoga - this helped me rediscover the connection between my mind and my body. I had forgotten that I like this practice.”
  19.  19

  20.  Acknowledgements  Eliat Aram for agreeing that I should

    lead the Yoga Event in the first place and encouraging me all the way  Gouranga Chattopadhyay for his writings on Yoga and the Yoga Event in GR conferences  Zahid Hoosein Gangee for our collaboration on the paper on the Yoga Event for Belgirate V 2015 on which this talk is based  Mannie Sher for his writings on Group Relations  Rosemary Viswanath for constant support and wise advice in the moment All the demonstrators in the YE team over the years… Eliat Aram; Coreene Archer; Gabriela Barrial; Zahid Hoosein Gangjee; Rachel Kelly; Michael Lindsay; Mary McRae; Stephen Otter; Hüseyin Özdemir; Rina Tagore; Rosemary Viswanath 20
  21.  Yoga Nidra 21