I repeat, you DON’T have to be vegetarian to practice Yoga!
What I’m about to say is going to strike a chord with some of you. This isn’t meant to offend those that passionately and actively choose to not eat meat, poultry, fish, dairy, etc. In fact, many folks feel lighter and better to meditate without having meat beforehand. For those of you that are all about that, I respect your choice.
For the rest of you that have been curious about Yoga, have tried out a few classes, or have been practicing for awhile but feeling some type of way about giving up meat…
It’s okay. It’s fine. You don’t need to beat yourself up about this. You’re not going to Hell. You’re not going to be excommunicated from the yoga community.
You may be judged, though. But, judging happens automatically from anyone about anything. That’s where our yoga and meditation practice kicks in. To catch those judgements and let them pass.
But, I digress.
WHERE DID THE IDEA OF VEGETARIANISM AND YOGA COME FROM?
Well, part of the philosophy of Yoga revolves around karma (what comes around goes around), and ahimsa (doing no harm). Some believed that if you ate the meat of a killed animal, you would take in the pain and suffering of that animal. Also, if you ate the meat, you essentially did harm to the animal’s life for your own benefit.
But, I’m going to be real with you right now.
If you’re doing the best you can, choosing the best meat from animals that were cagefree/hormone-free/kosher/halal/etc, you’re not intentionally trying to hurt anyone, and you’re being real with yourself about it, then what the fuck?
Yoga is about moving past judgement, comparison, and being with your inner truth. I can tell you right now that not all yoga teachers are vanilla and live a life without sin. You don’t know how many times I’ve seen a vegetarian drop some LSD or female-identifying yoga teachers wear tight leggings when traditional yoginis in various parts of India wear very loose and non-formfitting attire. And, if you recall, some of the original Yogis were normal people who went rogue from society, became ascetics who looked inward and ceased to focus on vanity.
Though they didn’t wear yoga leggings, they wore loin cloths, let their hair grow with no maintenance and meditated for hours. As you can guess, they did this all in private, for little to no money, with no corporate sponsors.
Contrast that with the sobering observation that there’s modern-day yoga teachers with very public personas but deal with mental health issues in private. They face extreme pressure to put on a front that they’ve got it all under control when they actually need the proper support and medical care of licensed professionals.
I could go on for several more paragraphs about this, but I hope it’s clear that people who practice and teach yoga are simply human. We are humans with all sorts of personalities, spiritual preferences and definitions of what it means to reach a sense of inner peace and connection to this world. We are imperfect.
We are human! We just happen to practice a lot of yoga and feel good about sharing it with others!
Not to add more confusion to the proper rules of practicing yoga, but it would be helpful to consider the practice of Ayurveda (which includes dairy and meat). Ayurveda also originates from India, and many people practice this along with the limbs of yoga.
What questions come up for you after realizing this?
So, go ahead and drink your coffee with its natural caffeine stimulants. Meet up with your friends for some Korean BBQ. Be real with your lifestyle and spirituality. As long as you practice kindness with others, love yourself, and feel grateful for the meat that’s on your dinner plate, that’s cool with me.
Practice on, Rogue Yogi.