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What is a Yogi? The True Meaning and How to Become One

Lauren Howard
What is a Yogi. The True Meaning and How to Become One

You’ve most likely heard the term ‘yogi,’ but you might find yourself wondering what exactly the real meaning behind the name. What qualifies someone to be a yogi?

A yogi is an individual who adopts yoga into their day-to-day life and commits themselves to the practice to maintain a level of adeptness.

Many people are exposed to the term ‘yogi‘ as something one labels themselves as an enthusiast of yoga. Often people will label this on their social media as a hashtag or boast about their lifestyle. However, becoming a yogi has more to do with the lifestyle than just the act of yoga alone. Many see yoga Let’s learn more about what it takes to adopt a yogi lifestyle.

Qualities of A Yogi

Qualities of A Yogi
Qualities of A Yogi

To become a yogi, it is much more than simply calling yourself one. It takes incredible dedication and commitment. It’s about the lifestyle that you lead and how you interact and influence those around you. Here are some qualities you would see in someone leading a yogi lifestyle.

  1. Inwardly Reflection: Yogi’s need to be self-reflective of their actions, behaviors, and emotions. Looking at themselves through an objective point of view helps them better understand themselves and what they value. This plants the seed of what knowledge they need to overcome obstacles in their life.
  2. Hermit Tendencies: A yogi often removes itself from what one would call the ‘norm’. They will often excuse themselves about society and explain that it deters them from what they value; an inner reflection of themselves. This also means you won’t find a yogi snapping a picture of their latest progress. A yogi keeps to themselves and only serves as a teacher or an example to those around them.
  3. Diet: Food influences our vibration and mood. Yogi’s are very mindful of what they intake into their bodies and minimize their meals twice a day. These meals will be vegetarian and plant-based. Yogi’s will also remove caffeine from their diets.
  4. Minimalist: A yogi abides by the idea of living a simple life, with little or no possessions. Hoarding items or physical objects weigh us down physically but also spiritually. Removing these items frees up space in more ways than one.
  5. Serve Others: Offering service to those in their community to help better society is at the core of a yogi’s beliefs. It’s about helping others for the sole purpose of expressing kindness and expressing empathy. A yogi does not expect to reciprocate kindness for their deeds to offer a helping hand.
  6. Always Learning: A yogi’s job is never complete as they’re still learning and absorbing knowledge. They dedicate their life to study.

Principles of Yama and Niyama

Principles of Yama and Niyama
Principles of Yama and Niyama

These principles are determined to strengthen yoga practice by identifying what weakens or hinders the mind and what should be avoided to keep an individual strong. Yama illustrates restraint and consists of 5 elements, while Niyama demonstrates observances. The list includes:

Ahimsa: This is an important virtue that solidifies respect for all sentient beings and avoids violence and hostility towards others. It is not purposefully causing harm to any being through the form of act, speech, or thought. Violence, verbal or physical, causing and malicious harm is unimaginable to a yogi. This principle is also why yogis abstain from eating animals or anything derived from animals’ slaughter.

Satya: Principle of the moral discipline of the self to stay truthful and honest. To think before speaking and to remain with a positive outlook. Bending the truth to offer a false narrative is not something yogi practices. This false narrative is a refusal to talk about the truth and an avoidance; this is ultimately a form of untruth.

Asteya: This means to be content with what is given, often labeled as ‘non-stealing‘ for not taking more than what is offered or not to take more than is needed.Stealing is something that people find apparent to be wrong; however, there are many instances where people take what isn’t meant for them.

This form of ‘stealing’ can be by pretending that we own something that isn’t really ours, taking credit for something that belongs to another—plagiarizing something, or coercing someone to give us something we desire.Taking can have multiple forms that are not as we would initially think of as ‘stealing’. Whether inner or outer behaviors are essentially an impulse to steal, these forms of stealing must be eliminated to become a genuine yogi truly.

Brahmacharya: This principle asks you to free yourself from what you feel dependent on and reserve this energy to direct that attention towards the pursuit of self-knowledge. It is the conservation of holding on to your power, especially negative energy. Negative emotions release large amounts of energy through acts of lust, envy, fear, or anger. It is ultimately the loss of a large amount of life because of the loss of self-control.

With positive emotions, we are raising our vibrations and energies by cultivating generosity and compassion while also working to make ourselves in a calm state of mind that makes our energy levels stronger and less depleted.

