Here’s what the American senior teacher Richard Freeman says about yoga teacher lineage:
An integral part of all classical schools of yoga is their lineage, or a tracing of their roots from teacher to teacher to teacher. The importance of a lineage to any tradition is that due to the interplay of different perspectives brought together by generations of teachers, the teachings automatically encompass subtle breadth and depth – a merging of awakening minds. The presence of lineage guarantees a transmission of the most essential and subtle experience of yoga which otherwise can be missed in the shadow of the ego.”
Yoga teacher lineage can play a very important role – as a way of self-regulation. It makes good sense that anyone wanting to take to the path of teaching yoga, must seek the guidance, support and approval of her/his teacher. This helps to ensure that we do not take on classes irresponsibly, perhaps too early in our career, before acquiring the necessary skills, knowledge, attitude and experience.
I do not claim to follow any particular ‘yoga school’ or ‘tradition’. My experience grew from Sivananda and Iyengar yoga in the early years, Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga since 1999.
After well over three decades of on and off practice and some nineteen years of teaching my work with yoga is still evolving, changing.
Important additional influences on my own practice and teaching approach came from the ‘parallel stream’ to that of K. Pattabhi Jois. The BNS Iyengar / Sri Sheshadri take on the style provided many useful techniques. Another influence worth to mention is the Dynamic Yoga as defined and taught by Godfrey Devereux.
More recently the most significant contribution in terms of history, philosophy, asana alignment and deepening techniques came form Dr Norman Sjoman from 2013 onward. Norman is one of the top specialists of yoga worldwide, a Sanskrit scholar, and a good friend. His knowledge, experience and practical inputs have greatly influenced how I see, practice and pass on yoga.
Perhaps more than anything, my development and teaching have been informed through my own experience doing my personal practice on the mat, and by the invaluable feedback I got from those attending my classes and workshops.
In terms of philosophy the greatest influence on me were the teachings of J. Krishnamurti. He was not involved with any organised religion, any tradition, any dogma – a true free thinker. He was not a yoga teacher, although he learnt yoga from BKS Iyenger and practiced it regularly for many years. Krishnamurti’s teachings are as all-encompassing as a full yoga practice – not something that you take up and put down, but something that is with you always. Two quotes from him that I frequently share are:
“You have to become your own teacher and your own disciple”
“Intelligence comes into being when the mind, the heart and the body are really harmonious”.
I still call on the experience and expertise of those who provided valuable inputs into my learning. Trainee teachers studying with me are required to read Norman Sjoman’s books, whose teachings on the history and philosophy of yoga are invaluable. My serious local students are also advised to attend at least a few classes with my first teacher, James Critchlow.
In 2019 I have added another area to my work – the ‘Monkey House’ project, designed to improve our ‘Emotional Intelligence’ through various training, lifestyle changes, etc. Please see more information at the Monkey House website.