My Yoga Life

I’ve been doing yoga now for about ten years, at least off and on for ten years. In that time, I’ve met MANY practitioners of yoga, followers of yoga, teachers of yoga, people who have dedicated their lives to the study and pursuit of yoga. In short, I have met MANY people who claim yoga as their way of life.

For so long, I aspired to be like them, to be the type of person who was yoga to the core. That is what I wanted, to be “in” with them. But, slowly – and now very clearly – I see that that is NOT what I want. At all.

I love yoga, don’t get me wrong. I love asana, the eight limbs, studying it, pursuing it, living by its principles, challenging myself with it, the whole kit and kaboodle. With any luck, I will be able and keen to practice it for many, MANY more years. But, I’ve come to regard my yoga practice – my yoga life – as my own. I no longer try to live up to a certain standard. I no longer want to be a part of that certain crowd.

Over these ten years, the startling majority of yoga people that I’ve met seem to think that they are better than others. Their thought, it seems, is that their way – their beliefs and practices – are vastly superior to those of other people, other people who do not study or practice yoga, even, in some cases, those who DO study and practice yoga. Speaking frankly, many yoga people that I’ve met are downright “holier than thou”.

It is sad to me to see such a wonderful discipline, such an old and time-honored practice be represented by people who look down their noses at others, others who, in many cases, are trying very hard.

And the diversity of yoga is so beautiful! There are so many varieties of people who practice, study and love yoga these days. They don’t all burn incense, cook huge vats of locally-bought vegan food, teach for six hours each day, meditate for another six, listen to Krishna Das and fellowship around bonfires ONLY with other practitioners of yoga. And they shouldn’t have to or be expected to. Their love for and study of yoga can be just as bonafide, just as well-intentioned, just as thorough as anyone who does all of the above-mentioned things. They can be just as much a yogi as anyone in the “in” crowd.

So, even for all the years of wishing to be “in”, I realize – most happily – that I’m glad not to be. Because, my yoga life is mine. Yes, I do love stiletto shoes – LOTS of them, I do have too many chic clothes, I do read Vogue and I do love caffeine (although I’m trying to get out of that). I listen to jazz, I shop too much, I read a lot of mainstream literature, I buy my groceries at Kroger, I watch Oprah and House, and I drink soymilk instead of almond or rice milk. In the eyes of many of the yogis I’ve met, I don’t live up, I’m not a true yogi, I’m not “up” to their level. I’m a wannabe.

But, in my eyes and – more importantly – in my heart, I’m every bit as much a yogi as anyone in the “in” crowd. Is my lotus perfect? No. But, I do choose to look at anyone who aspires to or studies yoga with a cheerful eye, whether they stumble or not, for – truth be told – don’t we all? I’m not enlightened, nor do I pretend to be. But, I don’t know anyone who is truly enlightened and I certainly do not believe that enlightenment is brought about by being holier than or judgmental of anyone else.

So, I will keep my shoes, my Kroger-bought food, my Vogues, my jazz, even my daily date with Oprah. And, I will keep my yoga. And it will be as good as anyone else’s. And perhaps – just perhaps – somewhere along the way, I will create a new “in” crowd, one that allows you to be yoga in whatever way you choose.

Namaste.

[ A great article that ties in nicely can be read here. ]

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17 thoughts on “My Yoga Life

  1. Great post, Karen Beth.

    Sadly yoga can be like any other realm, with its “in crowd” and popular kids. But I have to say the vast, vast majority of yogis I’ve met, in person or online, are warm, welcoming REAL people with real imperfections and inconsistencies, who like you said, are just trying their best.

    If you could see how conventional and bourgeois my community is and how mainstream my life really is…well, you would think you were looking at the typical spoiled suburban housewife. But some of us out here in the ‘burbs are trying to walk the yoga path, too…

  2. hey, great post. I think it’s something we all have to watch out for. Seems like, at least to me, when I love something I start preaching it to the world like it has to be the solution for everyone! But I’m far from the mainstream yogini — I eat meat, I’m 40 pounds overweight……I try not to compare myself to anyone and just “live the yoga”. BTW, I love Judith Lasater (the one who wrote the article) — her book “Living Your Yoga” is great along this line.

