I have written in this space before, more than once, on the value and importance in the role of teachers, mentors, and guides in not just my life but in the growing lives of my children. I place big emphasis on this. Chris and I have made many decisions as parents that revolve around our kids access and relationships to particular teachers. I have made many choices for myself that are also in direct relationship to my need for proximity and contact to certain teachers. This is perhaps, much of why I cannot stop thinking about a term I heard for the first time on a yoga themed podcast that I must have happened across sometime in the last month. The term was: Post-Lineage. The context being that we are moving from a lineage oriented system to this new, modern, post-lineage yoga world. This has landed heavily for me. And not because I had not already been considering it- I think rather because something along these lines has been rattling around upstairs for awhile.
The term is succinct, direct, and with potentially large implications for the trajectory of yoga in the west. I am neither for it or against it, but rather mesmerized by it and interested in exploring the why the how and the where. I have definitely been around, either internally or peripherally, the yoga world for long enough now to have seen quite a few iterations of how the status quo is expressed. For the better part of the first decade of my experience it appeared that we were still very much in a student-teacher dynamic that was well rooted in lineage and tradition. And now, one of the biggest differences I see is that while most students care, for the most part, who their teacher is, they care a whole lot less about who their teacher’s teacher is and what tradition, or, lack of one, their teacher is connected to. Over the last decade, the larger yoga community has witnessed the dissolution of many of the major players. It almost appears that no sooner do schools of yoga take rise in the west then they begin to crumble under the faltering credibility of their figure heads. Something is seriously lost in translation as yoga makes its way from East to West. And while some of that loss in concerning- and I’ll attempt to get into that in a moment- the majority of it I find really liberating and honestly a bit of a thrill.
I love how unconcerned the majority of my students are with the protocols and customs of tradition. I see so much less transference and projection in the yoga rooms now than when I was coming up. SO much less. Students in general seem more whole. More aware of themselves and engaged around the conversation of agency and accountability. Which, isn’t that the point? And their freedom is allowing me to look more closely at my own obsessive inclination toward the role of the teacher. In what ways have I gotten too enmeshed? How have I blurred the boundary between my concepts of the teacher and my own sense of worth? I honestly really love this “take what you love and leave the rest behind” era. I have always cringed at most anything I have perceived as dogmatic (refer to pretty much the entire library of posts on this very site) while at the same time being like a moth to the guru flame. So I feel some relief and some space in this current time.
The concern, of course, is what is it that gets left behind? What is it that does not translate in the journey across the sea? Because if it is the reverence or the sacred or the art or any of that grace that is lost, then we may be in trouble. But I do think there is a trend toward that. At least, not largely. I still trust people to seek out depth and context beyond the casual exposure to daily content. I also think that as we mature as modern and complex human beings, we are capable of simultaneously elevating the seat of the teacher and seeing the individual with clear eyes. This pleases me. We do better when we learn from those who walked the path before us. We are served by the Grace of the countless practitioners who paved the way. And yet, it continues to be a living tradition. One that we are each a part. We contribute to this conversation. And if today that means that I am less concerned with lineage and more with integrity, efficacy, and meaning, then I’ll take it.