The End of “Styles?”

Time was, everybody had a yoga style: Iyengar, Ashtanga, Bikram, Anusara. Everyone, from teachers to students, seemed to know, if not what they were doing, at least what it was called. These monikers became so much a part of us that even Spellcheck stopped autocorrecting them. Some styles, like those mentioned above, sprang from the minds and bodies of individual gurus. Some sprang from studios: Integral Yoga, Jivamukti, Om, Laughing Lotus, Yoga Works. Others were spawned by existing systems: Ashtanga gave birth to Power Yoga; Bikram off-license became Hot Yoga; Hot Yoga with flow become Hot Power Yoga. Still others clung to oddly generic names like Hatha Yoga (taught at the Sivananda Vedanta Society yoga centers) and Kundalini (most commonly taught by Sikh disciples of ??). All yoga that involves postures is hatha yoga; all yoga that seeks to move prana/energy/breath through the body is kundalini yoga.

Somehow the lines have blurred. Maybe teachers like me started to concoct our own blends.
Or maybe we just got so many different styles, often taught at the same studios, that nothing was “pure” anymore. All I know is that when I ask new students what style they practice, I’m usually met with a vague look and an even vaguer reply, something along the lines of “vinyasa” or “flow” or “vinyasa flow” (which is redundant: vinyasa means “flow”).

Does it matter? Yes, and no. The yoga tradition was founded on lineage. But look at those two words. A tradition is a living, breathing process of transmitting (literally, “carrying over”) practices from person to person, which each new adopter inevitably warping what he/she receives. And a lineage

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Shopping Cart