Pure Yoga By Another Name–Chopra, Tolle, and Easwaran
Over on the “it’s all yoga, baby” blog we’re having a spirited in-depth debate about the commercialization of Yoga, and when it ceases to be Yoga. It’s very similar to the great debates we’ve had right here on the same topic.
The immediate trigger for this debate was the sponsorship of Rainbeau Mars by adidas and the “adidas yoga” session at the Yoga Journal Conference in Estes Park, Colorado.
In the process of thinking about it, I came up with a startling idea. We are talking in this blog about the term “Yoga” being used where some people feel it doesn’t belong.
How do we deal with the huge movements that are almost pure Yoga philosophy, but which don’t choose to use the term “Yoga” to describe themselves?
I know Chopra pretty well, having read some of his books, seen his website, and watched his lectures on TV. Most of Chopra’s teachings come directly out of the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita.
If you ignore his huge celebrity following and just look at his work, you could argue that Chopra is the modern sage of pure original Yoga, predating even asana and hatha. One of Chopra’s most recent books is a modern interpretation of reincarnation. And he wrote the book Rod Stryker uses in his teacher training for Ayurveda.
I’m less familiar with Tolle. He is certainly less engaging and convincing than Chopra as a speaker. But his teachings about nondualism also seem to also emanate directly out of the Upanishads and the Gita.
Easwaran was one of the world’s foremost translators of the Upanishads and the Gita. But he saw them as too universal to be restricted to the term Yoga, so to bring their message to the world he created a meditation center with little reference to Yoga, and he brought in meditation sources from a variety of religions. His web site doesn’t call itself a Yoga site, but his teachings and philosophy are pure pre-asana Yoga.
I don’t know what to do with this insight. What do you think? Here we have non-Yoga movements that are rapidly spreading Yogic meditation and spirituality with no association with asana at all, and very little explicit reference to Yoga!
I guess it makes me even less worried about the diversity of Yoga. Perhaps these movements and those like them will help offset the stretching of the definition of Yoga on the asana side of the spectrum.