What does a yogi look like? How does a yogi act? What are the rules and commandments of “fitting in” with the yoga crowd?
Are yogis the people with perfectly toned yoga bodies wearing Lululemon, adorned in mala beads and “om” tattoos? Are they compassionate, vegetarian saints, shopping at Whole Foods with a cart full of kale and quinoa (never any cookies or booze)?
What Defines A Yogi?
I am someone that strongly dislikes being defined or being forced to conform. I am a “rebel”. I want nothing more than to be free, to be myself, to be authentic.
I was first introduced to yoga around age nine. Instead of going to church on Sundays, I would practice yoga, read from the Bhagavad Gita and chant sanskrit mantras with my mother. Soon I realized that was odd and different from everyone else, and I wanted nothing to do with it.
Somehow drawn back to yoga in my late teens, I’ve been practicing consistently ever since. There have been times when I have wanted to give up and get out of this “yoga thing”. But I am still here, still practicing, still dedicated – now more than ever. This is my path. This is who I am.
What Does A Yogi Do?
I wear mala beads and use them to meditate. I am named after Hanuman’s mother and I am a vegetarian. I am kind, compassionate and selfish at times. I am moody and messy. I suffer, I laugh, I get fearful and ashamed. I like to look good and feel good. I love kombucha. Malbec and Stella Artois. I rock yoga pants, Ganesh t-shirts, short dresses and heels. Depending on the day, I practice yoga in silence, listening to Rihanna or jamming to Krishna Das. I like to chant and I like to party. I am spiritual, I am human.
I love yoga. Yoga can’t really be pinned down and defined, and neither can I.
So what’s a yogi to do when that concept or idea starts to become another stereotype or image to fit into?
Yoga is living, breathing and ever-changing. There are no rules. There are no exclusions. There is no conformity. You don’t have to look like anything in particular. You don’t have to act a certain way. Your Warrior II doesn’t have to look perfectly like mine. You are free to be who you are. Yoga is all accepting, all encompassing, all unifying.
Vegetarians drinking green juice, all their chakras aligned, standing on their hands in yoga pants have become an image of what yogis are. It is no more than an image and concept in people’s minds. Those things don’t define anyone.
Those practicing yoga for spiritual, mental and emotional reasons are no better or worse than those practicing for chaturanga arms, a yoga booty and six pack abs. Eventually, people practicing for the purpose of an ass-kicking workout will inevitably go deeper. Yoga does the work. It does the magic.
Yoga is about you, the practitioner. Whoever you are. It’s about knowing your true self and evolving to your fullest potential. It’s about awareness. It is about connection of all the fragmented parts of yourself, connection between yourself and others, connection of mind and body.
15 Things That Make Me A Yogi
There are no rules or definitions, but I do know some things that undoubtedly make me a yogi.
I practice… and practice more. It is my space, my freedom, my devotion and inspiration.
I am aware. I am aware of all parts of myself, all the layers. I am aware of the thoughts, emotions, aches, pains, judgements and everything in between. I am aware of the space that holds all of that.
I am centered and grounded.
I am present. I am with my breath. I am at home in my body.
I know myself, love myself and accept myself. And there are plenty of times when I don’t. But I know how to come out of self-judgement and self-loathing.
I go with the flow. I ride the waves of life and find the ease.
I have an ego. I remind myself that I am not my ego.
I see the light in everyone. I appreciate everyone as they are. I love.
I breathe deep and live from my heart.
I am flexible and supple in body and mind.
I am a student of life. I am always learning and evolving.
I don’t follow rules. I am who I am. I will never fit into any category, definition, image or concept.
I am authentic and honest. On and off my mat.
I am not all these things, all the time. But the awareness remains no matter what comes and goes on the surface. I know how to return to my center, to my most true and pure self, unified and whole.
What makes YOU a yogi?
viaWhat Is A Yogi?.
Joga is an athletic based style of yoga that incorporates a unique blend of postures, breathing techniques, and relaxation tools to find balance in strength and flexibility, improve breath control/recovery and maintain a calm mind in sport and in life.
It focuses on the mechanics and movements of a sport and designs a yoga program specifically to enhance athletic performance for that activity. The sessions will leave you feeling stronger, more flexible and re-energized as well as provide you with all the other physiological and psychological benefits of yoga.
Athletes and active individuals are always looking for ways to become more competitive in their sports and stay injury free – Joga is growing rapidly to respond to this exciting niche. Athletes are often both results based and achievement oriented people, so they want to feel and see results while also understanding the reason behind what they are doing.
