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June 11, 2014

I Want to Do Yoga but Not Be a Yogi. ~ Jeff Decker

Photo: Carol Tan Yun Ju

It’s sort of like saying that when you practice karate you turn Japanese.

Yoga can be practiced on many levels. The chances of wearing a bindi on my head is the same as tying a hachimaki on my cabeza like the Karate Kid.

Sure, yoga is a lifestyle choice, but don’t discount the benefits of the practice simply because of being freaked out by the culture surrounding it.

Don’t worry about spotting most of the yogi-freaks when in a class with him or her. This may be a teacher or a fellow practitioner. Usually their dress is telling and they’ll begin by touting their accomplishments in yoga whether it be meditating for three days straight or traversing a never-before-heard-of country so they could practice peacock pose next to a peacock’s plume.

All while tribal elders initiate them as an honorary member in to their tribe.

Just stick to our truth. Sure, we can come wrapped up in sunglasses and a hat to yoga to avoid speaking with others, but we should try not to judge so harshly. Many people attend yoga classes for the community of it.

In most gyms we’ll see the “gym rats” who seem to hang out there all day long talking to everyone without seemingly ever to lift a weight.

In a yoga class it’s the same thing.

The biggest difference being the finite amount of time there is to socialize before and after. A gym rat has all day to chat, so we are grateful we’re in a yoga studio.

The best yogi-freak repellent is actually practicing what they espouse, silent meditation.

My recommendation is get to class 10-15 minutes early, lie on the mat either in Child’s Pose or in Reclining Bound Angle Pose, and close the eyes. This will help others respect our space at the beginning.

And—after class—run!

Well, not quite, but most extremists tend be blissed out at the end of class as if they’ve been hit by an elephant tranquilizer. So if they engage us, we excuse ourselves while running out the door and mumble something about a parking meter.

On another note, the key to our acceptance of yoga will also lie with our teacher. We need to find someone with whom we resonate.

What I’ve discovered is that my favorite yoga teachers share their genuine experiences. It’s easy to relate to them because we have similar thoughts and/or experiences.

It’s hard to relate to someone who spends all day blissed out meditating on a mountaintop surrounded by freshly pressed juices and monks.

So practitioners, we should be aware of our class choice.

Search for a teacher, and while experimenting with classes have a childlike curiosity, but whether—like it or no—yoga will open us up.

Not to say we’ll be chanting and shifting our wardrobe over to yoga gear immediately, but we will find that those who are super into yoga won’t irk us as much as they once did before.

We’ll also notice that as our practice improves, our bodies will become more open as will our minds.

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Apprentice Editor: Marcee Murray King / Editor: Renée Picard

Photo: Carol Tan Yun Ju/Pixoto

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Jeff Decker