It is claimed that the true yoga practitioner transfers what s/he has learned into his or her life—from the mat—off to the world.
In general terms, we can say that a yogi is someone who is engaged in the practice and study of yoga, i.e. a person who regularly directs his energy to making positions, practicing breathing techniques and meditation, and to a lesser or greater extent, to study the yogic philosophic texts in order to purify the body and mind.
How is this translated into everyday life?
Beyond getting a tattoo, using a japa-mala as a kind of jewellery, eating organic food, being a thriving vegan or proclaiming yourself as ecologist, among many other recurring habits, among the yogic Kula (community), there is a developed mood of self-well-being that makes you less interfered with by the outside and excluded of what others think of your lifestyle. Swami Satyananda Saraswati said:
“The Yogi is a person who bases their happiness on their inner essence, less dependent on external things, and this allows you to be free. The yogi cares, custodies and constantly raises his energy […] but not aloof to the guidelines that govern the day-to-day, knows that the fullness is in his heart.”
This message seems to be adverse to a large extent with what Western cultures give value, such as interpersonal relationships and social interaction, but is there a genuine interest in people? In the eyes of Osho, not at all: “Nobody cares about human beings; we all care about the money.” And here, to a large extent, I agree with him. It is easy to take a look at how society praises and values beauty and life from the outside, as if the interior is not significant for personal development.
The fixation on physical appearance, possessions, interference in others’ lives, tittle-tattle, merciless criticism or excessive material accumulation for the future are daily attitudes much more praised than the cultivation of what belongs to the spirit. It is common for a yogi to be identified as a quiet person—withdrawn, disinterested, hippie, eccentric and even boring.
The yogi has an apparently antagonistic behavior, observed in many ways, contrary to current standards; the practice of being inside is often incomprehensible to those surrounding the yogi.
To stop doing things that do not come naturally anymore to him or her turns into something common for a yogi. Losing interest in things that were thought-provoking—like watching the news day and night, wearing shoes with a matching belt and a bag and being the number one in all parties, only to name a few—these are no longer vital.
But does one strictly have to be a yogi to stop doing things they used to enjoy? No: as life passes, a person’s interests are molded and change; logically, a yoga practice helps create one’s own source of love.
Conversely, well known are the stories of yogis who experience positive and substantial changes in either health or mood—the magic of yoga—as if something had touched them, and from that moment on they realized they simply acted with it in all times. Maybe it is perhaps the notorious transformation and redirection of personal tendencies which lends itself to criticism and disapproval, usually because those who surround the yogi are not on the same track.
So, what does someone do on a daily basis with these kinds of people, especially if they are loved ones?
“Get over them,” is the easiest solution, but I believe that the people who surround us in many cases are the ones we need in order to grow further.
Yogi Bahajan once said, “Your best friend is your discipline.” He makes reference to the practice of yoga—Sadhana (study of the self)—that makes you feel fully filled without being in need of the vagaries of outdoor life for your personal happiness and thus live a more harmonious life for larger periods of time.
Appeal to your kind-hearted side and be patient and compassionate; bring out the inner peace that comes with yoga practice and meditation. In yoga, generally no one teaches this, but over time one learns to respect and accept others’ evolution; you learn not to identify yourself with what others say about you, and with that, you acquire the ability to not demonize others.
You recognize that it is an effortless way to get in touch with your essence, with what you are, and it does not depend on acceptance of others in the world.
Ana Yansi has experience in various yoga lineages. In daily life when she is not teaching yoga or transmitting Buddhist teachings, then she is practicing meditation, or studying Ayurveda and Shindo. Connect with her on her website, at social media, or email her at [email protected].
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Ed: K.Macku/Kate Bartolotta