What Does it Mean to be a Lifelong Practitioner of Yoga?
If you’re a new student of yoga, meeting these seasoned and talented yoga practitioners is so intimidating. Especially if you have that feeling of unworthiness. Maybe you found yoga on Instagram or YouTube and you see other yogis, and suddenly you think to yourself – “wow, maybe I’m not a real yoga student?”
But there is nothing further from the truth.
Yoga is first and foremost an inner spiritual journey that no one can judge from the outside. Yoga students of all levels that can learn to honor the roots of yoga without having to re-invent the spiritual path.
Some new students of yoga or even experienced teachers may wonder if they are engaging in the cultural appropriation of yoga. If you wonder whether you are stepping on the toes of an ancient and established spiritual journey, it can be really helpful to dive deeper into the roots of yoga and explore more. There is no reason to feel unworthy or embarrassed of our own attempts at poses and spiritual reflection.
Instead, there is a difference between cultural appropriation and a true cultural appreciation, one that accepts the traditional teachings of yoga but also embraces the evolution yoga students everywhere are currently experiencing.
The guru-shishya, or student-teacher relationship in yoga, is a key aspect of your yoga journey, especially for new students. But finding a mentor isn’t easy, especially for Westerners who have a hard time battling the ego, both in themselves and in the culture that defines most North Americans today. Instead of looking for a high guru, try finding a teacher that supports your vulnerability as a new student and helps you cultivate that better version of yourself that you’re seeking.
In this modern age, especially with COVID-19 keeping all of us in our homes, yoga is more accessible than ever. No matter where you’re starting your yoga journey – be it online or with a guru – there’s no reason for new students to feel unworthy of the practice. As yoga teacher Susanna Barkataki says, we are all within a web of knowledge, and we are each contributing to this knowledge as we explore our own yoga journeys together.
Listen to my full interview with Susanna to dive into cultural appropriation on my latest Yoga Inspiration Podcast episode here.