Have you ever heard someone say this and thought, what does that even mean?
I promise you this isn’t another one of those judgey, self-righteous posts about how yoga is a spiritual practice and we should stop culturally appropriating it with our wicked Western ways... blah blah blah. I strongly believe that yoga is what it is, to whoever needs it to be, whatever they need it to be. Now that I’ve sufficiently confused you, I should say that I, myself, used to say the “not yogi” sentence all the time, most often referring to myself for doing something that comes quite naturally to me, simply being human.
I started contemplating the relevance of this particular phrase after my wise-beyond-his-years teacher stated something profound during our teacher training and it really struck a chord with me. He said that there are no hard and fast rules to yoga, there are no yoga police coming to check that you’re cueing Virabhadrasana B correctly, chanting Sanskrit fluently or teaching enough philosophy. (At this point I zoned out, hmmm yoga police? My imagination conjured up a couple of beyond handsome, super smiley and supportive yoga hunks in lycra uniforms attending my classes and giving me feedback on my teaching prowess. I can handle that, we need to get some yoga police stat – don’t worry I’ve sent the email to Yoga Alliance and eagerly await their response, I’ve also kindly offered to be involved in the recruitment process). When my goldfish-esque attention span returned to reality, teach added that there are guidelines and suggestions by way of the Sutras, the Yamas & Niyamas, there are beautiful and inspiring stories such as the Gita and there are literally thousands of interpretations and ideas about how to achieve the state of yoga, but there are no (contrary to popular belief) unbreakable yogi-laws, as such.
This was such a relief! I began to let go of a whole lot of crap I was holding onto, inhibiting me from believing that I could be a "real" or even good yoga teacher. I can be my complete authentic self, someone who loves yoga, teaches yoga and is still human with endearing flaws and rough edges. I can be crankey sometimes, I can be offended by stuff, I can not like someone just because I get a weird vibe, I can drink coffee, eat burgers and I can be the loud, uncouth Aussie who loves a cold beer while watching the cricket, I can drop an f-bomb here and there (maybe not while teaching, but who knows if the situation calls for it, why not?).
Literally, yoga is "the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind" and can be achieved by practicing the 8 limbs of yoga but it can also be achieved by painting, dancing, singing, hiking, surfing, loving, running, playing or whatever captivates you completely in the flow of the moment!
I was inspired to reflect on the idea of not being very yogic and I realized that the implication of this sentence is this; for one to ‘be yogic’ there are these conditions, certain specifications that you have to meet and if you don’t, bad luck, you’re not in the club. Are we back in high school here? Who gets to say who’s a "real" yogi and who’s not? Correct me if I'm wrong, but that was never the point of this practice.
I returned to the Sutras to see what Patanjali thought and was drawn back to the two fundamental concepts behind yoga.
Non-attachment ~ Letting go of expectations/outcomes/ideas of perfection.
Non-judgment ~ Letting go of perceived good and bad.
Next time you start to chastise yourself (or another) for doing something “un-yogic” just come back to these two guys ^ and take a big breath in & out.
We are all yogis, some people just don't know it yet. Remember that everyone is on their own journey, including you! You are where you are and they are where they are and that’s it for now.
Acceptance with a compassionate heart is not just “yogic” it’s what it is to be human, so let go of the labels and high-school bullshit. After all, we are just stardust, sitting on a big rock, flying through outer space. How cool is that?
I’ll leave you with some wisdom from Kurt Cobain - “come as you are”.
Big love, Jess x