The Joga sequence is designed in a way to follow the pattern of a fitness regime but still adhere to the sequencing of the traditional yoga session. Each movement has a specific que and a physical or mental benefit associated with it. Joga takes into consideration what athletes require in a training program, structure, challenge and results.
The Joga Series involves a combination of dynamic and static stretches as opposed to traditional long holds. The movements within the postures are designed to improve athletic ability and agility as well as coordination with breath pattern. The movements are intended to build muscle memory, a balance of joint stability/mobility and increased range of motion, all pertinent to injury prevention. The breathing and relaxation techniques are more traditional, however explained in a way that resonates with the athletic mind and highlights the benefits most pertinent to athletes.
One technique that is highlighted in the teacher training program is the integration of core/breath function and how the two are interdependent on each other and pertinent for athletes in terms of agility/power and injury prevention.
Example: While in the first downward facing dog of the Segment One, the focus is put on lifting the pelvic floor wall (PC –pubococcygeus muscles) at the top of the inhale breath and engage the transverse abdominal wall at the bottom of the exhale. These intrinsic muscle movements are explained in a static hold so the practitioner can begin to feel these subtle core movements without having to coordinate any kind of movement. While the practioner is holding this first downward facing dog, we start to introduce the theory of muscle memory and how to weave this practice of core/breath integration into the rest of the series: so moving forward every breath/movement has a core reaction. In theory, the practioner is able to take this practice, which eventually becomes innate and use the application for movement in sport.
A second technique that is infiltrated into the Joga Program is how to use the breath as a tool for relaxation during movement to reduce the chance of injury in sport. Throughout the series, while the body is being challenged physically, there are specific sound ques to relax the Jaw to ensure that the spine and the muscles surrounding the joints are relaxed. In addition to this – belly breathing is promoted in specific areas of the series, to elicit relaxation. The para-sympathetic nerves connect at the bottom of the abdominal wall and through specific nerve patterns, connect to the right brain –which is responsible for the ‘relaxation response’. Most non-impact injuries are enhanced when there is tension surrounding the joints and muscles. When the body is tense, the muscles become tense and the bones clench together which creates more opportunity for injury.
As a certified Joga teacher you will become a part of the Joga team of instructors that are working with professional and amateur athletes as well as active individuals across all sports and in diverse venues. Working with the Joga team will present new opportunities for teaching and specialization while also connecting you to the teams, athletes and individuals wanting to practice Joga. Joga is a special style that requires instructors that are already skilled in yoga practices requiring 200hr Certification, which is essential foundation to be able to focus on understanding the unique Joga ques and goals of the movement. They teach the methodologies and movements that are specific to this unique style of yoga.
Certified Joga teachers are passionate about the Joga philosophy and are excited to represent Joga with the same integrity and enthusiasm that it was created. Joga Ambassadors are motivated, inspirational and exude a sense of health and well-being.
Organizations such as the Calgary Stampeders, Toronto Argonauts and the Olympic Men’s Beach Volleyball team have incorporated the Joga program into their training and Jana also works with NHL and OHL players during off-season.
I am sitting inside a silk sling suspended three feet off the floor, feeling like a caterpillar in a giant orange cocoon.
I’m trying out an anti-gravity yoga class, a type of body work that’s been gaining popularity since being featured in The New York Times and O Magazine, and showcased to the TV masses when Pink took to the air during her 2010 Grammy performance.
The instructor directs me and about a dozen other students to use our hands to draw back the edges of the colorful silk slings, which are 9 feet wide and attached to pulleys bolted to the ceiling. We comply and end up sitting on the fabric like a swing — and then swinging. I’ve practiced yoga for years — and this is definitely not your traditional yoga class.
Hard-core yogis and yoginis would probably balk at even using the word “yoga” to describe this form of exercise, which combines modified yoga poses with movements from Pilates, acrobatics and core strength training.
Anti-gravity yoga was created by Christopher Harrison, a competitive gymnast turned professional dancer who worked on Broadway and in movies such as Footloose before running an aerial performance company in the 1990s. He discovered yoga while looking for relief for his ailing, aging joints and then started mixing it with dance and aerial movements to create what he refers to on his website as “suspension training.” His company, AntiGravity Inc., offered classes to the public for the first time in 2007, and he credits the regime with helping him through a 10-month recovery from Lyme disease the following year.
Since then, Harrison has helped several dozen anti-gravity yoga franchises open in U.S. cities such as New York, San Francisco and Salt Lake City, and internationally in places such as Mexico City, Montreal, Dublin and Phuket, Thailand.
