Stop living like a yogi and just start living

Published on August 22, 2011 by      Print
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By Jade Doherty

Warning: rant alert. May have interesting points, but I’m not making any promises.

Can a yogi eat meat? Can a yogi smoke? Can a yogi have kinky sex? Can a yogi do this? Can a yogi do that? Enough already with the rules of being a yogi!

The amount of people I’ve met who can relate to and resonate with Hindu and Buddhist teachings, but ruin it by spending the rest of their lives trying to harmonise them with the other, less “yogic” aspects of their day is staggering.

What a "real yogi" actually looks like. Do you really want to look like this?

Firstly, none of us are yogis in the truest sense of the word. “Proper yogis” spend all day in transcendental trances; they renounce all worldly goods; they cover themselves in ash; they don’t have families; etc, etc, etc. There’s nothing wrong with not being a real yogi; I definitely don’t fancy it. I love my mum, and ash doesn’t suit my complexion, which somewhat rules out Sanyasin as a post-uni career choice.

Since we’re already playing fast and loose with the term “yogi,” can we please give ourselves a break and not try to yogafy everything we do? Want to have mad sex? Go ahead: have the maddest, craziest monkey sex that you can. You don’t have to call it tantra though. Feel like pigging out? That’s cool, but acknowledge that you’re pigging out and that the only place a state of abundance is manifesting is on your arse.

What a yogi would or wouldn’t do isn’t important. What you are doing (and why) is. I wonder how many tantra students use tantra as an excuse to live out their wildest fantasies, but without having to fully own them or address how they feel about their fantasies? I wonder how many rich spiritual people are just greedy — or, as is the way with these things, coming from the opposite position of lack? Living in abundance sounds nice. Using sex as a connection to the divine sounds nice. Using things or people to fill a hole doesn’t.

Yogi, as well as tantrika, dakini and seeker, have become new titles that our identity can cling to. Why not just be you? I know I’m pretty good at being me (I dare to say I’m the best in the world — nay the Universe — at being me), and it’s certainly easier to be yourself, just as you are, rather than trying to bend yourself into role.

A lot of us are so used to being good at stuff that we apply that same formula to spirituality.

We try to be good at it, to understand it, to win at it. We think if we can just understand this, if we can just have that experience, if we can just master this position or learn to pronounce that word, then we will be ok. Then we can stop. But as long as “I” am trying to be a good yogini, “I,” the ego, is still in charge and will most likely go by undetected. All being good at spirituality will get me is a big, fat, enlightened ego.

What would it be like if we stopped trying to be who we think we should be? If we stopped trying to better, faster, bendier, calmer… and just let go? Relaxed into the awareness that is itself aware of our created images of ourselves. Lent back into the knowing that we are fine as we are, that there’s no “doer” and nothing to do. You don’t have to try to be That, you are That.

How would it feel to stop running, chanting, stretching, pushing and pulling? Acceptance is often the hardest thing to do, but ultimately that is what we must do. Accept ourselves, accept those around us, and most of all accept each moment. Just as it is. Without conditions, opinions, or requirements.

So long as we’re trying, we’re not being. Trying requires will power and creates an inherent separation between the “tryer” and what they’re trying to achieve. Surrender requires us to let go of our will and to totally accept life as it is.

This is no mean feat, but trying to be a better this or better that is keeping us from waking up to the fact that there is no “I” to improve.


About Jade Doherty

Jade is pretty clueless about life, but seems to have gotten away with it so far. She’s worked as a football coach and an English Teacher, but feels that her calling lies in drinking tea and laughing at herself. Having dipped her toe in the world of new age philosophy and yoga, she got scared and scurried back to her cave/bedroom. Her new website is, and she can be found on Facebook and Twitter (although she mainly uses it to pretend that celebrities are her friends).

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  1. matthew says:

    Great points. As soon as I stop trying to ‘be good at’ things, I start to enjoy them much more.

    • Jade Doherty says:

      Totally know what you mean. I once said, in all seriousness ‘why would anyone play a sport if they didn’t at least INTEND to do it at a national level?!’. Didn’t occur to me that it might be because they enjoy it!

      And they probably enjoyed playing sports more than I did ‘cos they weren’t trying to be good at it!

  2. Meg says:

    A voice of reason here. It’s funny how yoga is teaching me to release the tight fist of grasping (for control, perfection, etc.), and then in the same breath, yoga gives me something new to try to control/perfect. But I won’t let it! Thanks for this Jade.

    • Jade Doherty says:

      Thanks Meg.

      Tis is tricky one. Yoga/self-inquiry/etc asks you to let go of everything. But what ego in their right mind is gonna rock up to a class where they will be let go of!

      Maybe there has to be something there, something you think can perfect to give the ego an incentive to go to the class/meditate?

      Thanks again and glad you liked it.

  3. Rachel says:

    thank you thank you thank you

  4. Yogini5 says:

    The “best” (for want of a better term) yogis renounce all attachments, including the attachment to acting/thinking/dressing like a yogi … so striving (for anything, including yoginess) is having an attachment in itself …

  5. Don says:

    Great article! Adding a touch of reality and balance to the spiritual path to make it real and balanced.

  6. theo scheriff jr. says:

    The brilliant paradox here, is that you are actually describing the truth of Yoga in your advice. It seems what you are dismissing is not Yoga, but an ‘idea of Yoga’ that is egoic and common, especially in the west. People who ‘join the yoga scene’ or mentally define themselves as something to do with Yoga – are not practicing Yoga, but are in fact, practicing ego. They may through Yoga, learn how to shed that false sense of self – or they may not. That does not define Yoga or a Yogic practice as inherently egoic or false. That is simply an inherently egoic individual perspective, which can and will see anything in an egoic or ‘mentally self-defining’ way. There is no dogma (institutional rules) to actual Yoga, though you will see it among those who egoicly define themselves under the word.

