I've got a lot on my mind lately. I feel a creative surge of sorts coming on and a need to express myself in some way. I'll start with writing first. I have had some great insights lately about several things. I'll share one. The other day while I was waiting for students to arrive, I was looking around at all the books and such at YO's central studio. I had this realization that even as I appreciate the vast world that is yoga with it's philosophy and history, sacred chants, Sanskrit and such, this is not what keeps me teaching or practicing. I am not well versed in yoga philosophy, sacred chants, or Sanskrit. I know a little and that is enough for now. I don't know if I will ever develop a burning desire for these aspects of yoga or not. It remains to be seen.
What I do know is that I believe that your yoga practice and the teachings that come should be applicable and relevant to your own life. I do not believe that eating meat or not eating meet qualifies you as a "Yogi" or that practicing 5 to 7 times a week or that being able to do handstand in the middle of the room or get your leg behind your head makes you a "Yogi." I think that what Yoga and living in a yogic way is all about, is knowing what matters most to you and holding to that. It's about your words, deeds and actions being in alignment with each other and about being the kind of person you are on your mat, in class, as off your mat and in the world. Yoga and being a Yogi is about authenticity and honesty, kindness and compassion. Yoga is about learning to love and care for yourself as much as you do everyone else. And most importantly, yoga is about remaining true to your own heart.
As yoga has become more and more popular and accessible, it has become a trendy thing to do and not necessarily a sacred thing to do or way to live. I think it's easy to get caught up in the trend of things and think we have to do things a certain way and know certain things to be considered a "Yogi" or "Yogini". I don't believe this be true. The same could be said for yoga teachers. Of course, it is necessary to continue to learn because then you have something of real use and value to share with your students and you can continue to grow together. That said, I think it is very important to follow your hearts lead and not just do things, trainings and workshops and the like because you think you should or you have to. I don't think you have to know everything there is to know about yoga, which I don't thing is even possible, and the world that surrounds it to be an effective teacher. I think a good teacher is one who is authentic and willing to bare and share their own heart. I think a good teacher shares the lessons they are learning in their own life with their students and is teaching from a place of experience and not from memorization.
So my point is that I think we are all born yogis. I say this because I've seen this relaxed presence and way of being and living in both of my children. And if you've ever had the opportunity to watch a baby or young toddler, you'll notice that they do yoga naturally as a way to build strength and gain balance as they work their way up to sitting, crawling, standing and eventually walking. It's all about exploration and learning for the little ones. Babies and children are amazing because they know what it is to be present and to see the world and life as the miracle that it is. So, it could be said that some of the best teachers of yoga out there are found right under our noses in the form of children. The wonder of children is that they take us back to what were and have always been. And this is what yoga does too. Yoga is the process of bringing you back to yourself and this is why the practice is so powerful. And the funny thing is that you don't even have to do a long practice, 5 minutes of deep breathing with your eyes closed, or 15 minutes and a few rounds of sun salutations with a few other poses thrown in and walla! You will be right as rain. Don't you love that?! Yeah, me too.
This is good stuff. And I gotta say, I love these little flashes of insight, those fleeting moments when clarity and understanding set in. It feels good to know what the practice of yoga means to me and to be clear on why I continue to practice and teach. For me, it's all about the way in which the practice keeps me sane and fuels my desire to be a better person, someone with more patience, love and compassion. It's about being the best version of myself that I can be for my family and the world at large. It's about not getting stuck in my small self, which seems to come all to easily, and about always remembering to choose well and to do my best even when I don't feel like it.
So to sum all this up...
Yoga and being a modern-day Yogi is not about what you know or what you can do as far as the poses are concerned but about the way you live your life.