I think about this question all the time. Even though I view Blissology more as a style of life than a style of yoga, I had to answer this question for a media interview as part of the exciting Zambhala Yoga Festival in Goa, India I am teaching at with others like Janet Stone and Duncan Wong. I actually teach in India every year and I know when people there see all the new styles of “western” yoga popping up, they must question why, as I am sure many of you do. Here is the interviewers question and my answer. Chime in with your responses. Would love to hear it as this is a big topic for 21st Century Yogis.
QUESTION: Every other person seems to be inventing his own style of yoga – both in India and abroad? Why is it that yoga inspires so many experiments? As a yoga student myself and a hardened fan of Ashtanga vinyasa, I fear it will dilute the spirit of yoga? How would you counter this charge?
ANSWER: I agree with you. The number of yoga systems popping up around the world is mind-boggling. It took me a long time to get clear about the path I was on. I can’t tell you how long I wrestled with the question, “does the world really need another yoga system.”
Here’s how the process went for me to get clear. It started with the fact that the yoga I enjoyed practicing evolved. I have roots in Ashtanga yoga and so much respect for the practice. As time progressed, I wanted to bring in aspects of what I had studied in body-mind psychotherapy, in tai-chi, in kinesiology and so on. I wanted to awaken people’s intuition and philosophically, I just wanted to turn the vinyasa yoga practice into a seamless ritual that connects people to Nature and their communities.
So there I was. In one sense all yoga is so similar, but in another sense what I was teaching was very unique and particular to what I enjoyed practicing and what I felt like the world needed. It didn’t fit neatly into any pre-existing box. But to not have a name for it was hard. It’s like not having a name for yourself and every time people want to refer to you they have to say, “hey you, the guy who is 5’9” with the blue eyes and brown hair.” It is much easier to call myself “Eoin.”
So with a little reluctance in 2000 I started calling what I taught “Power Yoga + Blissology” and now I just call it Blissology. I actually don’t even use the term yoga.
I acknowledge that I am standing on the shoulders of giants. Where would modern yoga be without the lineage of Krishnamacharya passing his wisdom on to Pattabhi Jois, B.K.S. Iyengar, and Desikachar? Where would my yoga be without them? I owe them so much.
I’d love to point out though that what each of these great men did though was really the same process we are talking about; they molded the practice to suit what was true in their hearts and vision. Each one of them came up with a very distinct approach to the practice not so long ago. So the concept of an unchanging “pure” form of yoga coming from antiquity without adaptation isn’t true in reality.