How is “SHE” pretending to be a yogi?

That girl: The one chasing a coffee with a big glass of red wine; the one eating the humungous bacon, cheese and guacamole BURGER. Her! OMG…is she actually wearing LEATHER shoes?  And *gasp!* swearing at her cell phone! How. Is. SHE. A yogi? I mean…come on already!  Isn’t there enough BS in the world of yoga??

Hold onto your recycled bottle full of locally sourced, cold pressed juice, yogi friend…

She is.  She practices breath work.  She rolls out a yoga mat and moves her body (even those extra 5 pounds).  She practices gentleness while HONOURING HERSELF.  She is me.  She may also be you.  The term “yogi” comes with so many expectations. Flowy.  Lithe.  Flexible.  Organic.  Need I continue?  We need to let go of all of these expectations and ALLOW space for ourselves.

The more I teach and take part in public classes, the broader my perception becomes as to what a yogi truly looks like.  There are MEN!  Strong, athletic men.  Young men.  Older men.  Older women.  Fit people.  Not as physically fit people.  People that love and celebrate themselves, and people that haven’t yet found peace with themselves.  People who use time on the mat to punish their bodies, and people who use time on the mat to celebrate and reward their bodies.

There is so much chatter these days about what “true yoga” is, who the true gurus are, and how many who have been elevated by their followers to the status of guru have “failed.”  We are expecting our mentors to be infallible and then becoming blind with rage when they turn out to be… ack… HUMAN!  Let me pause here to be absolutely clear that I am most certainly NOT referencing or excusing recent allegations of sexual assault and impropriety in the realm of yoga. Our mentors are just people, too.  As individuals, they do not hold all of the answers.  As a collective resource and with our discernment, though, I believe that they just might.

I feel that it is time to stop expecting our mentors, our students and ourselves to be “better than,” and instead make space for ourselves to be broken, human and flawed.  We are coming to our mats because we know that the time spent there makes us feel better.  Within the confines of the mat, we are allowed to be imperfect and, hopefully, to be accepting of that imperfection. Yoga shouldn’t be about chasing perfection.  As yogis, we cannot hold ourselves to such unrealistic ideals.  It is OKAY for us, and those to whom we look up to, to be “flawed.”  I would argue that a flawed person who embraces where they are at and attempts to grow, learn and improve is preferable to someone who thinks that they have already attained perfection.

Some of our difficulty digesting this may be that we think that our mentors should have already worked through all of their crap and have attained enlightened.  This world is constantly changing and challenging us in different ways.  How, therefore, could one possibly have it all compartmentalized and “figured out?”

That girl who is sitting in her leather boots, stuffing her face with unhealthy food (and meat!), trying to quiet an inner dialogue that echoes her thoughts, while washing the whole thing down with a big bowl of rich red wine has figured out what makes her feel balanced and “in control” today.  Maybe she doesn’t care that the rolled-up yoga mat sitting beside her makes you question her value as a yogi.  Maybe she and that mat have an honest and accepting relationship that has nothing to do with you.  Maybe.  I mean… who’s to judge?

Denise Darby is an active mom, yogi and Corrective Movement Specialist from Surrey, BC. Denise teaches various formats of yoga and believes that the 8 limbs are the the key to balance, strength and humility. Denise is passionate about yoga, in all of its forms. She loves learning from books, mentors, and conferences. The Victoria Yoga Conference has been a wealth of knowledge for so many and Denise is thrilled to be a part of it again in 2018!! Look for her onsite and say “hi!”