If We’re Being Honest, Yogis can kind of Suck.

Via on Dec 28, 2011

Every class I teach, there is at least one student who shows up, has shown up for years, in a humble t-shirt and looking fresh out of bed.

They practice quietly and humbly, take the modifications they know they need, and leave with a smile on their face. The thing is, the thing that I notice, is that they quietly exude joy the entire time. So much so, that I leave feeling better, not for what I’ve offered, but for having the opportunity to spend time with them and to learn from their practice.

It was quite the realization for me when I discovered that yoga was this whole enterprise. A veritable popularity contest, even. I simply did not know, for a lot of years, because I came from a lesser metropolitan area when I began practicing.

Enter brand-name yoga clothing. Enter big-name yoga teachers (and more so, the tendency to attach them to your own bio). Enter confusion. Enter Facebook. Enter blow up in your face relationships with other yogis.

Over the years I’ve found a deep, dark pit of lack that has arisen from my own inner comparison with other teachers: I’m not skinny enough. I’m not young enough. I don’t wear the right clothes or have enough students, I don’t have the right friends or teach in the right places. I’m not successful enough. I’m not fill in the blank.

But I didn’t have that before. And truth be told, it’s my own inner shit, isn’t it? I know that. So what I did with it, how I decided to take aim at that particular negative habit was to get painfully honest with myself, realizing that if I have problems, my students and friends probably do too. So let’s talk about that. Let’s talk about what we don’t know, how we’re not perfect and decide to grow, together, from there.  Because once we can be honest about ourselves, we can really accept our own humanity and change what needs to be changed.

It’s not been without its pitfalls. For one: I’ve realized that I needed to step back from those that are looking for a popularity contest, from those that would lambast another teacher for having more students than they do, from those that see bodies and not souls. And radical honesty hasn’t come without it’s own kind of judgement  in and of itself. We all know it, we all recognize that there is a certain element in our community that is about profit, or popularity, or body-type,or dare I say it: EGO, and not really about the practice at all.

What I’ve noticed is that ours can be a community like any other: one with rock-stars and followers, with leaders and supporters and hatemongers and simple, unassuming, joyful people, all in one big melting pot. I’ve struggled to find myself in it, but wholeheartedly  knowing it is a community that I have chosen, and will continue to choose to be a part of. In what way, now…that is the question. That is the struggle.

But it’s so simple. Santosha. Contentment. Aparigraha. Non-grasping.

Just show up. And forget everything else. Find the people you need and let go of those that you don’t. Isn’t it simple? But like yoga, oh so like this practice that I love (and sometimes hate, truth be told) that what is simple in theory can be very, very hard in practice.

Like when your friend tells you something hateful. Or something honest. And so many yogis have the tendency to say something trite, some cute little soundbite about turning your negative into a positive, there is a silver-lining-to-every-cloud kind of response. Or worse, when they tell you that according to karmic law you did this to yourself. That might be true.  But it’s like telling a friend that their tragedy was self inflicted. It might be true. But you just. don’t. say. that.

You recognize that crap happens. That someone is hurting and that sometimes things just suck, that hard times may take a painfully long process of clawing your way out like a madperson. Because yoga was never, ever, about always feeling good, happy rainbows and unicorns, but about facing our demons so that we might finally, finally let them go and in doing so, have compassion for others. So you offer a hand, an ear, a kleenex, a pie…anything. Because THAT is what you do. Not because it makes you a better yogi. But because it is the right thing to do.

And that, my friends, is yoga. Choosing the right thing to do, even when you don’t want to, which might mean being honest when you’ve failed, or being compassionate when you really, really don’t want to be.  We’re not perfect people. Not you, not me. That is why we came to yoga in the first place, isn’t it? Hopefully?

It means looking past the ego, the karma, the body, the samksara and seeing the soul.  I’m still working on it. More with myself, most of the time, than with others. And once I can really do that, certain yogis sucking so bad in their personal skills won’t really even pass my radar. So there’s hope for me yet.

 

 

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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33 Responses to “If We’re Being Honest, Yogis can kind of Suck.”

  1. Tanya Lee Markul Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Sweet article, Candice!

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Tanya Lee Markul, Yoga Editor
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  2. Love this… Sharing

  3. great post… definitely agree with you whole heartedly!

  4. Lorin Arnold Lorin says:

    Candice, this is a beautiful article. Thank you for sharing it.

  5. Candice, your piece totally hit home with me. Especially these lines, "Just show up. And forget everything else. Find the people you need and let go of those that you don’t." I've been recently wrestling with many of the same thoughts that you expressed in your piece. Thank you so much for sharing so honestly and bravely.- Jeannie Page, Fellow EJ contributor

  6. alex says:

    loved this. thank you for reminding us what this journey is truly about …

  7. Kristina says:

    Beautiful post, thank you for sharing! Really made me take a step back and reflect on what the practice actually means, we all need that once in a while.

