When we think of what a modern day yogi eats, we think of a very skinny vegan going to yoga class and drinking a green smoothie with no added sugar with almond or walnut milk. During my visits to Los Angeles, I would have to say that it is the most warped idea of what yoga is. It almost like to say that you do yoga is to say that you are cool. Most of these ‘yogis’ are not yogis at all just twenty-somethings living in their parents house and smoking pot without any regard to Shiva during the day. Then at night, they are this raging party animal snorting or ingesting anything they can get their hands on in the name of mind expansion.
First, you don’t have to be a drug user to feel the effects of mind expansion. Do an hour of Pranayama and I guarantee you will feel better than any of the drugs that I have experienced. Festivals like Burning Man and other music festivals are crawling with these people. I am not judging them for their views or their own practice, I just know that they are not for me. Different things work for different people, but I don’t think drugs are a requirement for opening your mind.
While now a wide range of food is available that is organic, raw and farm fresh, I want to compare back to the time of the classical yogi. At this time, there were no factories making prepacked meals. People weren’t washing and chopping your lettuce and placing them in a biodegradable container made out of corn. It was your mother, mother-in-law or some other family member washing and cutting your vegetables. The modern yogi can’t appreciate nature because there is a lack of connection to nature. We treat life like a vending machine. I want this. I want that. We receive it, consume it and throw it away.
How can a modern day yogi be ok with all this lack of connection to people, nature and food? We do the best we can to be the best people we can be with respect to our duties. We have a more limited view of how the world works but feel that we are at the center of it all. It isn’t until this mindfulness training happens that the ego is lifted but we are constantly in a state of flux. We check our moderation. We make sure that we are nice to people. We practice and/or teach asana so that is qualification enough to the common man to count us as modern day yogis.
The drive for a modern day yogi has to be in high gear to want to achieve even Pratyahar not let alone Samadhi. In the life of being a modern day yogi, you have to be willing to be open-minded that everyone is right from their own perspective. You have to teach yourself to be secure with thoughts, feelings and actions. A modern day yogi have to differentiate between yoga being a physical exercise or a life exercise because both are right. It doesn’t matter if you are practicing everyday or just one time a week, mindfulness can happen at both levels.