Sunday, June 14, 2009
The third paragraph of the intro to Light on Yoga is very short:
“One who follows the path of Yoga is a yogi or yogin.”
-by B.K.S. Iyengar
When I was a kid I played with the yoga poses. Did that make me a yogi? I think not. Someone could be a “yogi” without ever having studied a formal yoga technique. When someone lives their life with effort towards living up to what is best in that person, they could be called a yogi for being on a path of aligning with a larger truth, or a connected life. And another person might be able to move their body through a series of postures and not necessarily be a yogi. They might be off the “path of Yoga” if they were ignoring a call to listen inward and grow greater.
The “path of Yoga” is a path of discipline and excellence. It’s about seeing what needs to be done, and making the physical changes required to accommodate this inspiration.
Choosing the “path of Yoga” is a continual process. As I go through my day, some of my choices are in line with what is best. And some things I might do automatically, without consciousness. So to be a yogi means to constantly choose the best course of action for every moment.
Yoga technique is helpful to cultivate health, and to purify one’s awareness. If we mistake automatic responses for conscious decisions we cannot effectively live in line with a sense of connection and purpose.
Being a yogi is a dynamic path of action—a “yoga butt” has nothing to do with it. American culture is so obsessed with appearance and sexuality that someone could easily be confused about yoga from all the sexy ads depicting “yoga”. Yoga is also a capacity for stillness, peace, and inner awareness.
The path of yoga looks different for each individual. In fact there might be times where you need to move through life with ignorance, to help you learn how to align with your truth through comparison and contrast. Like I might have to eat enough junk food to learn how bad it feels, and then compare that to how it feels to eat healthier. The contrast can provide information that helps me make better choices going forward. I can choose to become more conscious of my diet or I can automatically eat whatever is around.
Even the choice of diet can affect our ability to live in line with what is best in us.
I think my “path of Yoga” began when I started to make decisions for myself. It has not been consistent. There have been choices made with clarity, and things I have done that were totally clouded with jealousy, fear, anger or sadness. This is just the truth of the process. I learn as I go.