When drawn towards a teacher or school of yoga, its credentials and lineage are of great relevance and value. Someone who has immersed themselves in Yoga is what we could consider as well cooked. Shandor, the disseminator of Shadow/Chaya Yoga who I recently had the opportunity to study with, is no exception. Having studied yoga since a child, first with his father, then with numerous notable teachers, his experience, knowledge and insight is vast.
He is adamant about spreading yoga, which is free of the trappings of commercialism, gimmickry, or which has been modified to suit the expectations and climate of the trends and advertising of the modern age.
As someone initiated as a Nath, this authenticity shines through. The Naths, are a lineage of Sadhu, originating from Gorakshanath or Gorakanath as he is also known. An 11th century sage and yogi, described as a pupil of Matsyendranath, credited as the creator of Hatha Yoga. Gorakanath emphasised a disciplined practice out of which one directly experiences Yoga, bliss, knowledge and insight directly as opposed to this being passed on as some sort of singular, quantifiable truth.
As opposed to trying to define truths or experiences, the approach of Gorakanath was to pass on practices and supporting theory that the practitioner could take away and apply. I’ve often heard it said that in Yoga and Tantra, the practitioner is both the scientist and the experiment, and this also being the approach of Gorakanath’s yoga, supports this.
Like our body and mind being an alchemical container, we apply the practices to it, and the internal process of purification, or distillation to our essence occurs. As this happens, all that yoga practices are indicated to give rise to, appear. Liberation, freedom, knowledge, accomplishment etc.
Of course, the Hatha Yoga practices which will skilfully bring us to this state, require the correct sequence of steps, timings etc. This is opposed to the hybrid, pick and mix forms of Yoga that have appeared in recent times, that may be hip, cool or current, give a physical buzz or some brief relaxation, but lack the subtlety to take us to our already existent state of Yoga.
Perhaps the next time you step onto your mat, it might be worth considering that you possess in that moment, the means to Yoga. The theory, the practice, the practice vessel ( body and mind) and the state of Yoga within, all passed own via these remarkable lineages.