I just read this interesting and detailed article on Vanity Fair’s website: Whose Yoga Is It, Anyway? Kind of a fascinating look at the inner circle(s) of the Ashtanga community, especially after the recent Anusara blow-up. It sounds like the combination of lots of money, commercialization, yoga superstardom, passion about the core teachings, and the passing of a revered teacher is making a lot of waves. Overall I found it interesting to learn more about the Ashtanga lineage and wider community, even if that community is feeling some tension of late.
I know that many people really value having a deep connection to a special teacher or guru. I do know my lineage as a yoga teacher – who my teacher J studied with in India, and who that teacher studied with, rooting the yoga that I teach in a tradition that I’m proud to carry on. But at times like this, I think I’m glad not to have a personal connection with a guru. As we’ve all seen with John Friend and others like him, even revered yoga teachers are still fallible humans, and even when the teacher is as kind and lovely as Ashtanga’s Jois seems to have been, his successors won’t necessarily have the same qualities or goals. I don’t intend to demean the personal and spiritual connection of working directly with a guru or being part of that sort of close-knit yoga community; not having experienced it, I don’t want to pretend to understand how enlightening or intense that could be. What I do have, though, is my yoga. Because I’m a generation or two removed from the renowned teachers, I can always find strength and comfort in the yoga I practice and in passing that tradition on to my students, without having to worry about personal drama or community upheaval, and that’s something I appreciate.