What species of modern-day yogi exists between austere yogis living extreme lifestyles and everyday people dipping their toes in the water?
I have been a bad yogi in my day, and I am proud to break the mold. For my uniqueness is what allows me to be a trailblazer in the world, to inspire others.
From the perspective of some extreme, judgmental yogis (spiritual leaders, healers, gurus), the vast majority of practitioners, including myself, may be considered “bad yogis.” We simply do not live up to the strict standards of how to live according with ancient values of the Yoga Sutras.
I get it; the yogis following this path to a tee deem others as “wrong,” “bad,” “unworthy”; but, isn’t that the opposite of yoga? I experience judgment, separation, condescension, a better-than-though attitude from many a yogi who often cannot help but impress upon unsuspecting people their views, opinions, beliefs and way of life for others.
Often my experience of such yogis is a genuine desire to “help” that is—unfortunately—delivered without consideration of an individual’s path, journey, uniqueness or brilliance. The delivered dogma suggests a “Bad Yogi” who does not live up to certain standards.
I’m here to say that these people, this philosophy, these judgments, are simply wrong. A true yogi knows that no one can formulate the path for another person.
No one, for that matter, can dictate how yoga should look, feel or manifest in practice; yoga simply is. Amalgam of ancient Eastern ways and Western beliefs, we spiritual folk must develop new way forward in modern society.
1. I’m distracted by hot men in yoga. And gorgeous women. I allow my drishti to wonder on occasion. I’m human, not super human.
2. I’m a Vipassana dropout.
3. I eat meat. Veganism and vegetarianism, or any extreme dietary restriction excused by the yogic based on arbitrary ancient rules are too outdated for my modernized body.
4. When faced with time on my hands and a choice:
a) Sit in silence,
b) Read philosophical book,
c) Read a fashion magazine,
I happily choose c). Pretty please let me look at those beautiful pictures I so rarely see. I am not so weak-minded that images will “alter my vibration,” contrary to belief amongst some austere yogis.
5. If I wake up at 8:00 a.m. and do my asana practice, the world will not end.
6. I love yoga gear as much as the next person, for I am not beyond the material realm. Lululemon, give it to me!
7. I wear makeup. And I love wearing it.
8. Practice yoga four hours a day? Hah, no thank you! My 1.5-hour daily practice is P-L-E-N-T-Y. Some days this gets cut in half. It’s way too long as it is, let’s be honest.
9. I don’t do silent, seated meditation every day. Not by any stretch. I’m still shining bright.
10. I judge others and myself, daily. I am not free of negative thoughts. What I find important is committing to a process of self-awareness, observation, compassion, forgiveness, and letting go.
Yoga can be practiced while making music. Yoga may be practiced to music. Yoga is practiced in conversation. It is experienced in a sunset, a balmy afternoon, a cold snowfall. Yoga is not restricted to sitting in lotus position in silence or powerful vinyasa flow in a heated room or serious studies vacant of fun. It is not restricted to meeting checklists of “good” yogis.
Yoga is acceptance of self and others.
Yoga means living in peace with the world around, accepting what is, being empowered by one’s own path.
Yoga means living a practice, which allows one to be present.
The more tolerance and love we put out in the world for ourselves, one another—including others’ yoga practices—the more the world will live in a true yogic state. Om hari om.
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Ed: Sara Crolick