The Yoga Snob Featuring Yoga B*tch. {Video} ~ Veronique Barnes

Via on Mar 15, 2012

I’ve always got this weird I’m so much better and knowledgeable than you are vibe from this particular person.

At first I thought  I was just in one of those “I feel so insecure” moods until one day, I saw the rolling of the eyes and the mocking smile. I was right, it was real! But  what I couldn’t understand was why this was happening in a yogavironment.

I have been practicing yoga for several years now and teaching for the last three. I am getting to know the yoga community that is gravitating around my neck of the woods and well, I guess I am also getting acquainted with some yoga snobs. It’s like high school all over again!

At first I was thrown off by the mere existence of such a being in a world that promotes egalitarian, peaceful and loving views. I didn’t understand why there was even a need for someone to act as though they were in some way superior to others. I guess they missed the part about mudita (contentment). Then again, perhaps I am not practicing upeksha (indifference) well enough!

What I don’t get is how someone, that has been practicing yoga for quite some time, can be so fake and hypocritical. It surprises me that in a community/world such as yoga that there are people who think they are more enlightened than the next person. Seriously, where does this “I’m superior to all of you” attitude come from in a yoga world anyway? I don’t get it.

Go ahead, call me noob or naive I don’t care. I mean, I’ve met my share of off-the-wall spiritual to freaky people but a yoga snob, really?

That is the question: why?

Why do these people believe that they should look down upon us new and excited yoga practitioners? Aren’t we supposed to be one, to share this understanding that life is wonderful and that yoga is an amazing practice that speeds up our spiritual development?

In the end, I guess I find it unfortunate that someone who might have found at least some conscious awareness was once again overthrown by their egoistic mind.

Knowledge is a dangerous thing. It makes you believe that you know all of these things when in reality, you have so much more to learn-always. Every time I share my knowledge with my students, I learn something from them. I learn about myself and I delve deeper into this wonderful world.

Being closed to the possibility of learning and growing, thinking we have achieved a certain level of Je ne sais quoi, is closing the door to oh-so-many more opportunities.

So, don’t limit your own growth thinking that you know better. And please, pretty please, drop the snobbishness down a notch. Remember what yoga is all about—modesty, self-awareness, being grounded, being free of the ego. I pity you snobby yogi person.

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Only by knowing where you stand can you move forward. Peace.

 

Véronique Barnes is a yoga practitioner and international development worker living in Ottawa, Canada. She writes articles on yoga, spirituality, meditation, and all of life’s little things that make us happy. You can read more on her blog.

 

~

Editor: Tanya L. Markul

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25 Responses to “The Yoga Snob Featuring Yoga B*tch. {Video} ~ Veronique Barnes”

  1. trueayurveda says:

    Véronique, Well put. As I one of those that can possibly be seen as a yoga snob, I have to reply. Knowledge of this sacred science is not found in a class at the local yoga studio. As we get further and further away from what yoga is and does there are those of us that sit back watch and try to be dispassionate about it all. So as I have seen the same "snobs" out there, I would ask why rather than pointing fingers. My answer to that question would remain, yoga is not being taught. We have contorted it to our whims and most of the time away from the true path and more into the external and although there are those that somehow think that this time tested science now needs to change because of our times this only strays away from what yoga has to offer even more. Much of all that we both are talking about is ego and attachment. Asana does not make one spiritual, nor does flexibility. The embodiment of the wisdom does.

    • Vero Barnes says:

      Thank you for your comment. I agree with you that yoga goes beyond classes, text books and the local studio. For me it is a way of living. But dispassionate or even distant is far from the judgmental attitude I was referring too, at least, I think so. In a setting where you are amongst peers however, it was interesting to observe as this behavior was unfolding. I guess I was surprised to have to confirm that what I had experienced many times before, was in fact reality. And yes, asking the question why is this happening would be an great subject to explore. Thanks for reading me!

      • trueayurveda says:

        I get you, I understand completely. See it out there all the time as well. It is either that or the spiritual bypass "everything is good" contrast. I feel so lucky when I have a student that really wants to learn yoga and not a workout. What we have is an exercise class built around something we stole from a old ancient science without ever understanding the science of it or ever walking that path. This is the "why" that i was talking to. Aerobics doesn't make someone spiritual actually it is rajasik. Most classes only aggravate prana, just by putting the lens of western exercise science upon it. When you begin to sweat you have reached maximum exertion. Anything more disturbs prana. Doesn't balance it. This says so much about what is being taught and the "why". I could go on and on.

