SAIIER Annual Report 2014-2015: Pitanga Cultural Centre

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SAIIER Transport
Pitanga Cultural Centre


“Perfection is the true aim of all culture, the spiritual and psychic, the mental, the vital - and it must be the aim of our physical culture also. If our seeking is for a total perfection of the being, the physical part of it cannot be left aside; for the body is the material basis, the body is the instrument which we have to use.”

- Sri Aurobindo

Introduction

Pitanga Cultural Centre stands to support the growth of fullest potential, well being and consciousness through offering physical and cultural activities for children and adults in Auroville. It dedicates its service to the development and enhancement of physical education and cultural activities in the light of Mother and Sri Aurobindo’s Yoga. Pitanga is a service by the community for the community with occasional help from visiting teachers, therapists and artists.

Activities of the year

The centre, located in the community of Samasti, has seven rooms on two floors and aims to provide an atmosphere of beauty hosting a lively program of physical education and cultural activities, six days a week, for community members and registered guests of Auroville. Our teachers and therapists are mainly Aurovilians and Newcomers who offer their service to the community. We also have a number of returning guest teachers and therapists.

This year the centre had up to 650 visits per week from adults and children for 58 classes and 68 treatment sessions. The service is completely free for community members and priority of space is given to Auroville teachers and therapists. 2014-2015 was a busy year for programming in which we tried to increase the variety of activities offered to the community. Notable new additions to our class schedule this year were Chi Qong, Kendo martial arts, and Kickboxing as well as an increase in the variety of yoga classes taught.

In 2014- 2015 our weekly program consisted of the following:

Yoga classes of different styles and levels: 40 classes per week
Dance classes 3 classes per week
Martial Arts 8 classes per week
Other exercise 3 classes per week
Trainings and practice groups (Shiatsu and Holoenergetics) 2 per week
Music classes and rehearsals 2 per week


Our health care activities included 68 weekly appointments offered for a variety of treatments including Acupuncture, Physiotherapy, Cranial Sacral Therapy, Inner Body Exploration, Energy work, Thai Yoga Massage, Oil Massage, Hypnotherapy, Shiatsu and Somatic Movement Therapy, all facilitated by Aurovilians. There is also a regular and lively homeopath service.

Pitanga also hosted the following, non regular activities over the year:

Art Exhibitions 7 exhibitions
Performances & concerts 11 programs
Workshops 36 workshops
Community presentations and films 8 programs


We also acquired a big screen and projector through a grant from Stichting De Zaaier; this helped us greatly enhance our educational possibilities. We could show film footage that supports class activities, such as films on BKS Iyengar’s personal yoga practice. We held a number of evenings to enhance education in relation to music, showing concert and music films. The projector has also been a useful tool for community members to share their learnings, such as when Marc and Matilde shared their family’s journey to Central and South America to learn about coffee and cacao.



Pitanga team

We placed special emphasis this year on creating an enabling environment for capacity development in our team. Five of our team members took part in the Stewardship for New Emergence training, which helped us develop skillsets for systems design as well as cohesion and alignment among us. We also arranged for our workers to have a one day session with Stewardship practitioner coaches. We have found this training to be of huge benefit to us.

Tatiana and Angela enhanced their yoga training with a course with Geeta Iyengar in Pune, partly funded by Stichting De Zaaier. This workshop was quite poignant as it occurred shortly after the passing of BKS Iyengar, and thousands of teachers were in attendance from all corners of the world. This created a rich field of learning that Angela and Tatiana were able to bring into their classes on return in Auroville.

We arranged intensive English classes three days a week for our workers during the summer months. This was greatly appreciated by them, and our service will be enhanced when they can communicate more freely with the service users.

Outreach

We also made a concerted effort to reach out to people who do not usually come to Pitanga or who, we felt, could especially benefit from our activities. These included people holding stressful positions in working groups and people who were unwell. We emailed working groups directly this year at various times, to offer them appointments to try some of our relaxing activities.

Pitanga has partnered with the Edayanchavadi Healing Centre which offers body, mind, spirit programs to the local villagers. The two centres have shared resources on complimentary activities such as for the visiting teachers and therapists over the past year.

Place

We have been redesigning some of the infrastructure of Pitanga to make the service more efficient and convenient to users, such as new parking facilities and sheds, and new shelving that will help us to stock more yoga and other equipment.

After many years of dedicated practice, the Auroville Aikido moved from Pitanga to their new facility. We wish them well and welcome Kendo and Kickboxing as replacement martial arts.

Reflections

We are very happy with the increase in the number of regular Aurovilian and Newcomer teachers and therapists who have joined our team. Pitanga is a natural base for Newcomers to Auroville to integrate, share their skills and work in an environment that is very community oriented.

This year we have also been reflecting on how our activities can better inform growth of consciousness, well being, personal potential, and change in Auroville’s society. To that end we enrolled partners such as Auroville Consulting, who helped us become aware of our energy and water use and implement corrective measures in our operation patterns and choice of appliances.

We have also been discussing how the consciousness of the body is impacted by food. We hope to offer a series of films and information sessions on the body and nutrition next year, and possibly start a small garden that could be used for educational purposes.

Future direction

Our goal for next year is to listen carefully to the Pitanga users and team and to design the service so that it has the greatest impact it can as an instrument supporting the growth in consciousness of Auroville and its population. This we will do by carefully programming activities and partnering with others in the community, or visiting, who can build content. For example we would like to start on the theme of food and its impact on us, connecting our local farms and food experts with our regular practitioners, and showing films of the leading theories on nutrition and food practices.

We would also like to co-create with other Aurovilians in similiar themes using Pitanga's regular daily audience of serious practitioners and the venue facilities.

We will continue to support our teachers, therapists, staff and workers in developing their capacity by offering suitable training programs and other opportunities. We have found that there are great benefits to be harvested when we build capacity in our team for skill enhancement, alignment and cohesion.


See also

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ONE ASIA project
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SAIIER Transport