I’m a yogini. Technically, anyway. I have two and a half students and don’t own, or work at, a studio. I have a 200 hour teacher training certification, but not from the prestigious Yoga Alliance, because my teacher believes their membership fees would make his training program unaffordable. I don’t have beautiful photographs of myself doing Wild Thing or Lord Dancer Pose against the setting sun on a beach and nobody ever asks me to perform asanas in meadows while they click their DSLR. I don’t eat meat, but I do eat fish (and no, I don’t “feel bad for them as sentient beings,” before you ask). I don’t remind everybody that sugar is poison because I have a crazy sweet tooth. I have no desire to ever do a wheatgrass shot, because it has the word “grass” and I’m sure it tastes awful. I can do splits, handstands and dropbacks to Wheel pose, but I usually don’t unless I’m in my room, sometimes with the cat watching. I know the Sanskrit words for poses, but never use them in class because English works just as well. I don’t own a single item of clothing from Lululemon; I wear my husband’s t shirts and track pants from my college days. I am not skinny and never will be, no matter how much I focus on healthy eating and vinyasa yoga. When yoga teachers talk about feeling the light of the universe in your hamstrings and gently awakening your heart chakra to absorb the wisdom of Pattanjali, I feel pretentious just hearing it. I love my hamstrings and heart chakra and even Pattanjali, but sometimes I worry my low threshold for hearing about all these things in the same sentence makes me a bit of a fraud.
This is bad marketing. I should tell you about waking every day with a sunbeam on my face and a prayer in my heart. I should talk about the joys of clean living and how energetic I feel because I don’t eat meat. I should do 108 Sun Salutations in a row, in a public park or beside the sea, preferably at dawn. I should not tell you that every time I balance in Scorpion against the wall, or manage a backbend while I’m in a split, I shout to my husband “Woohoo, are you APPRECIATING THIS YET?”
You don’t need to know that I have cotton pants four sizes too big for me in colours which happen to be flattering because I think it makes me look like I’m naturally thin, cool and unconcerned, the way a yogini should be. Nobody wants to know that pranayama was the last thing I chose to focus on when developing my own practice (I do it now, I promise!), or that I won’t use a neti pot to clear my perennially clogged respiratory system just because that episode on House where the guy dies from brain-eating bacteria freaked me out. I love Ayurvedic remedies, herbal tea and eating right for my dosha, but I won’t try any ancient remedies that sound like they taste bad (like chewing on six black peppers to cure an allergy attack). I’m immature. I have no patience, except with children, because I think they are cute. I’m the prototype for a 20 something urban-dweller and you are welcome to disparage me for not being a real yogini.
But as Dr Suess says…UNLESS…
Unless you know how many things yoga can be, don’t knock it till you try it. I am not a jet-setting instructor with a book deal and advertisements for Nike yoga shoes (which are as ridiculous as they sound), but I will never judge you. I won’t judge you for thinking yoga is boring, “nothing but stretching,” not intense enough, but I might challenge you to see otherwise. I won’t live up to your expectations of what a yoga teacher should be like, but I will practice for an hour every day on my mat and if you really want me to, even teach you what “breathing into your psoas” actually means. I promise never to write blogs about finding the goddess within me and I will never lecture you on what yoga is REALLY about-because, you know, that's kind of what yoga's all about.