Misconceptions are an unfortunate part of life. As yoga teachers and practitioners, at some point along the way you’ve likely encountered a friend, family member or co-worker who’s raised an eyebrow about yoga.

How often have you heard someone say, “Oh, I can’t do yoga, I’m not flexible”?

Maybe it’s only me, but I’ve run into many people — even some family members — who think yoga is all “namastes” and/or some variant of 1960s flower child culture. Sometimes I try to paint a more-informed picture to maybe help melt the glaciers of preconceived notions encasing their mind, but often I’ll just let it go and save my sanity.

One aspect of Pranakriya Yoga I’ve found immensely valuable is the inward focus and awareness — an aspect I’ll occasionally mention in those conversations with skeptical family members. As our practice develops and we look deeper, we realize that sometimes what’s sitting inside beneath the surface isn’t all peace, love and happiness. By cultivating a stronger container we’re able to acknowledge whatever comes up inside and realize these thoughts don’t define us.

Earlier this summer I took a meditation course with Yoganand where he told us about facing our demons head-on and taking their power, rather than letting them control us.

So yes, on the whole, many yogis are more “positive” than the average person in Western culture, but we don’t always live in the happy end of the pool. We can acknowledge the difficult or uncomfortable moments and let them pass through us, rather than allowing them to define us.

This is my admittedly very long-winded way of writing that even with this ancient knowledge at my disposal and my continued practice of non-reaction, I still have the occasional pet peeve that irks me to no end.

Specifically, nothing quite grinds my gears more than noticing someone sitting on their mat before a yoga class begins, tapping away on their cell phone. Yes, I’m fully aware that someone else on their phone sending a text or writing an email has zero point zero effect on me or my practice. The sun will rise and fall regardless of this person’s text message addiction.

Even so, it still causes me to shake my head.

This is likely because being tethered to my cell phone and laptop is the main reason that brought me to yoga about five years ago. An hour away from constant Twitter updates or group emails proved as beneficial to my system as any asana or pranayama. I began craving that hour or two a week when I could put everything on hold and allow my mind to decompress.

I knew my phone — and all it encompassed — would be waiting for me with a lock screen full of updates.  The practical part of me knows that some people are attached to their phones and that attachment will extend to their mat.

In a more yogic sense, my mind’s allowing myself to attach value to what someone else is doing with a phone on the mat is going to impact only me. I can easily just let it pass through since, again, it has zero actual influence on my practice. There is no benefit of creating a story to feed my ego’s disdain for cell phones.  It’s okay. It doesn’t impact me. Let it pass through.

If nothing else, consider it another reason to be grateful cell phones and the Internet didn’t exist in ancient India!

Mike Cardillo, RYT-200, completed his training through the Pranakriya School of Yoga Healing Arts in 2018. He quickly learned that practicing yoga is more than simply making shapes with your body. Using this knowledge as a guide, he leads mindful classes that incorporate pranayama, asanas and meditation. These tools help students find a deeper awareness during the practice and leave their mats feeling more alive. Above all, he believes in keeping yoga approachable, fun and relatable to all bodies and experience levels.