Can you be a Gucci wearing, Ferrari driving Yogi?!
Some Yogis seem to think that to validate their profession as a yoga teacher or guru, or living the ‘yogic life’, means having to dress and live a particular way, and even take on a new name like Shiva or Lakshmi. But I’m going to explain how Yogis can also wear Gucci, and drive a Ferrari.
Yogis & Hippies
Yogis are often called, or considered to be, ‘hippies’. A Hippie is defined as: ‘a person of unconventional appearance, typically having long hair and wearing beads, associated with a subculture involving a rejection of conventional values and the taking of hallucinogenic drugs.’ Or ‘often expressed externally in the wearing of casual, folksy clothing and of beads, headbands, used garments, etc.‘ It is mostly associated with the social and cultural movements of the 1960’s and with a liberal, unconventional lifestyle. I’d like to point out that my father has been calling me a Hippy since I was about 13 years old and I’ve never worn ‘folksy clothing’ or taken hallucinogenic drugs. In my experience, people called Hippies, were simply those of us that had religious, political or fashion views, differing from our parents. However just because we were ‘different’ from the norms of our society, didn’t necessarily mean that we adhered to the definition of a Hippie above.
The definition of being a Yogi is: ‘someone who is adept in, or practices, yoga’. In being a Yogi, one of the principle tenets of Yogic and Buddhist philosophy is ‘attachment’. Or rather striving for a life without it. This refers to being free of attachment to our own thoughts, bodies and feelings, as much as it does to attachment to other people, or to material things. This however does not mean that, to be a Yogi, you have to give up all your money, shoes and Eames furniture. There are those who have decided to devote themselves to a monastic lifestyle, renouncing their previous life, and giving everything they own away. Monks have chosen a life of spirituality and meditation and have no need for ‘things’ when they’re praying for world peace all day and night. However even monks need clothes to keep them warm, even if they are simple orange robes, and monasteries still need money to keep themselves running.
Being a Yogi doesn’t mean you can’t spend money or enjoy ‘things’. It means you have to recognize what you are attached to and be able to let go of them peacefully if they go. It means not prioritizing them above your own peace and happiness, or above that of others. It means not letting them get in the way of you being a good person, to yourself and to others, and in finding balance.
Other yogic principles include non-violence, non-coveting, and practicing moderation in all things. Therefore to put it simply, you can buy Gucci or drive a Ferrari. However, only if in production it hasn’t harmed another animal or human being, you’re not clinging to something you could lose, and you strive for balance in all aspects of your life. If you can see yourself still living peacefully and happily without these things, don’t prioritize them or allow them to get in the way of respecting and taking care of yourself and others, then you shouldn’t feel guilty about your designer dress!
There is nothing wrong with making yourself happy by buying Prada trainers if you are fulfilling your karma yoga by giving your time, energy or money to charity for example. If an animal hasn’t died unnecessarily, or a human being been treated badly to make your ‘thing’ then why not enjoy it? Don’t however put so much importance on it that you’ll suffer in any way if it gets lost or stolen. If you can’t afford to lose it, then you probably shouldn’t have bought it in the first place. You need to find a balance in this modern day life. No-one should expect you to go to your job as a CEO dressed in hemp dresses and plastic shoes. As long as you are a good person to yourself and others, and have a balance in your actions. If for example, you spend 99% of your income to daily living and charity, and 1% of it on Chanel sunglasses, then you should put 1% of importance on the sunglasses. 99% should go on keeping yourself alive by paying rent, bills and eating, and on all the good you’re doing for others.
If anything the question should be why you feel you need these expensive material items in your life? Do they really bring you happiness and inner peace or are they satisfying your ego? Are they helping or hindering others? Are other peoples’ views on you more important than your view of yourself? Many well known yoga gurus own expensive cars, but this is due to their appreciation of the mechanics, and their love of driving a brilliantly manufactured vehicle. So it’s not so much about what you own, but how you own it, and your motivation for doing so. Have a think about priorities, balance and principles when you next think about upgrading your car or buying an expensive sofa. And there’s no need to feel guilty, or throw away a gift of leather Gucci pumps, or a Luis Vuitton bag your mother left you. As long as you understand them for what they really are: an unnecessary item of clothing that hopefully an ailing or old animal died to produce, that you can happily live without.