It helps you engage your life more fully, it helps you let go and embrace change, it helps you persevere in the face of challenge and helps you become more connected to the rest of the world.
Many people report that yoga saved their life, helped them recover from addictions, leave abusive relationships, or make it through a difficult time. No arguments from me. Yoga rules.
But yoga, like anything else, can be taken to the fanatical levels. I’ve seen yogis who have become so insular and entrenched in the yoga world that they no longer reach out into other areas of life. And isn’t yoga supposed to be about connection?
Additional hobbies, relationships, and interests fall away as yoga becomes viewed as the cure-all for anything, the ultimate measure of a “good” life. I call this extreme and, even at times cultish behavior: “yoga tunnel vision.”
Here’s How to Tell If You Are Suffering From Yoga Tunnel Vision:
>> Your only travel or recreation consists of yoga festivals, yoga workshops, yoga teacher trainings or trance dance retreats. You’ve stopped attending weddings, family reunions, and never take a regular holiday because all your time off and resources are spent on yoga-related events.
>> You won’t go on a group hike with your friends from high school because you don’t want your hamstrings to be too tight to do hanumanasana in yoga class the following day.
>> You ask every potential date what she or he thinks of the Yoga Sutra Pada One: Verse 33. If they don’t know, you write them off instantly because they couldn’t possibly understand you.
>> A night out consists of kirtan or a sacred flow yoga class with a DJ spinning ambient bhajans. You don’t go to concerts or nightclubs because you don’t want “un-evolved” people to “bring down your vibe".
>> When your PrAna hat blows off in the wind, and you run after it, you start panting and feel winded because you haven’t had more than five minutes of cardio in the past three months.
>> Your living room is starting to resemble an Indian restaurant because you have purchased so many murtis at the various yoga festivals you attended this year.
>> Every article of clothing you own says, “be shri”, "I am love”, or “cultivate peace” on it.
>> You have so many mala beads on both wrists that you had to hire an assistant to help you unhook all the clasps before you take a shower. If you notice any of these signs of yoga tunnel vision in yourself or your friends, don’t fret! There is so much you can do to break out of the incense-stinkin’ bindi-sportin’ yoga mold—even if only for a few hours.
How to Expand Beyond Yoga Tunnel Vision:
>> Go to a wedding or take a trip that has nothing to do with yoga. Enjoy sightseeing, nature activities or catching up with old friends.
>> Take a class—salsa dancing, cooking, conversational Italian, or in any subject that interests you. Revel in the wonder of the variety available in life.
>> Read Oprah Magazine. Realize that inspiration, strength and joy can be found among people who have no idea what chatturanga is.
>> Go to a movie. Even bring your own home-popped organic popcorn sprinkled with smoked paprika and cayenne pepper. Yum!
>> Go to the iTunes home page and download a few of the top ten hits to expand your music collection beyond chanting tunes. Paint the town red and get your groove on.
>> Reach out and talk to other humans who don’t do yoga. Notice how fascinating and inspiring they are and take note of the cool things they are doing with their lives.
Anything you do to take a break from the yoga scene, extend out into other areas of life, and have fun, will help you to be a happier, more harmonized person. Isn’t that the point of yoga anyway?