July 16, 2014

How many styles of yoga do we NEED in the world!?! Obviously there is a proliferation of brand­name yoga styles, but what is really going on that is causing this phenomenon? As far as I can tell, each teacher (every teacher) finds some tradition, or multiple traditions, that resonates with him or her, and then PRACTICES in that tradition(s) and learns from their individual experience and grows and is changed by it, and then adds to or changes the way the tradition, the teaching, is presented from what he or she learned and for the students that are attracted to that teacher. If that teacher (student) feels that what they have is so unique and if that teacher has enough students and has a strong marketing/capitalistic urge, then the “new” teaching could be trademarked and taught and proliferated, creating in some cases and almost pyramid­scheme yoga business. (My dad’s wife, a wonderful business­minded and future­thinking woman, I think would LOVE if I had already done that!)

In many cases this is a workable scheme and gives prospective students, or people in the market for a particular kind of yoga, a quick and easy way to know what to expect from a particular teacher. For better or worse, I have resisted name­branding “my” yoga. One of my awesome students had thought I should trademark “Loving Kindness Yoga,” which I did consider for a little while, and I do still like the idea since I think Loving Kindness is the essential attitude that I hope people can join me in learning and trying to embody.

But what IS IT? What am I teaching exactly? When people ask me what style I teach, I say “hatha yoga” in order to be purposely vague, and then I go on to tell a little about how I practice and how I teach. People who like me as a teacher and who find my yoga style helpful or enjoyable, come back. It’s not a short­hand technique like being able to say my (hopefully popular and well­known) brand and have everyone know immediately what it means, but for me it feels more meaningful and has a little more heart and requires more of a connection, which I thinks is one of my strong points,… AND if you know me even the tiniest bit, you will know how I resist being put in a box, or being easily defined!. and how I tend to avoid “yes/no, either/or answers! 🙂

So when it comes to Go Deep, “my” yoga teacher training and advanced yoga studies course, in no way do I endeavor to teach “my” STYLE of yoga I teach IN “my” style, of course, but I don’t teach “my” style. I don’t want a bunch of “Ti clones,” even if they were “Loving Kindness Yoga” certified clones 🙂 Going back to the beginning of this article, as a teacher of yoga teachers and people wanting to take their yoga deeper, I want people to take what they have been taught, by me and their other teachers, and apply it, PRACTICE IT, self­led, on their mat and meditation cushion.

What I have seen over and over for 10 years is that each person’s own unique style emerges. It may look somewhat like “my” style or some other teacher’s or some yoga brand, but always it is beautifully unique and FROM THE HEART. There is no sense of the teacher (student) copying, or trying to follow a script or perform, or needing to be any pre­determined thing. Instead, students (teachers) learn to trust themselves, trust their own experience and what they have learned from it, and then they naturally share their beautiful selves from that place of experience and trust. This sharing happens, of course, in each student’s (teacher’s) life OFF the mat as well as in their yoga teaching. Some choose to teach and some don’t.

The nutshell of Go Deep is that I encourage and give support for each student (teacher) to find what is True and most meaningful for them. The process of sharing, heck, even BEING, THAT then happens naturally. So in the end, how many yoga styles do we need? I think we need as many styles as there are people because everyone is unique. Yes, in the ultimate sense,according to the Masters and scriptures, we are ONE and there is a lot of commonality in our experience, but no one has the same exact Path to follow as any other, so our “yogas” will look somewhat different. May we each find and follow the Path of our own Heart to the Final Goal.