Let’s face it. The ancient practice of yoga has been transformed into the art of selling women exorbitantly-overpriced leggings that tell the world, “I am bendy, mindful, and love wheatgrass in my smoothies.”

Okay, maybe that’s not entirely true, but it was one of my early impressions of yoga and what being a yogi is all about. When I finally did get around to trying it, my favorite part was simply moving my body and surprisingly, my failed attempts (belly flops and nose dives) at several poses did not discourage me. Once I had experienced classes taught by a variety of instructors (in-person and online), I made choices about what I wanted to incorporate into my personal practice and what I could do without. I believe that yoga is personal. Your practice is YOURS. Don’t spend your time doing what other people say you “should” be doing. “Should” implies judgment. Here are five ways that I rebelled against mainstream yoga culture.

  1. I don’t have a routine. I practice when I feel like it. That is generally between workouts for recovery. Sometimes I do yoga because I am stiff from sitting on the couch and eating ice cream all day. It just depends on my mood. I don’t do the same flows every time either. I mix it up. Sometimes I work up a sweat, sometimes I want to relax in child’s pose and corpse pose after a simple sun salutation. I do what I want.
  2. I do short 5-20 minute flows. Again, this all depends on how much time I have or how much time I feel like spending doing yoga. A five-minute flow between brushing my teeth and running out the door in the morning can be just as satisfying as a nice twenty-minute recovery flow. Unless I’m really sore or feeling very active, I don’t ever feel the need to do more than twenty (sometimes thirty) minutes. My personal philosophy is that anything is better than nothing.
  3. I don’t just do yoga. I do some pretty intense, hour-long workouts 4-5 days every week. I generally feel destroyed and pretty sore afterward and I like it that way. Since I can’t do these workouts every day without facing near death, yoga is the perfect way to supplement to my active lifestyle. It’s fun, relaxing, and allows me to keep moving.
  4. I don’t meditate. I am aware of the benefits of meditating but I really have no patience or desire to practice meditation. As a good friend of mine would put it, I am really good at “reverse meditation.” I think quietly think about EVERYTHING… gleefully! Keeping my breathing in sync with my movements is about as far as I take the meditation piece.
  5. I practice solo. I don’t know if this is actually “rebelling” as much as it is just my preference. I practice solo with YouTube videos (on my big screen!) and visualize all the millions of people who are struggling through tree pose and inversions in front of their TV just like me! It’s quite empowering to be able to laugh at myself.

Maybe you like to meditate and do hour-long flows to heavy metal music. That’s great! Your practice is unique to you and that’s exactly how it should be. In what ways is your practice unique and different from mainstream yoga?