Am I a yogi?(...or am I too fat?)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Recently I read some articles on one of my favorite blogs "YogaDork" that made me contemplate the implications of one of my favorite activities- yoga (duh!).

The first thing I'm wondering is if the simple act of practicing yoga daily (or even just weekly) makes one able to refer to oneself as a "yogi." Now, I never would have thought this before except that it seems that she often refers to her audience as fellow yogis. Now, with her not knowing who exactly her audience is except that they have even the slightest interest in yoga, it makes me think you don't have to be a certified yoga instructor or a guru to be a "yogi." If this is the case, then I, who practices for about 15 to 20 minutes five to six days a week, could supposedly refer to myself as a yogi. This would be fine with me except that I really thought that a yogi is someone who doesn't just "practice" yoga (i.e. literally going through the motions) but who "lives" yoga. Now, I don't even want to expound upon what this means, but in a nutshell, I picture concepts such as zen, vegetarianism, buddhism or hinduism, transcendentalism, detachment from earthly things and even people, and always remembering to "do none harm"---even a mosquito biting your arm! So, I would have to say I was NOT a yogi if this were the actual definition because, while I value and admire all those concepts, I definitely don't live them, day in and day out.

My second issue is with the whole concept of classes being created for "plus-sized," or as some have even put it, "round" people. Apparently, yoga subculture is populated by lithe, graceful beings who have little, if any body fat, and "bigger" people may be ashamed to go to "regular" yoga classes. Now, I have not been lithe since I was four years old, and have always considered myself at least kind-of-chubby, but I never thought that I shouldn't take a yoga class because of my size. I am not obese, but I am overweight---should I have been uncomfortable taking a "regular' yoga class? Because I was not! Should I have waited around for a "chubby girl" yoga class- because I didn't. If there's anything that I really took away from any and all research and experience that I've had with yoga it's that you only do what's comfortable for you, wherever you are is fine, and NOONE IS GOING TO CRITICIZE YOU WHATEVER LEVEL YOU ARE AT. So, I wonder just how "big" you have to be to take one of these sometimes called "mega-yoga" classes. Do they measure your BMI at the registration and say "Nope, it's over 26---you go to mega yoga, not the regular one..."

The last thing I want to address is the critcism of certain "yoga rock-stars" (aka instructors who have attained "celebrity"-like status) who tout yoga as a weight-loss workout. Apparently, some "yogis" (ahem!) believe that doing this undermines the whole, holistic/spirituality/lifestyl
e thing that yoga has going for it. But I don't get what the problem is---since yoga is about acceptance (yes!) then shouldn't they just accept that this is what yoga is going to be for some people. It possibly will even open the door for them to actually embrace the entire yoga lifestyle.

My point in waxing verbose about all this is that I believe that yoga really is about acceptance, accepting your limitations, and continuously striving to get better, little-by-little. Practice it if you want to, live it if you want to, or don't do it at all- it's your choice.
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