I hate coconut in my food. I love bacon.
Love/Hate – these are very powerful emotions. They can be polarising, and constitute very strong reactions within us. The intentions behind those emotions may be good. You may direct the intense love towards the right things, and direct the hate towards something that should be hated. But the emotion itself is very powerful, and beyond a certain limit can be destructive to us.
Yoga is a science of moderation. Moderation in emotions, in habits, in diet, exercise, everything that makes up your life. Living a yogic life, at least in the modern world, with all the stimuli surrounding us, means not consorting to the extreme. Anything in moderation is healthy. Of course, there will be some obvious exceptions, but the rule generally applies. Alcohol in limited quantities can be used as medicine, but excess is harmful for the liver. Eating a balanced diet – with neither excess, nor deficit of important nutrients – is healthy. Exercise – too little and it has no effect, too much and it harms the muscles in the body.
One often comes across some very existential questions – like how can someone who drinks alcohol, or eats meat, or likes to party, be a yoga practitioner? Aren’t they opposite things? Are they not mutually exclusive? The answer is NO! The same rule above applies here. A little wine, one steak in a while, one birthday party is not the end of yoga for a yoga practitioner or a yoga teacher. If they do it in moderation, it can actually be healthy! And practising yoga is always a work in progress. We need to constantly be aware of our thoughts, our actions, our emotions, encourage what is good, and try to fix what is not.
Being disciplined is healthy, but being so rigid in that discipline that you are not open to change and a little leeway is harmful. At the same time, being carefree, easy-going and flexible (not just in the physical sense) is beautiful! But never holding steady and strict when needed will only harm you. It’s a delicate balance. The art of finding and maintaining that balance is what life is all about!
That balance requires awareness and mindfulness. You need to check in with yourself from time to time, to make sure you’re not tipping one way or the other. It’s a struggle, and a full time job, I can attest to that. But, finding that balance is your key to living the yogic life.