One of the most ridiculous conversations I have been having with myself lately is: “Am I “yogi” enough to be a yoga instructor?
I am bigger than most of my co-workers (and I am not that big… I just pack a little more weight), I drink wine and sometimes tequila on a girls night out, I eat meat, I curse when I stub my toe and there are days when I forget to breathe because something extremely stressful has happened. I wonder if all of these qualities make me less of a yoga instructor and more of a poser.
And then I remember that when I am in traffic I do breathe. I breathe through the difficult moments, even when it hurts. I bring my mala beads with me in my purse in case I need a hand to hold that may not be there to touch. I bring my spirit and my breathe and my love with me into the community when I teach for Journey to Hope as well as my regular weekly classes.
This isn’t to say that it isn’t hard. Being someone of average size, surrounded by tiny yogis who breathe in yoga and look effortless, I am sometimes catching my ego and asking myself what if. What if ALL my music collection was Snatam Kaur and Krisna Das? What if I practiced meditation on my mat every morning and ate only a raw vegan diet? Would I be a better yogi?
No. Not necessarily. Because I wouldn’t be being true to myself. I love to eat meat. I believe that by eating a healthy, balanced diet including WHOLE foods, I am finding balance, health and wellness. I try not to eat processed foods, I have cut cola products (94%) from my diet, I am concious of not only natural food products, but also natural cleaning products. All the meat we choose to eat is free range and organic. I am feeding myself spiritually, physically and emotionally with my own yoga practice. The practice of patience, understanding and observing.
I believe we each have our own path to follow. My path IS yoga. Even if sometimes my ego screams and questions, it is yoga. I have realized lately that I need to feed my ego with more love and less anger. Recently, I heard an interview with Mastin Kipp of The Daily Love. On an Oprah special, he once asked Ekchart Tolle, “What if instead of drowning out the ego and labeling it as a bad thing, we sent it love and asked it to diminish through love and understanding, as opposed to fighting it?” Ekchart Tolle didn’t have the answer, and was excited to see a new perspective on the idea of the ego. Perhaps we just need to send ourselves more love in order to let go. Breathe in the love and breathe out the possibility of what we can do with that love.
Are you questioning your own path? Do you sometimes struggle with the idea of being “yogi” enough? Do you justify your actions?
I do. And I need to STOP! I need to fall back in love with myself, my mat and my practice. I need to practice ahmisa. Ahimsa is a sanskrit word meaning “non-violence” which I define as non-violence against ourselves and others. The ability to be kind to yourself, and your inner voice or ego.
At the end of each practice, as I roll from darkness to light, from savasana to the fetal position, I always kiss my mat. I place my forehead into the earth and say thank you. Thank you for the opportunity to quiet my mind, come into my body and help find peace and ahimsa through a physical asana practice.
I am encouraging you to do the same. Perhaps not through the same ritual, but through your own version of finding love and peace within you.
I will end with a wonderful quote from Amelia Earhart: “Everyone has ocean’s to fly, if they have the heart to do it. Is it reckless? Maybe. But what do dreams know of boundaries?” Live your dream. Breathe through practice. Practice yoga as you practice life. Find love. Find light. Find joy. And don’t ever forget to dream.
Get out there – do yoga & make life sparkle!