The other day I was at my local coffee shop and ordered my usual skinny decaf, also known as a “Why Bother,” when the very helpful barista said to me, “Is that yogic?”
The week before I came in and bought an egg salad sandwich on wheat bread, to which he said, “That is not the best choice.”
Most recently, I arrived at noon and bought, wait for it, a vegetarian protein platter, to which he said, “Finally, a healthy and yogic choice.”
This finally pissed me off.
When you sign up to be a yoga teacher I suppose there is an invisible contract you agreed to and that is to be always yogic. In some people’s minds, that means vegan, gluten-free and celibate.
I am not kidding. There are some strict interpretations of the yoga sutra Brahmacharya that include no nooky-nooky, which would probably be news to a whole lot of gurus judging by the yoga scandals.
I know many yogis who are better than I am at being yogic. They eat their placenta, they do not touch a plant that has been killed in an unkind way on an industrial farm, and they practice six hours a day. They are raw, vegan, gluten-free and they do not drink wine even if it was from free-range grapes.
I am not that yogi. My interpretation of being yogic is to do my best not to flash the finger when someone cuts me off on the highway. If I practice six hours a week I am thrilled because I also have a job. I am doing the best I can with a full life including two books, two teenagers, two dogs and a husband.
When I signed up to be a yoga teacher it meant trying to inspire others to do just a little better on the path every day they practice. Just. A. Little. Better.
I believe that once someone steps on the path, wherever they start is a good beginning. I would rather be a cheerleader for the smallest of accomplishments than to raise the bar to an impossible height.
Pema Chodron would say, “Start where you are.” (pull-out quote)
But these days, being yogic often means living to someone else’s standards. Like the barista. I usually fail at this and my critics let me know it. In the end, rather than setting standards high, I believe our good intentions will isolate the practice from all the human people who want to be on the path.
Yoga is a path from the inside out. Being yogic and doing good in the world is an individual goal. So when the barista says I am not making good choices, the fact that I did not flash him the finger makes me yogi of the year. It’s on a yogi adjusted-basis that we are yogic, one growth opportunity at a time.
Now I think I’ll take that egg salad sandwich, with a “Why bother” to go. Thank you.
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