Yoga Ditched Me for a Yoga Goddess.

Via on Oct 9, 2011


I am in a bit of a fight with yoga and it feels like I am arguing with my best friend and losing.

Yoga and I used to be super tight. We hung out every day and, as far as I could tell, she was pretty much perfect as she was and I felt lucky to be amongst her friends.  But then, like a scene out of the movie Mean Girls,  yoga–the brainy, do-good, under-dog character played by (the, then, likable) Lindsey Lohan–was captivated and seduced by the A-list clique of plasticine “mean girls.” And all I could do was watch in horror from the side lines, as my best friend morphed into something she was not.

It didn’t matter how much milage I had on my mat, yoga ditched me like a bad habit for the swankier, skinnier, sexier yoga goddess.

As retaliation I chopped my hair off. How many yoga teachers do you know with a mom hair cut? Well, you know one now!  And then I began practicing at home–in my underwear.  Take that yoga. I don’t need your beautiful sun lit studio, or your fancy clothes.  I cleared some space between my laundry pile and my couch and I am getting along just fine, thanks.  And you know what? I’m bringing fat back. Yeah, that’s right.

Looking back, it all started with Lululemon and their glorious pants. Their pants can make anyone’s ass look good. Even mine. And that’s just it, they make yogis look good–almost too good. And now, everyone and their mom is wearing the Groove pant like it’s the yoga school uniform. I used to be able to identify my students by the way their butts looked in down dog but now every butt looks the same! I fondly remember a time when yoga didn’t care how my ass looked; yoga was just happy I got my ass on the mat.

And then, recently a teacher friend declared that her yoga classes were filling up as a result of her recent weight loss. She said, “I don’t care what you say, skinnier teachers are more popular.” Oy vey. Can this really be true? Will I have to give up my passion for all things sweet and tasty and take on running and cleanses to keep my classes full?  Is this what matters now? Is the competency of  a teacher measured by the size of her waist? Come on, yoga! You’re better than this! My very first teacher had a lot of extra love in her seat (and mid section, and thighs, and pretty much everywhere else) and she was the most beautiful woman I had ever met. If she were to prescribe to this notion that yogis must be skinny, she would be half the woman she is–in every single way.

But what really get’s my groove pants in a bunch is the recent photo craze of yogis in thigh high boots and mini dresses. Ok, I get it. Your body’s a temple and your asana is a prayer. So does that mean the skin tight dress is a very small prayer flag and your heels are an altar?  Sure, most yoga teachers have professional photos taken–I have (in head-to-toe Lululemon, no-less), but what’s with trying to sex things up? I don’t ever want to see my teacher’s yoni or its surrounding environs. Ever.  As an over protective friend, I want yoga to stay classy. Back in the day, when I first started doing yoga, my teacher wore a sweat suit. She oozed about as much sex appeal as Mr. Furley on 3’s company and her classes were filled to the brim. She could have been Fatty McButtter Pants or Stick Stickly underneath those sweats, we never could really tell, and it didn’t make an ounce of difference.

Now don’t get me wrong, this is not a woe-is-me kinda tale. I am truly captivated by the yoga goddesses out there. I just don’t need to be one of them. After almost 10 years of teaching yoga, I know that a good teacher is not measured by the size of her waist or the crazy arm balances she can do in heels (although, they sure do make for great cocktail party tricks!). To me, the measure of a good teacher is the sense of community she creates for her students–one which is welcoming, safe and comfortable.

So while Yoga is off trying to find herself, like an adolescent with growing pains, I will continue to eat all things sweet and tasty  and practice yoga amongst my laundry. And when the time is right, I will be here with open arms to welcome my old friend yoga back.

 

 

 

 

 

About Laurie Jordan

Laurie Jordan is the author of YAWNING YOGA: A GOODNIGHT BOOK FOR A GOOD NIGHT'S SLEEP based on her successful bedtime yoga series, Yawning Yoga and the creator of Little Sprouts Yoga for kids. She has a Masters in Social Work from Columbia University School of Social Work and is a certified yoga instructor for children and adults. Find her yoga practice here. Laurie took her first yoga class when she was 15 but the experience left a nasty taste in her mouth. She was kicked out for laughing at the instructors mantra, “feel the honey golden light in your...unmentionables” Eeww. Who would have thought that all these years later, that “honey golden” moment would be the one that influences her teaching the most? (Or at the very least, that it serves as a reminder to never say anything as hippy- dippy and dorky as that–and to always, always keep it real.)

