Why I Quit the Yoga Business. ~ Nina Mel

Via on May 27, 2013
Photo: lyn tally
Photo: Lyn Tally

I spent 27 days in a closed spiritual retreat.

It was a place lost in space-time and hidden from eyes that “do not see.” A place not marked on any travel guide map—where life stops, where the external world disappears.

This is a place for meeting one’s teachers and oneself, an opportunity to hear what our inner truth has been telling us all along.

Twenty-seven days without a phone or the internet. (I beg the understanding of those whose calls and emails went unanswered.)

Twenty-seven days of practicing in silence and piercing stillness, a restructuring of the mind’s function and a deconstruction of knowledge accumulated over the years, which upon my return materialized in the form of three new books, a multitude of articles and boundless gratitude for the chance to stop and find myself again.

There comes a time when it becomes impossible to go on as you used to. There comes a time when you must choose whether to support a system aimed at fame and renown—a system that popularizes the teaching of yoga and the instructors themselves, who freely employ mental and social knowledge as a substitute for spiritual knowledge—or to step back and stop wasting time on the insignificant.

There comes a time when you understand that there is no way if there is understanding. A self that starts upon this way will never reach its end.

Whatever we do here on earth—whatever we may consider it to be and whatever we call it—this is nothing but a karmic school whose essence is only in graduating from it. We all have the power necessary to do so.

The issue is in having the will to. The choice is yours. I’ve made mine.

There are no masters left in the earth’s material plane. The masters have left for a different plane and now, after the transition of 2012, we have been left to our own devices.

The freedom of will and self-expression we strove for out of a greedy desire for power and following our ego’s ambitions is now bestowed upon us in all its glory. We have received that which we desired and for which we struggled.

But where has that brought us, and what has it become for us?

We have learned to use the right words, to say things that will touch others and resonate with them. We don’t need to have a Ph.D. in Economics to do it. We all know what is sold and how—even in yoga.

No, we don’t do it on purpose, or even consciously. Quite on the contrary—if only we could see, in a single moment, all of this in its entirety, our place and our role in it, its influence on us and on others, then we wouldn’t do it. We wouldn’t participate and would not be able to go on supporting it.

But we do not see.

We see it in fragments, agreeing with some, disagreeing with others, sometimes feeling something. But we do not see it fully, holistically.

If we could see, then the entire hellish mechanism, this entire wheel of spiritual samsara would stop immediately and never move again. If even one of the famous yoga instructors that supports, cultivates, desires and encourages their own self’s spiritual decay—or all the new-fashioned and tried-and-true gurus—were to truly be enlightened for a single second, this mechanism would crumble.

Vision is itself action. So long as there is no vision, there can be no action.

After all, we only nourish this mechanism and bring it to life in order to playfully struggle with it. We fiddle with it, rolling it back and forth, like children with their toy cars.

All of these yoga systems, yoga organizations, yoga projects, yoga conferences, yoga festivals, yoga federations, yoga platforms, yoga missions and other toys in the hands of spiritual adolescents, are all deeply corrupt, to their very essence.

We must ourselves be corrupt down to our cores, if we can make a game out of spirituality itself.

The relationships of yoga-disciple, disciple-teacher, teacher-studio, disciple-studio and teacher-teacher have been corrupted. These relationships have no purity, no spiritual essence, no love, and thus they are unnecessary.

Unnecessary, no matter how pure and yoga-appropriate the phrases in which we disguise ourselves and by which we deceive others. Unnecessary, no matter how hard we try to silence our conscience and consciousness with phrases from the books of Advaita Vedanta that “all must be as it is,” “all is already perfect,” and, thus, “nothing needs to be changed.”

Yes, all is exactly “as it is” on the outside, but at the same time completely different within us.

In the depths of our souls each of us knows our weaknesses and knows that inside everything is already different. Just that the internal does not match the external and, thus, something needs to be changed. This is the eternal juxtaposition of good and evil inside each of us, choices we make every second. This is the balance and unification of opposites, for each of us the balance is different.

A yoga instructor tells himself and his students:

“This is my mission. I only wish to share and help people.”

And he believes it himself, preferring not to see it any other way. A mission wrapped in a cover of captivating videos, thought-out PR-campaigns, SEO-optimized websites, colorful yoga photo shoots, bestselling texts, flashy announcements that “space is limited,” purchased Facebook likes, and one’s own daily “struggle” to perform a handstand.

That’s a slightly different kind of mission.

It’s convenient to cover up with the mission concept, the spiritual shield of ignorance, so long as you don’t know, despite all your enlightenment, that there is no other mission for every human being other than to move toward oneness.

This mission is within us—and it is the only one. This battle happens on the personal level, within you, within me, within each of us. Only on the individual level.

It is the inner relationship between identity and spirit, which concerns only you—no one else should have any business with it.

Free yourself of the ridiculous idea that you need to do something worthwhile and important in this life, that you need to leave a trace or help as many people as possible. Free yourself of the desire to achieve lofty goals—these are all tricks of the mind.

There is no mission, and there never has been, for anyone and to anyone. It’s merely a spiritually-justified mental trap.

The ego invents a myriad of missions. It’s the new drug for the modern yoga-junkie.

We cannot help anyone in any way as long as we haven’t reached it ourselves. And we cannot teach anyone anything, as long as we haven’t achieved the understanding on our own.

We cannot walk their path for them. Otherwise, it is nothing more than intellectual knowledge passed from one person to another. There is no point in it; in fact, it causes more harm than good.

The way is only inside, and this battle happens only on the personal level.

Spiritual supermarket shelves are full to the brim of intellectual knowledge about yoga and spirituality. In their various packages, we all keep consuming new intellectual product-knowledge—empty, endless knowledge that sucks out our time, strength, hopes, money and energy and only to lead us away from ourselves and our direct connection with our spirit.

Perhaps, for some, it will eventually suck out illusions as well—but not all are so lucky.

Spiritual knowledge cannot be transferred from person to person. It always descends upon us from above, directly into our being.

To listen to it, to hear it and to follow it in every second of our lives—this is our only mission and the only straight and true way for man to reach oneness.

As long as students accept middlemen between themselves and spirituality, as long as teachers rant about their missions, people will keep failing their one mission on Earth. Instead, they will spend years following others, imperfect mortals, who are also losing time stuck in their own illusions.

How long will you go on wasting time and encouraging others to waste it as well? How long will you go on wandering around yoga studios without admitting to yourself that yoga is not a group activity, not a party or group entertainment?

Yoga is an intimate, sacred practice—a quiet and tremulous communication between us and our own spirit that has nothing to do with unknown people sweating around us.

How long will we go on creating and seeking out teachers—finding them, becoming infatuated with them and disappointed in them? How long will we go on choosing them by their mass appeal, appearance, photos, numbers of likes, emoticons, comments, shares and pins on their social media pages?

How long will we go on admiring their “legs behind the head” pose (as though that could ever put anyone’s head back in its proper place)?

How long will we yoga teachers go on killing our soul and each other with competition, throwing each other about with words about our truth? How long will we keep pushing each other away with Bali seminar prices, crushing each other with loads of Instagram handstand photos or all-the-same ridiculous home-made YouTube videos, blinding each other with bright Lululemon leggings, Coolpix effects and Yoga Journal covers?

The choice is ours.

We choose what and whom to follow; how to practice and why; how to teach and for what purpose; what to revere and how to spend your time.

I’m not a teacher. I have no mission, no intent to enlighten. Not anymore.

I have no system, no school, no instructors. All I can do is to show how I practice.

But, even that is no longer necessary, ever since I wrote a book in which anyone who may be curious can find out.

