What Does it Take to be an Advanced Yogi?
An advanced yogi may not be what you think.
When we use the word "yoga" in the Western world, we tend to refer to the modern form of Hatha yoga, which only includes the physical part of yoga, the postures we know as “asanas.”
Yet, Hatha Yoga is simply one part of the eight limbs of yoga, these being:
Your ethical standards, moral imperatives, and sense of integrity.
Self-discipline through positive duties or observances.
Yes, the physical practice you probably partake in!
Breathing exercises to create harmony with the breath, the mind, and the emotions.
Withdrawal from your senses, or sensory transcendence, that creates a bridge to enlightenment. One way to achieve this that you may be familiar with is concentrating on the point between the eyebrows (your third eye).
Concentration (which precedes meditation).
Meditation and Contemplation.
The state of ecstasy that every true yogi seeks. So in short….
You can be an advanced yogi who is wheelchair bound. Or who simply found her or his way to Samadhi (this coveted state of meditative consciousness) through the other several branches available to yogis.
Inversely, you can perform every asana present in Inyengar’s Light on Yoga with a beautiful precision and be far from advanced as a yogi, if the physical rigor and discipline that it takes to attain these poses has not helped you advance through your mental and spiritual journey.
So please remember, the next time you find yourself on the mat, ask yourself why you’re on it. If you’re simply on it for fitness that is 100% fine, no one will (or should) judge you for that. But self-recognition is important, whether you’re a yogi or not. And if you’re in it for the fitness alone, you’re probably not (at least yet) on the yogic path. We say yet because sooooo many yogis found their path through asana and went on to explore the other branches, life is funny and takes many turns, and it’s important to be open to a change in paths.
On the other hand, next time you’re in a yoga class and someone is struggling with their down dog, don’t forget that this “struggling” yogi may be much more advanced than the rest of the class. And if you find yourself in the “yoga for fitness” category, someone who goes to class for the yoga butt, we have some news for you:
By the time you become a true advanced yogi, you’ll probably have the yoga butt, but it will no longer matter to you that you do. And that (we think) is good news!