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?