Off the Mat Yoga

An Everyday Challenge for All: Accepting and Respecting Everyone

I am one of those who enjoy the occasional yoga challenges on Instagram and even participate in them from time to time. But there is a challenge that all of us should be doing everyday, yogis and non-yogis alike, ‘good yogis’ and ‘bad yogis’ alike: extending acceptance and respect to everyone. Everyone.

By now, I’m sure that many of you have read Erin’s blog post and Instagram posts about the judgmental nature of yoga culture. And everything she says is always right on target. Ever since I stumbled upon Bad Yogi, I couldn’t help but agree with the many sentiments this community voices out daily. I love that many people are challenging and questioning both ancient and modern yoga, commercialism of yoga, yoga on social media, yoga and narcissism, and everything yoga!

I still consider myself fairly new to yoga, and fortunately, I’ve had nothing but positive experiences so far (even when people chant stuff I don’t understand). So far, people have been accepting of where I’m at in my yoga journey. Even though I haven’t had negative experiences as some of you have, I can certainly understand how some people might come off high and mighty and arrogant when it comes to yoga.

I have not read many ancient yogic texts, but from my understanding, I believe one of the main messages of yoga is love. Especially self-love, self-acceptance, self-respect. So how come some people can’t extend that love, acceptance, and respect to others? Why are we bashing each other? Who are we to dictate what constitutes a “real” yogi?

Notice that I used “we” above. I’m not saying that the Bad Yogi community is hating on kale-drinking, mala-wearing yogis, but it can definitely happen to the best of us, whether we intend to or not. Once we find people and communities that tend to have a belief system similar to ours, it can be very easy for us to start doing the things that we don’t want other people doing to us – judging, hating, name-calling, unsolicited lecturing, etc. It happens not just in yoga, but in religion, politics, even in fitness, eating habits, and just overall lifestyle. Trust me, I’ve had those thoughts too: “Oh that’s not real yoga, that’s a gymnastics photoshoot.”

So the challenge here is not to necessarily condone things you might be heavily against, like eating meat or posting pictures just for Insta-likes. I guess what I’m trying to encourage everyone to do is just simply accept and respect each other, and still be mindful when questioning yoga and those who explore yoga in their own way. Nobody has to be BFFs. Nobody has to agree with anybody. If something or someone really bothers you that much, then go inwards. Maybe question, but not judge, yourself. Meditate. Talk to someone about it, without attacking anyone. Remember that your yoga is different from my yoga and someone else’s yoga…and that because we’re humans, we’re going to constantly contradict ourselves and probably do and say things that we swore we would never do, including yogic things. Everyone is just trying their best out here in this crazy world, so let’s make it a better place by accepting, respecting, and understanding each other instead of judging and trying to correct every single flaw that we might find.

How are you extending these principles into everyday life? Care to share in the comments section below? Will you accept my challenge?

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  1. Megan Reddix

    Megan Reddix

    March 25, 2016 at 10:47 am

    I just had this conversation with my mom yesterday. I’ve had a lot of harsh feedback from other yogis and even from family members about my outlook on yoga. Don’t get me wrong, I love ALL people and try my best to support everyone, but I can’t say that I haven’t been judgmental either. My sister and I definitely don’t see eye to eye on A LOT of subjects. Pretty much every opinion we have is conflicting. What drives me nuts is when people like my sister and I have conflicting opinions but they refuse to be considerate and respectful of the other person. No, I don’t think we should go around apologizing and appeasing everyone. But if you truly have a problem with someone, talk it out respectfully, and look inwards, as you say. This is a great post!

    1. Donna May

      Donna May

      June 18, 2016 at 8:26 pm

      Thank you – totally agreed!

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    March 25, 2016 at 7:23 pm

    You’re awesome. Totally agree. I have to catch myself sometimes…not in my practice of yoga but my practice of life, lol. Sometimes you just have a bad day. If I know I’m in a mood I immediately tell the girls at work they might want to steer clear of me just in case until I sort myself out! It usually works 🙂 And then there are others, with their opinions on how I should live my life or when someone doesn’t treat me right, I have to realise their situation is different to my situation and we all make our own choices from our own experience. If they don’t understand it’s because they haven’t lived it. People judge things they don’t get. My job in that situation is to try and educate them gently, and if that doesn’t work, mentally walk away from that subject. Hard work! But someone’s gotta do it! Thanks for the article, good mind fodder 🙂

    1. Donna May

      Donna May

      June 18, 2016 at 8:28 pm

      Thank you! I warn people too when I’m not in a good mood, and assure them that it’s 99% me and not them haha.

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