Holy Moly Yogis!
It has been about a month since I dedicated some time to blogging (more on what I’ve been working on instead later)! My blog today is about living a yoga life, which you can do/practice/have/be without rolling out your mat at all. Yoga is not just about what we do on our mats, in the studio or at home. The physical practice of yoga, asanas, are a means to an end- to calm the mind for meditation and reflection. Those sun salutations we love/hate? Some postulate that those were designed for high energy youth (a.k.a. boys in middle school age), who couldn’t stop fidgeting to sit still for five freakin’ minutes to think. The strenuous nature of Sun Sals helped them to empty their hippity-hoppity nature into physical exercise, so they could later be calm enough to chill. People tend to forget to focus on all the other things bouncing around in their brains, because so much of their attention is diverted to their bodies during asana practice. However, if you are injured or sick, or have too much other important stuff going on right now to make it to your mat… does that mean you aren’t a yogi?
The answer is a resounding, “Heck, no!”
The time has come to remind ourselves that yoga is a lifestyle, which includes off and on the mat practices. Are you living as a yogi should? Out of the 196 Yoga Sutras, there are only 3 (or 2, depending on who you ask) about yoga poses. And so, I give you what I deem, the Top Ten Characteristics of a Yogi Life List. Your list may be different, but I bet some of the same things are on it! I am sure I could make this a Top 100 if I tried, but I promise you will see how encompassing yoga is as a way of life, off the mat.
Firstly, before I even get started on ‘ze list, if you struggle to attain the below characteristics, you are:
- In no way NOT a yogi
Yoga isn’t about perfection; it is about striving to achieve what we know we should be like/doing. As I say in what feels like every yoga class I teach, “It is called yoga PRACTICE, not yoga recital.” Practice is where you have the safety to know that failure is a part of the learning process. If you’ve never had to try at something, you never really mastered it anyways. ALL of the below listed characteristics are easier said than done. And they are in no particular order.
Secondly, I am confused and saddened by people who feel conflict in between their faith (whichever it may be) and yoga. You aren’t betraying or denying your beliefs if you follow a yogic lifestyle, but are rather being the embodiment of it! Every single one of the below characteristics/practices is a cornerstone, or several cornerstones, of another positive doctrine.
And thirdly, I love to laugh, and make people laugh. I also know, as an experienced high school teacher, that sometimes you need to be a bit different in your approach to get their attention. So, in addition to the official and serious names some of the below characteristics, I have given Jillianistic aliases. Enjoy!
Top Ten Yoga Lifestyle Characteristics: Yoga Citizenship
No. 1: Stop being a miser, Ebeneezer!
- a.k.a. Pay it Forward (Not $$)
- Yogis are givers. For every positive thing you receive/experience, pass out two things to the world in return. Make ripples.
- I’m digging this “pay it forward” movement where people are buying others’ coffee or groceries, just because. I’ve had it done for me and it felt great. When I turned around and followed suit, it felt amazing! At the same time, it makes me sad that this isn’t a normal way of life.
No. 2: Cut the Crap!
- a.k.a. Get Rid of What Doesn’t Serve You or Others Positively
- Humans brood. We are the only animals that do things because of spite or revenge. We hold on to toxic emotions and withhold forgiveness. Once those roots ground themselves in you, it is hard to get off the bandwagon. We gotta stop. Remember those W.W.J.D bracelets?
- Be healthy. Eat a wide range of foods that give your body what it needs. Drink water. Exercise.
- This does not mean that you can’t have a vice, as long as that vice has a healthy, positive purpose. Drink that glass (1-2) of wine on occasion in the bubble bath to loosen your muscles and zen out at the end of a shitty week. Then, get out of the tub and move on.
No. 3: Yo’ Life Ain’t Really That Bad!
- a.k.a. Have a Gratitude Routine
- Yogis can find contentment in what is, now (Santosha). Can you? Amidst your hectic life filled with clothing with baby spit up on it, sassy coworkers, couple extra pounds and never ending list of to-dos? Guess what, those things will always be there! And even when certain ones go away, another one finds its way in somehow. God opens a door to one problem (goodbye baby spit up!), and opens up a window for all new ones (terrible twos).
