I was told I wasn’t a ‘real’ yogi yesterday in an email from someone I don’t know. They were making an assumption on a snapshot of something they gleamed about the space.

In the past I’ve been told I’m not a real yogi because I don’t have a tattoo, because I eat meat, and more.

The thing is, when this happens, the person is disappointed because they want this vision in their mind to be true. They want the mold of a yogi to be this very specific creature that is darn near unattainable. They think that by saying these things, I will change to fit their paradigm and satisfy their expectation.

Which I could do. I could live a false version of myself in the studio to create an expectation that students will feel unattainable. I could make myself this creature of mystique and start calling myself ‘Karma’ instead of Carmen. I might last a day. A short day. A Saturday.

Instead, I propose we all show up to our mats, faults and all. And for a short time during the day, we give ourselves a safe place to be flawed and accepted. For a time, we exercise removing the Ahamkara (Ego) and give all that noise a rest. The outside world does nothing but condone the criticism, so we create a space beyond. We use older principles and ideas to have conversations about yoga in our modern time and then come back to these discussions over and over again to evolve the person we ACTUALLY are.

Or, you can go get a tattoo.