I have a daily yoga practice. Therefore, be sure to expect the following from me:
That I am nice to everyone (even to telephone solicitors, some of whom are now my very closest confidants).
That I never lose my temper (not even with my kids...especially not with my kids).
That my patience knows no bounds (even when I'm driving behind a slowpoke while on my way to catch a yoga class for which I would be sure to be late, except for the fact that yogis are never late).
That I never raise my voice (except in joyous song, and by "song", I mean the tuneful chanting of the names of Hindu gods such as Ganesh - portrayed in statuary as a many-limbed elephant who likes offerings of candy and fresh flowers, and Hanuman - depicted as an athletic-looking cross between a man and a monkey; never mind that as a Jew I am pretty much honor bound not to worship idols or animals or basically anything that is not the one and only "God" of my people).
You should also expect me always to practice "satya", by which I mean that I tell no lies ("What was I so busy with that I couldn't get to the laundry, hon? Well, um, let's see...."), even if doing so might cast me in an unflattering light ("Well, I was kinda tired from my two hour yoga practice this morning, so I scarfed a bag of the kids' Pirate's Booty, washed it down with a pint of Kombucha, became engrossed in this truly compelling Lifetime made-for-tv movie, and then passed out on the couch for the rest of the day") .
And of course, you should always expect from me the consistent practice of "ahimsa", by which I mean that I do no violence with words or actions ("Well, take a look at you in those new skinny jeans! "), even when speaking a truth (satya!) that might otherwise inflict pain (e.g., "Um, do they make you look fat? Actually, they make you look wonderfully feminine, juicy and robust!").
I'm a yogi, after all. And I live my yoga each and every moment of each and every day. Don't you know?
Speaking of which, you can bet that I practice yoga not for the rockin' body it promises, but rather, because I am deeply spiritual and seek union with the universal soul that is in each and every one of us, which is obscured only by the chattering chaos of the human mind. I repeat, not because the yoga makes my arms look good in a tank top. Not because of the way it makes my butt rock a pair of True Religions (well, of COURSE, True Religion is my jean of choice. Just look at the logo!)
Yeah, if it weren't for the physical benefits of yoga, I would still be a devotee, you could bet on that. Yes, I would. Yes, yes, yes, I most certainly would.
Because it's not just about the physical, right? I mean, you should expect that I sit in meditation on a daily basis, for at least an hour at a time, and my mind never wanders, particularly to trivial matters. And by "trivial", I mean, like, say, how many calories I ate that day (easy, because I never give into the "baser" urges, such as the urge to overindulge in food, given my yoga-dictated practice of "brahmacharya", loosely translated from Sanskrit as "self-restraint" and often associated with the restraint of sexual urges). Or, say, whether I can convince the Husband that the fabulous pair of Louboutins I'll be wearing on Saturday night has been in my closet all along, as opposed to furtively purchased with cash just this week.
Not that I would ever desire the Louboutins in the first place, given that my yoga demands that I practice aparigraha, or non-greed. And not that I would ever use "grocery money" for shoes, since like all committed yogis, I practice asteya, or non-stealing. And not that I would lie to my husband either (satya!).
Why would I, right? I am a yogi, and I know that these trivialities are just that. Blips on the radar screen of the universe.
Moreover, being a yogi, you should expect me to be fully down with the notion that everything is impermanent. Feelings, - desire, hunger, anger, sadness, envy - they just roll in and out of our minds like the waves of the ocean. Here now? Gone in sixty seconds. Impermanent. Like our lives, like our youth, like our looks.
Which is why plastic surgery is not something a yogi would ever need to consider, you know? Botox? Never. Breast implants? Pshaw. No good yogi who is truly living their yoga would ever. Not if they don't want to be accused of being "unyogic", which is pretty much the cruelest of insults to anyone who practices yoga (ahimsa!)
My friend, R, who is not only a plastic surgeon but also a yogi understands this in a way that a non-yogi could never. For that reason, among others, he employs the utmost in discretion when a yogi comes in for his or her injectables. Or lipo. Or boob amplification. But apparently, by far the most popular reason for seeing R, if you're a yoga teacher, is for the Botox. See, in smoothing out the lines in the forehead, Botox imbues the face with the relaxed appearance that is often associated with inner peace. And who wants to learn yoga from some aging hag with a furrowed brow?
Okay, so maybe R is not just any plastic surgeon. Maybe he's my plastic surgeon too. Okay, alright, fine, he is. But for the record, there's been no Botox. And the nose job was completely justified for yogic reasons, in that by straightening out my deviated septum, it helped me to breathe better in yoga class. And so was the tummy tuck, which helped me to master certain yoga poses in which the excess "stuff" around my waist was getting in the way. In the way of enlightenment, that is.
What else might get in the way of enlightenment besides a bit of a spare tire?
Well, if you're one of numerous yoga teachers who has (now how can I put this in the most delicate way possible?) dallied, with a yoga student, then you might say that it's not desire, but un-actualized desire, that is the problem. You might go as far as to say, "Brahmacharya? Feh. That's for yogis who aren't as sexy as me.". Just ask media-friendly yoga teachers, Rodney and Colleen.
On the other hand, for what it's worth, Rod and Colleen have been quoted as saying, essentially, "Do as we say, not as we did." And in reality, they are just the same as the rest of us yogis (no, make that "the rest of us", period): human, vulnerable, fallible. Practicing yoga, even daily, does not ensure adherence to every aspect of yoga doctrine. A lot of the changes that make a yogi seem "yogic" happen just by virtue of coming to the mat each day; some of the changes are more consciously made. But none of the changes are set in stone. And we all have our moments.
We scream at our kids. We tell a fib here or there. We might choose to indulge in a trashy magazine rather than rereading the Bhagavad Gita. We might savor "American Idol" on a large screen television. We might concern ourselves with how to make a good enough living so that we can afford the large screen television. We might be committed to the practice of ahimsa, but then when it comes to acquiring a canine companion, we might choose to patronize the local pet shop, rather than saving a doomed doggie at the animal shelter. Or we might enjoy a steak now and then. Or an egg. Or wear fur. Or leather.
It's so easy to be "unyogic". It's even easier to accuse someone else of it. Especially when we don't really know them all that well. But maybe, just maybe, the "yogic" outweighs the "un", and if not, maybe the "yogic" is a work in progress. You could do worse than assuming the best of someone. It's actually kind of nice, nay, yogic.
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