Creators of systems ruin their followers. Followers ruin the creators of the systems they follow. No one does it on purpose. It’s just that no one is aware of it.

The choice is yours—I’ve made mine.

 

Nina Mel bio picNina Mel is the author of the books The Book of Asanas: Energy Geometry of the Human Body, The Art of Attention, The Unknown Chakras, and The Lessons of Insider. Nina has a Ph.D. in Psychology. She is an intuitive and a specialist in the creation of Individual Asana Codes—personally-tailored yoga programs which are unique, safe and personalized self-practice experiences for those who believe that the sacred process of yoga practice is a spiritual discipline that cannot be effectively practiced at yoga studios and group classes.

 

Like elephant yoga on Facebook.

 

Asst. Ed: Amy Cushing/Ed: Kate Bartolotta, Bryonie Wise

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230 Responses to “Why I Quit the Yoga Business. ~ Nina Mel”

  1. Mrsbosslady says:

    Well there you go…you just Kino and every other professional yogis bubble. Good read but you're still doing. Nice tactic. Kinda like reverse psychology.

    • Nina Mel says:

      Hi and I am sorry you didn't resonate with the article. Perhaps you need sth. else at the moment. As for the reverse psychology – I answered below that this is an old bio, I don't sell anything anymore, no books mentioned in bio are available anywhere for purchase and I don't provide any services anymore.

      • Jason Gan says:

        While I applaud the self-awareness and clarity that arises from experiencing the dichotomy of two different and divergent mindsets, and I agree with some points, I find a few issues with this article. Mainly, I do not think that the article offers a way forward, and that it is merely a reflection that wrestles with the idea of mass delusion.

        I keep thinking about what it would take to convince a Christian that Christianity is One Big Lie. Nothing seems to be able to shake the "God Delusion".

        I wouldn't use the word "corruption". There's way too much negative connotation and value judgment in the word.

        I use objective words like "mindset", "ambition", to the same effect. There's no good or bad in reality, only in the manner that it's received, used, interpreted and/or delivered.

        Thank you.

        • Nina Mel says:

          Hi Jason. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this.
          Thing is I don't really care so much if smb. is convinced – it's up to them, their choice and their life. I don't want to save smb., I don't have a mission and I just said what I wanted to say even without any intention behind it. This is a bit provocative article, I agree, and the words I have chosen were kind of emotional. That meant to be like this in order to attract attention of those who needs it and who resonates with it and to provoke a thought process in others. If they want it. If they don't – they are free in their choices. This article is a reflection, you are right, it shouldn't be sth. else and it shouldn't offer a way forward. That's not my duty to provide it. I better say – I would be doing a wrong thing if I would provide it. I have no right and I wouldn't even want it if I know that it's their duty and choice to do it if the article resonates true with them.

    • Alice's Mama says:

      Yeah I rather concur with this comment ( though I don't know the Kino reference)
      This article is just the same as the behavior you are -criticizing? damning? Self-promoting . Feels Very Holier-Than-Thou.
      I do puzzle deeply over how to swim gracefully (I think balance is key) in the social and economic context that is my (our) reality, and the reality of the students and co-creators that we seek to reach and to touch in a positive manner. I dislike the commercialism that is everywhere about everything under the sun.
      Balance this hyper 21st Century environment with the intimate, personal and uniquely introspective core of our practice. A more poignant and challenging enigma I have not found, and yet I continue to strive to be worthy of resolving the riddle.
      The great teachers I aspire to learn from (Dalai Lama, Pema Chodrin, just for example) contend with, and swim in the reality of our present lifestyle. It is no different in intensity and difficulty from other times and historical milieus, just different in the particular qualities.
      You raise really Good questions, but (IMO) come to Flawed conclusions. You have a valid point about this: there is no magic to spirituality that can be systematized. Never was. There are the many answers, the many paths that lead each person to her own truth. And we each get clues to our own path by seeing, hearing and trying on paths that have helped others who are going in our direction.
      In Being a good guide, a good communicator, and striving to fine tune my skills, and making a living dharma out of that— I feel no shame or regret in it. To stay in the questions and not feel I have a permanent answer, for more than 10 minutes: I can aspire with integrity to that.

  2. Mrs Boss Lady says:

    Busted…forgot the word busted

  3. Steve says:

    "There are no masters left in the earth’s material plane. The masters have left for a different plane and now, after the transition of 2012, we have been left to our own devices."..

    Hi, thanks for the article, I wondered if you could expand on the sentence above.Thanks..

    • Nina Mel says:

      Hi Steve,
      No Master exists in this plane – everybody in flesh are corrupted and not "clear", hence they can provide you with certain information (corrupted to a certain level), but they never will be able to provide you with what you actually seek and need – Understanding. Between Information and Understanding there is big difference, and in our era of Information, as we get bombarded with half-truth – Information is actually what needs to be discarded in order to obtain Understanding.

      That's why yoga teachers now, no matter what seems on the surface, do more harm than good with their half-truth and compromised "teachings". Having good intentions and seemingly Spiritual information they confuse the person, keep him playing the Game (the game of gurus, fame, spirituality, yoga-community etc.. ) and make him get further from the real Knowledge and real Way out.
      Knowledge can only be provided by the Teachers from the higher planes – for free and directly into your very essence. It was not always like this – but now it's what we are left with. Good for us, actually. I can't explain more in this comments section and I don't know it all, so that's pretty much all I can say at the moment. But they do exist in another realm, Steve and you can connect with them – they will guide you and make everything clear. All the best.

      • Cassanie says:

        Hi Nina,
        Thank you for your article…it's left me with many things to ponder. As a teacher myself, I've struggled with this concept of what my mission is. I do "feel" however that your conclusions will be evolving in the near future if you allow your awareness to expand beyond your own experience. This article has many rules & pronouncements about what is. The truth is everything is evolving all the time & everyone is ok where they are…you know divine timing and all that! If all the masters have left & everyone in the flesh is not clear, then that includes you….maybe getting clear is not the point.
        Being here is…there's a lot of stuff here
        X

  4. Rogelio says:

    Nina. You hit many good points about the biz of yoga

    I wonder how much have u looked for masters?

    I know several living n practicing n helping/ teaching.

    You tear down the knowledge of yoga in books n publications

    But then turn around and promote your books.

    How ironic. Also you knock public yoga classes

    As a farce to learning. Then u promote your classes as if u

    Have the only way. You make many generalizations

    Which ring true but there are many good teachers teaching public classes

    To those who can only afford group classes. Most cannot afford privates.

    Check into ur intentions first. Thanks.

  5. Nina Mel says:

    Hi guys! Thank you all for your comments – really appreciate it.
    The Bio I provided for this article was the old one I used before and the description in it says what I specialized in before I stopped teaching. Elephant needed a bio and I gave it, not even remembering what was in there. Sorry for this confusion.

    There was no point in providing this Bio as I don't sell these books I wrote, I also have no websites anymore (closed them all down), so if you would even want, there is no way you can find these books in the internet and buy, and I don't teach any group/private classes nor do I promote any of my services as I have and do none anymore. I hope I made it clear in the post. My only intention was to say what I said in the post, nothing else.
    Thank you all for your thoughts and comments. All the best.

    • Suzanne says:

      I understand your frustration with the hip and corporate yoga world that has manifested in our culture. The transformation you are undergoing and the awareness that you are receiving is precious and you have conveyed some of that in this article. I had a great deal of respect for my first teacher – she studied with one of the students of a master – and then I have further studied with another teacher who actually knew a master. So – the tradition is still alive — it is just not that easy to receive it because it takes a lof of time, commitment, dedication, and tapas! Kriya Yoga — Those with a desire to find a teacher will find one. I hope you are able to find one – it sounds like you are well on your way to be a better teacher. I do agree, however, with the others about questioning the wisdom of posting your bio as it is.