    However, what you suggest, especially in the last 3 paragraphs, is actually some of the greatest Yoga teachings. Yoga means literally “to unite”. To come together as the whole and true You; to BE sincere; this is Yoga. A rose by any other name would still smell as sweet. Likewise, when a confused person hands me a pile of shit and tells me to smell the rose… it’s still a pile of shit. Don’t let the confused, define for you what is true.

    Truth is within – you are right about that. It is a healthy practice to live sincerely, whatever your days involve… by whatever name you give it. For me, this is exactly “Yoga”. But I am just as happy to call it “Love” or “Truth” or “Aikido” or “Peace”. These for me, are synonyms that cannot be redefined by another – in my experience of them. Others may hijack, misunderstand, or misinterpret terms for practices in their own lives – however they confuse these practices – but their confusion cannot confuse me. They are allowed to call a rose a pile of shit, or vice-verse. It does not change the sweetness of my inner peace – as experienced by me, in disciplined moments of my Life practice. Aliveness is aliveness. Wholeness is wholeness. When these such things are truly felt and experienced, like Depeche Mode said “…words are meaningless, and forgetable.”

    • Jade Doherty says:

      I’m not sure if your ‘however’ leads to a criticism or not! So I’ll presume not :)

      I get what you’re saying. Yoga/to unite is what it’s all about. I understand that as the union of God/consciousness/love in human with the absolute. The whole, the wave is not separate from the ocean thing.

      Yoga, as a pure teaching is something that I really love. I think we get a bit too caught up in trying to be good at uniting that we we’re not actually uniting anything!

      You made a lot of good points, and I really like your way of explaining and understanding, and it sounds like you walk the talk. Love what you said about the shit and the rose. Shit is shit, calling a rose won’t make it any more rose like (or smell any better!)

      Thanks for your comment,

  7. Yodi says:

    “No! Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try.”

  8. bindi says:

    excellent writing skills ms. jade

  9. Jenifer says:

    best be a lazy yogi, because then you get everything done. :)

    • Jade Doherty says:

      haha, just lower your standards and you get everything done and feel happy with yourself.

      new check list for a productive day: wake up, brush teeth, eat, drink tea. Tick, tick, tick and tick!

  10. Rachel says:

    OMG, I’m the best at being me too!

    I loved this article! Great writing and wonderful point. I even loved your bio!

  11. Peter Grime says:

    OF COURSE yogis can have kinky sex! Why else would you do yoga?

  12. Hamid says:

    You are on point. Every time I teach (and learn at the same time), I use this opportunity to remind people that this is practice of Self Acceptance, not Self Improvement. Plus I have a nice chuckle when I do “non yogic” things that bring out that “OMG” face on others :P .

    • Jade Doherty says:

      Totally agree Hamid, self acceptance is where it’s at!

      Haha, I love that OMG face! Like, ‘OMG, did he just say/do that? Does not compute!’. I like doing non-yogic things on purpose, teehee.


  13. adan says:

    no one’s better at being me than me, yes! ;-)

    and i was enjoying myself being all morning, after reading your article before taking off to teach, go to the bank, get lunch, buy a few groceries, and walk back home, when…

    1) one regular didn’t show up, and knowing i didn’t need to do anything, i felt a pang of guilt thinking i didn’t even want to call this friend of mine and check on them cause it might indulge my ego’s need to feel it’s being helpful, sigh…

    2) at the bank, i needed quarters for the washing machines and dryer i no longer want to make better by cleaning out the tub and filters, and got flustered wanting to buy more than one roll of quarters, but feeling it would mean walking home with more weight than my body wanted in order to stay where it is today, fatigue and energy wise, sigh…

    3) first place i went for lunch wouldn’t let me sit at a booth by a window cause it wasn’t that waitress’ turn, and i didn’t want to stay, cause the booth they placed us in was under an ac vent spewing out dust and floating dust strings like holiday flags, but i didn’t want to delay eating and thus not being able to accept my body’s natural hunger and be natural, plus, when i did leave without ordering to go somewhere else, i felt guilty i wasn’t being my purest understanding self for the mang who probably had slack employees who didn’t want to clean the ac vents over the tables, sigh…

    4) the groceries at the nearby natural food store, were fabulous, and a lunch buffet at less than $7 a lb was the best i’d ever eaten there – had i done the right thing after-all? hmmm…

    5) the walk home, in a light breezy 76º , even with the bag of extra groceries if felt natural buying cause i felt so good after the great lunch, was airy and sunny and free of loose animals, reckless cars, and bird poop – i truly felt blessed having not tried to do anything other than what i had felt an impulse to do

    which decided me to post this comment after having decided this morning i didn’t need to do anything to acknowledge how enjoyable it’d been to read it cause that’s the way i felt then ;-)

    • Jade Doherty says:

      That sounds like an awesome day! Nice to just do what you’re moved to do, rather than thinking too much and trying to work everything out!

      A toast, to many more days of being moved by impulses!


  14. Hannah says:

    I love “Using sex as a connection to the divine sounds nice. Using things or people to fill a hole doesn’t.” makes me laugh hard. As for the rest of the essay, nicely expressed.

  15. Bria @ Yoga with Bria says:

    This post rocks. I swear I’m going to read some of this to my students. (Attributed, of course). Thanks, Jade!

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