After yoga today, I came home and made lunch. This is a picture of my lunch. That’s bacon on top of mozzarella cheese, shredded chicken, and veggies, all on a very gluten-ed pita. For bonus points, there was also a side of Triscuits and cheese. I drank coffee and water with my lunch.
Why am I telling you this? I’m sharing this because it’s important to know that the meanings we attach to labels are subjective and ultimately personal. Being a “yogi” doesn’t confer some magical status upon a person. It doesn’t make someone automatically more spiritual or enlightened. It doesn’t mean a person is super-flexible and can do every single yoga pose ever and to the fullest extent. (Hey, even Kino makes mistakes!) It doesn’t require that a person follow a strict set of rules in order to obtain some sort of yogi membership.
I am a yogi. I practice yoga regularly. I am a certified yoga instructor.
I also eat meat, gluten, and dairy. I don’t drink green juice and kombucha all the time; rather, I drink coffee and beer (and possibly even worse, the occasional soda). I curse, especially when driving. I don’t meditate nearly as often as I should. I’m addicted to celebrity gossip–I may not know all about the eight limbs of yoga, but I can probably tell you which celebrities are feuding on Twitter.
There are a lot of poses I cannot do. Lotus, for example, seems to be a pose many people associate with yoga. For me, it is incredibly difficult and often close to impossible. I’m still working on my handstand. I can’t bend backwards and catch my ankles.
I was never a gymnast or a dancer or even particularly athletic. Yoga came into my life late and at first, I didn’t know if it was something that would last or if it would just be a phase. (I’m prone to those.) Even when I committed myself to my practice, I was hesitant about using the term “yogi” to describe myself, fearing I somehow was unworthy of that term. I thought I wasn’t yogic enough because I didn’t meditate or drink kombucha or because I eat bacon and drink beer.
Quick aside–bacon and beer are both delicious. I’m not sorry.
It took me awhile to realize that I was selling myself short by subscribing to someone else’s definition of what a yogi is. I was not practicing ahimsa, non-violence and compassion, toward myself. By comparing myself to this standard, I was ignoring my own accomplishments and possibly even blocking my own potential.
I am a yogi, regardless of what we are told about yogic behavior and the yoga lifestyle. I am a yogi because I do yoga. Because I focus on my breath, especially when things become difficult. Because I understand that the asanas are fun and challenging and there is value in the physical practice. Because I also understand there is more to it and that yoga is a lifelong journey.
I am a yogi. And you might be, too.