In many yoga traditions and styles, the notion of a guru is often at the fore front of the lineage. You’ll walk into a yoga studio and see pictures or a shrine of the guru, with burning candles or some other homage to their leader. Guru in Sanskrit means teacher and the story and practice of yoga has been passed down through the ages from guru to student.
The roots of modern day Vinyasa Yoga come from Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya. He was really the first yogi to start to link breath with movement. He in turn had several renowned students who carried on his teachings. K. Pattabhi Jois – the founder of the Astanga Yoga system. B.K.S Iyengar, the founder of alignment based Iyengar Yoga, and T.K.V. Desikachar, creator of Viniyoga.
There are also many other branches of yoga and gurus, including modern day yoga systems and leaders. The most famous is Bikram Yoga, created by Bikram Choudhury whose teacher was Bishnu Ghosh. Bikram has a patent on his 26 pose and 2 breathing exercise beginner yoga class and has sued those who teach the Bikram method without using his name. Anusara Yoga comes from John Friend, who blended Iyengar with Tantric Yogic philosophy. The Anusara system requires teachers to complete extensive training, follow guidelines for each class and pay an annual licensing fee. (John Friend’s scandal has led to a re-shaping of the Anusara community – read about it here). Ana Forrest is the creator of Forrest Yoga, which combined Sivananda Yoga with Iyengar and Astanga. Baron Baptiste is the founder of Baptiste Power Yoga. And the list goes on and on…
How much do we stick to what has been passed down from our gurus and yoga lineage? Or do we adjust the practice based on knowledge of modern anatomy, movement, health, science and our own intuition? Can and should yoga be patented and trademarked? These debates doen’t just exist in yoga; they exist in almost everything we know. Politics, Religion, Values, Sports, Music, etc. There will be the traditionalists, the radicals, the liberals, etc. I’ll save this debate for another blog, maybe.
We’re often asked at 3 Bridges – what lineage do you guys follow? What is your style? Who is your guru? The answer is we teach modern day American vinyasa yoga. It means we teach breath linked with movement, incorporating traditional yoga poses, sequences and movements from all lineages, including some nontraditional movements. We try to grab the best or what makes the most sense from all styles. I love to teach the Bikram Half Moon sequence, or their counter poses for camel pose. The Astanga Sun Salutation A is a staple in our classes. We use the Anusara principles for alignment. We play music and do what we feel is right, feels good and leads to student success, on and off the mat. We have a reason for everything we do. But something had to be passed down to us from someone at somepoint.
Jody completed her teacher training with Mimi Loureiro of o2 Yoga. (O2 Yoga blends traditional Astanga with creative sequencing and progressive posing and was one of the first yoga studios here on the seacoast). In finding my teacher, I literally googled “Vinyasa Teacher Training Boston” and found Rolf Gates. I knew absolutely nothing about him (and about teaching yoga). The dates fit with my schedule and it looked to be what I needed to teach a yoga class. Little did I know that Rolf would be one of the most influential people in my life and in the foundation of 3 Bridges. (Rolf’s system is based on student success and incorporates principles for sequencing, alignment and spirituality)
Jody and I took what we learned from our teachers, and created our own “system”. It blends Mimi, Rolf, our own vision, plus what we learn every day from other teachers, students and life. It is an evolving practice for us and we do our best to teach what we know and to know that we don’t know it all.
I don’t think Mimi or Rolf would want to be called Gurus or have their picture with burning candles at our studios, but we do bow deeply to them for being our teachers. Namo Namah! Without their sharing of yoga knowledge to us, 3 Bridges would not exist as it does today. We hope that as 3 Bridges evolves, that we continue to stand for principles, respect the long tradition of this practice, continue to learn, and come to each class with an open heart and mind.
P.S. – The 3 Bridges name came to me one day while driving over the 95 Bridge. It felt right and we knew it would go well with the Ohm symbol as part of the logo, and our three bridges back bend sequence. Other names for the studio floating around at that time were Yoga Sol and Yoga for the People.