  8. Jen says:

    This is actually one of the reasons I’ve fallen ‘out’ with yoga. For all this ‘let it go’ stuff, I honestly think yogiis think TOO much. About themselves namely. Their inner conflicts, the world, finding peace, etc….that’s not living. It’s just not. I think people need to spend more time outside of themselves and just do. Be stimulated. Go for a run. Hang out with friends. Be in nature. Have a drink for Gods sakes! I know that’s going to bring up controversy but – its true. I actually became more depressed and too much time for me with yoga. Bull crap.

    • Candice Garrett Candice Garrett says:

      I've noticed this too, the dwelling on themselves too much, their diet, their clothes, their practice. I agree with you.

    • Louise Brooks says:

      Amen sister! That has been my experience too! The level of self-involvement is truly astonishing in yoga circles. Perhaps yogic philosophy, when melded with western individualism, and sprinkled with New Age fluff becomes this self-centred mess it has become.

  9. Devacat says:

    We always come back to this, and need to be reminded. The body-cultists will move on to the next hot thing, but in the meantime we're teaching ourselves and our students the real practice. Thanks for your fine post.

  10. Hjcotton says:

    When I started taking yoga classes 15 years ago, most of us wore tee shirts and leggings. There was no fancy yoga gear or mats. My first yoga mat was a one that was cut from a long roll. Nobody cared how you dressed up for class.

  11. kcyogachick says:

    When I had a former business partner (in my old yoga studio) tell me everyone came to our studio solely because of her (not because of the talents of the entire staff) and then proceeded to talk about student's bodies behind their backs, I instantly knew the kind of yogi I never wanted to be. I do tell my students to just show up and do their best. Then their practice, regardless of asana, is perfect.

  12. yoginibunny says:

    wow! thank you for this. I will remember this article when I feel burnt out with yoga, as I believe reading this will bring me back because it reminds me what is important.

  13. ourworldtreeyoga says:

    I agree with you 100%!

  14. Joe Sparks says:

    Complete responsibility for EVERYTHING is the relaxed, unforced, unobligated inherent attitude of each human being. It is misleading to "value" people on the basis of your response to the "shit" attached to them. No distress pattern is " less -patterned" than another. They're all just rigid, inflexible, non-thinking recordings. We have power against patterns beause of our limitless flexibility. The patterned behavior will persist as long asit exists at all, but we are able to out-persist the pattern. Humans, free of distress, would automatically care deeply about everyone around them and seek to work to build a just society, and pursue all other desirable goals.

  15. Ben Ralston Ben_Ralston says:

    In my experience the vast majority of people who call themselves Yogis are anything but. And a great deal of those that may rightly be considered Yogis wouldn't even know what the word means….

    • Anna Sheinman SOFLY_Anna says:

      Hi Ben,

      I like that…there are too many "yogis" around…One of my favorite definitions is a yogis is someone who's prana is contained…when I met Mr. Desikachar, I thought he is a yogi – he was able to transform the room around him. I've never heard him calling himself one.

      Anna.

  16. Love the article, hate the title. I guess I have some work to do on my aversion to saying yogis kind of suck. It's always something….

  17. Anna Sheinman SOFLY_Anna says:

    Hello Candice!
    Great post! Thank you. We wouldn't be here is we were perfect. The universe came from imperfection: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DECAorZYErk

    Thanks,
    Anna.

  18. Chris B says:

    I want to take YOUR class.

  19. holly troy says:

    yes! thanks for the post!

  20. Sondra says:

    "Just show up. And forget everything else." that phrase says it all, and I will use it this week when new students come to class to help feel comfortable. Thank you for a great year end post!

  21. Tomasz Goetel [Hot Yoga] says:

    Very wise insight, and well-written! Thank you.

  22. "Because yoga was never, ever, about always feeling good, happy rainbows and unicorns, but about facing our demons so that we might finally, finally let them go and in doing so, have compassion for others."

    YES! This needs to go on the next round of ele tote bags! F*ck happy rainbows & unicorns, this is about real change.

  23. Candice Garrett Candice Garrett says:

    LOL

  24. Nitivia says:

    I've been practicing yoga in my living room/bedroom/balcony for years because a yoga studio was not an option for my practice while living abroad. I never had special yoga clothes or a special mat and I never felt the need for those things until I moved back to the US and went to a yoga studio. Before that experience I was content with my practice (with the exception of the lack of an instructor to guide me). When I showed up at the studio in my old wife beater and running shorts I felt like I might not be respected by the "real" yogis. Thanks for your perspective. I am that person who goes from bed to the mat in the clothes that have served me for years. The breathing and the postures are the most important things that ultimately lead me to the contentment and happiness for so long. I won't feel so bad next time I go to the studio.

  25. sharonfloyd says:

    Amen, Sister.

  26. Bo Bo says:

    it's as if you read my mind, thank you for letting me know that I am not alone in my "yoga loneliness"

  27. hownowbrowncow says:

    My yoga practice also began and has been sustained in a non-metropoiltan area. Every time I take a class in a big city I absolutely feel there is some sort of a competition going on! Icky feeling.

  28. [...] If We’re Being Honest, Yogis can kind of Suck. [...]

  29. Candice Garrett Candice Garrett says:

    Ha! Stacey, the runner up title for this post was "own your shit!"

  30. Stacey says:

    That is hilarious. Thanks for sharing and looking forward to more writing from you!

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