As I’m sure you’re aware now, especially if you follow me on social media, I’m in Bali. To be more specific a beautiful place called Ubud. Not only does Ubud have breathtaking rice paddies, cascading waterfalls buried in dense jungle like surroundings, it also holds an excellent reputation for some of the worlds best yoga. Whether that be going to a retreat to detox, gain your teaching qualification or just attend a class. Naturally I wanted to attend at least one class, even as a teacher I still have a lot to learn. I splashed out on one of the more “well known” yoga studios, excited and raring to go. I’ll skim over this very loosely – to say that yoga is my comfortable zone, I did not feel comfortable or at ease. The way yoga seems to be going for some, not all, feels very self obsessed and vain. Let me expand a little on what seems to allow you into the official “yogi club”. This was very much the “vibe” in the class I went to. Just to add, I now hate the word vibe.
- Vegan or at least vegetarian ( yay for me )
- Little amount of clothing for the class as possible or skin tight.
- Less than 5% body fat
- Alcohol no, detox juice yes.
- Never get stressed, angry or overly excited about anything. Unless you held a hand stand, then go wild.
- Have the loudest and longest “om”
- You must be able to wrap your legs around your head
- Finally, no outsiders allowed
After my “vibey” experience I decided to ask around on social media, what people think of when I say “yogi”. I got some great answers, mainly referring to the flexibility associated with people who do yoga, naturally! Many answers were to do with yogis being spiritual, calm, strong, focused and disciplined. Which I agree with, those were exactly my thoughts before I started my practice. The truth is, to attend a yoga class and become a yogi you need one thing, yourself. You can be a yogi and wear whatever the hell you want, you don’t have to be able to touch your toes, you are allowed to have a higher body fat percentage than 5%, it’s not just for women! You can be super inflexible, stressed to the max and not have a clue what downward facing dog is. You can panic when someone says meditate, then immediately have no way to “clear your mind”. Guess what, you can even choose not to chant “Om”, if you think it’s weird or makes you feel uncomfortable.
I am a yogi, I drink beer and very much enjoy it. I’ve even had the odd cigarette on my travels. Some days I get on my mat and just cannot be bothered. I don’t meditate everyday and when I do I find it very challenging. I get angry, especially when I’m driving. I get excited about everything, I think I’d explode if you put me in a room full of puppies. I’m very much a loner, I find big groups very intimidating, even daunting.
Now let me explain how yoga helps me – not with beer, I’d never stop that, it’s too tasty and in my opinion good for you. In yoga we study something called pranayama, which translates to “breath control “. This allowed me to feel and hear the effect that one cigarette can have. The days I can’t be bothered to tie myself in knots I just sit and have a think. When I do manage to meditate, I feel unbelievably balanced and calm. After a yoga class, attending or teaching, people cutting me up either on my bike or in my car just doesn’t bother me. Finally teaching yoga to a group of sometimes over 30 people makes me feel liberated. Now you can label any of this what you want. Call it spiritual if you like. I haven’t decided what to call it, but it makes me feel very very good, both inside and out. So for me that’s all yoga is. Sure, the actual word means to unite, but we are all individuals. Some of us will never do the splits or be able to meditate. Some won’t be able to breathe because they smoke 20 a day. Some might think they’re surrounded by nutters when everyone chants a loud “Om” and talks about channeling energies. Dare I say it, some might even eat steak!
I’m excited to get home and teach yoga, which for me, is to help you feel good, inside and out. If you leave my class feeling better than when you walked in, then you are already growing as a yogi. Grace x