YOGA

Defining the characteristics of a yogi

Last week during the discussion part of one of my yoga classes a very important question was raised by one of my students. It went like this. ‘Can you tell from looking at a persons asana if they are really good at yoga’. In this country and I assume many places around the world, one would be judged by the way they execute their postures, however that would for the most part be wrong.

Someone who has practiced asana for a long time may not necessarily do as well as someone who is naturally slim and flexible. In fact one who is gifted with a supple body really has to work a lot harder because they do not have many places to go. In fact, in a way they are there already. Their postures look perfect inside and out.

The real way to judge the progress one makes in yoga is off the mat. The mat is a safe place in which to experiment with your body, however your intrinsic characteristics, those close to your heart, need to reveal themselves in your daily life experiences. That is real yoga. It is more important to offer help to one in need then to be able to stand on ones head. Don’t forget that thousands of years ago it was meditation, which made up the bulk of yoga practice, not yoga postures. The prime purpose of the postures was to enable one to sit in meditation without moving.

Quite often my students value the discussions we have about yoga and daily life more than their physical practice. Doing postures for postures sake still is the aim of many gyms and yoga schools. This seems to fit the goals of the students. After all who doesn’t feel better after a good stretch and sweat. But if a good workout is what you are content with, you will never experience that part of your innate nature, which really makes you tick.

Yoga is about opening up ones heart and experiencing ones connection with the whole of the universe. To give because it is ones true nature is the mission of yoga. There is an old story, which illustrates this point. Two yogis were standing by the side of a lake discussing yoga. One of them proceeded to step onto the lake and walk on the top of the water to the other side. He waved to the other one who yelled back that he was waiting for the ferry, and that the first yogi should stop wasting his time walking on water. Get the idea