I’ve Got a Bone to Pick with My Yoga Teacher. ~ Tanya Maria Mah

Via elephant journal
on Oct 4, 2012
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I’m banning myself from reading anymore yoga, health or happiness blogs.

I’m ignoring the incessant spamming from life coaches, naturopaths and other wellness professionals.

I’m clicking “hide” and “unsubscribe” to block the daily bombardment of “inspirational life quotes” from my newsfeed.

I’m breaking up with Twitter and then I’m un-following people on instagram.

Someone needs to call it.

No more quinoa recipes, positive affirmations or “love yourself” watery diatribes. It’s really f*cking simple; just do the things you enjoy and make you happy.

There was a time in my life when the affirmations, life quotes and recipes did make me happy, but recently I’ve found myself getting lost in a sea of chia-seed appreciation groups, love hearts and Rumi quotes. This non-stop bombardment of information feels more like a fancy marketing strategy than a from-the-heart form of connection and communication.

Call me cynical, but I promised myself I would be more discerning with what messages I allow in and consume.

It’s crazy, but after reading post after post of inspirational quotes, or daily insights followed by images of people leaping into the air or mediating at the beach intertwined with cross product/service promotion, I kind of want to throw-up in my mouth a little.

Why complicate things with more dogma, more do’s and dont’s? Don’t do this, don’t eat that, meditate, sing, dance, dry-hump a yoga teacher blah, blah, blah. Don’t get me wrong, I loooovvve yoga, meditation and, on the odd occasion, would be totally up for dry-humping a yoga teacher. If you like, or want something, and it isn’t against the law, or has the potential to hurt others, I say go for it. I just don’t want to be saturated with stories of “self discovery” about it.

I really believe that we a suffering from an oversupply of well-meaning, but uppity teachers and wellness professionals who suffer from a rockstar complex. They may as well tattoo “I’m a rockstar, people pay attention and listen to me” on their foreheads.

It’s a freaking epidemic and it’s all over your newsfeed and spamming your inbox right now. So teachers, while I value your insights and your wisdom, I’m done with your chia-seed recipes, overused stock images and random quotes.

Show me something real: give me something of value, show me what makes you an individual, what makes you tick, your darkness, your light, your strength, your joy. Show me why you even bothered to become a teacher in the first place. Just don’t give me mainstream feel-good bullsh*t.

Don’t give me this watered down version of new-age spirituality.

Don’t cross promote your sister, your brother, your friend or your mom’s product, or service unless it’s extremely relevant, or you yourself have tried it and truly, hand-on-heart believe in it.

It’s not good enough, and the people who click ‘like’ or ‘subscribe’ deserve better than that.

Do not use the word “authentic” unless you truly are, and if you post a photo of the green smoothie you had for breakfast I will personally punch you in the face.




Tanya Maria Mah is a designer, an occasional seeker of all things true, a yogi, a hippie (not a hipster), a teeny-tiny disco dancer, a sometimes-cook and an eternal optimist. She can be creative, is frequently inappropriate and aspires for inspiration. When asked for a bio she Facebook polled her friends for one word that describes her and they came up with the following: loves hearts, crazy (this was mentioned a few times!), sunshine, bubbly, meatball, mcskank  (personal joke), excitable, spunky monkey, delicious, pixie and charismatically crazy (a new spin on an old favorite!) To get in touch, please email [email protected]


Editor: Thaddeus Haas

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106 Responses to “I’ve Got a Bone to Pick with My Yoga Teacher. ~ Tanya Maria Mah”

  1. Jean Marie says:

    I love this!

  2. kate says:

    Yes!!! I FEEL THIS WAY!