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40 Responses to “Yoga Ditched Me for a Yoga Goddess.”

  1. Tanya Lee Markul Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Just posted to "Featured Today" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

    Tanya Lee Markul, Yoga Editor
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  2. Tanya Lee Markul Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Your old friend will be back soon enough! :-)

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Tanya Lee Markul, Yoga Editor
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  3. kathik says:

    love!

  4. Hi Laurie,

    I think I am one of those yogis in the thigh high boots that has your groove pants in a bunch. I'm the one in the thigh high boots. I'm also one of your fellow lululemon ambassadors in Greenwich, and a fellow Elephant Journal contributor.

    I think of asana as a creative celebration of spirit and body, and am into artistic expression. Sometimes that expression is sexy–I'm good with that. Sometimes I just practice at home in my underwear, too. Infinite consciousness; infinite expression of it. That's what gets me out of bed in the morning, and what keeps my practice rich and satisfying.

    The good news is that it's a big, diverse yoga community. So, you can practice in your track suit, and I can practice in my thigh highs, and yoga will just fine.

    I'm sure we shall bump into each other around the local yoga scene one of these days. Hope your bunched groove pants don't chafe.

    Cheers,
    Bernadette

  5. Megan Marie says:

    Laurie, I hope that you make up with Yoga soon.

    Yoga is beautiful and majestic when we are aligned. It does not matter if one is frumped out, practicing at home, or decorated. Skinny or fat? Why judge?

    I love expressing myself through this sacred practice and I also like dressing up in a tasteful and feminine way…I have been known to do a pose in the middle of Times Square in 6-inch high Manolos…, and adore dressing in princess outfits to celebrate the sacred feminine in the middle of the forest. Does this make my practice any less authentic than yours?

    I am a hard working yoga teacher and mom. I live in a house full of boys..I like dressing up, I like to look pretty, I like sparkly things and bangles on my wrists, high heels, the higher the better. I l practice advanced asana when I am feeling it, and also slow and meditative yoga, just depending on the day. My yoga is sacred, authentic and free. These concepts are not mutually exclusive. It is all the same yoga, just in different settings and expressions. MM

    • Jen Weaver says:

      what she said

      • betsey says:

        well said, Megan. I too, live in a home full of boys and appreciate the femininity you express. in fact I just pulled up the recent photos to show my parents who were also oohing and awing over the creative genius. I also have you to thank for I inspiring me to join the warm, enriching and provocative anusara community here in ct. many thanks to you, you gorgeous, feminine manolo clad yoga goddess.
        xo

  6. Hey Laurie.. I dig this post and also the differing comments that are responding to it. There is so much room for growth and diversity in yoga and you all are demonstrating that beautifully! Thanks for the amazing community of yoginis!!

    I recently had two photo shoots take place so I could get some of those shazamy professional ones for my website. I struggled for weeks (not kidding here) about what to do with my hair, my clothing and my body. Should I do fancy poses or simple seated twists? Should I wear my glasses or not? Should I wear makeup and get my eyebrows done? The night before the first I wondered: is all of this appearance stuff really what my yoga is about?

    The first shoot brought out sides of me I have not known for years: I felt self conscious, exposed and not comfortable in my own yogi-toes. The second was lovely and right.

    You might ask what the difference between the two was and I can only answer that second allowed me to be my own self whereas the first for some reason did not. These differences were really not about the photographers but more about me as a yoga teacher and person.

    My practice is deep, internal and very private. I like to flow with my eyes closed and no music. Yoga to me is about space and reconnecting with what goes on inside my heart and mind. Trying to express that on film was pretty painful and raw.

    I am looking back at these experiences as ones to grow from and as illuminating in my life. I consider myself part of a community of women like Megan and Bernadette who can bust rockin' asanas with beauty and sass, and also Laurie, who finds some discomfort in displaying this on film as well. I represent both when I am on my mat. But I struggle to be the latter in pictures/on display and know that mostly this is a reflection upon my own very internal practice. I suspect Laurie, rather than commenting upon anyone's pictures directly, is simply stating the same.

    Thank you all for being part of my super yogini sangha… thank heavens there yoga is a mat big enough for all of us!

  7. But I struggle to be the latter in pictures/on display and know that mostly this is a reflection upon my own very internal practice. <— I meant the former DOH!