    • Very well put. I created a program called Mind Unlimited888.com. and ran it for 30 years, with amazing success and then stopped. I stopped as I said I would 6 years earlier as I promised, experienced a new life and disappeared as the guru. It has been wonderful for the past 13 years to just watch and not be the leader. When we interview the prior students and they tell their success stories, the new inexperienced secretary says I do it only to feed my ego. Hmmmm stories make it all reproducible and yes, it does require personal intention change and responsibility for your results. It has been great to disappear, experience ultimate happiness, unusual family success and not attempt to change anybody anymore. Yes, the gurus are here, you just have to mentally attract them, when you are readyl.

      • amphibi1yogini says:

        Yes, truly when you are ready … because before that happens, you will wind up getting only the teachers that you deserve. And by that, I am not talking only or even mostly, about yoga "accomplishment" and "levels" [usually quantifiable in asana prowess here in the West]; but also in levels of more asteya, ahimsa (towards other people as well as animals–not considering the one or the other as tradeoffs), more satya, aparigraha, and santosha ….

      • Nina Mel says:

        Thank you for your feedback, David. I totally understand you. Best,

    • Alyona says:

      Hi Nina!
      Thank you for interesting article.
      What are you are going to do now?

    • Heather says:

      Why does not Elephant edit your Bio? It kills your post.

    • MijaelYoga says:

      I wonder Nina, how you think Yoga teachers would make a living doing they most love and have trained in, without "selling out".

      It is true indeed, the ego and "the mission" are often hard to tell apart from one another. Having said that, there is a market out there, which creates pressure for teachers to convey the value of what they offer as professionals, a saturated market that demands at least certain level of "look at me" tactics to be noticed (like writing in Elephant Journal).

      When your profession is tied to a spiritual endeavor, and you don't have a church or organization to support you so you don't have to make money for yourself, then you are in a terrible bind…

      Should you quit teaching altogether and find something else to make a living, even if it's not your passion, your "calling"?

      What do you propose yoga teachers should do to overcome the trappings of todays marketing "ways", when it is so hard for most yoga teachers to support themselves and their families, even while using every marketing tool available?

      I struggle with this. I wonder if you have any thoughts about it…

    • Miguel says:

      Hi Nina, make sure you walk your talk cause I will see if you're coming for the yoga conference here in Spain.

    • Dee says:

      Wow Nina. I have gone through ths same process myself. I injured my back stopped yoga nd realized how self destructive it was. Now that I meditate , walk in nature, and do my own yoga, mudras, and chanting in the shower I am reborn. I am an Indian born Hindu so it was doubly painful fr me to see te exploitation of my culture in every class I went but I was dying for the spiritual fix without coming to my own truths. Comparing myself to ll the narcissistic lulu emon clad yoga was very skf destructive. And I realized indeed what happens on the mat mirrors real life. I didn't need this masochistic herd brainwashing , I realized these teachers were even more messed up then I was and I was getting messed up going to their classes. But I had to go through this journey to cultivate my discernment and have trust in my own truth. Yoga was just a corrupted permission slip to embody my truth. I would love to chat more . My email is msindianmd@hotmail.com

  6. Savitri says:

    Thank you for telling the truth.

  7. Ellen Verbeek says:

    Dear Nina,

    Life is beautiful. And the ‘yoga-industry’ can only be corrupt if we allow it to be. Most people know that self-realization is an internal process. I think you are a great teacher and I will miss your lessons.

    Love Ellen Verbeek (editor Yoga Journal Russia)

    • Nina Mel says:

      Dear Ellen, thank you for your kind words, you are a rare light and one of the most wonderful people I came across in yoga industry. Thank you.

  8. Rob says:

    You sound burned out. Many of us have never written books or taught Yoga or had websites or tried to be celebrities. We just go to class and practise and spend time with our friends on the mat in no name yoga studios.
    No offence but this is your realisation for your dharma. and if you really believed it you wouldn't feel the need to post it on the internet.

    • Nina Mel says:

      I am not burned out, I am relieved and feel free from what we are all forced into (in yoga business) just because the things are like this and no one knows how to make it different. Just because no one wants. As it brings benefits to the Ego. If you are a yoga student, not a teacher, you have a different problem – to get to realize what is it do you need from yoga or yoga teacher. Maybe you need exactly what's going on at the moment – and that's ok too. We are all in a process and we always change. Thank you for the comment, Rob.

    • OleManJake says:

      Can't help but agree. I appreciate the time and effort placed on this project however, I'm left to question why: why make a public announcement of your intent?

    • kittycat4646 says:

      Yes! I agree with you Rob. I am a yoga teacher and could never imagine being a "yoga celebrity"!! It's just not for me. I get embarrassed too easily, ha! Plus, my asana practice isn't that impressive, and I'm not that pretty. I can't do any of the "fancy" poses and really don't strive to. I mean, if they come, they come, but for me, that's not the goal here. Also, I don't have a "mission" other than to be a really decent kind, loving human being in this life. I teach anatomically, not with "words of wisdom" because I feel like that's not authentic to me. Some teachers can pull it off though quite nicely. Some cannot, and to me, it is annoying hearing New Age words of wisdom in a class. I could do without!

      I get where Nina is coming from though in a sense. I get the frustration she is displaying because I have a lot of those frustrations about the yoga community as well. But at the same time, I don't like to be "grouped in" with that part of the culture, just because I am a yoga teacher. There are many of us who aren't anything like what she is describing, but Nina obviously doesn't know about us because there are no Youtube videos, no fancy yoga shoots, no glimmer or glam about us. We're just quietly doing our thing, because we love it and it makes us feel good and that's it. There is no competition between me and other yoga teachers. The thought of it is ridiculous to me!! I have 2 beautiful young kids. I'm a mom first before anything. If you saw me, I'm the opposite of a yoga celebrity. We exist, Nina. Please don't judge ALL yoga teachers so harshly….. though this was YOUR experience, it is very different from mine.

  9. Gita says:

    Nina, thank you for your thoughtful piece. A few questions:
    1. How would you suggest a busy modern women (think working single mom with children) find their way to yoga as a "sacred intimate practice" without a teacher, studio, or 27 days in a closed spiritual retreat?

    2. You say "the choice is yours. I've made mine". I would love to hear how you came to your choice, what compelled you? This article is long on telling, but short on showing. I would relish the opportunity to hear more about your process, and less about your conclusions.

    Thank you for provoking thoughtful discussion. I wish you all love & light on your journey!
    Om Om Om
    Gita

    • Nina Mel says:

      1. She just needs a space of 2 meters to place a yoga mat there and 20 min a day to start with. Or.. forget about yoga mat, start with 15 min. a day meditation and self-inquiry what is true for you in your life and what is not – wait for the guidance – and adjust accordingly to the answers you get. :)

      2. I felt that this whole system is not truly aligned with what I feel right/true/pure. I could neglect this voice for a while but time has come that I had to stop and to listen to it. When I heard it loud enough, I stopped. All you ned to do is to think – and honestly answer to yourself – what is it that you seek, where do you seek it and how, what is it that you need from yoga and yoga teachers and if you can have it without third parties involved. Thing is – you can. It's not as easy as to go to the yoga studio's group class , but it's definitely more fulfilling.

      Best for you and thank you for your comment.

