Is Yoda a Yogi?Okay, so he's short, green and has three toes--not your typical yogi. I've yet to see him doing trikonasana (triangle) or suyra namaskar (sun salutation). However, his wisdom is profound and universal.
So what is a yogi? Just because someone practices asanas (hatha yoga postures) or teaches a yoga class does that make them a yogi? Krishnamacharya (the father of most yoga practiced today) said, "Anyone who claimed to be a yogi, wasn't." (pg. 23 Yoga and the Living Tradition of Krishnamacharya) Even though this great master, who only allowed the title "Professor" to be bestowed upon him, may not have called himself a yogi, those around him would say he was. Looking to his son, T. K. V. Desikachar for a definition of yogi we find the following: "[A yogi is] someone adept at yoga." (pg. 242 The Heart of Yoga)
Pantanjali laid out a concise definition of yoga 2000 years ago in the Yoga Sutras. "Yoga is the restriction of the whirls of consciousness." (pg 215 The Yoga Tradition) So to be precise, perhaps no one alive today is truly a yogi. But Yoda does move entire ships with shear concentration and oneness with his surroundings. That's gotta count for something!
Additionally, notice some of the wise words that this sage brings us and the correlations to yoga wisdom:
"Try not. Do or do not, there is no try." (Simply "do your work in the peace of yoga, free from selfish desires, not moved by success or failure." pg 223 The Bhagavad Gita in Yoga Masters)
"Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” (Fear stems from thoughts of loss--loss of materials, relationships, respect, or life itself. To see that we are not our things, relationships, attitudes, or even our physical bodies is part of the self-actualization that yoga brings. When we know this, fear disappears.)
“Death is a natural part of life. Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force. Mourn them do not. Miss them do not. Attachment leads to jealously. The shadow of greed, that is.” (We practice savasana -- corpse -- at the conclusion of almost every class to remind us that death is part of life. To bring us back to Source and temporarily release the physical body.)
“Named must your fear be before banish it you can.” (Svadhayaya, self-study, is one of the attitudes Pantanjali cites as part of the practice of yoga.)
"Energy surrounds us and binds us. Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter. You must feel the Force around you; here, between you, me, the tree, the rock, everywhere, yes. Even between the land and the ship." (Samadhi--the highlight of meditation--is to merge with an object.)
"[Luke:] I can’t believe it. [Yoda:] That is why you fail." ("The mind controls the body." pg 44 Japanese Yoga)
"Feel the force!" ("We are one with the universe, we are therefore imbued with the energy of the universe..." pg 27 Japanese Yoga)
So what do you think? Is Yoda a yogi?
Today is the first day of the rest of your life!