Do you feel like it’s easy for you to spot other yogis in a crowd? For instance when walking down the street and you see hanging mala beads from someone’s neck? Or you’re at a grocery store and notice someone reading the ingredients of Bok Choy?
Perhaps you’re at a gas station and catch a glimpse of someone blessing the gas nozzle while crying one single tear, but also oil pulling?
Yoga in the West has become more than just a form of exercise or life philosophy. Yoga is an identity.
What Binds the Yoga Community Together
There are many common frames of reference that bind the yoga community together. It’s a cultural phenomenon akin to the water cooler of the past. Except in this version, the yogis intentionally gather around a recycled, reusable liquid contraption containing water purified by the full moon in Pisces. NOT AQUARIUS!
There is a yoga fashion that distinguishes yogis. From psychedelic leggings, to flowing skirts, to shirts made from gratitude. There is the yoga lingo that people use. They talk about "energy centers," "negative vibes," "past life regressions," and how they were "gifted a spiritual experience by a bumblebee."
There is the yogic approach to health and wellbeing that includes tinctures, visualization, and reiki performed by a goat. Then of course the yogic diet that consists of leafy greens, grainy grains, and Braggs. Lots and lots of Braggs.
The Yoga Identity
I too have a yoga identity… one that involves insisting my dad “open his heart chakra” at work meetings, and substituting toothpaste with Yarrow root. I’ve been to Costa Rica and sought out Shamans to heal my yeast infection.
I have the impulse to distinguish myself with yogic indicators so it is clear to everyone that I exist outside of the mainstream consciousness. Check me out world… look at me with my vegan “leather jacket” as I float through the astral plane of existence in Crow pose!
Yet at the same time, when yoga becomes too much of a personality, it alienates people from exploring the practice who don’t want to outwardly change who they are. I would argue that it’s impossible to practice yoga and not have an inward transformation, but that doesn’t mean your external self has to go through a drastic metamorphosis.
You can practice yoga in sweatpants and a Sponge Bob Square Pants t-shirt and still reap the benefits.
What interests me about yoga is not whether or not it inspires someone to wear Lululemon, or casually say "Namaste" to a waiter, but rather how it affects your inner most being.
Those changes and adaptations that happen which nobody sees, but you know they so profoundly occurred. The private moments when no one else is affirming your yogic influence, yet you cannot help but embody your yogic principals.
That’s what I am most curious about!!
6 Things That (I Think) Make You a Yogi
These apply whether someone’s 3rd eye is watching or not!
1. You Ujjayi Breathe During Sex
You and your breath have become so symbiotic that anytime you are trying to connect to your body, you go back to your breath – and cannot help but ocean breathe while in doggy style.
2. You Find Yourself Feeling Forgiveness Rather Than Anger at Those Who Hurt You
When in the face of aggression or conflict you feel compassion towards that person rather than taking it personally.
3. When Faced With Unpleasant News, Your First Reaction is to Meditate on it
Rather than panicking, or reacting as a victim of your own life, you understand that you are in fact the architect of it. Any stumble in your path is an opportunity to meditate on how to move past the obstacle with grace.
4. When Life Hands You Lemons, You Don’t Even Have to Make Lemonade
TOO MUCH SUGAR! Also, you realize there are moments where life is gloomy, but that’s the natural balance to the light. Sometimes we have to sit in our darkness to truly appreciate our luminescence. Not everything has to be solved right away, and there are times when it’s important to acknowledge hardships.
5. You’re So Non-Attached That You’re Not Attached To Non-Attachment
Feelings come, feelings go. The goal of life is not to "not feel" – but to not feel like your feelings are you. The universal eternal you is not dictated by the ebb and flow of your emotional being. We don’t need to deny our feelings, but we also don’t need to be ruled by them.
6. You Are Willing To Try Things That Scare You
As adults, we often shy away from things that aren’t guaranteed. We take fewer risks, and become complacent. Yet as yogis, we run towards fear. There is no fear of failure because you can’t even see failure – all you see is a learning opportunity!
You know that you don’t have to hold onto fears, but can challenge yourself to push past them. It’s when we open the door of our greatest fears that we can finally meet our true selves.