  10. sunbury grl says:

    There are many amazing yoga teachers who aren't celebrities and don't think yoga is the answer to all life's problems. My son (an American) owns a yoga studio in Siem Riep, Cambodia. . Yes, he conducts short meditations at the end of each session. But he doesn't lecture or preach that this will solve all your life problems, nor is he trying to gain money or fame. He offers a quiet space for people to be mindful in their practice. They are able to quiet their mind and live in the moment for that hour they are in his studio. He also shares his wisdom from many years study of buddhist philosophy, and he adds his own twists, like movement naturale and pilates and dance. I'm sad you feel you have to leave this amazing work. you can do this without being a "guru", Nina. I wish you well in your life journey.

    • Nina Mel says:

      Thank you for you kind words. I simply believe people may benefit better from just being honest with themselves and from dedicating several minutes a day for a self-practice. No real need for a group gathering. It just distracts from the main. But that's their choice, no problem.

  11. hydafl20 says:

    I like the truth and insight and it only brings home the fact that no matter what a persons says or claims, a motive is in the background. I have never seen the need for a guru based on the fact that the person ends believing more in the guru. Each of us needs to find our own way and not one other can show us. we create our path in the jungle. If you find your way on a on previously worn path you are on the wrong one.

  12. Yogini says:

    Thank you Nina for an interesting piece, but I completely disagree with your message.

    You write in the comments: "That's why yoga teachers now, no matter what seems on the surface, do more harm than good with their half-truth and compromised "teachings"."

    If everyone were to quit being a yoga teacher, quit sharing their practice and passion with the world, many people would not find the inspiration or space they need to take time for self-care.

    As a yoga student, I am very grateful for my teachers, who have taught me so much, brought joy into my life, and inspired me to grow.

    This includes both local yoga teachers and popular yoga "celebrities" who have AWESOME youtube videos, lots of Facebook likes, beautiful bodies in beautiful clothing- all of that is perfectly fine.

    People like Kino, Tiffany Cruikshank, Kathryn Budig, Tara Stiles, etc., are incredibly generous, kind, and inspiring women. They give so much to the yoga community and work very hard. You appear jealous of their success and write as if you are so much greater than they are in your "self-enlightened" way.

    Thank you for your piece. I thought it very egotistical and condescending, but we all have that part of us inside.

    You are a good writer, nonetheless, and I wish you luck on your own spiritual journey.

    • Nina Mel says:

      Thank you, Yogini. If you are happy with this and if this gives you exactly what you want, that's for you and people like you we were working for (and the girls you mentioned keep working now). I am absolutely not jealous of their success as would easily have one. I actually did have – to a level possible in Russia where I taught (Yoga Journal cover may 2012, presenting Yoga Journal Conferences in Russia, invitations from different countries to present in festivals and so one). And I was teaching just for 4 years. There is nothing easier than to win this game if you know the rules. These rules are pretty easy and obvious for anyone who wish to see them. If you want to be a "successful" yoga teacher – successful in terms of what you see externally – I can tell yo what to do and I guarantee you will be there in top 10 in 2-3 years max. Seriously – if you wish so.

      I just don't feel this need anymore. And I thank God for this. I totally understand why the girls do it, what it gives them and other people, and I love them and wish them the very best – I just took an interview from Kathryn few months ago for our free NEW YOGA magazine, before my "retreat" – she is a great, interesting person. No personal blames. What I wrote is just my choice.

      I really have no intention to persuade those who don't resonate with what I wrote – my article is for those who do resonate and who felt this whole yoga system and yoga "work", regardless it's best intentions and sweet coat of "I am on a spiritual mission and help people" is imprisoning – instead of liberating. Both for the teachers and for their students. As it robs their time from the real thing. But that's ok too, if they wish their time to be spent like that.

      Thank you for your feedback, I really appreciate it. All the best to you and good luck.

  13. Harvee says:

    The thing is to find a really good, uncorrupted, selfless yoga teacher/'swami.

  14. Sinead says:

    Hi Nina,
    What do you do now.? What direction has your career gone.. I have gone through something similar although unlike you I still teach yoga. people enjoy it. I enjoy it. I don't pretend to be anything i am not. Is your standing up to all that is wrong within the business of yoga also taking away from all that is good within it.
    I have a lot of respect for what you write, however as others say it seems rich coming from someone who had jumped on the yoga publishing band wagon, even though no longer. I wonder do you have your own agenda? Did you maximize the most out of it for yourself? Did you get bored? I am not suggesting, merely curious.
    I teach in Dublin, if 10 people turn up at my class I am over the moon. I am not looking to persuade anyone's mind nor to teach 50-100 people at a time. A small few come together to do something that is good for the body and meditate for the mind.. I do minimal social media, blogging whatever and wish I didn't have to but a gal has got to survive.
    I disagree with your comments on masters leaving this plain. I'd like to know where you got that information from? Do you mean true spiritual knowledge is not transferred through word but through something bigger, inner guide, intuition call you what you will….? If so that's different to no masters on this plain! I have met one or two.. I think Dharma Mittra for example is very authentic. He tells people again and again and again, "you are your own guru" and he gives guidance at the same time.
    Sometimes I too want to turn my back on the yoga world because I see so much hypocrisy, myself included, so I do get what you are saying. Again, I am merely curious to hear what you do now? If you maximized the most out of yoga til you got bored? And to explain how you know there are no masters left in this world?
    Thank you,
    Sinead.

    • Nina Mel says:

      Hi Sinead,
      I just made this shift a month ago. I don't know precisely how to move further, maybe I will be writing more, maybe I will not. I don't want to teach groups as I strongly believe people don't gain real yoga there. If student is ok to have yoga fun and just to play – and if yoga teacher is ok to entertain, knowing it doesn't harm – why not. But I hope to find a better way for myself to do it as the mentioned one doesn't sound true enough for me personally. But I truly believe that when we are clear enough inside and the intention is clear and aligned with our real Self – all will take it's proper shape and form in material world. But we need to make a choice that is correct for us personally.
      As for the masters – I just know. There is no one in the body in this place who is at that stage of "enlightenment" as people believe in and seek for. There can be none. This place we are in dictates who we are – if we were different, we wouldn't be here. That simple.
      Namaste.

      • Sinead says:

        Hi Nina,
        I think you are very brave to write what you wrote and to be so honest. I have a lot of respect for you. Good luck on your path. I am sure it will unfold with ease and very soon. You never know, I may be brave enough to follow some day.
        Sinead.

    • Dharma Mittra has hip replacements and there is good reason to consider that all of the intense yoga bends, folds and twists distorted his natural alignment design. Yoga asana is full of linear right angle body positions just like the bane of our modern lifestyle, the chair. I invented YogAlign to allow people to heal themselves, be their own teacher and practice good posture not good poses. Time to revamp the yoga asana biomechanics and stop the abuse and injury of the human body in the quest to do yoga poses.

      • amphibi1yogini says:

        This is why in my personal practice, I avoid many of the twisty hip openers, in general … I know instinctively to work with my body and curve it out where I must. Maybe having had a lot of overweight on my body in the past, has been my home practice teacher.

        I left practicing those bendy, twisty, rococo (and usually harsh) styles years ago …

  15. Marian says:

    Nina, you have gone too far to the other extreme in your thinking about yoga. This resentment you have has to be in inside of you or you wouldn't be complaining about it. Balance in all things. There are yoga classes in my town that only cost $5.00 a session. The yoga instructors are giving of their time. Just because you gave up teaching doesn't mean everyone should.

