Crack Smokin’ Yoga Teachers.

Via on Jun 16, 2011

In some circles, admitting you had a drink is tantamount to robbing a bank and riding away on your getaway car that is powered by the blood of freshly caught kittens, while eating fried chicken, potato gunning newborn babies off the roof of your apartment and snorting crack off the back of your Gita.

I’ve never struggled to write from the heart and with honesty, even when I know I’m putting my private life out there. Truth be told, most writers write to get stuff off their chests in the first place. If it’s not edgy, if it doesn’t make you agree or disagree instantly, laugh, cry or ponder the meaning of life, then it’s probably not worth reading.

I wrote an article recently about a really hard day I had, and about having a drink at the end of it. Holy mother of dogma. While there were quite a few who could identify (mainly real humans, and mothers like me) there were quite a few purists and nay-sayers (I’m pretty sure they’re robots) as well. I am  still getting emails about it, and one or two article stalkers who continue to comment where I comment on the articles I am reading myself.

One email went like this: Yogis should not drink. That is the least that is expected of them.

Really? The least? How about honesty, integrity, kindness, compassion and discipline? How about cultivating our behavior towards others and how we speak to them, how we use their time?

This yoga culture of ours is so deep and rich and varied, made up of people of all races, backgrounds and interests, different socio-economic classes… that’s why there are so many different yoga styles to choose from. It’s like food, really, there’s something out there for everyone’s taste. And it should be that way.

But like anything else, there is a human tendency to set ourselves apart from others, to take our jobs, our interests and our money and find a reason to be better than someone else. This happens in yoga too: my Guru is the real guru, my tradition is the best, my poses are better than yours, I am skinnier than you, I wear the right clothes or eat the right food…I’m so much more yoga than you. Indeed, some of the most hateful comments I’ve ever read have been right here on elephant. Oh say, here, here and here. Well I’m gonna call bulls%^t on all of that right now.

If yoga is about finding out who and what we are, about refining ourselves and trying to come back to our true nature, then it is most definitely not about setting ourselves as better than anyone else, or about judging other people in any way. I can’t tell you how many times other teachers have “confessed” that they aren’t yoga because they drink, smoke, eat meat, don’t meditate, can’t do headstand, can’t do this pose, can’t do that pose…can’t, don’t, won’t, aren’t.  I see teachers, more than I would like to admit,  who are only interested in vying for position, as if this is some kind of popularity contest.

Yoga has saved my life in so many ways, saved my marriage and made me feel good about who I am. That’s it. That’s what’s important. And I will never, ever, be a teacher who is going to point out anyone else’s lack. One: because I have enough of my own junk to work through (don’t we all?)  And two: because lack is an illusion. We are already perfect and have what we need to progress past our samskaras.

It’s one thing to stand on the pedestal, as a teacher or as a student, and point out others’ issues. It’s another thing to dig deep inside yourself and see how our so called flaws can draw us into compassion for ourselves, and more importantly, toward each other.

So try this yogis: the next time you feel drawn to anger or judgment regarding someone else’s behavior, take a minute to breathe. If you’re already upset, the breath is fast and shallow, the blood pressure high. So breathe. Watch the breath slow down and lengthen. Then ask yourself if there is not some way that you can identify with the person you’re upset with, in some way…a time when you might have acted similarly. Then let it go. That’s the yoga, above any advanced pose, the ability to really watch our reactions and interactions in this world and to maybe choose another way.

Lastly: there is no destination, you never reach the finish line.  As soon as you think you get it, you’ve lost it and have to start all over again.

That’s why they call it a practice.

About Candice Garrett

Candice Garrett is a yoga teacher, writer, foodie and mother of three from Monterey, California. She is author of "Prenatal Yoga: Finding Movement in Fullness," assistant to Female Pelvic Floor Goddess Leslie Howard and director of the Nine Moons Prenatal Yoga teacher training program. Candice teaches yoga, prenatal yoga and pelvic health with workshops nationally. You can find her teaching schedule at Candice Garrett Yoga or her love of food at The Yogic Kitchen

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123 Responses to “Crack Smokin’ Yoga Teachers.”

  1. Jennifer says:

    "As soon as you think you get it, you've lost it".. this is SO true.. Thank you!