  8. Laurie Jordan laurie says:

    Oh Boy. I truly didn't expect all these responses. Some folks seem to be taking this blog personally–and the truth is, I was making a sweeping gereralization about what I have been witnessing in the yoga community for a while now. I am not juding, nor do I claim to be holier than thou. I was simply reflecting on changes I have noticed amongst the yoga community.

    • cathy says:

      but it does sound like you are judging, sarcastic and hard, maybe hurt or embarressed.
      I don't need lululemon pants to practice yoga. No one does. However, those who fixate on them oughta buy them or thinkdeeply what the real meaning of yoga is.
      STOP looking at everybody's pants.

      think about you rdiet and all those goodies you relichsh so much and how you are treating your body fo rthe long haul and what a message of self-indulgence or unhealhty eating and sarcasm you are sending to all the other students and teachers.

  9. Bernadette Birney bernieb says:

    I confess that things like the Mean Girls reference do make the tone sound of this piece sound judgmental to me–but then I'm not particularly opposed to judgement. I'm pro-judgment, and pro owning it. Judgement is a powerful tool where well applied.

    I always find it so interesting to discuss what yogis think yoga is, and is not.

  10. Megan Marie says:

    Hmmmm…sweeping generalizations with very specific recent photographic examples….?

    That said, Laurie, I like that you are passionate enough about your yoga to take the time to write this blog…to teach, to practice,to teach children, and to guide the teachers of our children…. I know you are well respected, and I look forward to meeting you one day.

    Sweeping generalizations…can often be interpreted as flimsy and weak unless backed up with real and tangible data or facts. I would find your piece far more authentic if you called a spade a spade, and owned it. You make sweeping generalizations…then allude to recent photographic essays in specific detail—then talk about skinny vs fat, sexy vs non-sexy….I am a little lost…the piece got a little unravelled… Confused. Am I a good yogi if I wear baggy sweats and carry around extra pounds??? Am I a bad yogi, a "mean girl" if I am trim and like Jimmy Choos"a and mini skirts??? …That said, it was provocative enough to spark a little passion….and a little response. Be well, MM

    • Laurie Jordan laurie says:

      I wasn't saying that whether you are hot or not or have a few extra pounds on or off makes you a good or bad teacher. I was remembering fondly a time when none of that even seemed to matter and I miss that stuff. Yoga is has evolved as it is destined to do and I have growing pains.

  11. jbnorton says:

    When I told my (soon to ex- after this comment) boyfriend that I wanted to be a yoga teacher he said he thought no one would come to my classes because I wasn't skinny enough.

    My size 10 ass thanks you for this article.

  12. Megan Marie says:

    Not sure I understand…but I will say…I have been skinny , too skinny (due to trauma), and, on occasion quite fat after two high risk pregnancies…. I have been too skinny, and too fat.

    Right now, I am just about fine, thank you. I could be skinny, I could be fat, but for me, it is just about fine. And I like celebrating "my version" of fine in dresses and high heels. My size (IT DOES NOT REALLY THE FUCK MATTER) ass thanks you.

  13. Tanya Lee Markul Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Just posted to "Popular Lately" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

    Tanya Lee Markul, Yoga Editor
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  14. guest says:

    What I see in yoga groups and in others (outside of yoga) is that there are all types of motivations for people to join or follow certain teachers. . For many it's to just get into better physical condition. Some join a charismatic teacher or seek salvation or acceptance and/or status of some sort . However, yoga to me is all about divine union and self-realization. I think a good yoga teacher is one who can really open students up to a higher level of being and realization. I see many join for other reasons; perhaps just to have a hobby and stay fit with a sprinkling of spirituality (which is also good for many). Real yoga communities I think should be built around gurus or high level teachers who can promote spiritual study, service, divine union, satsang, real community etc. There are some in the West, but I mostly see a lot of studio type and fitness yoga with a fee. I also see good community life in nearby churches that are lacking in yoga groups. If yoga was free with community events and study (like in other chuches) I think things would be very different.

  15. Laurie Jordan Laurie says:

    I own up to writing a piece that addresses something that’s been bothering me. I am not critcizing artistic expression–I am all for that. I am simply suggesting that there has been a shift within the yoga community as evidenced by things I’ve experienced in the past year or so. If you want to believe I am speaking about specific pictures and instances fine. That’s ok by me. Take a spin around the internet and you’ll all sorts of pics like I’m referring to. I am just glad we’re discussing this issue.

    And ps: I fully accept that my tongue in cheek approach and generalizations may rub some the wrong way. It’s s blog piece. It’s nothing more.

