A friend mentioned to me recently, “I really dig that you are so into yoga and that you’re not a hippie.” “Are you kidding? I take baths on the regular, I love shopping at H&M, and I wouldn’t be caught dead at Burning man. I don’t even have an interest in going to Coachella. I love yoga, but it doesn’t mean I love wild eclectic dancing and sweating profusely in the desert.”
I have found that most people associate yogis with hippies. I mean, I thought the same thing until I actually became a part of the “community.” My first teacher in Las Vegas was, by no means, a hippie. She plays nothing but rock music in her classes. Going to festivals like Shaktifest and Wanderlust were not on her agenda. This was my first real experience with yoga; rock music in class, long holds in poses, and a firey teacher that had lots of fun. I didn’t even hear true “yoga music” until I moved to Los Angeles.
California yogis are quite a bit different than what I was used to, and it took me a while to adjust. It seems like every other month, there is some festival going on where yogis from all parts of the country, get together for hours of asana, music and dancing. And, honestly, all of that sounds pretty unappealing. The fact is, is that these kinds of festivals are not me. When I moved back to LA, I noticed that my practice became more than just poses and trying to keep my mind off of my crazy ex boyfriend. Tony Giuliano, my teacher in LA, was the first person who introduced me to “Yoga music.” There are some great Kirtan artists and other types of musicians out there. I started to appreciate this music because some of it is really beautiful. I began to become interested in the philosophy part of yoga as well. I learned more about all of the Hindu deities, what they represented, and paid closer attention of the ancient stories behind them.
So, my practice, I realized, was more than just the asana. It became a way of life, essentially. My relationships with other people improved, my eating habits changed, my physical body changed as well. Eventually, I realized that my selfish, asshole ways of thinking were slipping away, and it wasn’t just about me anymore. This new way of thinking was reenforced by every class I attended, or with every conversation that I had with my teachers. I try to look for the good in other people first, and I am constantly setting good intentions. It helped me to smile quite a bit more.
Then I thought, “Oh my god, I’m becoming of those yoga people. Today, I’m listening to yoga music and smiling at people for no reason. Does this mean I have to go to the Bhakti/Shaktifests, while dancing wildly to chanting shamans tomorrow? Am I going to have to eventually own a big, flappy shirt, linen pants, and straight man sandals???” Because I’m just not the one to wear something like that. I honestly think I am somewhere in the middle. I just happen to be a gay guy who loves “yoga music”, such as Shantala (who I’m going to see this Friday), but also likes his espresso, fitted jeans and light blue H&M t-shirts. They bring out my eyes for god sake! So, to me, I have the best of both worlds. I’m not that trendy, but trendy enough to not be a hippie. Does this make sense? :-/
After two years of practicing yoga, I finally got it. No one in the yoga community really cares about what you wear, or how you choose to to live your life. I have great friends who love these yoga festivals and who are self proclaimed hippies. But, again, that is not me. Ultimately, we all just want to travel through life lightly and happily, while setting good intentions for ourselves.
I may do some rockin’ asana while listening to some Kirtan music, but you won’t find me in the desert with no air conditioning. That is NOT the business! And could you imagine me in straight man sandals? The one’s with the velcro? Yah, YOU KNOW what I’m talking about. All stars are more my style. :-)
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