Just What Does It Mean To Be A Yogi?
It’s safe to say that in our culture today, the word “yogi” is a buzzword. But in the Indian tradition, it’s most definitely not. Yogis are people that live a certain lifestyle and exude certain qualities; their lives are examples for everyone else to follow and find inspiration through.
But what’re these qualities that are so attractive to so many people?
Yogis actually don’t just embody qualities that are “Hindu”…in fact, they’re actually universal.
The Universal Qualities of a Yogi (or How to Define a Yogi)
Yogis are not limited by certain rules or beliefs that may limit their values; rather they live in a way that is unashamedly open and free. In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna lays out what it means to be a yogi:
“Fearlessness, purity of heart, perseverance in acquiring wisdom and in practicing yoga, charity, subjugation of the senses, performance of holy rites, study of the scriptures, self-discipline, straightforwardness; Noninjury, truthfulness, freedom from wrath, renunciation, peacefulness, nonslanderousness, compassion for all creatures, absence of greed, gentleness, modesty, lack of restlessness; Radiance of character, forgiveness, patience, cleanness, freedom from hate, absence of conceit—these qualities are the wealth of a divinely inclined person, O Descendant of Bharata.”
Because of this, you could say that yogis don’t really belong to a certain “religion”…rather, they are beyond it. Many people of various religions, or even those that have their own private nonsectarian spiritual practices, could be considered a yogi.
Popular Non-Yogi Yogis
There are many people who fit the bill of a yogi, though they may have never heard of yoga or Hinduism. Martin Luther King led a life that easily fit the bill of a yogi. As did Raplh Waldo Emerson, Mother Teresa, Leo Tolstoy, The Dalai Lama, Henry David Thoreau, George Washington, and Nelson Mandela. And even though it may be surprising to say this, Christ also exemplified the qualities of a yogi. So as you can see, there are plenty of examples of people that are not yogis, but fit the description just based upon their lifestyle. In the end, it’s not about what you believe…it’s how you live.
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