What is “Post-lineage” yoga?

Yoga is a modern practice with ancient roots. Over the millennia, many different schools and styles – or lineages – of yoga have emerged, and while many of them differ vastly in their methods and approach, there are certain elements that virtually all branches and schools of modern yoga have in common. 

For one, they have all been heavily influenced by the Yoga Sutras of Patañjali, which were written roughly 1,500 years ago and which represent the first document to codify the many different and disparate practices of yoga that first began springing up across India between 2,000-5,000 years ago. Among other cornerstones of yoga, the Yoga Sutras laid out the eight-limbed path, which constitutes the foundation of virtually all schools and styles of modern yoga.

Secondly, all branches of authentic modern yoga share a single common aim – that of Self-realization, also referred to as “Self-liberation”, or “Ultimate Freedom.” These terms all refer to the concept that what we as human beings ultimately are is souls who are inherently free but who are currently inhabiting a particular body-mind, which often confuses and causes us to forget our true nature and become unhappy as a result. The central premise of all authentic yoga practices is that the more people can calm their minds and balance their nervous systems, the more they can feel the presence of their own soul and realize their inherent freedom, and the happier and healthier they will become as a result. And while no one has yet been able to prove the existence of a soul, modern science has clearly proven that when practiced properly, many of the techniques and methods employed by ancient yogis do indeed make people measurably happier and healthier.

Lastly, all branches of authentic yoga strive to serve not only the individual good, but also the common good by encouraging a strong moral foundation and a consistent, determined practice of working to become conscious of our conditioning and convert our unconscious negative patterns of behavior and thought into more benign or positive ones.

While in the past it was common for a student to study with a single teacher for many years (if not the student’s entire life), as time has gone on it has become increasingly common for students to study with a variety of teachers. The result has been a cross-pollination, of sorts, that has created a vast spectrum of practices that are influenced by multiple lineages. Because of this, it can sometimes be difficult to determine how exactly a given practice came into existence, and whether or not it is indeed effective as a yoga practice.

With all of that in mind, The AYP considers “post-lineage” yoga to be any practice that:

  1. Honors the traditional eight-limbed path as laid out in Patañjali’s Yoga Sutras;
  2. Aims at Self-realization through techniques designed and (as much as possible) scientifically-proven to calm the mind and balance the nervous system;
  3. Aspires to contribute to the mental, physical, spiritual and psychological uplift not only of individual practitioners, but also of their communities and to society at large.

We welcome any questions or thoughts you may have to share on this topic.