  16. Carolyn says:

    You should totally write for Recovering Yogi, Laurie. She appreciates intelligent snark, and doesn't require infinite consciousness.

  17. Jellybean says:

    Thanks for writing this, the tenor of the responses suggests that you hit a nerve with some folks!

  18. Love love love this Laurie! Yoga is for everybody and every BODY! The teeny tiny ones, the roundy curvy ones, and every kind in between. I feel like that was what you were getting at (and maybe feeling a little pushed aside when you didn't feel you measured up?)

  19. Cynthia Norris says:

    Thanks for the laugh. As a soon to be 40 year old mother of 2 daughters/dental hygienist/yoga teacher…I too have struggled with these issues. I have come to accept that although I can rock a headstand and forearm balance…there are some poses I will never be able to do. And I know there are some six pack abs under that stubborn layer of belly flat…I may never ever see them in my lifetime no matter how I try…but in my heart I know they are there. So I look past the perfect bodies in the Hard Tail ad and I try to practice Santosha…you have to work with what ya got!!! i am hoping that my girls see my as strong and beautiful anyway even though I will never be naked in an ad wearing just toe sox and doing an impossible arm balance.

  20. Laurie Jordan laurie says:

    Holy cow! This post has stressed me out beyond belief. I never in a hundred years ever thought I could single handedly upset so many people! And it was never my intention! Yoga is my life and It means everything to me…and as such, I am very protective of the place it holds in my life. Maybe I have and odd way of expressing it, but all that really matters to me is the sense of community that yoga creates for us all. It is all that has ever mattered.

  21. Megan Marie says:

    I think we all need to go out for a few beers and talk and laugh…so many of us are part of a CT Kula, have close ties with Lululemon, and are connected based on the studios where we teach…I would love to meet ya all! To be a yoga practitioner is a special thing…and to hold the seat of the teacher holds my respect for sure. Megan, no worries, your writing has provoked a debate…that is good…it sparked a little heat, a little passion, and a meaningful conversation.

    I am sitting here getting my little boys stuff ready for school tomorrow…I am totally frumped out, sweats, etc. Tomorrow is Robert Sturman's last day…, and I am so delighted and honored to do a shoot with him. I have nothing to wear except my underwear (for real…what you saw of me the first shoot was literally a bathing suit and a sheer slip).. and some tawdry see through dresses I got from this place called "forever 21" BELIEVE ME, I am not forever 21…and will be wearing some wunder unders to keep it PG 13……. I am bloated, grouchy and PMS. Don't feel much like having my picture taken. But for tomorrow…I will breathe and feel my yoga.. .I will express my bloated sweet goddess self, without apology. Then,we will go out for a few beers and call it a wrap!

  22. just posted about my struggles with said photos and my own images: http://www.flyingyogini.org... thanks to laurie and all you ladies for giving me the courageous push to put them down on the cyber paper

  23. Valerie Carruthers Valerie Carruthers says:

    Great fun read. Amazingly polarized responses. I see it this way: All those cute Yoga costumes and the various figures wearing them are the External = maya (illusion) = the One in the many. Put 'em all in a room doing 108 Sun Salutation = the Internal = the many in the One. That's Yoga.

  24. Darren [Australia]d says:

    "To me, the measure of a good teacher is the sense of community she creates for her students–one which is welcoming, safe and comfortable." That's all you needed to say!

  25. Darren [Australia] says:

    p.s. "“feel the honey golden light in your…unmentionables” How could you not laugh! I like you Laurie Jordan! Keeping it real for all of us.

  26. Laurie Jordan laurie says:

    Well said Tobye.

  27. Laurie Jordan laurie says:

    Carol, thank you for this. I feel like you beautifully articulated what I jumbled up.

    Yogas has evolved as it is destined to do and I have growing pains.

  28. Laurie Jordan laurie says:

    Love you pamela.
    And I agree. The beauty of blogs like this is to have open conversations about this crazy, awesome world of yoga. And you're right, at the end of the day…not matter who we are or what we look like, yoga unites us all. I have always believed that–even if my writing suggests otherwise.

  29. Bernadette Birney bernieb says:

    Well said, Megan–and everybody else, too. Thanks for the interesting conversation. Megan and Laurie–I'm looking forward to connecting live at the Ambassador party in December. XO

  30. jen weaver says:

    agreed. very well articulated. thanks to all for a juicy conversation – someone had to be the brave soul to open that proverbial door (thank you, Laurie). I'm just glad we all found a way to fit into the room on the other side… together… lol ;)

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