Yogis being non-yogic
The human side of yogis and embracing imperfections. By Sarah Highfield
Reading time: 3 minutes
One of the biggest yoga myths and stereotypes that I often come across is that all yogis are walking around in a state of peaceful bliss and are utterly selfless. This is a narrative that is both consciously and unconsciously perpetuated by yoga studios, literature, media and yogis themselves.
However, the reality is that the yoga community is just like any other community and when you take a crosssection of it, you will observe a spectrum of all sorts of people — mostly good, a few bad and some in-between. While the practice of yoga is associated with promoting positive qualities and ethical principles, it does not guarantee that every person who identifies as a yogi will also embody these principles.
One eye-opening moment, which stands out in my mind from early on in my yoga career, was when I worked with some established yoga teachers and I could not believe how covetous they were. Given their roots in yoga and what they taught, I was surprised by their behaviour and stopped working with them. It quickly reminded me that the yoga industry includes a whole range of diverse and complex personalities, some agreeable and some less agreeable.
Being human, and even a yogi, does not make us completely resistant to moments of being grumpy, frustrated, or stressed out. Alas, we all have our moments, myself included…these are human emotions and traits, but how we react and move forwards is what matters the most.
Thankfully, yoga offers us the tools and perspectives for greater resilience and equanimity and for the well-intentioned yogis amongst us (which is definitely the majority of us!), yoga prompts us to pause and rethink our thoughts and actions.
Fortunately, 99% of the yogis I have come across have been well-meaning, thoughtful, and kind. Recognising that we are all human and prone to making mistakes or having lapses in judgement can help foster empathy and compassion, both towards ourselves and others.
The key is to acknowledge our shortcomings, learn from them and strive to do better. Each moment or stumble is an opportunity for growth, and the practice of yoga can support us in moving towards greater self-awareness, personal development and, ultimately, a more harmonious and fulfilling life.
Sarah Highfield is a yoga teacher and writer, three-time OM cover model and regular contributor. Visit: yogagise.com or find her on Instagram @Yogagise and at this year’s OMYoga Show.