  2. Tanya Lee Markul Tanya Lee Markul says:

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  3. freehugyoga says:

    Thanks to both of you. It is definitely my experience too, and I was not ready for it coming from India back to Europe. But after few months I overcame my surprise and I use it as the valuable lesson. Great space for practicing Brahma-Viharas.

    • Vero Barnes says:

      That's great! It was a good lesson for me as well. Asking myself and noticing if I have feelings of righteousness is definitely grounding. Self-observation without judgment ~ Swami Kripalu. Thanks for your comment Misa :)

  4. JoeC2K says:

    I'd say your pity is rather snobbish…

    • Vero Barnes says:

      Ha ha ha!! Perhaps you're right, maybe I'm the snobby one or at least I can agree to the fact that I am being judgmental towards this other person. Hmm, good question. Thanks for the cathartic comment Joe.

  5. Hector V. Barrientos-Bullock Harleigh Quinn says:

    Thank you!!
    I have been saying this for over a year now and I have seen the trend of everyone finally coming in line with what I have observed for OVER a year.

    Thank you so much for this article.

  6. Yogaundressed says:

    Veronique- the video was hysterical! I couldn't agree with you more on that level, and being a hippy in Birkenstocks, I laughed 'til I cried. Yoga is a personal practice, something meant to unfold the beauty within us over time and allow us to connect deeply within ourselves. It is not a competition, either, as that is how we can injure ourselves if we do not pay attention to what our bodies tell us as we practice. The art of teaching is also the art of learning- as my students work with me (clothed, of course) I Iearn from them in many ways, whether it be physically or emotionally. I have always felt that snobbery is just a form of fear- a fear of the unknown, something that challenges us beyond our comfort zone. It is the human condition that catapults us there, through the attachment to the ego of what we know and our natural desire to atrophy from that which we do not feel comfortable with.

  7. Yogaundressed says:

    Through introspection I have learned the art of humor, and humor always builds great relationships, both within ourselves and with others. It also allows for compassion as we see our condition in others, even when we do not speak the same language or like the same fruit. I cannot truly know the taste of an orange without trying one, and not everyone likes oranges once they have. The yoga culture is a family and we must look to each other as we work in it. If we do not remain open and learn from each other, then who on earth will we learn from and what value does our knowledge have? :-)

    • Vero Barnes says:

      Thank you for sharing your views and for bringing fear up. I agree with what you are saying, that snobbery may just well be a form of fear. I really like this quote "by judging others, you do not define who they are, you only define who you are". I find it is a strong statement that makes us reflect on the reason why we may act a certain way and/or criticize others. Fear is strong though. I believe that it is this innate fear that pushes us to seek to belong and try to fit in as much as we do. We did after all need to belong and fit in for our survival at one point in human history. It may also be the vector behind the mockery and of this apparent need to diminish others as a way to increase our own status… does this make sense?!

      As for the fruit, you made me think of tasting fruits and on how, then, even though you have tasted that orange, you will never taste this same exact orange again. Every time a new experience, a surprise almost :)

  8. Julian Walker yogijulian says:

    the problem is that doing a physical asana practice and even reading some simple ideas about what the yoga sutras supposedly say doesn't inherently make anyone a better person – either in a way that justifies snobbery NOR in a way that should make us think that just because someone goes to yoga they should behave with kindness or humility!

    i think the actual process of working on oneself can take place in yoga, but only if it is intentionally guided that way and the student is really interested in doing that deep, unglamorous and vulnerable work. it can also happen in therapy or meditation or on a massage table, but again only if that is the intention and the guide and tools are both good ones and well applied.

    the common idea in the yoga community that there are a set of principles that one can somehow absorb from the yoga sutras and a list of yamas and niyamas that, combined with doing surya namaskar etc somehow is transformational is i think perhaps oversimplified. (especially since the sutras and asana practice have hardly anything to do with each-other..)

    often this is based in an "outside in" kind of philosophy that says we can just decide to be content or humble or generous etc without actually having to go through the work of looking at our psyches, automatic responses and especially our defenses.

    everyone "wants" to be a good, happy, well-liked person – if it were as simple as just choosing it to make it so the human experience would be radically different than it is in reality.

