I confess. I wear Lululemon clothing.
I also confess to being confident, self-assured, and I believe in myself and I have no problem busting out a handstand whenever and wherever I want.
I enjoy being in the front row of a yoga class, no matter how sparse or crowded it is.
I like when my clothes match, I enjoy looking good, and I think I’m good looking. I like wearing t-shirts from the yoga studios I’ve been to and I have no problem advertising it. I am not ashamed of my body and I take off my shirt often.
When I teach, I often use pieces of sequences and ideas that I pick up from other teachers. I try to credit where I can, but I’ve taken so many different ideas from so many different teachers that I’m sure I miss some. I love mingling in the different yoga communities and nerding out by comparing yoga “notes.” I love talking about different styles of yoga and the perceptions—and misperceptions—of what happens in the yoga universe. I prefer vinyasa flow over other types of yoga, but I do not believe it is better or worse than those other types.
I’m a hypocrite. I’ve been guilty of being pretentious and condescending. I do the best I can to live by my ideals and by the teachings of yoga of which I am an eternal student and a very new teacher. But I make mistakes. I’ve given bad advice before and presumed myself to be tremendously more intelligent than I actually am.
I’m a vegetarian. This means that I have special dietary needs. I try to be low key about it and don’t flip out if the vegetables I ordered were grown in the same state where people eat hamburgers. My vegetarianism is health-based, not politically-based. I go to Starbucks. Sometimes I forget to bring my personal cup, so I end up wasting paper by utilizing the cups they provide.
I have a water ionizer and I shop at Whole Foods.
I like technology, although my super old flip phone would dictate otherwise. I have two computers. I use Facebook all the time. I play music in my yoga classes, and although I think my playlists are pretty awesome, I’ve played songs that haven’t always worked. I work a day job and teach yoga at night. I work my ass off and I have very little spare time.
I went to Wanderlust. I practiced in the front row of every yoga class I took. I do handstands in my sun salutations. I’m sure this will come as a great surprise to the anti-front row, anti-handstand-during-sun-salutations folks, but I practice in the front row for no other reason than that I like being close to the front. I press up to handstand in my sun salutations because it feels great, adds cohesion to my practice and allows me more opportunity for inversion. I know it’s crazy talk that anyone would have the audacity to do such things, because it must really mean that I am vying for the attention of everyone else in the room; it must also mean I am trying to invalidate their practices by showing the superiority of mine. I spoke to and smiled at every person I saw. If we made eye contact at Wanderlust, then I smiled at you. If you saw me at Wanderlust and we didn’t meet, you were very likely in one of the thirty places at which I did a handstand.
I have made an ass out of myself countless times throughout my life and my yoga career. I have overstepped my bounds with yoga teachers and fellow students. I’ve been banned from a yoga studio. I have talked when I should have listened. I have spaced out when I should have been present. I’ve fallen asleep in savasana. My ego has gotten in the way of my practice, and I have most definitely been competitive on a yoga mat. I’ve injured myself from not listening to a teacher and I’ve injured myself while listening to a teacher.
I’m moody, highly emotional, energetically charged, and have a permanent scar inside my mouth from having inserted my foot there so many times. I’m a challenging person to be around because I have an unfathomable energy level, among other things. I have two speeds: fast and faster. I have two temperatures: hot and hotter. I am two doshas: pitta and pitta2.
I battle with my ego every minute of every day and sometimes my ego wins.
I’m a flawed human being. I wake up each day and do the best I can to embrace all of the flaws I’ve listed above (along with the cornucopia of other flaws that I haven’t) so that I can move past them, perhaps become a better human being, and maybe take the yogic journey I’m on to another level.
Despite all of my flaws, foibles, idiotic shenanigans, and general tomfoolery, I am still on a yogic path. Having said that, I’m sure there are plenty of people out there chomping at the bit, waiting to rip me to shreds because of my hypocrisy and sometimes painful honesty.
I told you all this about me because it seems that lately it has become stylish to deride people in the yoga community like me, who do things like wear Lululemon, practice in the front row of a yoga class, or shamelessly practice yoga poses. Since I do all of those things and more that probably draw derision from the same crowd, I felt it was time to stand up and say something.
Is there an enlightenment map? Can I take my yogic journey in the direction of that map? Or do I need that map to take my yogic journey? Until then, am I relegated to being a hypocrite and fool because I have made decisions that do not fit an appropriate mold?
If one does not have all of the answers, is it okay for that person to judge me? How about if that person does have all the answers? Does this legitimize judgment of others for their choices?
Everyone who is practicing yoga is on some sort of journey. Some of us may not be as enlightened or as self-actualized as those who are passing judgment on us, but we are all still on a journey. Whether this sojourn resides in the physical or if we still haven’t gotten past the aesthetic, it’s still a journey. Apparently, though, there is a rating system for those journeys that only the elite and the enlightened understand. Oh, how I wish I had the teacher’s edition of Yoga for Dummies.
I guess the only viable option for me, at this point, is to stick with being who I am and you can stick with being who you are. Next time I see you, I’ll smile at you, give you a hug, and then maybe bust out a handstand.
Andrew Gurvey is an Engineer for the Fire Protection Division of Underwriters Laboratories by day, and a yoga teacher by night. Andrew’s arrival to the yoga mat was a long and winding road that has since turned into a powerful, focused journey. You can read his full bio on his website and connect with him on Facebook.