My class is at Gravitas, a Portland studio that offers anti-gravity yoga along with other new forms of body work, including “hot” yoga, taught in an infrared room that heats the people but not the space, and gyrokinesis, a Pilates-type exercise system developed by an ex-ballet dancer that focuses on spinal movement.
The 75-minute anti-gravity yoga workout is equal parts disconcerting and fun. It’s disconcerting because the first time you walk into the studio, it’s easy to feel intimidated by those silk hammocks, which you spend most of the class sitting inside, grabbing onto or hanging upside down from. But it’s also fun, because once you get acquainted with the basics — and stop caring how you look — it’s a blast.
My anti-gravity class begins with a series of stretches inside silks meant to get students relaxed and ready for harder work. We move through a sequence of increasingly difficult poses, including variations of the classic yoga sun salutation, lunge, warrior and triangle poses, using the silk as a belt-type support to intensify the stretches.
Then it’s time to go upside-down. Remember the inversion racks and anti-gravity boots that were popular in the ’80s? I think of them as I pull myself into a monkey pose, hanging upside-down with my legs bent, ankles and feet wrapped tight around the silk and my head and the backs of my hands resting on the ground.
Anti-gravity yoga is touted as being beneficial for people with back issues because using the sling as a prop takes pressure off the spine. I’ll vouch for that, but that doesn’t mean it’s always comfortable or easy. The practice includes lots of challenging core strength work, including grabbing the silk between outstretched hands and pushing it out in front of me as I lean forward into a modified plank pose, then repeating it again and again.
After class, I’m slightly dizzy, a normal reaction for a beginner who’s not used to spending that much time upside-down, as the instructor explains. The dizziness wears off by the time I drive home, and I find myself plotting when I can squeeze in another class.
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1 – COMPLIANCE WITH THE LIMITS
Easy to say, less easy to apply. There are two kinds of limits. That which we impose and the actual limits of the body. Generally, when one imposes limits it’s either we are afraid, or we are unmotivated or not really interested in progress in our practice. For example: think you can not improve because you are not flexible enough. Such limits may be exceeded and the practice of yoga can help them do that.
In contrast, the actual limits are limits that must be respected if there is a risk of injury. For example if you just leave a wrist surgery, you should allowed a sufficient time to heal before starting to do a headstand!
So for yoga if we follow the real limits of our bodies we are less likely to get hurt. The challenge then is to know when our limits are set by irrational thoughts or real need to go slow.
2 – POSITIVE THINKING
Sure it sounds cliché, but positive thinking is very important. When we practice yoga, the mind is a true sponge wishing to absorb everything within his reach. If you have even a single negative thought during practice, this negativity is going to interfere in every cell of your being and will manifest itself physically or emotionally.
Have you ever met a yogi with an attitude defiant, angry or nervous? Certainly, any person may be at some point but people who are highly irritable or aggressive should be careful not to reinforce what may be neglected. Let go, get rid of anxiety, anger and negativity will make space for the many benefits of positive thinking on health.
3 – SELF-CONFIDENCE
Whether you practice yoga because it is fashionable or other reasons, you must have a minimum of confidence in you. Without it, you’ll pass near the goal and deny you the benefits of yoga. If you break this rule, you will have little or no progress in mastering the connection between body and mind. By cons if you trust yourself, you will understand the needs of your body and can take better care of your health.
BEFORE HOT YOGA CLASS
We always advise to drink at least 1.5 liters of water the day before practice or you may get dehydrated quickly because of sweating.
Especially avoid eating at least 2 to 3H before the class starts and arrive before the beginning of the session to register, change, relax and allow the body to warm up before exercise. If you suffer from an illness or injury, inform the instructor.
DURING HOT YOGA CLASS
The breath control is essential. Always inhale and exhale through the nose except during phases of relaxation where you can exhale through the mouth. The trick is to always stay calm, focused and avoid unnecessary movements! For the first time, you may feel dizzy, have hot flashes or just need a break, it”s is normal. The hot yoga is a very demanding exercise for your body and requires several practices to tame the regular rhythm. At this point, sit down and rest by staying in the room. Of course you can drink as much water as necessary.
The term “hot yoga” is used to represent any form of yoga practiced in a heated room. The room should generally be maintained at a temperature between 95 and 105 Fahrenheit degrees. Some studios even go beyond the average. In most cases, “hot yoga” is a quick series of postures “asanas” dictated by the teacher. As you can imagine, an intense session of yoga performed under high temperature warms up, stretches the ligaments and muscles and makes you sweat profusely. That said, it’s worth it!