    someone with an over compensating "i'm better than everyone" defense is probably covering over a deep sense of inadequacy and insecurity. they might use the identity of being a yogi to further bolster that sense of superiority.

    similarly people who have defenses like denial, dissociation, rationalization etc (even mild paranoid delusions) very often use spirituality, yoga philosophy etc to perpetuate those defenses.

    i think it actually takes much more dedicated work and a deeper understanding of the process of psychological healing to shift these defenses than we would like to believe. what's more the somewhat elitist, in-group nature of yoga communities and the pecking order based in fancy looking poses and having the right body type don't innately provide for a sense authentic belonging and acceptance – so in a way we perhaps perpetuate a culture that is often defended and pretentious.

    • Vero Barnes says:

      Wow… thank you so much for taking the time to share your thoughts Julian.

      There is in fact so much more, if someone decides to take this Path including facing your own demons. By doing much introspection one really starts to shed light in the dark corners of its being and it is not always pretty! But then again, this growth that can be experienced, whether we decide to go ahead or not, is what makes it all so interesting to me.

      Thanks again for your comment. You managed to on many topics brought on by the practice in such a clear way :)

    • oz_ says:

      Julian nailed it. The intentionality is crucial. As Carl Jung said:

      "One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious. The latter procedure, however, is disagreeable and therefore not popular."

      Now, how many yogis are truly willing to make the darkness conscious, and to make that experience a part of their practice? It can be done (I'm living proof), but in my experience, yoga tends rather to be a powerful attractor for those who prefer to imagine figures of light.

      All that said, I think that one of the real treasures of yoga is exactly the inauthenticity and pretentiousness of many yoga communities that Julian remarks upon: it's a great space in which to examine your ego-based responses to those characteristics!

      One of my Buddhist teachers once gave me this terrific advice:

      It's useful, upon occasion, to imagine that everybody else on the planet is enlightened – and they're all here explicitly and solely for your benefit.

      So, Vero, next time you run into a yoga snob, perhaps you can ask yourself: what is it that I can learn from this enlightened being? As an example, I try hard to do that every time another driver cuts me off in traffic. ;-)

      • Julian Walker yogijulian says:

        vero and oz – YES!

        oz – one of my favorite jung quotes.

      • Vero Barnes says:

        Thank you oz. Yes, or as the Dalai-Lama proposes in his teachings on living a compassionate life, by imagining that everyone has been your mother at some point in the beginning-less time and existence of Life :)

  9. doug says:

    Thanks Vero, Julian & Oz for nailing it. Yes, I find a lot of Yoga folks to be terribly snobby and "holier than thou" and it doesn't give much hope for ever finding or forming real community there.

    The Truth is so beautiful… I've got to reiterate what Oz posted and Carl Jung said because it's so exquisitely beautiful: "One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious. The latter procedure, however, is disagreeable and therefore not popular."

    Being able to teach yoga asanas is relatively meaningless. The content and quality of a person's character (and their willingness to do the real inner work) is all that really matters… me thinks!

  10. chiara_ghiron says:

    Hi Veronique

    I have recently had a very similar experience and was frustrated and sad to find that this particular teacher was being so judgemental towards me. It is true I do not have that much teaching experience (just over one year now) and I cannot perform as 'impeccably' as this Iyengar tracher obviously expected other teachers to do, but to me yoga is not found in the perfectly aligned ankles of virasana. Especially if you managed to sprain them a lot when you were a kid like I did, you need to look for your yoga somewhere else.
    On trying to explain this behavious, and wanting to discard fear and arrogance, the impression I got was that there could be such a search for detachment that anybody with a lot of enthusiasm is seen with suspect and pity

    • Vero Barnes says:

      Hi Chiara, thank you for your comment. Having studied anatomy a lot, I can totally understand that it can be frustrating when others expect you to do something your body is just not able to do. Bone structure is really interesting to me as it has thought me (I think) to be a better teacher. For example, I now know that if you have a rather short or long acromion process, the way that you will settle into downward dog will be different than the next person over.

      This is one of the reason why I think it is so important not to compare each other to other yoga practitioners and to really (really) make this practice our own. But yes, I agree with you that detachment is definitely a big part of the practice that has to be emphasized on, and often (for me at least) a really hard thing to do. Thanks for reading me, have a good night!

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