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Can i call myself a yogi or yogini?

The term yogi or yogini (as female yoga practitioners are known) has become somewhat colloquial in modern usage and many people simply use it to refer to someone who practices yoga regularly.

In traditional Hindu and Buddhist contexts, however, the term "yogi" or "yogini" often has a deeper meaning and is reserved for those who have dedicated themselves to a particular path of spiritual practice and have reached a certain level of mastery or realization.

I recently had a conversation with Joey Mascarenhas about this topic and what he thinks about it. We came to the conclusion that a yogini or yogi is characterized by the fact that he or she possesses different qualities, consciously promotes these qualities and develops them further on his or her path. How well someone can do a headstand or downward-facing dog says little about the qualities they express or live.

The path to yoga and what it takes

Most of us keep hearing or reading about different qualities that we need to develop as yogi:ni, but sometimes this is very difficult to understand because they differ slightly in different cultures, for example Patanjali (author of the Yoga Sutras) spoke of the Yamas and Niyamas, while Buddha spoke of the eightfold noble path.

The Yamas and Niyamas

  • Ahimsa: non-violence or non-harming
  • Satya: truthfulness. It means telling the truth and being sincere.
  • Asteya: Non-stealing
  • Brahmacharya: moderation or control of the senses. Literally translated, it means "living close to the Absolute".
  • Aparigraha: Non-possession or non-hoarding
  • Saucha: purity
  • Santosha: contentment
  • Tapas: Discipline or perseverance
  • Svadhyaya: Self-study or self-reflection
  • Ishvara Pranidhana: Opening oneself to universal consciousness

The eightfold noble path of the Buddha

  • Right view
  • Right intentions
  • Right speech
  • Right action
  • Right livelihood
  • Right effort
  • Right mindfulness
  • Right Concentration

9 qualities that a yogi or yogini must develop in order to grow on the path of yoga

Joey says that over the years he has realized that 9 of these qualities in particular have helped him a lot in his own spiritual growth. In the YouTube video, Joey then gives a bonus tip along the way!

1st quality of a yogi or yogini - Be kind

It's easy to talk about non-violence, but it all starts with kindness. Kindness is compassion in action, kindness also develops patience and humility. And when you combine kindness with service, amazing results can occur for the benefit of humanity.

2. quality of a yogi or yogini - Be simple

A simple person is someone who values the essentials in life and prioritizes relationships and experiences over material possessions. If we develop pride on the spiritual path, become overly materialistic, crave power and fame, the virtue of simplicity will prevent us from tipping over to the other side, or at least keep us in check.

3. quality of a yogi or yogini - Be grateful

Carl Sagan once said, "To really make a sandwich from scratch, we must first create the universe." The gratitude we should feel for every single moment of our life on this planet can never be short of gratitude. The process that the universe has gone through to allow us to have such a life cannot be stored on any mainframe or supercomputer. Gratitude is an act of appreciation to the universe for what it gives us every moment of our lives, whether we are aware of it or not.

4. quality of a yogi or yogini - be content and balanced

A yogi lives in the present moment and gives his or her best, which helps us to develop contentment. When we live fully in the present moment, our irrational desire for "something on the outside" to bring us satisfaction is automatically reduced. When this desire is reduced, we automatically become more present, which in turn leads to inner balance and more inner balance brings more contentment. This is a positive cycle that helps us to go deeper. The less we fall into the negative cycle of craving, the faster and better we can go deeper.

5 Quality of a yogi or yogini - Be free from judgment and respectful of all

A yogi or yogini is someone who accepts people as they are, without judging them, without seeing them as less worthy because they may not meet our standards. A yogi or yogini practices not judging the lifestyle, beliefs, likes or dislikes of others. A yogini or yogi understands that we are all companions on a long journey and we need to support each other on this journey.

6. quality of a yogi or yogini - cultivate inner peace

This quality can show itself in many ways. Have you ever been to a meditation or yoga class only to realize that your yoga teacher is even more stressed than you are? Inner peace is a quality that develops naturally from deep meditation.

7. quality of a yogi or yogini - cultivate discipline

Although the word discipline may often sound too strong, we need discipline to move forward, we need discipline to achieve our goals. Those on the yogic path often settle for small progress or get carried away with the daily challenges of life, overlooking the daily practice and the things we need to do to progress on the path. A true yogi or yogini does not stand still, he or she is always moving forward and discipline is very important for this.

8. quality of a yogi or yogini - cultivate self-love

Self-love creates a good sense of self-worth, brings satisfaction and makes us happy. When we have all these positive qualities, we radiate joy and everyone around us is enveloped by this beautiful radiance. And this radiance grows even more, because whatever we have multiplies when we share it and we consciously or unconsciously share whatever we carry within us. An attractive charisma is therefore one of the most amazing qualities of a yogini or yogi.

9. quality of a yogi or yogini - cultivate wisdom

There is the story of the monkey sitting on a branch of a tree. Below him he sees a fish swimming in the lake, he immediately jumps into the water, picks up the fish and places it on the branch of the tree. When he sees the fish dying, he says to the fish: "I'm sorry, my friend, but I only wanted to save you from drowning." Without wisdom, our yogic life would have exactly the opposite effect to that of the monkey on the tree. Therefore, it is important to develop wisdom so that we can do the things that are right and not just what we think is right. This wisdom develops through mistakes, love, understanding, patience, humility and acceptance - qualities that we also need to develop in our search for wisdom.

In the YouTube video, Joey gives you a bonus tip along the way! Click on the video below and listen to what Joey gives you as a bonus!

9 qualities of a yogi or yogini