I cannot tell you how many conversations I've had that have gone along the lines of:
"Are you a yogi?"
"Well, I practice yoga, but I wouldn't consider myself a yogi."
Let's talk about that, shall we?
I used to do yoga for the physical benefits - that's why I started coming to my mat back in 2010. I wanted to get Madonna-esque arms, the coveted rock-hard-yoga-booty and sweat profusely. And for a while - years, actually - that's what I got out of my practice - the physical benefits (Madonna arms are still in the works.) If I know anything to be true about yoga, it's that you get exactly what you are willing to put into it, and willing to receive from it.
I never considered myself to be a yogi until I had what seemed like a sufficient amount of challenging postures under my belt, and I had a consistent practice. I reached a point where I felt I had put in enough hard work, sweat and falling on my face to be deemed worthy of the yogi title. I was hustling for the worthiness of yogi status because I didn't realize that I already had yoga inside of me - and I became a yogi the moment I first stepped onto my mat.
In a society obsessed with perfection, physical fitness and beauty - the physical asanas (postures) have in a way become Queen of yoga. I don't want to take away from the physical benefits, beauty and grace, or countless hours of hard work and dedication it takes to cultivate a seemingly "perfect" posture. No, not at all. But let's not forget that there are other components at play here - the mind and the spirit.
Yoga is not a goal - it's a journey. There's no finish line, there's nothing to reach. There's not a right of passage, no ladder you have to climb. Like I said before - yoga is inside of me, inside all of us. We just have to choose it. Yoga is many things to many different people, and that's the beauty of it. We can all fit under this overarching body of yoga, but just because yoga means something entirely different to one person than another doesn't make anyone right or wrong. To me, it is the realization that we are all connected. It's choosing kindness. It's practicing unconditional love for ourselves, our practice and the people around us. It's mindfulness. It's living with intention. It's reflection. It's clarity. It's a conscious choice to put in the work it takes to show up as my absolute best self each and every day. It's also so, so, so much more. I've asked before, but what does yoga mean to you? I'm curious.
So, next time someone asks you if you're a yogi, practice unconditional love for yourself and say a big fat juicy "hell yes!" Own it. Believe it, because it's true. Stop hustling for the worthiness of the yogi status - you are already worthy of it. And you always have been. And you always will be.
Namaste, friends. xx