From what I have been told by my teacher, not my yoga teacher but my old Burmese meditation teacher, is that a yogi is “one who puts in continuous and couragous effort”. Continuous and Couragous Effort.
What does this mean? Effort in what?
From my understanding this teacher was talking about the continuous effort that a yogi must put into their daily lives to maintain mindful awareness, continuously, couragously, in the face of all distractions and temptations, the yogi must be determined to keep walking the path of truth. Maintaining faith. Fearless. A Dhamma warrior. The yogi has a deep understanding of the universal law of Karma, in simple terms, good receives good, bad receives bad. As the Bhudda said in the Dvedhāvitakka Sutta: Two Kinds of Thought: “Bhikkhus, whatever a bhikkhu frequently thinks and ponders upon, that will become the inclination of his mind.”
We were all addressed as Yogi’s during retreats, this was our new found identity and we were being shown a very new way of understanding the word “Yogi”. Nowadays though, in an ironic twist it seems that it is yoga that has stopped people from becoming true Yogi’s. Yoga has turned into an image, a new product, a certificate to hang above your fireplace and another addition to your already impressive C.V. It has become another tool for our ego to latch onto, to carve a new niche into our scuplted identity in hope that we will finally cure our insatiable thirst for more. To “be” more, to be “better”, to tick all those boxes that tell us and everyone else that we are a success, ours is a life to envy.
When we drop all this desire to be someone else and just be who we are, right now, continously, moment to moment. We start to feed our will and starve fleeting desires, this is where the couragous effort comes in to maintain a single pointed focus. Feeding the good, letting go of the bad, cultivated and watered like a prized garden our mind will be. Flowers of supreme consciousness can blossom in every awakened moment as we embrace the now and know that this is all that there is, this is it. Wake up and live.