I have a confession - I’m a bad yogi.
I’m not vegan, I don’t meditate nearly as often as I know is good for me, I get road rage, and I don’t do the whole burning sage thing. I don’t own mala beads, or have any cool mandala tattoos. I'm a total chakra sceptic, and have a bad habit of getting distracted thinking about lunch during yoga class.
Yoga is a complex philosophical system made up of a number of spiritual principles, ethical disciplines, and physical, breath and meditation practices. Some aspects I’m totally on board with, like avoiding over-consumption, loving others, and speaking and acting with truth and integrity. Tick, tick, tick.
Other aspects, like devotion to God/ Spirit, are just not for me (right now). I’m open minded, but I’m not tied to any one idea of God, or even ‘one consciousness’. While I am mostly plant based, I can't claim to be (or to want to be) 100% vegan. And while aspects of the chakra system do make sense to me, I'm just not that into it.
So - am I actually a yogi? According to the original yogic texts, probably not. But I don’t really think that matters, and here’s why:
I love my yoga. I love Asana (the physical yoga practice) and how it makes me feel light and open. I love that I can use Pranayama (breath-work) to regulate my heart and soothe my nervous system. I love that I can use simple meditation techniques to bring a sense of clarity and calm to my mind. I love that the yoga community is so warm and accepting. I love the opportunity for self-observance and self-discovery.
Yoga makes me a nicer person to be around - I am happier, calmer, and have more energy for giving and creating. Yoga, in the way I practice it, makes my life better. And as long as yoga (whatever that is for you) is making your life better too, then I think we're all winning.
Moving with attention, breathing consciously, and deliberately bringing my mind into the present moment - that’s a recipe for health and happiness in my books, whether it’s labeled 'yoga' or not.