  3. Thank you. I tried it. I actually believed I could be one of them for awhile. But the words coming out of my mouth felt hallow, phoney, void of any real meaning. I realized that I was burned out on all of it. The holier than thou message yoga has become. I started yoga with the postures and loved it for years. When I started turning it into something more is when I grew to really hate it. Became burnt out and wanted to escape from anything associated with the topic. I did miss it though so I went back to the basics. Back where I started Classes outside of a studio, videos on tv, home practice without chanting, long meditations, or labored breathing. I slowly started to fall in love again. Less is more for me. Practicing two to three times a week is perfect vs. two to three times a day I was doing before. Now I'm trying to clear my feeds of so much positive health spam. I'm re-embracing my cynical side. The side that likes black humor, snide comments, and is a bit raunchy. The side that loves bad things in life as much as the good. Beer, pizza, skipping workouts, indulging in occasional unpleasant banter. And guess what, I feel like me again. Not some caricature of what the yoga industry tells me I need to be. The books and other remnants of my year of insanity are there to remind me of what I don't want to be instead of pressuring me to be something I am not. I've made peace with being perfectly imperfect. Dare I say majorly flawed but peacefully authentic.

  4. Alice says:

    One yogi's inspiration is another's flip the bird. I know from my personal experience that if I love something a lot I'm bound to dislike it immensely at some point. I think you hit the nail on the head when you said that at one point the superficial apspect of the yoga world worked for you. I wonder what changed and why? It's a curious world we live in and I am the first to admit that I have experienced my own bouts of cynicism and judgement of yogis and the world of yoga.

    I do remember, though, the feeling of being inspired and feeling connected and how much I was in love with yoga and what it had to offer. I guess sooner or later, I had to come down from that experience and begin to investigate why I was drawn to yoga in the first place and in leaving that world behind had to figure out what worked for me.

    It's like being married. The first 5 years of my marriage was inspirational bliss, the next 5 years, resignation and questions like " Are you as sick of me as I am of you?" to the next 5 years which I consider, "What would I like to have happen here and is it up to me or is this something that we work towards together?".

    Do I always work from that premise? Hell no, there are some days when the whole world looks pretty frickin' sad and pathetic. Yet, when that arises for me as an experience, I have begun to ask myself why? and what changed?

    In the end, I always have the right to my own opinion, as long as I see it as such.

    Thanks for your article and the chance to comment.

  5. Renee says:

    You need to do more yoga and Chillax!! I for love my inspirational quotes and life affirming quotes. I've heard way to many negatives in my life!! Send the love my way anytime !! Be grateful! Be compassionate be love

  6. Yikes says:

    Love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, LOVE!!!!!!!

  7. Vision_Quest2 says:

    If I were still active on Facebook (THANK YOU, TIMELINE, YOUR FORCING ME TO HAVE YOU AS A USER INTERFACE, MADE MY DECISION TO LEAVE …. EASY) I'd share you with all my Facebook "friends".

    I wish you could not have to be preaching to the choir.

    Facebook is for USERs, (of people, NOT referring to technology), pure and simple.

    I'm working on how to share this post on Diaspora, however … once a social media user, always a social media user …

  8. greateacher says:

    love it love it.. when I have all day to schedule wtht nothing to do but make a green smoothie and go to yoga and gym and garden and click on lots of stuff.. I see who all else does and who posts so MMUUCCHH .. some ar eover-promoting, soem ar eunemployed, some post things I like… but when I work 8-9 hours and come home and have 100 FB entries and see that 3 people entered 45 of those.. and most friends had no time ( I gathered a lot of yoga friends) I reflect how unneeded much is for me now.

    However som eof thos eposts go tme through some less busy times and the constant stream of good will and love stil carries me.

  9. Micaela says:

    Take what you need. Leave the rest for others. Love the honesty, though. :)

  10. Jenifer says:

    So true.

    I have spent about 20 minutes a week these days clearing out my facebook "likes" for the likes that I actually like to get information form, and then also cleared out all email newsletters that i get from everywhere.

    My biggest problem is the 'yoga-language as up-sell' — "Hey guys, remember to practice your aparigraha and get yourself a membership in the new year!" Or "Don't forget that Karma counts! There won't be any refunds if you decide you don't want to do the teacher training! Also, teacher training is for people who LOVE yoga and LOVE to share. Share the love! Take the training!"

    Subtext: you are a greedy bitch who refuses to support the studio, wants refunds when you get in over your head (or against your best interests), and if you're even opting out of the training, it's because you don't love yoga and you don't love to share. You are super-duper-uuper greedy and possessive about yoga. That's unyogic. SPEND MORE MONEY AT THE STUDIO TO BE MORE YOGIC!