  2. Liz says:

    If my teacher, guide, prist, guru, doctor, boss or friend… can have a real life without a zero-tolerance for human behavior, then I can trust that person. No saints or angels among us, but humans with experiences to share.
    I wanted to join a yoga center, then I found out it is a rule to be vegetarian, don't drink, don't smoke, the cloths to be only white, etc etc etc… That just sent me in another direction.
    Love the post! Thanks for sharing….

  3. Murky Water says:

    Thanks, I would like to disagree though. Our yoga culture is not deep, in fact, like most other aspects of our culture it is vapid and shallow. I have been teaching yoga for nearly 15 years. This does not mean that it is not beneficial, but yoga in the west only scratches at the surface of understanding. Thank you for you insights.

  4. Rio says:

    THIS is exactly why I 'don't do yoga'…rather i do enjoy a good thorough stretch, borrowing from various traditions, as a practice that suits me, when I feel it…spiritual hierarchies are as bullshit as any other type…anyone who has the nerve to attack another person's credibility or genuine spirit according to some fallible standard and the way they relate to or perceive it has missed something along the way…nothing wrong with that of course, but def off point imho…you go Mama! L'chaim…oh and kudos to the commenter above about Ganga and Soma. The Vedas are full of references to adulterants and 'yoga' was almost certainly inspired by their ingestion….

  5. Nicole Haskell says:

    Thanks for the honesty, I feel exactly the same way! Hopefully you can remember the compliments you read here and forget any of the ego driven BS that sometimes shows up.

  6. Tina says:

    LOVE. THIS. Cheers!

  7. Madelyn says:

    This is one of my favorite articles. Thanks for calling bullshit on the hate, even right here on elephant.. gets tiring to see elitism all the time. Well said!

  8. Maria says:

    Amen! Straight forward and honest, thank you for posting this.

  9. Ian says:

    Hmmm…this enture article is about pointing out other people's lack.

  10. A.M. says:

    It's certainly nice to keep ourselves in check as teachers, and remind our selves to be human.
    Yet, likewise, there are often times where others will: put you on the 'pedestal' in their mind, judge you, and expect you to be something other than yourself.
    It gets complicated when many 'others' who feel themselves separate from those involved in the Yogic 'tribe.'
    (When in fact, all are welcome, it's a choice and a continual practise, as you said).
    Good points though on this end. I've been glad to be able to be easy on myself and compassionate about my own flaws – which, definitely makes it easier to love and accept everyone for where they're at on the life path. Cheers!

  11. tanya lee markul says:

    Love!

  12. annieory says:

    "don't worry so much about anything…it will all take care of itself…just for this moment do the "work"
    ahhhhhhh

  13. russ says:

    "That's not the way it's done traditionally in India. Yogis are not householders. "
    the tradition of house holder yogis is ancient. The Bhagavad Gita describes how Arjuna is abjured by Krishna not to renounce his duty but to do it as a servant of Krishna (karma yoga), ie as a "house holder", not a renunciate… Mysore/ashtanga yoga is meant entirely for householders… B.K.S. Iyengar, another householder, apparently enjoys a coffee and the newspaper early in the day.. some of the ancient rishis married and had children. Also in India, although asana may not be as widespread as it is in the west, it is sometimes done by ordinary people for its health benefits, not as part of a broader or dedicated yoga practice

    Being criticized by others for not being pure enough is alienating. Perfectionism is self defeating and generates suffering. People may come to their own understanding, or not, in their own time. Being nagged by the yoga equivalent of god botherers for having a coffee or a beer, etc, is just as likely to push people away from the yoga practises they are currently benefiting from as anything else.

    My introduction to the deeper practices of yoga (karma yoga, sitting practices, philosphy.. ) was from students of Baba Hari Das, an 88 year old mauni (silent, since 1952) renunciate, a Vaishnavite monk since 1942, who encourages his students to take responsibility for their own practices, and to live as house holder yogis, he discourages most people from the path of renunciation. http://hanumanfellowship.org/splash/babaji.html

  14. kiwiyogini says:

    So well put Annie – was thinking similar thoughts myself but you have articulated them beautifully – thank you!

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