The yoga world in the 21 st century is a funny place. With a practice that’s filled with dialogue of everybody is on their own yoga journey, there seems to be, at times, an unspoken definition of what is being yogic and what is being unyogic.
I’ve seen people being deemed unyogic, or less yogic for having a certain diet. I’ve observed the look and overheard the talk, a meat eating, wine drinking yoga practitioners somehow is being considered the lesser yogi.
So how should a yogi place his/herself? In this lululemon wearing, kale eating, fresh juice drinking yoga world, we look to the yogiest yogi of them all, to show us the way? Oh but wait, we are all but on the way to a journey, so how does one measure, or know that he/she is just in that final form yogic and can guide other people?
Maybe it’s my enlightenment that’s not arrived yet, maybe it’s the meat that I still allow myself to eat sometimes. I am genuinely dumbfounded at the very idea of a super guru, whose words on your living ethics, on your life journey, are to be lived by.
Maybe it is more that I’m a sold out sort of yogi, a faux sort of yoga teacher, with my 250 hours behind me, I honestly have not met a single discipline, a single person, a single case that I feel compelled to follow in a hundred percent.
Yoga to me seems to be a very clever, very healthy system, that gives you a set of good goal and guidelines to follow, instead of a hard sets of rules. Yoga seems to me is about discovering oneself, and taking ownership of that oneself.
I’m very aware that this is not how the “real yoga” is. Or more accurately, how yoga came about as a practice. But let’s face it. Since the very beginning of this practice having been brought to America, it has been bastardised. And I don’t mean it in a bad way. But in the most beautiful, you know nothing Jon Snow kind of way. Yoga has evolved, it has changed, and it has been moulded into modern western lives and helped the many. But yoga is not the same as the original yoga anymore. Just like when asana practice first became a thing amongst ancient yogis, the practice has changed. So what is with this whole yogic, unyogic stuff? Whose terms are this yogic super guideline are you speaking under? Because as far as history goes, this practice didn’t even involved physical criteria.
With attending Jordan Bloom’s workshop last time, his description of the workshop started with, “Enough with the grand theories of spiritual liberation and enlightenment. It’s time to put this stuff into practice in a grounded, authentic and practical way that will allow you to steer and guide your day and life.” In the real life version, he spoke about spiritualism more along the lines of “spiritual bullshit”. And as much as it could sound harsh, he is also very correct. And no, I’m not discrediting hinduism, I’m not discrediting buddhism, I’m not discrediting taoism. And I’m not saying yoga is but spiritual either, yoga for me, in fact, is a spiritual practice.
But for the millions of modern humans practicing yoga in this day and age, how many of them are practicing for the spiritualism? How many of them are reciting the chants, going with the OMs, and following the “rules of a yogi” for the fact that it resonates with and makes sense to them? How many of you felt 100% comfortable and compelled to that 3 OMs the first time you were in a yoga class?
One thing Jordan has said that sit so well and deep with me was, that he never understood why the modern Westerners are following this ancient Asian rituals. Rituals make sense for the specific group of people, in that specific time frame. It makes no sense for 19 year old American to follow shamanism rituals, it equally makes no sense for an Asian to follow South African tribal rituals.
If you are a person who resonates with the taoism and follow the tao way and follow a certain rituals, that make sense. If you are a person who resonates with buddhism and follow the buddhism rituals, that make sense. But if you are merely a yoga practitioner, and note, here I proclaim the term yoga practitioner as the modern, 21st century, studio going, moderately spiritish yoga practitioner, why would you follow a strict vegan diet, which is very much from the buddhism guidelines, if not for health/ethical reasons; Why would you chant in sanskrit, which is very much from hinduism, if not for the ultimate, total understanding of the language. And why would you eat vegan, chant sanskrit, and all the while sipping your African special roasted coffee, wearing your aloyoga goddess leggings, and sitting in your nordic designer sofa?
Sorry for this very long, possibly offensive, and slightly sporadic rant. Yogic, unyogic, vegan, non vegan, spiritual, non spiritual. On my wishlist, higher than world peace, higher than being not broke, is for all to drop the fucking labels already. Stand your damn ground and as my unyogic self always says, get a hold of your balls. And just be yourself. Be mad, be free, be crazy, be naughty, be rude, be loud, be whatever the hell it is that your heart desires. And the only thing to not be, is apologetic. Be that gangster yogi you truly are, practice what you want, eat what you think is right, follow the rituals that resonates with you. And above all, be very, very, very happy.