    • Nina Mel says:

      Why do they do it? Ask them. I know the answer – they are all on a mission to help people. But how can they if they didn't help themselves? And believe me they didn't.
      Then ask yourself yourself why do you go to them and what do you need from them? – if you can have it without them.
      Thank you for you comment and sorry you didn't resonate with the article. All the best to you on your Way.

      • Mark says:

        Didn't help themselves? What do you mean here Nina?

      • azi says:

        Nina, how do you know they didn't help themselves?? your 27 days of retreat, teaches you (I assume) to find balance and not react to things with aversion and craving as all things are ephemeral. What comes from your writing is the contrary of those teachings. You assume that no other yoga teacher has gone on a retreat like you did and work on themselves to become free from their miseries?? if they have not work on living with awareness and loving kindness, then they are missing the point of yoga. I'm sure if you look closely, you will find many yoga teachers who are on the path which helps them to live a balanced life that could be beneficial not only to them but many other beings :)

        You may live a happy, peaceful, and equanimous life.
        Namaste,
        Azi

  16. Tanya says:

    My I note quite a lot of judgement in this article. I did a retreat and wrote a book so I have evolved from the lowly levels of self promotion. What you're not getting is that all things… ALL THINGS (even the ones that you have no particular personal preference for)… that exist are a manifestation of spiritual energy. There are many masters of many trades and abilities, including the spiritual, on this planet. A lot of spiritual masters are not professionals. They hide in the shadows away from your eyes and you will never know they are there, quietly practicing and just being immersed in their existence, often in disguise as something else entirely. You seem to havebquite a rigid idea of what you think a master is. A lot are not what you expect.

    Also, a lot of teachers who are self promoting and competitive, on whatever level, are doing very good and important work in spreading knowledge to many many people, even if it is basic or self serving on one level. They are helping to create a major shift in mass human consciousness for the better. Not every one is as evolved as you seem to think you are. The new wave has to start in many places and be accessable to many people. Every teeny tiny word or message counts because it is relevant to the person it is meant for. And you seem to want to deny that opening to those people. And you have no way of knowing how, where or why a spark will be lit in someone's elses heart, through what voice or what message. There are mysterious things that are at work that you are not in control of on this planet. Please come down off your spiritual high horse and open your eyes to what is really going on. Maybe a little more meditation will help.

    • Nina Mel says:

      Hi Tanya. I will just repeat that there is no one in the body in this place who is at the stage of "enlightenment" that people believe in and seek for. There can be none. This place we are in dictates who we are – if we were different, we wouldn't be here. No one can make a mass shift you are talking about, as spirituality is a personal thing, no one can be involved. They will be involved – we live in society and people influence us – you can say all of those we meet are our teachers. But (let's not mix these things) I was talking about other kind of Teachers. And they do not exist in this realm. Sorry if this disappoints you.
      I don't want "to deny that opening to those people" – I addressed this article to those who will resonate with it. First of all to the yoga teachers who's mind justifies their ego with the holy crap such as "mission and helping people" and they understand it somehow. That's why they will resonate with the article and think deeper on the subject and their role in it.
      All the rest may please think and do whatever they want and happy to think and do. Same for you :). And all the best to you on your Way.

  17. Anne says:

    Any judgement of others as corrupt in truth points to our own seperation. Where is the Love in your piece? Yes, does yoga get marketed in the West, absolutely, why, its so much a part of our inheritance of this culture but given that, there is still a place for people to seek out guidance from heart centered instructors to help them reconnect to their own inner guru. A ' good teacher helps you find your self'. Your piece makes me want to reach out and give you a hug! Keep your heart open.
    Namaste

    • Nina Mel says:

      Hi Anne, I am sorry you didn't see Love in this piece. But that's ok. :) Hug back to you and all the best on your journey.

  18. alice says:

    I started reading your article Nina – and honestly, got bored, perhaps you need another retreat to reconstruct your love for yourself and for life.

    • Nina Mel says:

      Sorry, Alice. Great thing is that here is enough articles on Elephant to suit different people. My love for the world is also fine, so sending you some. :) All the best.

    • Donna says:

      Me too Nina. Negative. Lifeless. Uninspired. Glad you're gone.

  19. Bri says:

    Not sure why some of you are being so aggressive towards the author of this article, is that necessary? If you don't agree surely you can state that without getting nasty ?

    • Nina Mel says:

      Thank you, Bri. :)

    • MatBoy says:

      But isn't her article a nasty attack on everyone else in the yoga business or anyone looking for someone to follow? Don't you think she invited this kind of response. The author has divided the world into those who are lost or trying to find a path, and herself, who at the moment is above it all. It does feel as if she has hardened her heart to the world, separated herself. This is not an article celebrating our shared humanity in all if its confusion and silliness. She invites attack but maybe what she needs is a big hug from the rest of us.

    • Angelica says:

      Perhaps this is the very corruption that was being spoken about in the article? Aren't we supposed to accept without judgement? IMO I believe Nina is being sincere, pure and just stating this is where SHE is, how SHE got to this point and what SHE has done and why. That's it. No hidden agenda, no hype. She clearly states this.

      I admire that she's arrived at this point in her path and yet I can still accept what yoga class teachers are doing in cracking the cemented illusion of sheeple and their perceived spirituality.

      I see it like this: Take a pitcher of muddy water (society). Add spirituality until the water becomes clean. Perhaps the yoga celebrities are like the introduction and the first source of water into the pitcher. Imperfect, but still helping the greater good. These teachers get masses thinking, opening their minds. In time, the students begin seeking guidance from other sources such as the universe or nature. The teacher is eventually not needed any more. The muddy water eventually becomes lighter and perhaps a murky water. Nina IMO is simply further along in her journey. Crystal clear and pure? Maybe not PERFECT but a lot farther along than me. And from the looks of the harsh replies on here a LOT farther along than a lot of you too.

  20. Jeff says:

    Wow….Thanks so much for posting this.
    I admire your courage to be naked in expressing so frankly what you think, and also your honesty to step away from the business part of yoga and what appears an amazing career, because it felt right deep down. Please accept my Best Wishes wherever your path is leading now.

  21. Martha says:

    Your article resonated with me. I thank you for it. I saw/felt all that you mention, very early in my practice…when I just found YOGA…I got really confused…very exited and a short while after , very disapointed in the people the exited me with their "teachings" in the firts place..I was left sad and empty and disillucioned…and I left YOGA but YOGA didin't leave me.
    Now, I chose to practice yoga at a local gym where nobody knows my name or anybody elses for that matter. It's me and the mat. The teacher goes in, guides us in how to get to the asana and done. No teachings, no brands…no group spirituality guide. I know I am there…I know we all are there together, we are "one" breaithing the same air. like a huge lung. We go home. that is all there is in the outside. What goes inside? we breath one air.

    • Nina Mel says:

      Sounds like a great choice, Martha. Wishing you the very best on your Way. May this kind of Yoga never leave you. Namaste.

  22. Rob says:

    I really wanted to like this article, but instead it left me unexpectedly annoyed. The author clearly has an 'all or nothing' approach to spiritual practice. Either somebody is 'completely spiritual' and dissolves ALL ties to the material world, or their practice is entirely null and void. So anybody who is doing ANY marketing or 'dumbing down' of their teaching is lost in delusion and not to be trusted. (A message ironically delivered on elephantjournal.com of all places…) She even goes so far as to say that there are NO (as is 0!) true spiritual teaches left on this 'plane,' and that 'Spiritual knowledge cannot be transferred from person to person. It always descends upon us from above, directly into our being.' Could you imagine saying that to great teachers like Ajahn Chah, or Sri Nisagardata, or Yogananda, or Rumi…

    I'm sorry Nina, but spirituality is not a yes or no question. It is a path and practice, with many different levels and degrees. For some it is right to go all out, for others just learning to relax is a wonderful thing. Yes, there are many many problems with spiritual materialism and the corruption of teachers and practice. But far better to have options and degrees, so that maybe people will open their eyes and perhaps even change the way they think and see the world…then just maybe, after years and years of practice, they just might realize it was all an illusion in the first place.

