David Swenson on What it Means to be a Yogi

In an email interview, Yoga International asked David Swenson, “What does it mean to you to be a yogi in the modern world?”  Enjoy his response:

“The definition of a yogi that I most like is this: ‘A yogi is one who leaves a place just a little nicer than when they arrived!’  I like this statement for its simplicity and down-to-earth recognition of yoga being something that benefits not only the one practicing it but also the world around them.”  

He elaborates on this, and then adds,

If we wish to ask ourselves if we are a yogi, I think the question could be this one: ‘Is the world a better place by our presence in it?“‘

What I love most about this definition of a yogi is that, in essence, one does not necessarily have to maintain a formal or traditional yoga practice to be one.  Because my Roman Catholic Grandmother made the world a better place for her having been in it, indeed, she is a yogi!  If my eighty-three-year-old neighbor pretends to chase my two-year-old around the yard and elicits screams of delight and giggles, he, indeed, is a yogi!  (Even if he doesn’t like it!)

Are you a yogi?  Can you be one?

To read David Swenson’s entire interview and others, please visit ashtanga.net.

David Swenson on Developing a Personal Practice

Rather than simply moving from asana to asana, feel that action from deep within.  Listen to your breath.  Can you ride the breath like a bird on a breeze?  Where is the mind?  Can you maintain your focus and remain calm even when approaching a posture that you dread?  Enjoy yourself.  I have never had a practice that I regretted.  Not once have I finished a routine and thought, ‘Oh, I wish I hadn’t done that.’  But there have been days that I didn’t practice and later wished I had.  Keep it fun.  Take just a few minutes and spend it with yoga.  The rest of your day will be better.  Yoga is a scenic journey to our deepest spirit.  Do as much or as little as feels correct….It is always better to do a little than none at all.”

From:  Ashtanga Yoga:  The Practice Manual

David Swenson on the Growth of a Yoga Practice

“Each practice session is a journey.  Endeavor to move with awareness and enjoy the experience.  Allow it to unfold as a flower opens.  There is no benefit in hurrying.  Yoga grows with time.  Some days are easy and the mind is calm and the physical body is light and responsive.  Other days you may find that the mind is running wild and the body feels like wet cement.  We must breathe deeply and remain detached.  Asanas are not the goal.  They are the vehicle to access a deeper internal awareness.  Create a practice that best suits your personal needs so that it is something that you look forward to.  Yoga is a place of refuge and a soothing balm for the stresses of modern life.   Within each practice find ways to refine your existing understanding so that you continue to grow.”

From Ashtanga Yoga: The Practice Manual