    Thanks for a thought provoking post. :0

  3. Looks like you are actually the “enlightened” one. I bet they can’t do yoga in stilettos like you? hee hee. I understand what you are saying totally… what, have they found something that makes them better…? so Silly these people can be. You are on the right track for sure!!! xxo, Vanessa

  4. I love you, this was a fantastic read…reminds me of when I tried…I really tried to practice Buddhism, there are parts of me that are enlightened…

    and other parts that just are not…lol.

    plus, really I am a material girl, I grew up in the age of Madonna, and I won;t give up my fantastic purses for anyone.

  5. Lovely Post! I completely agree with you. Some people are passionate about one thing (which is not wrong) but others are very multi-faceted and passionate about so many things. There is not enough time in the world to pursue all your interests to the hilt. I would say you are wonderfully well-rounded and doing some yoga at all is still a great benefit.

  6. Lisa – I don’t mind people telling me about yoga and others about yoga and thinking that it has something to offer everyone. I’m quite convinced that it would behoove most anyone who tried it. What I have a problem with are the people who do yoga and think that there is ONLY one way. But, I repeat myself. 🙂 I will look for the Lasater book. I like her most times anyway. THANKS for the suggestion!

  7. Vanessa – I can’t do yoga in stilettos and I’m definitely NOT enlightened. 😉 But, I do what I can and know that it is no better than anyone else. I hope I’m on the right track, for sure. 🙂

  8. Stilettoheights – I also love Buddhism (amazing how much we have in common, isn’t it?) but I can’t follow all of its tenants, although I have tried. I think it is wonderful and applicable in many areas though. Shoes are to me what purses are to you. I’ll have to tell you later about the FABULOUS little pink snake-skin BCBGirls I found earlier today. Divine! 🙂

  9. Thanks for your comment, Jody. It isn’t only about being one-track-minded with me and these yoga people that I’m referencing. They are just so snide and condescending about “their” yoga, thinking that “their” yoga is the only good and true yoga. I disagree with that and don’t have much respect for it either. Ah well… Each to their own, I guess. 😉

  10. Wow I’m so glad to see someone else aspires to incorporate Yoga into their life, rather than turn their life over to Yoga. Do you have suggestions for mastering the specific poses? I was considering taking one at a time and working on it till I had it perfected and then moving on. Have you found this to be better? Or doing a routine of many poses frequently to learn them?

  11. Hi Sarah! It is so lovely to see you here on my blog and lovely to meet you as well.

    I think that we never really ‘master’ the poses. I think that yoga is a journey, a constant journey but a delightful one. That is how I see it anyway. 😉

    I would strongly encourage you to do a routine and have a good flow of yoga. This is the most beneficial for actually learning YOGA and for your body too. You don’t want to neglect some parts of your body while you try to master certain poses.

    Also, I truly believe that you will learn the poses better if you do a routine and not just a couple of poses at a time. The flow will help you to breath better and will get your whole body moving and, while you are doing the routine, the repetitiveness of it will teach your body the specific poses. I would encourage you to stick with vinyasa flow.

    If you need any help, just ask! I’m happy to give you whatever advice I might have.

    Namaste.

    🙂

  12. Karen Beth~

    Isn’t it funny how people who extoll the virtues of their belief systems are often the biggest hypocrites? I’m not saying that to be mean, only to point out, as you did, that fanaticism in any form breeds judgment and one-sidedness. How silly it is that someone who professes to be a “true” yogi because they don’t eat meat, shave, or whatever, should judge you (and me) because we like designer clothes, wear leather, and our perfume is not Eau de Patchouli?

    When you are true to yourself, you are doing nothing wrong. In fact, it takes a whole lot more guts to stand up and unapologetically admit that you’re a walking dichotomy instead of subscribing to group thought or someone else’s preconceived notion.

    For me, there is no other option but being me. If I can live with myself, I really don’t care what anyone else thinks. It sounds like you’ve reached the very same conclusion. Good for you!

    Keep writing!

  13. Karen beth, you hit on something HUGE. It’s such a revelation to seek spirituality in our selves versus look for it through the approval of others, regardless of their standing even if it is the pope or ghandi. This threshold of understanding leads through a porthole of new experiences where we can begin to truly take hold of our identity. Beautiful really!

  14. Hi Emily! It is great to see you here on my blog! I’m so glad that you stopped by. 🙂

    It is hard to look for approval within ourselves but realizing how important is the first step. I’m glad to have made it there. Thank you, dear!

  15. What a great post.

    I would say you are probably in the “in” crowd these days as yoga has gone mainstream.

    It is definitely okay to have a life and have yoga play a major role in it, rather than yoga being your life.

    Keep up the great work. Namaste.

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