    • Nina Mel says:

      Thanks for the feedback, Rob. Yes, I will just repeat that there is no one in the body in this place who is at the stage of "enlightenment" that people believe in and seek for. There can be none. This place we are in dictates who we are – if we were different, we wouldn't be here. Including Rumi and other "Sri-s". And I don't say they were not good people or they were not highly spiritual – I have no idea – I just say they are not the ones you want them to be. Sorry for this. And wishing you the best.

      • Ann says:

        You write …"I just say they are not the ones you want them to be…."
        You probably mean not what YOU expected them to be! It sounds like you have been dissapointed and hold some resentment.
        Clearly you have gone down your own path and are in the process of evolving towards your own enlightment in your own way. I respect your decision and boldness of no longer teaching.
        But you started somewhere small back in the day with going to classes, having various teachers, doing teacher trainings etc. Or didnt you? I would guess that you would NOT be at the place you are now without all of these steps. This would be the bio I would like and expect to see, what your path has been and how you have evolved. Why you write such a fiery article and then keep the old bio, which you say doesnt apply any longer?
        Dont deminish your path of coming to the realizations you have come to. Please understand that for most of us it is necessary to have teachers and go to classes. Truly, we(the rest of us) are ages away of coming close to enlightment but its okay because just learning to breathe and feel our bodies is what will help us get through a stressful day. Slowly the rest will follow…. Each of us has his/her own path but in the end we are all the same in oness as you say…
        All the best on your path to enlightment, but resentment is an obstacle. it is for me too… best!

        • Nina Mel says:

          Ann,
          I didn't, that's the thing.
          I went to a group class (kind of a weekend seminar) once, and one group class in the yoga studio in the city – after several weeks of self-practice – and never went back.

          Several years I had a self-practice, no one explained me how to do the asana and what way – I didn't even use the books. That was a precious experience – it made me FEEL what asana is and how it wants to get performed, it taught me to listen to my body, to take responsibility for my mistakes if I over-practice and get trauma (I actually never ever had one, they started to appear when I started teaching others and demonstrate, being all on the outside with my attention, instead of inside like in the self-practice).
          So I had to be so attentive and careful, knowing NO ONE is here to "save me" if I do it recklessly and break my neck. That was the best way to practice. The one I believe is really effective, that teaches us to know and immediately see ourselves, to get to know the body and it's limitations, and so on. In 6 months of that kind of personal "yoga retreat" I could do any asana imaginable – taking into consideration that I never ever did any sports before the age 25. That was also a period when I developed the abilities to see and feel the energy, it's lines and shapes, the influence of energy aspects of asanas and other things on my body and mind, etc. Which I never knew I am capable of seeing or feeling.

          And after a few years of that practice, my decision to start teaching yoga and at the end attending several teacher trainings, courses, online trainings and retreats abroad – I started to see what yoga is for the rest of practitioners and how they learn it. Then I started to teach in yoga studios, festivals and conferences – and it was a completely different world. In the back of my mind I was somewhat "unhappy" for myself participating in it and for the students not doing it "right" and effective for their body and soul…knowing what yoga can be and should be in my opinion and in my own life experience. And I made this decision – to stop.

          I know what it can be for you, for everyone – who wants it to be THE PRACTICE – instead of a social fun…with traumatic experiences for body and mind. I'm telling you – the risk of traumas in the group class is so much higher than when you self-practice and grow your awareness of your self this way. It's a fantastic practice. It's a pity that others don't know what it can be as they are just stuck in their old believes "there should be a teacher", "teacher knows better", "group class is effective", "I will harm myself if I self-practice" or they just get lazy as for sure it's so much fun to go and see those amazing, interesting, bright, funny, kind, spiritual and successful <Miss A> or<Mister K> and listen to their jokes, and see their confidence, and watch their new Athena outfit and be guided, and be taken from one asana to another, and be told when to start, when to stop and when to leave the class…

          For sure they are amazing, who doubts! You can enjoy it once in a while for fun, socializing and your portion of inspiration, why not? But realize what it is for you – socialization. If you need this instead of spiritual practice – please enjoy it, your choice. What I say – it has nothing to do with YOUR PRACTICE. Your practice is an intimate process – and sorry – you have not even started to develop it if you are never one on one with it on a regular "dedicated" basis.

          No one knows better whats right or wrong for your body and self. No one can teach you do it 100 percent correct for yourself except yourself. No need of others between you and your spirit.

          You can see all the people in this world as your teachers, but in reality you need to get back to your self to really learn sth. That will be an Experience instead of Information. You just try and see the difference for your self. It's a deepest practice ever possible. What's going on in the classes, what other yoga teachers support so that you keep believing you need them and keep supporting back their position in the industry – is so much different from what you can have for free for yourself. There is no comparison.

          But I don't push you or anyone to believe me, quit this or that – I just give a suggestion – try for yourself, check it. It's not an easy thing to develop this relationships to yourself after the fun you are used to. But it's worth a try. Or maybe not – not for you. I don't know. Your choice.

          Namaste.

          • Rob says:

            Nina, I agree with Ann that it just seems that there are no enlightened beings like YOU believe and seek for. I'm not sure exactly what spiritual tradition you would call you own, but I consider myself a Buddhist. The Buddha taught that any regular person, through dedicated practice with good technique, can and will get enlightened. He even went one step further in acknowledging that enlightenment is more than just an on/off switch, that there are various levels and points along the path. So perhaps you imagine that enlightenment entails some radiant being levitating 5 feet above the earth as she/he shoots pure shakti out of their chakras – if that is your definition then yes, there are no beings like that on our 'plane.' I however am one to believe that the actual result is far more pragmatic than that, and that there are many people at various stages of awakening living today. Some may be teaching, some may be not. But the practice of awakening will always be just that, a process – and the results are far more mundane than magical.

            Also, while it’s wonderful that you were able to discover and develop a practice on your own, it seems just arrogant and naive to assume that there is no wisdom to be gained from those who have been practicing far longer than you. This is the value of true teachers and the community of practitioners working together towards awaking – a shared wisdom from experience and a common goal. Is the mainstream ‘yoga’ community at large serving that? Definitely not, and I'm glad that you are sharing your personal reasons for leaving that community. And despite my discourse here, I actually agree with much of what you say in this article. But this singular dismissal of accepting ANY teacher or ANY mission is a slap in the face to all of those who have truly dedicated their lives to awakening and work tirelessly to share it with others so that they too can reap the benefits of practice.

          • Nina Mel says:

            Rob, this is slap in the face to all of us and to myself to start with – not to offend or hurt but to wake from a stupor.

            I do understand your point of view and I even agree with most that you say – just the conclusions we made are different.

            I certainly agree that there are many people at various stages of awakening to reality who can share Information – which is by the way always corrupt, no exception, as the mind of this individual still operates hence still makes him experience duality and illusions – hence he can confuse others with his teachings. I just say that it's not necessary to call them masters as that (this is the only thing I won't agree with you) – "through dedicated practice with good technique, can and will get enlightened" the way you mean it, being present in this body and being able to teach.

            I have posted a new comment on this exact subject – look below – if it gets posted by admins after their moderation.

            Thank you for commenting, Rob.