    Yeah, cuz that's cool. Thanks.

    I run a studio. We do market. But, we keep it cool. First, no email newsletters. I'm tired of them and none of my clients want them anyway. We have a blog — it's mostly informative: schedule changes, introducing new teachers, people talking about what they do, housekeeping (ie, we need more people to trade cleaning for yoga classes). I also like to post funny things or things that are in my head — like songs by Kermit the Frog. We do have paper flyers which do well for people. This is opt-in, too, and we keep track of turn over (X number of printed items turned into Y clients). It's interesting to do that, because you can actually print on the minimum and save trees.

    I don't do the whole inspirational quote/photo. I prefer the funny and/or ridiculous. Yippies! 😀

  11. Angie says:

    Whatever makes you feel authentic- go for it- If it's really in your inner self to say something heart inspiring- go for it but if its not- don't, it won't come through as true. Love the article you clever, funny woman, there are many people who need to read this to hopefully assist them in coming more into their own authentic self. Leave the fear behind, the desire to please or the constant craving for acceptance. Sounding a little like an inspiration session? Maybe it is, but its my truth- so be it.

  12. Margot says:

    THANK YOU!!!

  13. Scott says:

    Authenticity is recognizable. I've noticed that when I transition from giving the same cues that I myself have heard thousands of times from dozens of teachers from over the years, and move into speaking from the heart, students actually begin to listen. I have always heard "don't lecture your students" or "people do not like coming to class to sit for 20 minutes and listen to teachers talk". But there have been times when I let my mouth go into story telling mode, and I had 100% engagement from all the eyes in the room.

  14. Jade Doherty says:

    This article is a LOLocaster and made me chuckle, giggle and chortle.

    Plus I totes agree. I got bored of my facebook being full of inspirational/insipid quotes too.

    Thank you for a Friday afternoon laugh!

  15. @stylistad says:

    Refreshingly, brutally honest. Well-said, and made me feel less guilty for having the same thoughts! nice job!

  16. sherimccord says:


  17. yoga bear says:

    WOW! I enjoy yoga but there seems to be the smoothie drinking, authentic, heart following…….. you know where I am going. I am not like many of the people in my yoga classes but they are who they are and is'nt it nice of me to allow it. I identify and know where you are coming from and I was there once myself. My practice(could never see my self saying that..) has taught me to be kind and gentle with myself which allows me to be kind and gentle with others. In other words I have the freedom to be who I want and all I have to do is be accepting of others. I am not passing judgement, I rather admire the way you express yourself. There was a time in my youth when I "hated everybody, especially me". I do not feel that way anymore and I suspect that yoga might be a little responsible along with the different types of people I come into contact with during class.

  18. alinamo says:

    Thank you for this honest and beautifully presented post! I so needed this at the end of a long week of a juice fast that I don't really understand. Screw the smoothie!! lol Luckily I didn't force my Facebook friends to look at any pictures.

  19. Heather says:

    I agree on the overused quotes. i read one yesterday and felt like saying, "and do you actually know what that means." But I decided to not ruffle any feathers. These days people use quotes that do not have personal experience backing it. It sounds good and is lovely, I know, but has not taken rooted.

    That being said, it is important to encourage and inspire people. As a teacher it is the number one thing you can do! However, giving one-liners and cute remarks to people seldom works. And I am confident most people know it is not the truth despite being flattered (ego). A student once shared with me how her instructor said to her,"that's award winning. "

    I guess the real problem was she had already studied with me and I had told her where some problems or more work lay. So telling her that made her know "nice job…but not real teaching."

    But let me ask you something…so you think people want real teaching? It's a two-way street …until people can handle more authentic teachers they also have to be ready to receive them.

    By the way, I posted a green smoothie, because I thought the color was awesome. :-0))

  20. Olga says:

    ahem sista!!!

