The problem with Lineage

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For the past few months, I've sort of had yoga on the brain.  If you follow me on twitter you probably know that my wife Maile opened up a yoga studio in Logan Square, the Chicago neighborhood in which we live.

This ended up in my company building a yoga studio software product that Maile uses to run her studio.

During the course of all this I've started to learn a bit about the yoga world, although I'd certainly still consider myself a newbie to it all. One of the things I've found fascinating is the extent to which people in the yoga community focus on an instructor's lineage.  

Who taught them, where they were taught, who taught their teacher's teacher, etc. It seems to me that this focus goes far beyond understanding what has influenced a person, what's inspired them, and what things led them to who they are today. Instead, the focus on lineage seems to define, permanently, what someone is today based on who taught them in the past.  I don't understand this, and I don\'t think it's all that healthy.  

The problem with this focus on lineage is that it puts a greater emphasis on the past than it does the present.  It presumes that who taught you is more important than the kind of teacher you are today.  It seems to give the benefit of the doubt to  a bad teacher with good lineage over an awesome teacher who was taught by their yoga instructor friend that no one knows about. And unlike influence and inspiration, which encourage one to tweak, transform, experiment, remix, and reinvent - lineage seems to be steeped in a tradition that says there is a "right way" to do something.  And to deviate from that is not only wrong, but potentially disrespectful to one's heritage.

Inevitably, this leads to good people feeling the need to redefine themselves when they find out the makers of their pedigree aren't everything they were cracked up to be.  Not because they're suddenly worse teachers.  Not because their classes are suddenly bad.  But because they think their lineage is damaged.

Understanding where people come from, what their styles are, what influences and what inspires them - these all seem to be things we should try to understand. But so much emphasis on one\'s lineage, I don\'t think that's healthy.

After all, if lineage were what we cared about as a society, we'd all still be ruled by Kings.