          • John Rawlinson says:

            Wow, Nina, what a great article – I have never bothered to read all of the comments on a thread before – it certainly set the duality/oneness paradox cat amongst us yoga pigeons. Thank you for your courage in sharing so honestly your experience and disillusionment with aspects of the business that has grown around the yoga practice. It came to me at a very poignant time and gave me the opportunity to reflect on my own journey.
            When I was 17 I had a very profound spiritual experience on magic mushrooms. As an atheist steeped in the empirical rationalist tradition I had no placeholder for the oneness that I experienced. I kept it as my intuitive secret that dared not speak its name while I explored a wide range of wisdom traditions to reconnect with the Truth that I had seen. There was plenty of 'Neti, neti', not this, not that, nor that, but more often expressed in the Judeo Christian vein of 'Vanity of vanities, all is vanity', an easier position to hold given that I became a very successful fashion model with all that goes with that. My cynical anger and self loathing was deep enough that, by the time I came to a yoga practice 15 years ago, i had few expectations beyond getting a stronger body, more relaxed and maybe stop smoking and drinking so much. I was drawn deeper and deeper into my practice, including attending the shiny, bright studios, doing the teacher trainings, indulging in yogic pick'n'mix (Kundalini, Breath centered, emdodied asana, iyengar, Vinyasa etc), even training with a well known teacher to work (on a mission;) in hospitals. I had my doubts and difficulties with all of it, yet I never went to a class where i didn't have an experience of my self and I learnt something from every teacher, irrespective of age or status.
            I still haven't found what I was looking for, the Truth, but, through diligently doing the work in front of me with the tools available, I've found something a whole lot more humanly applicable: love. My reach will always exceed my grasp and I feel the deeply, profanely, infuriatingly loveable beauty in that.
            The poignancy of your article arises because, after 32 years of searching, i am ready to engage open heartedly with exactly the world you seem to wish to withdraw from. I have no idea where your journey will take you, and it's probably unclear to you, but I do hope that at some point you feel ready to re-enter the yoga community; as you pointed out in your post, the world is crying out for voices with your passion and integrity.
            Thank you again for prompting my spiritual stock taking and all the best in your explorations.

            John

  23. Kristina says:

    I understand some of the points made in this article. It was a bit of a downer. I teach yoga. I teach because someone taught me and my process in MY practice CHANGED ME which changed my life. I am forever grateful for the teachers before that shared yoga so that I could also practice and learn. I’m 6 1/2 yrs sober. I went from a very dark awful place of sadness and anger and despair always the victim to a LIFE of peace,almost bored at times!! Lol but so much better!! A life of joy and passion. My life has changed and I owe it to the practice and teachings of yoga. I felt soooooo excited about all of it I teach because I want to share this AMAZING practice that helped me soooo much. It is a privilege that I don’t take lightly. I’m still humbled that I’m in the position to teach and don’t feel qualified. But people need to know they can choose to live their life the way they want, just as you have done. So I will continue to share the gifts of yoga and hope that others will find peace. And I will be grateful for the privilege to practice and teach.

    And like others I am curious how it is you do make a living now. I am looking forward to a more simple life once my last child finishes school and my expenses lessen. For now I share my love of yoga and massage to get by. Please update!

    • Nina Mel says:

      Thank you Kristina – I totally get what you are saying and thank you for doing what you do. Your life, your choice, all is fine and I understand it.
      I make a living renting my apt. in Nyc while leaving in another city. I am choosing more simple life and don't need what I needed before. I am also married and my man provides me with food and other necessary things – so I guess I am lucky and blessed to be in this position – that makes me a bit more free and less attached to the salary from book-writing, and that's why I can afford to make such choices. It also gives me time to adjust in a proper way and move further with more integrity. I understand not everyone can do it. But we can all be honest in our intentions and motivations no matter what life position we are in. And that's the main step, the first step – from which all the rest follows and falls into it's proper place (if that step was taken correctly).
      Namaste!

      • Sis says:

        it was all interesting, thought provoking and made me wonder. until now. sorry but to me this is silly. go and tell people who daily have to earn their lives to shut out a nasty material world? This sorry-I'm-too-enlightened-to-work-outlook in the article now has a funny taste to me.

        I can totally see what you mean and I agree with a lot in your view and I can understand what you did but announcing this from a position like yours doesn't seem fair.

        • Nina Mel says:

          Sis,
          I understand your point. I didn't say my supporters are millionaires or I want all my life to depend on somebody etc. I just say, that if we really need a break to get back to ourselves, to reconnect with the truth inside us, we all can afford this – most of us. We have families, friends, savings at the end… whatever – at list for a few days or weeks to get clear on what we do, how we do it and if necessary to adjust it the way it feels truer to ourselves.

          I don't ask people teaching yoga – to quit everything right now, maybe you never need to do this – I just made a suggestion to think about the way we connect yoga and spirituality with business and how it affects us personally. That's it. Just check it inside yourself.

          And if you are a yoga practitioner – to leave the game of yoga-studios and seminars will only save you tonnes of money. I say that you can get everything you need in terms of spirituality for free, no need in others between you and your spirit.
          Thank you.

          • amphibi1yogini says:

            "And if you are a yoga practitioner – to leave the game of yoga-studios and seminars will only save you tonnes of money. I say that you can get everything you need in terms of spirituality for free, no need in others between you and your spirit."

            Music to my ears, if I may say so … and this time, I can assure myself that you're not playing my song for literary effect–as in certain popular yoga-culture satire/critique/expose' sites … at least one of which sites puts out their own logo T-shirts …

  24. Deborah says:

    Nina, you've given voice to the struggle to find our authentic selves and to share what we love in a way that is not corrupted in our culture. I still have a yoga studio and strive to find ways to balance making ends meet with my mission to provide a safe, welcoming environment for people to be supported on their own journey to health, well being and self awareness. It it my belief that we already have the answers inside, yes, and it is a struggle in our society to find and create a quiet space for us to touch in to that wellspring within us and find like minded beings to do so…

    It's still an experiment.

    I'm sorry to see all the negative posts questioning you. You have 'spoken' the truth…

    As I shared this article with some colleagues, up popped an email with an offering about becoming a successful yoga studio owner, including a session on "developing a sales culture" at your yoga studio!

    • Nina Mel says:

      Thank you, Deborah, for your comment – I really appreciate it.
      Good luck on our Way and all the best with your yoga studio. :)

      • Deborah says:

        And all the best to you on this next part of your journey touching into Self. Looks like you touched a 'nerve' or many nerves with folks – again, I was surprised at the negative judgments of others accusing you of being negative and judgmental!

        In light, yoga and community across the ethers, Deborah

  25. fragginfraggin says:

    Drastic change from a previous post of yours http://www.elephantjournal.com/2013/03/a-scientif… Just two months ago. What was the catalyst for this about-face epiphany?

    • Nina Mel says:

      The first sentence of this article. That's what made a difference.
      Besides, two months is really a lot of time – if you allow yourself to listen inside and to adjust your way accordingly to those answers. Namaste.

      • fragginfraggin says:

        That's kind of the point of a retreat. To silence the noise of a busy reality. When I retreat, my inner voice does not tell me to abandon my sadhana. I have walked my path with sincerity for 18 years.No vain photo-shoots, No publishing pseudo-science and no attempt to amass followers. I teach asanas for those interested in better health and body function, and because I CAN, and do So effectively, it's better than not doing anything at all. I think your spooked insight may be well received, but your overreaching generalization is impotent to the perspectives of those who are motivated within the righteous bounds of spiritual morality. Chances are, once the climax of your retreat wears off, you'll feel pretty silly about this article. I think we have all been in your shoes when coming back from a great spiritual get-away.

