Are You a Selfish Yogi?
A month in Morocco and an interesting question – how many of us are Selfish Yogis and how many of us want to enable ourselves to help others?
Lindsay – I recently embarked on a Teacher Training Course in Essouria, Morocco. I have been teaching yoga for several years and have always wanted to do further training but been distracted by my career in the fitness world and a hectic London lifestyle. Having finally booked the time to go after the Fitness Presenting season was finished, I met Ivor.
Ivor – We met at Gatwick Airport after some expensive whatsapp chatting in the Caribbean and for the next few weeks were inseparable. I therefore had a crash course in her world. Lj sees things in a different way and helped me see my life more clearly. Before long I had left my corporate job of eight years that I’d been struggling to enjoy. Having planned to visit Essouria during the course I realised I could spend four weeks with a beautiful blonde on a sunny north African beach whilst learning to be a little more bendy if I attended the course, for less money than the flights and hotel!
Lindsay – During those seven classes I saw that Ivor had the discipline and communication skills for yoga from his military background, the communication skills for teaching from his corporate sales job and physically I was surprised at how flexible and strong he was, especially for a guy. He lacked a yogi mind but I thought that a month of yoga and meditation would sort that out!
Ivor – Lj might have been surprised when I called her Little Buddha but it wasn’t for her belly, rather for her profound and ancient soul. Honestly though, I had no idea how tough the mind side of the course would be. Both Lj and I are intensely giving people and to spend so much time looking inwards throughout practice and mediation is really, really tough. During the first few days I pointedly said to her (alone) that yoga was the most selfish pursuit that I had come across. We lived in a Riad (internal views) in a walled city, everything was geared towards introspection and, in my mind, self pity. To top it all off the others were female, thirty and had issues, except for the teachers, they were over thirty and had even more issues.
Lindsay – Although physically Ivor found the course a breeze, mentally, he had a hard time adjusting. He is so used to busily looking after others that the idea of spending the first seven hours of a day, silently looking inwards was completely alien to him. At the same time I was really appreciating the time I was spending with myself. As a teacher I constantly focus on others and this was my first opportunity for proper self-practice for a very long time.
Ivor – The reason that I thought that yoga is so selfish is because of those who call themselves yogis. These people are often so absorbed by what they do that they forget to be open to others and to look after and attract new people to such an insightful way of life. When I told the others that I had only practised for a week or so and that I was there to ‘bonk’ my hot girlfriend I was met with hostility. Rather than being welcomed as one who had ‘come to the mat’ there was a feeling that I hadn’t worked hard enough to warrant my place.
Lindsay – Once Ivor had opened my eyes to the selfish side of yoga I started to feel guilty for being inward looking. Then I thought about my classes, where I am always looking outwards, at people who are stressed, ill or grieving. It is then that I can see the wonderful benefits that yoga gives to those who need it most.
Ivor – The problem is that many yogis think that yoga belongs to them. I’ve learnt that yoga is there for everyone and that the very best that Lj and I can do is to enable people to come to it. We want to change the way that beginners feel in those awkward and embarrassing first classes they attend (if they summon up the courage). I found yoga teachers off-putting, rude and arrogant before I met Lj. I’d tried and failed to find yoga and it is those yogis who are to blame. Our aim is to prevent others from being put-off and attract even more people to yoga. Yoga is about balance and openness in the end, but sometimes to look externally with clarity you have be calm and harmonised inwardly, something that takes a little introspection.