NOPE. No rules to being a Yogi.
I am pretty open about the fact that I am vegan, and I don’t drink. (And I am not THAT boring!!) But it wasn’t always like that.
I also now enjoy quiet. And being alone. I crave it. It definitely wasn’t always like that. At all. I used to avoid quiet like it was my job. Fill my schedule to the brim. Stay busy. Don’t sit still. Get as little sleep as possible. GO GO GO!
So, what changed? I started meditating and practicing yoga.
This example in my own life reminds me of something the great Yogananda once said to a student.
A tiny bit of background: Paramahamsa Yogananda's autobiography — titled Autobiography of a Yogi — is one of the most iconic books in yoga today, about his life spent bringing the yogic teachings from the Himalayas to the west in the early 1900s. (You'll even find it on our yoga teacher training required reading list because his Kriya Yoga practices and Meditation Technique are from the same lineage as what we learn in Yoga Hive's Yoga Teacher Training).
In Awake, the documentary about Yogananda’s life, there’s an interview with one of his students where he recalls a conversation with Yogananda — the one that popped into my head this morning. The student was asking his teacher what he's not allowed to do as a student of yoga.
Yogananda: Do you smoke?
Yogananada: You may continue. Do you drink alcohol?
Yogananda: You may continue. Do you enjoy the opposite sex promiscuously?
Yogananda: Well, you may continue!
Student: Wait a minute. You mean, I can come up on this hill ... with all these wonderful people ... and study these teachings, and I can go back down there and do all these things?
Yogananda: Absolutely! But I will not promise you that as you continue to study these teachings that the desire to do these things won't fall away from you.
That’s just it: On the path of yoga, over time, our preferences change. What charms us refines. Sometimes, whom we surround ourselves with changes too.
At first, this can seem abrupt and unfair. Why is this happening to ME?! Why am I the one that has to live without this person, this food, this drink, this activity? Why am I the sober vegan?
What I’ve learned through yoga is that change is ultimately good in all its forms, and that life doesn't happen TO us. It happens FOR us. Looking at life that way shifts everything — and it doesn't eliminate the inevitable pain of being a human sometimes... but it does eliminate unnecessary suffering. Change becomes a surefire sign we’re moving forward, and everything is (always) working out.
This is a yogi's evolution. Yoga teaches us to release attachment. Over time, instead of pushing away that little voice telling me I should stop drinking alcohol, I trusted the voice. More importantly, I trusted that when I did, everything would be ok. People wouldn’t stop inviting me to social events. Or, if they did, it was a sign for my social circle to change and evolve. I knew what my body and soul needed, and I let the habit fall away.
I bet you, too, have heard that voice in the back of your mind begging for something you know is good for you. Or begging you to stop a habit you’ve had for years. Or a deep desire to try something new.
So wherever you’re at, maybe this will be the nudge you need to make that change your body has been asking for. And if it involves doing more yoga, you know where to find us!
See you soon at The Hive!
I, like many of you, do a lot of things to keep myself healthy. I eat lots of plants that have fiber and loads of antioxidants and micro nutrients, I abstain from alcohol and drugs, I exercise frequently in many different ways, I limit sugar, I use essential oils, I meditate, I take supplements, I see a Chiropractor, eat fermented foods, I could go on and on. And I, like many of you, get pulled into advertising. I should be on this particular green juice, I need this expensive coconut yogurt, what juicer should I buy?
Even though I do a lot of things, and don’t do a lot of things, the real reason why I feel great is simple:
I get sleep, I drink plenty of water, I move my body, I am involved in my Community.
Everything else is second place to the above. When I am making tough choices about what will get done and what won't, sleep is a big factor in my decision making. I am not going to make this a research paper but the biggest bang for your buck in health are the basics. And there is no buck, or not much of one. Sleep, water, stretching and moving, the love of your Tribe.
And if you immediately feel yourself pulled into resistance as you read this, “I don’t have time to sleep!” That is ok. Be gentle with yourself. Notice the thought pattern. There is no perfection to be achieved.
Kaizen is a Japanese term for continuous improvement. We can only focus on a couple of things at once. In an effort to continuously improve, getting enough sleep, staying hydrated, engaging in physical activity and spending time with other people who have your back, and you have their's, is a great place for self-work. And self-love.
See you soon at The Hive!
Blaine Wilkes is the owner of Yoga Hive Colorado, and writes inspirational musings for our newsletter, which we post here, along with upcoming trainings and workshops. To filter, navigate using the links above to see the category you're interested in. If you have questions, or wish to get in touch with Blaine, drop in to a class, or connect online: