Who can call themselves a yogi?

Hi, I’m Charlotte (Yogi Cha). I’m a yoga teacher with a degree in clinical psychology. I’ve always had a deep curiosity toward eastern and western approaches to understanding the mind, and the ming/body union. You’ll find me in the lovely Canggu Bali, nestled amongst coconuts, palm trees and sunshine 🥥🌴🌞


There are so many ideas of what yoga is and how it should look and what is essential. We are all trying very hard to resemble an idea of what a yogi should BE. The fact of the matter is that there is not really one straight answer because yoga has looked different at different times and locations. I think what we all have in common while we try with our practices and rules, is to obtain a certain state of consciousness. We might not call it like that, we might just strive for the idea of the carefree and happy person who just seems to be satisfied with all that is. We might call it happy or zen or aligned or glowing… finding that THING that makes everything fall into place.

But let’s remember something quite important: yogis long time ago where people who decided to withdraw from the rest of society. Wether you take the path of a classical yoga or a modern version, the idea behind was to follow a rather strict structure of life. There is a reason why the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali start’s with “Atha yoganusanam” (Now, begins the study of yoga). It is because it arrives as a result of previous practices and understandings. There are quite a lot of scholars trying to explain the importance of “now…” in this first paragraph of the sutras. To take the path of the aspiring yogi, there was a preparation. Becoming the disciple of the teachings of yoga. Following the Dharma of your heart, freeing yourself of old Karma by righteous living. Doing your Work(Dharma) for the sake of doing, not for an expected result of glory, like Krishna explains to Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita.

Take a quantum leap forward to modern days.

By picking here and there the ideas of what yoga is, we end up today with something rather eclectic. And why not? Yoga has looked quite different during the days depending on when and where it was practiced. So naturally, it has evolved to something rather different today.

We do a little bit of physical from one period, some scriptures from another, kundalini inspired practices and bind it together with pagan traditions from different parts of the world. It’s new age, holistic living and personal development.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not being sarcastic or judgmental. This is all good, it is a very clear indicator of our wish to come back to something that feels more true. More wholesome and more human.

But it also brings a certain misunderstanding. Because most of us didn’t know that there was the “Atha” that indicates that Yoga has to be prepared. So we spiritually bypass the preparatory work and simply end up doing things for all the wrong reasons. And can you blame us?

Have you seen the world we live in?

To not totally go crazy is already an achievement in itself in this hostile society.

We want to be good, so badly. We want to live righteously and we want to treat everyone and everything around us with the same importance. We want to LOVE and we want to feel connected to everyone.

So we try.

And the we fail.

And then we feel awful.

I am not a good yogi!

And then it spirals. We find ways around that horrible feeling of failure. We justify for ourselves our actions or we punish ourselves in all kinds of strange ways. Projecting our disappointment onto others and make them the devil.

I was told that westerners had to explain for half an hour to the Dalai Lama why in the west we hate ourselves so much. It made him cry (according to the story).

The path of the yogi is not to take lightly. It is based on the decision to step out of the norm and to follow your Dharma. That is quite different to buying a yoga mat and to sign up for your local studio because you feel that you are not happy with your life. So like any other journey, the journey of yoga needs to start where you are. In today’s society we are so driven by shame and guilt. We have never been taught that there is an emotional body that actually needs to be considered. We are indoctrinated with the idea that happiness comes from the outside world through the purchase of new things and  by the acknowledgement of our worth from other people. We have to be perfect in all that we do, mainly to please our parents. No wonder we get stage fright just by looking at the Yamas and Niyamas (the ethics by which a yogi should live). We want to so badly but we should have been taught those ethics in school. Now, that would be a different world. I think that this is why I love bringing yoga and western psychology together. Because it is to meet the person where they are at, it says: look within and you will learn to be a yogi. Not by punishing yourself for not being GOOD ENOUGH but by UNDERSTANDING why you are the way you are. You see, to understand why you do things, releases the resistance you have against it. It’s like not punishing a crying child because they’re annoying but to comfort them because you understand that the cries are for love.

It’s the whole reason behind the classes we call “Chakra flow” at Samadi Bali, behind the workshops “Yoga Psychology” and the online course “The Self Image Project”. Because I firmly believe that by starting with understanding yourself, you can let go of the MEANING you consciously or not so consciously give to the things that happen in your life. It’s creating that “space” between the egoic mind and the higher Self. It is what meditation does to you, if you could just allow yourself to stick to it long enough. It’s ok if you find it hard, you have your whole life to practice. 

Join the Self Image Project online, participate if you have possibility in the classes or the workshop or purchase the recorder videos of the workshops online!


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