  21. Dylan says:

    Fuck yah lady. so much of new agyness, and actually, SO MUCH of elephant journal makes me want " to throw-up in my mouth a little." although i rephrase it to alot. enough to spew into a bowl.

    spirituality is not new age. new age is americas material spin on spirituality…sad.

    i am a 21 year old male from LA, practicing yogi and meditator, living in Myanmar, south east Asia. this place is fucking spiritual, with its raw life. most people live in poverty, and all go to Buddhist shrines to pay respect to the monks.
    they eat heaps of salt and oil, and more pork than ive ever seen. and on a whole contain some of the worlds most elevated spiritual beings.

    yah, your post is a relief….i read elephant journal, its fun to laugh at all the yoga people wigging out ON EACHOTHER.

    word, i bet we would be friends. keep it up. peace.

  22. Cesare says:

    Oh my god this is so fuckin awesome!! You rock girl.

  23. Rachel says:

    Your ego is a whiner. :)

    Change your Facebook preferences and have a beautiful day! <3

  24. Bryan says:

    I was actually gonna write an article on this exact same topic so right on! Still might because I actually find this stuff a serious problem in line with industrial and planetary pollution, though the connection isn't readily clear.

  25. Anna says:

    Nice article. Shame your biog is full of the nonsense you're complaining about. 'an occasional seeker of all things true'? Really?

  26. lisa cohen says:

    as for me…well, I like a good cynical, in your face, snarky post as well as the next dude(ette)… however..often, I get a LOT from a Rumi quote, a smoothie recipe, inspiration from a life coach, a yoga teacher, an affirmation of some sort.

    My final take? if it works for you, it works. when it stops working stop.

    (for the record, I am not a vegetarian, I have glimpses of being spiritual, then get focused on some non yogic/non spiritual obsession…like what the eff's happening to my neck or did I really keep eating that WHOLE bag of chips, etc.., and I too think if I got the hell off of facebook and/or the internet more often and quit READING crap and started DOING crap, i just may become a bit more enlightened. or not)

    damn..i need a good rumi quote right about now…
    Namasnark (the snark in me honors the snark in you..and you…and yes, even you)

  27. Vision_Quest2 says:

    Most of these social networking sites are busy bullshitting the bullshitter.

    How do you like your personal data mined to corporate interests and automated (with "Likes" on corporate sites and consumer products, that you did not post) which results in annoying your Facebook friends, in the instance of Facebook …. ?

    In the case of Facebook, Zuck and Sandberg are hard at work monetizing the site; they never rest. If I felt I could totally delete my profile I would. I have not ventured onto Facebook, have not commented or liked on blogs using their commenting and voting-up interfaces (sorry, maybe more of a loss to those sites than it is to me) for 5 weeks now, ever since Timeline was foisted on my profile interface.

  28. yogi_claire says:

    The very fact that you are saying that you are not a "hipster" actually makes you a hipster :) just saying!
    The only sure fire way to tell if someone you're talking to is, in fact, a hipster is to ask them "are you a hipster?". If they respond no, and turn their casette player back on, you can be sure you're dealing with a hipster.

  29. […] I’ve Got a Bone to Pick with My Yoga Teacher. ~ Tanya Maria Mah […]

  30. The P says:

    Thanks, I agree!! Much of yoga in the West has devolved into a wasteland of self promotion and shallow feel-goodisms. Time for me to leave the yoga studio culture for a while and spend more time with the source texts, get into some real-deal in depth study and practice..

  31. Yoga? says:

    From my experience the ones posting the inspirational quotes are the ones needing to get the quotes but the only way they can get them is through others' approval. I'm not being mean. It is purely a self observation. Once my connection to the inner resources are established I no longer have a need to distract others and seek their approval. Another category of people who send these things out are money seekers, fame seekers and marketing opportunists.

  32. Scott says:

    You'd better redneckognize!!!! Everyones Shit stinks!

  33. Tyrone says:

    I rarely drop comments, but i did some searching and wound up

    here I’ve Got a Bone to Pick with My Yoga Teacher. ~ Tanya

    Maria Mah | elephant journal. And I do have a few questions for you if it’s allright.

    Is it only me or does it look like some of the comments come across

    as if they are left by brain dead folks? 😛 And, if you

    are posting at other social sites, I would like to keep

    up with everything new you have to post. Would you make a list of every one

    of all your public sites like your Facebook

    page, twitter feed, or linkedin profile?

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