3 Simple Things That Make A Great Yogi
To Be a Yogi…
This week, I was perusing some articles on yoga and yogic philosophy when I stumbled across a quote questioning what it means to be a yogi in the modern world, especially here in the US.
The quote argued that being a yogi isn’t about doing what the stereotypical yogi is supposed to do.
Because I enjoy questioning things, I stayed with the thought.
Yes, I can see how being vegetarian doesn’t automatically make a person a great yogi.
A person can avoid meat and eggs and perhaps be a vegan but still struggle with treating people kindly.
A person might practice the postures regularly and even meditate daily but be ruthless in pursuing an ambition, to the extent that others get hurt, excluded, or disenfranchised in some way.
Ultimately, being a great yogi is not about the obvious, external characteristics we often associate with modern or contemporary yogis. So what makes a great yogi?
Well, here are my thoughts.
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How You Treat People
The way a person treats other people tops the list of what makes for a great yogi, because this really is the ultimate yogic and spiritual practice.
If we can extend compassion, acceptance, and forgiveness to others, especially when it may not lead to any direct gain for ourselves, then we are practicing unconditional love, one of the highest virtues.
A great person, broadly speaking (not just a great yogi), is someone who is able to relate to others on a personal level, especially people who are different in some way, whose values and traditions may differ from what is familiar and known.
Approaching others with openness, not being judgmental of who they are, is key.
Your Service to the World
A great person and a great yogi have this in common: they are devoted to the common good.
They not only think of what benefits the individual but what benefits the community and enhances the collective experience of life on earth, the only realm we can have any direct influence over.
A great yogi doesn’t just offer devotional chants or rituals to enhance world peace but is able to take that work into his or her daily life and find ways, great and small, to enhance the lives of others.
A great yogi knows that peace is only possible if we all do our part.
World peace becomes a greater possibility when we each strive to life peacefully and give love and assistance to others instead of only looking out for our own interests.
By showing loving kindness, we inspire others who can then pass the blessing along, and the world is changed in this gentle but powerful way.
Your Humility and Ego Work
A great yogi realizes that the good life is not about strategizing about how to be a great yogi.
This is just another ego trap, a way of feeling righteous or superior to others.
When the great yogi notices the ego creeping into her choices and decisions, she puts the ego aside as best as she can.
She can honor the power of the ego in accomplishing certain goals, but she is able to manage the ego and put it in its place.
In doing so, the great yogi is able to stay humble (and I realize that the label of “great yogi” is not a very helpful label here, since it can be just another way of stroking the ego).
Ultimately, the most inspiring yogis, in my opinion, are those who are able to realize that they are here to uplift others, to offer bright light and gentle love for the paths others may take, and to ease the suffering in the world—which is what most of us would like to accomplish or experience in our lifetimes.
The great yogi is a blessing to the world.
Look around you. These great ones are everywhere, and they may not look the way you would expect.
The best yogi and teacher for you could be a child, a flower, a song, a wise elder, a book, a new idea, a dream. Perhaps it is you.
Be a blessing to the world. Be a positive presence. Be light. Be love.
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