Aparigraha: This principle expresses the need to let go. Let go of possessions and things that are no longer in use to you. Do not desire to accumulate wealth or to indulge in comforts. Accept the present. Be thankful for the gift that is today.

People can quite literally lose themselves in material possessions. Quite often, people can adopt a false identity that’s definition through what they have and lose connection to their real sense of self. Aparigraha clears the senses and asks us to reflect on our true values.

Shauca: This means purity. To purify the mind, the speech and the body become more prepared and receptive to messages during meditation and prayer. This principle also has to do with the importance of what we put into our bodies as food has vibrations.

Adhering to a vegetarian diet will help our minds be perceptible to these messages and keep our bodies nourished and begin to see the benefits of a plant-based dietary regimen.

Santosha: This principle requests you to be content in the present and to love the self. Not looking outwardly to satisfy the needs from within as you already have everything you need. Santosha wants us to be content enough in our spirit that we radiant positivity and live in the absence of negativity. It is fundamentally changing our perspective on life, and by living in the freedom of acceptance that we do not lack anything, all that we have is enough.

Tapas: Tapas means spiritual discipline. It is about being the best you can and shifting what you do and how you achieve this. This principle wants you to go outside the box to achieve something beyond habit. In a sense, it’s stimulating our being to achieve consciousness, forcing us to confront issues we may experience with self-denial.

Tapa’s literal translation is to ‘generate heat‘. When molecules rapidly move faster than their typical rate, this causes a higher vibration. Thus, the principle of tapas causes elements of the yogi to possess a higher vibration. A yogi recognizes their energy how it translates to the metaphysical world to influence their lives physically, mentally, and spiritually.

Swadhyaya: This principle is the study of the self through meditation or contemplation. Although much of Swadhyaya is to come to self-realization, it is also about being observant of our ego and aware of its delusions. We must carefully analyze our thoughts and witness the direction our ego is trying to steer us.

This assessment of the ego is why we must never forget the age-old question of ‘who am i?’ Our existence calls for us to answer this question through experiences through the eyes of ourselves. This sort of revelation is through any journey that asks you to turn inwardly, including meditation and taps.

Ishwarapranidhana: The surrendering to God or the universe in anticipation of a divine union. This principle is about the total giving of the lifestyle, even of the very self, to aim in the spirit’s reunion.

How to Move Towards Becoming A Yogi

How to Move Towards Becoming A Yogi
How to Move Towards Becoming A Yogi

The goal of becoming a yogi is deep and profound, and a lot of the lessons are learned simply by un-learning what our society has told us to value. We must accept our lives as they are nothing short of miraculous in themselves. To move towards the steps of becoming a yogi, consider some of these. recommendations below:

  1. Practice: First and foremost, practice yoga and incorporate yoga into daily life. Research the yogic philosophy and become more knowledgeable on postures, influencing the mind, body, and spirit. Try setting a schedule to keep yoga as the focus. Consider mixing up the classes to ensure you stay engaged. Whatever plan works for you, set a goal, and stick to it.
  2. Focus: Focus on your behaviors and thoughts. Be mindful of your actions, what comes to you during meditation and prayers, and be aware of your breath. Fully commit to each inhale and exhale and be within the moment.
  3. Adopt Principles: Adopt the principles in the foundation of yoga. Adopt their ideology on truth, peace, love, and self-discipline. Practice the Yamas and Niyamas in your individual life and work their philosophy into your day-to-day. These principles will significantly help shape your perspective on the world and guide you toward achieving self-realization.
  4. Consider A Mentor: Help your efforts by training alongside a mentor in yoga or Ayurveda. Surrounding yourself with like-minded people will help answer questions you may have and help you connect with people. A lot of these steps into becoming a yogi can bring up many emotions that we were not anticipating. Finding people you can connect with and support you is invaluable through your journey to becoming a yogi.

To become an actual yogi signifies a lifetime of dedication and commitment to the philosophies and beliefs instilled by a yogic principle. The real yogi understands the depth of the self and does not live in a romanticized lifestyle that’s often portrayed in social media. Quite often, it is someone who recluses from others and society to better themselves. Becoming a true yogi is about transformation and discipline.

However, we can all take some lessons from the yogic lifestyle to better understand how we think and behave and better understand how to grow and mature. There are lessons to learn even for yoga enthusiasts or to those only just beginning the practice.

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