- http://365grateful.com I saw this a while ago and it was so uplifting. Have you heard of it?
- There’s an APP for that!
- a.k.a. Be Still and Think, Reflect, and Chill
- Some science to prove what yogis have known for thousands of years: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/use-your-mind-change-your-brain/201305/is-your-brain-meditation
- Ok, for you people who swear up and down that they can’t sit still for 10 freakin’ minutes: http://www.fastcompany.com/3036363/how-to-be-a-success-at-everything/meditation-techniques-for-people-who-hate-meditation
No. 5: Your mind is a parachute… it only works when it is open.
- a.k.a. Keep an Open Mind
- Argumentative people aren’t trying to convince you of their choices, but rather are attempting to reinforce their own beliefs to themselves. Third Chakra power struggle going on there.
- Nobody ever died from trying a new thing, unless it was skydiving without a parachute or poking a bear with a stick. Don’t refuse to broaden your horizons because of things that might happen. Give people the benefit of the doubt. Learning you were wrong isn’t an admission of failure.
- Our differences are what make this ball floating around in the galaxy great. Who are we to judge why they were put here? Just accept them, ’cause they ain’t going away!
No. 6: Put your gavel away, Judge Judy!
- a.k.a. Don’t judge.
- I dislike sanctimonious yogis. These are not the people who wear Lululemon and have fancy mats. I’m talking about the yogis, who look at you sideways or sound incredulous, if you’ve never heard of something, or done something yoga(ish) related. “You’ve never done Kirtan!?” “You’ve never fasted!?” Yoga isn’t an all or nothing thing. If you are being a sanctimonious yogi- you are a contradiction in terms. Remember how I said these 10 things are easier said than done? I am being judgmental here…
No. 7: R-E-S-P-E-C-T, Find Out What It Means to Me!
- a.k.a.Respecting and Honoring Ourselves and Others
- I am not a vegan or vegetarian. I ask why people are, because I am genuinely curious as to their choice and want to learn more about them. But my doctor has informed me that I need meat in my diet. Just like I am sure your doctor might have told you to cut meat out of yours. I must eat gluten free because of my celiacs disease. You don’t. Doesn’t matter to me! We are different.
- Opinions are like assholes… everyone has one. Big deal. That doesn’t mean you have to shove it on me because you have it. The right to freedom of speech does mean you have the right to be a jerky-poo whilst exercising it. Picture explains it better:
- a.k.a Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
- Everyone loves that phrase, “Things always happen for a reason.” Yes, eventually there will be a reason, if you find it. However, that phrase also moves in the opposite direction. “Things always happen because of a reason.” Remember that the next time someone is being less than cordial to you: that there was something that triggered it.
- Think about chess. If you cried over every caught pawn, chances are you won’t see when your queen is wide open for your opponent to take, and then her loss will be all the greater. Focus your energy on the truly important things, the game changers.
No. 9: Funny quote from one of my favorite TV shows, Castle, “Ying needs Yang, not another Ying. Ying Yang is harmony. Ying Ying is a name for a panda.” A little un-PC, but it made me giggle and gets the point across.
- a.k.a. Seek Balance
- Isaac Newton postulated that “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” It is true in outer space, and it is true on earth and it is true inside your head and body.
- There is a reason why the phrase is, “Work hard, play hard,” and not, “Work hard, and nothing else.” You need to allow yourself sleep, venting, fun, total lazaboutness, childish goofiness and any other thing that brings your inner self to equilibrium, homeostasis.
No. 10: I guess Pandora did one thing right…
- a.k.a. Hope
- I am a firm believer in what revolutions between peoples have proven since the dawn of time. There is a reason why the underdog can win, because hope is one of the most powerful motivators known to man. Yes, it might’ve made you jump off something holding balloons, hoping you would fly. However, it also gave you the guts to attempt that penalty shot in soccer, and gives you the cajones to propose marriage.
- We are in a hope deficiency. We are in wish overload. Wishes are for genies. Hope is for real men and women. Wishes inspire fantasy. Hope inspires action.
Are you a yoga citizen? Are you trying to be? Then that is all that matters!