Honoring the Tradition

Up until recently, I had not paid very much attention to the idea of the yoga “lineage” or “tradition”, in the broad sense of the word.

I have nothing against it; I’ve just not felt any real kinship to any lineage or tradition. They all seem to have something good, something bad, and something in between, so I’ve picked and chosen what works for me and discarded the rest. 

For example, I love, love, love the alignment-based aspect of Iyengar yoga, but am not crazy about the rigid dogma. I love the fluidity of movement in Ashtanga Vinyasa, but, as a beginner, I didn’t learn enough to do it safely.

Because of my mutt style, the most dreaded question I get is, “What kind of yoga do you do?”. No wonder why teachers are naming and trademarking their yoga practice left and right. Perhaps, as a culture, we are accustomed to a need for brand names.

The Upanishads

This weekend, we read the Taittiriya Upanishad and discussed the history of Yoga, including the Upanishads, which are old–really, really, really old–ancient Hindu texts that contain the core teachings of the Vedanta – the teachings of Self-actualization. 

Upaniṣad is Sanskrit, and literally means  “sitting down near” a teacher in order to receive instruction, from upa- (nearby), ni- ( down) and sad. 

As we learned this, we were all sitting down gathering around our teacher, Kathryn Payne. In one quick second, it struck me that, holy macaroni, we *are* sitting down near our teacher to receive the teachings. We are, indeed, following the tradition.

To be a Yogi

I admit, I have never been one to follow tradition. I have always viewed it as a rather sheepish thing, to do something others tell you without question, without reflection. With this tradition, though, I feel a sense of okay-ness, that I am here, I choose to do this.

More than that, I feel extremely, well, there’s no other way to put this, honored. Honored to be continuing this very long and very old way of learning and exchanging information. Honored to have the near-capacity to receive the teachings. Honored to be a yogi.

In a way, it’s comforting for me to think that, no many how many styles of yoga asana come and go, these teachings will always remain.