The Power of Transmission
The more popular yoga becomes, the more I appreciate my teachers and the lineage behind me. A lineage teacher asks you to step into the fire that she has stepped into before, because her teacher has asked it of her, and so on. Such a teacher has explored, tried, failed and assimilated whatever practice she is asking of you and therefore knows its benefits, liabilities and how to discern when a student is ready. This teacher has made an internal assessment and gauged the student's capacity, even if the student cannot see it in themselves. If the student is not ready, the practice is held back and something else is given. This perspective frees both student and teacher from the forces of greed, ego-driven success or financial gain. And it is under such conditions that real, lasting transmittion takes place. Trust and accountability between teacher and student have been given a chance to develop slowly and patiently. This environment may seem tedious or unsatisfying to students at first, because it is not generally what we are exposed to as a developed, economically driven culture. A mind that has been conditioned through constant activity and short-term gratification will find the patience, humility and commitment required for personal practice uncomfortable. But the benefits of such a relationship are also very potent, in a way that is different from a physically challenging or emotionally cathartic experience in the classroom. While I was very lucky to discover this as a student many years ago, this kind of transmission is also where my heart is as a teacher today. I will always love teaching Foundations and introducing important philosophical principles in yoga, and my broader purpose is to present Hatha Yoga as a complete system of physical and spiritual health.
My teacher, Mark Horner, exemplifies many of the things I aspire to as a teacher and has guided me faithfully for 17 years. I have also been fortunate to have studied with his teacher, Shandor Remete (shadowyoga.com) and his wife, Emma Balnaves (agniyogana.com) in many different courses over that same time period, when they visit the Bay Area. This summer, however, I have been given an opportunity to study with Shandor and Emma in Hungary, Shandor's country of origin. The practice schedule is demanding and the psychological honesty required to stay humble and create space for true transmission can seem unbearable at times. Ironically, that is how I know I'm on the right track. I will not be taking notes in class, I will not be taking selfies with the teacher and I will not be acquiring new techniques to bring into the classroom back home. But I will be stepping into the fire with my whole heart, trusting that something meaningful will come as a result. What I absorb from this experience may or may not surface in a public classroom, but you can have faith that I will never ask you to do something which has not been fully tempered within me.
I will be away June 18 - July 6. Please check the studio schedule for the excellent teachers who have agreed to step in while I'm gone.