As part of our Yoga Teacher Training, we explore the concept of the 21st Century Yogi. This article was submitted by Alisha Halpin as part of her philosophy assessment. She captures the essence of what it means to be yogi in a modern world. Thank you for sharing. Enjoy!
The Modern Day Yogi
The second and arguably most important Yoga Sutra reads ‘Yoga chitta vritti nirodha’ translating to ‘the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind’, relating to a sense of oneness with ourselves and our environment. Throughout the centuries, yoga has been morphed and moulded to create an abundance of styles. However, all practises come back to this notation of stillness.
For me, being ‘a good yogi’ starts here. In understanding the history and lineage, without diluting out the fundamentals of why we practise yoga some 2000 years after the Sutras were written. Yoga is about accessibility and acceptance, being able to witness the fluctuations of the mind, cultivate a level of awareness that transcends external influences and choosing to come back to the practise that is rarely mastered yet blissfully lived.
Yoga is a lifestyle. It is not a set of postures. Being a 21st century yogi does not equate to contorting the body and the longest inverted holds. Ashtanga translates as The Eight Limbs of Yoga. They encompass the Yamas and Niyamas, a guide to living
through restraints and observances. Patanjali documented these guidelines and we have shifted from their original meaning to fit the modern day. Simply put, the Yamas consist of morals to live by, non- harming, truthfulness, non-stealing, non-indulgence and non-greed, whilst the Niyamas are for healthier habits and include cleanliness, contentment, discipline, study of self and surrendering to a higher power. Even Iyengar himself, a student of Krishnamacharya, states the Yamas and Niymasa are the ‘golden keys to unlock the spiritual gates.’
The asanas make up only 1 of the 8 limbs. When we think about the word yoga, the postures are often at the forefront of our mind. Many people begin their yoga journey through the asanas, often challenging themselves physically to master certain ones. There is a saturated, digital information overload, used to grab our attention and inspire comparison and competition on the mat. Being a good yogi, you understand that not everyone practising is observing the other 7 limbs, and they may never. Yoga is for all, bringing unity through the practise, yet the unity of ones mind is so incredibly personal. To be a good yogi in the 21st century means accepting your journey as a unique experience and not trying to force the lifestyle on others but being willing to educate those who want to listen.
The eighth limb defined by Patanjali is Samadhi, a state of presence achieved through concentration (Dharna) and meditation (Dhyana). Often interpreted as the highest state of mental concentration through meditative consciousness, this is the final step on the path of yoga. Samadhi is being present in every moment and content with every emotion. Understanding this state, is important to appreciate the gift of yoga and what it means to be a practitioner. In a society filled with distractions, choices and interactions, having the notion of Samadhi to come back to simplifies the very world we live in.
For me, being a good yogi in the 21st century means respecting the lineage, understanding the foundations and striving to come back to the path of yoga in the ebb and flow of life. It is the acceptance that I can practice but may never master it.
It is not chasing a final destination but enjoying each part of the journey.Alisha Halpin, October 2022 YTTC graduate
Want to learn about the philosophy of yoga? This is part of our Yoga Teacher Training Curriculum. Trainings runs throughout the year. Our next weekend course starts in January 2023 at Eleven Eleven Yoga Studios.
For more information, What’s App Julia +447916680248.