While the word “Yogi” is typically associated with the Hindu tradition in India, if you think deeply, yogi has a greater meaning. Hinduism is not a religion, but a way of life, which takes Hinduism beyond international boundaries and gives it a universal appeal. On a similar note, yogis need not necessarily be Hindus, but a world sect that has chosen to follow certain elements of Hindu traditions and have adopted lifestyle and behaviours that have given them eternal happiness.
Yogis set examples for others through their simplistic lifestyle and tolerance for all other faiths. You need to understand that the life of a yogi is not based on strict rules or beliefs that may have a restrictive effect on their values. Rather, yogis lead lives that are free, open, and are not bound by rules.
In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna describes Yogi to be:
“Fearlessness, purity of heart, perseverance in acquiring wisdom and in practicing yoga, charity, subjugation of the senses, performance of holy rites, study of the scriptures, self-discipline, straightforwardness; Noninjury, truthfulness, freedom from wrath, renunciation, peacefulness, nonslanderousness, compassion for all creatures, absence of greed, gentleness, modesty, lack of restlessness; Radiance of character, forgiveness, patience, cleanness, freedom from hate, absence of conceit – these qualities are the wealth of divinely inclined persons.”
-Bhagavad Gita XVI:1-3
The verse from Bhagavad Gita clarifies that yogis do not follow a particular religion, but they uphold life’s ideologies that form the basis of all religions. Personalities like Mother Teresa, The Dalai Lama, Leo Tolstoy, and Nelson Mandela lived the life of a yogi, but they followed different religions. On a similar note, Swami Vivekananda and Rishi Aurobindo were Hindus by birth, but they preached world religion.
So what is the relationship between yoga and yogi? Yoga teaches you to connect with your Self, allowing you to develop the ability to respond to situations and to be “present”. Yoga helps you generate the strength that you need to tolerate difficult situations and to maintain calmness in times of turbulence. In simple terms, yoga allows us to embrace the qualities of a yogi, to face the truth about our inner selves, and to lead a more meaningful and valued life.