illustration by @katyauspenskaya

10 Signs You Are a Modern Yogi

1. You find yourself using the floor and household furniture in your practice (and throughout the day) more than a yoga mat.

While yoga mats are a fantastic prop, they can sometimes keep us stuck (pun intended). Your body loves to move in a variety of ways and incorporating an expanded view of how and when we can move benefits us immensely. You don’t have to wait until you are on your mat or in a class to do yoga. You can do a modified downward dog at the counter when doing dishes, enjoy Malasana while folding laundry, and utilize any bit of open floor to simply roll around, stretch and breathe at any time!

Downward Dog on a counter anyone?! Photo: heartandbonesyoga

2. You don’t know what to call the type of yoga you are teaching/practicing.

If you’ve been continuing your education about anatomy and movement outside the yoga world and adding in all that wonderful movement research into your yoga practice, it may not look the same anymore. While you’ve kept the mindfulness awareness, you’ve been adapting the traditional poses, supplementing them with creative and functional movements. And that’s perfectly ok. To keep yoga a living tradition, it needs to evolve with our modern world, and we each have a role to play in that. Maybe the future of yoga won’t be divided into styles or names, and we’ll just go back to calling it all yoga. Because isn’t it all yoga?

3. You have an insatiable appetite for learning all about the body.

One of the many benefits of yoga is that it is a practice that anchors us in a mindful experience of our body. It can then uncover a sense of wonder about who we are and how we move. The more you start to learn about your amazing and complex body, brain and nervous system, the more curious you may become. That curiosity can lead you down a wondrous rabbit hole of learning, and the more you learn, the more you start to inhabit your body in a whole new way. It’s pretty magical.

4. You’ve broken up with yoga at least once.

As with any healthy relationship, we need to feel connected and supported. It’s not uncommon after the yoga honeymoon is over that you start to evaluate and look at things a little differently. Maybe your body, which felt so good at the beginning of your yoga relationship, is no longer feeling quite the same. Or you no longer idolize your favourite teacher or that style of yoga that you thought was everything. Yet you don’t just permanently quit yoga. Because no matter how many times you walk away, the heart of yoga keeps calling you back. So you come back to it, again and again. Each time you do though, it’s on different terms. Your terms, not someone else’s, not some other style. You keep redefining your practice in a way that is true for you.

5. You’ve started strength training.

After all those years of stretching and moving into maximum ranges of motion, your body may not feel so good anymore. You may have discovered some pain at the top of your hamstrings, or you might’ve started experiencing achy hips after practicing. At some point, someone suggests you start adding more strength to your flexibility. So you start going to the gym, get a personal trainer and discover the wonders of deadlifts, feel the fun of lifting heavy things. Then over time, you begin to notice a difference in how your body feels both in and out of yoga. You don’t have as much low back pain, your SI joints feel more stable, and you realize that a straight yoga practice isn’t the only way to move in your life. And even more surprising, the strength training has made your practice feel better than ever.

6. You geek out on things like the nervous system, range of motion and mobility.

Just like with the strength training, you’ve realized that all those years focusing on flexibility has left you with some interesting things going on in your body. To support the long-term health of your joints, you start to explore active versions of your yoga poses. You begin to understand the difference between mobility and flexibility, and can feel the difference in your body and yoga practice. So, like any curious yogi, you can’t help but want to learn more.

7. You post more pictures of yourself in a squat in nature than you do yoga poses.

As you’ve been evolving, exploring and learning more about movement and functional movement, you’ve stopped focusing just on yoga poses. You find yourself appreciating bringing diversity to your daily movements. You notice that a long walk in the woods leaves you feeling just as wonderful as a yoga practice, both in your body and heart. You also find yourself getting annoyed at the abundance of circus-like poses on Instagram, so rather than perpetuating the dominant images of yoga on social media, you’d rather share all the ways that yoga can look a little different.

Sign #7: You post more pictures of yourself in a squat in nature than you do yoga poses. Photo: heartandbonesyoga

8. Small, subtle movements have become way more exciting to you than big, showy ones.

As you bring your curiosity about your body into your practice, you start to become enamoured with small adjustments. You feel more connected to the parts of you that are below the surface and not easily seen. This process of refinement builds a deeper awareness of all the layers of who you are, both in the body and mind. When you play with the small movements, you realize how powerful they can be.

9. You have more questions than answers about yoga and movement.

With all your learning and exploration you start to realize that there are very few black and white answers about how our bodies should move. You realize that when you start asking questions, it often leads you to more questions, and more questions, and more questions. You understand that what may work for one person doesn’t work for another. You see conflicting information, new research that tells you something different than the previous research. You keep unpacking the old paradigms of what you’ve previously been taught. But this is exciting and the way it should be. More questions invite more curiosity, and more curiosity keeps you more open.

10. You have a hard time going to a regular yoga class.

You’ve spent all this time in the laboratory of your body, connecting more deeply to who you are and what you need. You have been thinking differently, moving differently and have started to learn what works for you and what doesn’t. Which means if you go to some yoga classes, it might not be what your body wants.

So instead, you go for those long walks, roll around on the floor at home, find other like-minded yogis to play with, all while you keep exploring, learning and continuing to be an awesome modern yogi!

Illustration by Katya Uspenskaya

Edited by Jaimee Hoefert, the Scientist Yogini

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