Someone told me recently that I wasn't practicing what I'm preaching. Someone told me recently that I'm not a real yogi because I get angry. Someone told me recently that all this yoga business is non-sense.
Once again the question is posed. What does it mean to be a yogi? I've asked myself this question a million times. It doesn't take much to start the viscous cycle of self-doubt to swirl.
Observation #1: The cycle may start but it ends much quicker. I am a yogi. What makes me a yogi is that I can feel what I feel without having to stifle the feelings. I recognize that although my emotions are valid and real, they are only temporary. When I allow myself to feel what I feel (even if it's anger or jealously or whatever......) I feel it and then let it go that makes me a yogi.
Observation #2: My body needs to move. I am a yogi. I feel the compression in my lower back after a long day of sitting at a desk. I notice the release in my lower back during forward fold. I notice the effects of what I eat on my body. I notice that the state of my mind effects the state of my body. When I have mental tension, I have physical tension. I change my mind, I change my body. The fact that I am aware makes me a yogi.
Observation #3: I no longer feel the need to defend myself. I am a yogi. It's okay if people don't understand what that means. It's okay if you don't understand why I have to get up at 5am. It's okay if you don't understand why I choose not to eat meat. It's okay if you don't understand why I can spend hours talking about yoga philosophy but can't seem to have a normal conservation. I accept that you don't understand me and that I don't understand you. The fact that I don't feel the need to fix that makes me a yogi.
Observation #4: There's a lid for every pot. I am a yogi. Even though I don't agree or particularly like the "new age" yoga babble it doesn't mean I'm not a real yogi. Just because I think yoga babble is cheesy doesn't mean I'm not a yogi. Just because I don't like certain popular yoga practices doesn't make me any less a yogi. Noticing and accepting my likes and dislikes without judgement of myself or others is what makes me a yogi.
Observation #5: My intuition never steers me wrong. I am a yogi. When my intuition is telling me that I need to avoid a particular person or practice that doesn't make me less of a yogi. It means that I am aware and honoring my inner guru. As Yogis we are encouraged to love everyone, yes. But if I'm walking down the street and I'm feeling uncomfortable about the guy walking behind me...... You can bet your ass I'm going to pay attention to that gut feeling..... That doesn't make me any less a yogi. I acknowledge that some people are clearly not aware of their own Divinity and may want to cause me harm. I honor and trust my intuition at all times that makes me a yogi.
Observation #6: Contrary to popular belief, yoga is not a circus act. I am a yogi. I read something that called modern yoga "yoga flavored exercise". I don't buy into this idea that to be considered a real yogi you must be able to do all these crazy physical contortions with your body. Just because a person can do amazingly difficult yoga postures doesn't make him a better yogi. I practice loving my body for what it can do without judging it for what it can't do..... My body was able to give birth to 3 perfect, healthy children, how can I feel anything less than respect. That makes me a yogi.
Observation #7: When I find myself in a difficult situation I pause and ask the Divine for guidance. I am a yogi. I've said this before and I'll say it again. Things are not always as they seem. I am aware of the movement of energy. Sometimes there is a sort of "under-current" that I am feeling which is telling a different story than the one my ego is telling. When my mind is clear and calm I can sense the guidance from the Divine. Trusting what I'm feeling even if it doesn't make sense on the surface..... Makes me a yogi.
Observation #8: If it's been a few days since I've been to the mat.....I feel the difference mentally and physically. I am a yogi. There's no doubt about it, I make better choices when my practice is consistent and strong. When I feel myself being a slacker, it just takes one practice to remind me what makes me a yogi is getting back to the mat.
I am a yogi but I am also human. I forget, then I remember. I fall off the wagon, I climb back on. I have a judgemental thought, I recognize it as judgemental and I let it go. I don't want to be defined by my mistakes but rather how I learn from the mistakes and how I practice living my life.
What makes me a yogi? The fact that even though I am not perfect (sorry SD.... not everything is perfect) and even though I don't see perfection in everything all the time..... I still get up each day with the intention of doing the next right thing. What makes me a yogi? The fact that even when I want to stay in bed with the covers over my head, I get up and do sadhana. What makes me a yogi? I can love more easily (not perfect but practicing) I can forgive more easily (not perfect but practicing) Yoga is a practice. It's a way of life. We/I am not perfect but as long as we are practicing, we are yogis.
Om Namah Shivaya!!