The hybrid that is lineage, gurus and Ashtanga

As the folks at Yoga Workshop continue rolling out the studio’s revamped website, they’ve posted on Facebook a page on the Ashtanga lineage. It is right here, and obviously it is worth a read. The part that strikes me the most is:

Like all lineages, that at the Yoga Workshop is a hybrid of yoga methodologies and philosophies which converge clearly in the teachings of the early Upanisads and blossom later in the practices of Hatha Yoga and Tantra. The teaching at the Yoga Workshop is in the lineage of Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga.

There is a handful of topics among Ashtanga practitioners that can engender some heated conversations: lineage is one. I would suspect that there are some for whom the word “hybrid” is repelling. What is hybrid vs. parampara, exactly?

We all, though, are a hybrid, in a sense, our own unique mix of experiences, learning, mistakes, triumphs, losses. (The very fact that unique applies to everyone and everything makes it a word that’s use renders it near meaningless.) And so I think that writing, “Like all lineages” there captures something fundamental that we all, in our own fundamentalism about teachers, lineages, this studio vs. that studio, may have the tendency to forget.

Teachers are supposed to remind us of things we know but have forgotten, right?

Before Yoga Workshop had posted this, I was reading through Eddie Stern’s own write-up of Guruji. A little confluence of thinking out there in the greater aether? Probably not, but if you haven’t checked it out, go here. A tiny bit, a familiar story:

And at one point, Krishnamacharya delivered a lecture while he had Guruji remain in Mayurasana on the other side of the room for half an hour. It was in this way that Guruji believes he became strong and disciplined in his practice, and learned that through correct breathing, mind control, and faith, the benefits and deeper stages of Yoga come automatically. Faith especially for Guruji has long meant that the words of his teacher and those of the Yoga texts are unquestionably true, and are all one needs to follow to attain success in Yoga.

There’s a good sense through Eddie’s writing of the hybrid that was Guruji.

Posted by Steve

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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

One thought on “The hybrid that is lineage, gurus and Ashtanga”

  1. Interesting to hear this perspective. I have been practicing for 15 years, and have tried most of the different approaches to yoga. But I’ve never had a teacher that talked about lineage at great lengths. My favorite teacher shoos me away if I try to get too specific. He says, “It doesn’t really matter because its all yoga.” It’s amazing how different our experiences and teachers can be.

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