It’s a brisk, sunny morning in Woodstock, Vermont. My partner and I just got back home. Every week, after my Sunday morning class, we go to lunch. And every week, I get French fries and a Bloody Mary. My cocktail is a yummy blend of spicy and sweet. They garnish it with pickled cauliflower and carrots. I usually don’t eat the cauliflower, but if anyone asks, I can say that I ordered vegetables for lunch… They don’t need to know that it came with vodka. The French fries are equally delightful - hand cut and piled high. I like to dip them in ketchup and sriracha sauce. I know I shouldn’t eat spicy food, but what can I say, I like sriracha. These Sunday lunches are a favorite pastime. It occurred to me, however, they might not be befitting a serious yogi. Or, are they?
Am I a bad yogi because I love to eat French fries and drink Bloody Marys? No, really, is this bad? When I say that I love it, what I really mean is that I LOVE IT. Does it make me a crap yogi because I sometimes skip my yoga practice in favor of taking a morning bath with my book and a cup of coffee? I mean, lets get real for a second… Is there anything better than a morning bath with a book and a cup of coffee? Am I a bad yogi BECAUSE I drink coffee? I also occasionally drink a coca-cola. Coke is not yogic, or ayurvedic, or anything other than dreadful for my body, yet every so often I drink it anyway because it tastes a little like heaven. I feel guilty about the fact that I sometimes play music during my personal yoga practice to help with motivation… There, I said it!
Can I still be a good yoga student and teacher if, from time to time, I indulge my senses (mostly chocolate, aforementioned Sunday snacks, and bath taking)? Where is the line between monastic and citizen yogi? Why do I feel guilty about doing things that bring me joy? Where should I draw the line? Yogic text encourages us to follow a certain path. A path that is mostly straight and narrow and ultimately leads to the alleviation of suffering. This is exactly what I signed up for. The problem is, I like to hop off the path from time to time and indulge (see french fries). Am I lacking will-power or just following my most basic human instincts? Am I shitty yogi or just a regular person following the yogic path as best I can, all the while trying to stay true to myself?
Perhaps grappling with the guilt associated with eating French fries is petty. In the grand scheme, it’s small potatoes (pun intended). But here I am, contemplating life, my yoga practice, what it means to be a yogi, and Sunday brunch. It has also occurred to me that it’s not really about French fries, is it? It’s about me and my flaws, shortcomings, insecurities and ignorance. Is it better to cut out french fries, chocolate, baths and music in order to feel like a legit yogi? Or is it best to accept myself as I am, flaws and all?
To be honest, I don’t really know the answers to these questions. I’m not sure I ever will. In the end, I think that my purpose is to live a life of joy. Yoga helps me with that. And, so do French fries… And baths.