        • Nina Mel says:

          I know exactly what I am doing and why. And wishing you the same. The retreat I talked about was not an external place that exists on the map, it is not some sunny island with coconuts for breakfast – where I could "suddenly" get silly and out of reality, and decide to live here forever and "abandon my sadhana". It's inside. It took me a month of intense digging at this one and only subject and my further role in it. That's when I realized that the only thing I could feel pretty silly about is to think that I have "my sadhana" that I "do so effectively" that it's a pity to abandon it. You have not been in my shoes, that's why you don't get what I mean and construct your comment in a way that shows exactly what shoes you are in at this stage of life after 18 years of practice. :) Namaste.

          • Deborah says:

            :-)

          • Nancy says:

            I don't know much about yoga but it seems to me Nina Mel is very brave in speaking HER truth. And it seems like it wasn't easy for her. Sounds like a very private matter that she chose to share with us. Good luck on your journey Nina Mel…:)

          • Nina Mel says:

            Thank you, Nancy!

        • Mark says:

          You could have been a bit more compassionate here dude. The first part was a winner: "I teach asanas for those interested in better health and body function, and because I CAN, and do So effectively".

  26. Fielder says:

    It's important to recognize the difference between receiving a transmission of Truth and translating it. The transmission comes from an unconditioned place and my sense is that Nina received a very important message into her heart and then made the mistake of trying to translate it. St. Paul made the same error and his translation of an unconditioned transmission ended up in the bible and has been causing people to misunderstand his teacher's message ever sense. When the heart receives a bit of Truth it's critical that it remain as unconditioned as possible. Through translation–especially unskillful translation–the Truth becomes something else. Nina will eventually discover that everything conditioned is the same. It has spirit it in it but everything else as well. Conditioned expressions are all corrupt even those relatively "high consciousness" expressions that aren't attached to the yoga world and when Nina gets a hit of that she won't be able to put it on anything. She's have to sit with what St. John of the Cross discovered before her (and translated into a relatively unconditioned famous poem) and see what happens.

    • Nina Mel says:

      Thank you for this feedback, Fielder, I understand what you mean and agree with this. Everything is conditioned that comes from humans, there can be no exception – so whatever we write and put in words is already corrupted to a certain degree. The wise thing to do at the end – is not to translate it. And thanks for mentioning the poem – I will check it.

    • Old yoga chick says:

      Fielder, I love your response. Can you tell me which poem of St. John of the Cross you are referring to?

      • Fielder says:

        "Dark Night of the Soul." It's a great poem, originally written in Spanish. The only issue in referencing it is that so many folks think they're having a Dark Night of the Soul whenever they have a bad day or two and throw the term around to the point that it becomes a cliche (which is why I avoided the actual name of the poem). It's one of those pieces of literature people think they've read when they haven't and think they've experienced when they haven't. The Dark Night doesn't come until someone has connected completely with God (very rarefied state) and then felt the total connection melt away–something the common believer doesn't think is possible. There is transcendence after the Night. Also, Andrew Harvey has written extensively on this subject. You might want to check it out. Love and Peace.

  27. Mary P. says:

    Hi Nina – thank you. It was heartwarming and validating to hear you speak this. Fifteen years ago I was teaching – a different path than yoga, but it had a spiritual leaning. One day right in the middle of teaching I was hit like a deer in the headlamps with the same message – this must stop….. I knew instantaneously in my heart what that meant. I stopped…… yeah, I get it. Again, thank you.

  28. Michele says:

    Thank you. I definitely resonate with your thoughts/words. <3

  29. amphibi1yogini says:

    It is likely that this epiphany of sorts, has emanated from what is or has been your true nature all along. The commercializers of yoga will not change their approach. If the yoga market becomes saturated, they will go in for something else featuring their need to influence people, create dependencies, and make money on this. It's probably a cliché, but "A leopard doesn't change his spots".

    I doubt the degree of spirituality these (many of whom are self-appointed) gurus actually live.

    Maybe I'm not much better myself. I'd become addicted to meditation at one point.
    But I am still in search of enlightenment. I don't think a teacher alone, would help me in this regard.

    • Nina Mel says:

      I understand what you mean and totally agree with you. Thank you for this feedback and good luck in your search. You will find what you are looking for – as the Teacher is always here, constantly passing the Knowledge and Understanding down right into our very essence. All the best to you.

  30. Tasha says:

    The only problem is, if you really felt this way, you wouldn't need to write about it in a public forum (perhaps a private journal would suffice?). It's the same as the people who go on Facebook and make sure to tell everyone they are "quitting Facebook because it is bad for them" instead of just canceling their account and not needing to tell anyone about it. I agree with a lof od what you are saying here, but you contradict yourself in the mere act of posting this. I believe that people who "reach enlightenment" (if there is such a thing), do not feel the need to spread the message. They teach by example and people tend to be drawn to them (think Jesus or the Bhudda) because they see a peace and calm about them that was not there before. Just my humble two cents..

    • Nina Mel says:

      Hi Tasha, the reason I made my thoughts public – is pretty much the same why you posted this comment of yours instead of just passing by if you didn't find the article real or useful for yourself. Thing is – when we have some emotion or sth. to say, we normally do it. No need to search for a hidden motivation behind it or question if I really felt this way if I made it public. Sure I felt this way.
      PS. Why don't you rather question if Buddha or Jesus we real? I believe you will find interesting things investigating this subject. :)
      Best,
      Nina

  31. Lisa says:

    I can relate to parts of this article and see some of my journey reflected here at different life stages. In my youth, in my struggle to look honestly at my self and the world I became aware of the hypocrisy everywhere and how the sacred and beautiful had been warped through time and human interpretation. I began looking to nature and within for the truth and as the light that guides.
    At some point I realized I would not be able to have the depth of relationship with humanity that I felt with nature and the vastness within – and I had to make a choice. Would I go alone – deeper into the mystery of the universe and retreat further and further from the daily demands of the world, family, work, and society? Or would I hold onto the truth tightly, like a glowing lantern in my heart – and walk back into the rushing crushing world – and feel the thousand sorrows and joys of being human, participating with friends, society, meaningful work, and exhausting, relentless manifestation of what humanity has become?
    I chose the latter because I didn't see the point of retreating from the world. I knew I could have continued to develop my own conscious awareness if I were to remove myself from the world – but it seemed a very lonely and selfish path. Though it may be right for some.
    To give your life in service and to participate in the world, allowing all things to shape you, all the while remembering the gift of the sacred and looking for ways to gently plant seeds and give where love is needed (without keeping track) – to those less fortunate, to the planet, to family, community, etc. – to me is a much richer choice. I walk around much of the time feeling I don't belong, but I remember the gift of silence and strive to look with deeper eyes and ears at everything around me. I realize it's my responsibility to figure out how to participate and find love in the world.
    On the outside there is hypocrisy and things are not what they appear, but I believe that the deeper we go, we see the sacred everywhere. When we see with compassion then there's nothing left to do but lend a hand and help out and know that we are the bridge where the spirit and material worlds meet. How exciting!

    • Nina Mel says:

      Hi Lisa – thanks for this feedback.

      You've made your conscious choice, that's great, and I've made mine about yoga business too.

      I didn't make a choice to leave life, not to have friends, family or so on. This is all just about the way we make business out of spiritual thing. Even business itself is not a problem – a problem is how it affects us, our love for yoga and our inner growth, our truth and how we change when business is at hand. We trade yoga, spiritual knowledge, and our souls – but we can choose not to do it. There is another way. We can stop play this "yoga industry game", famous "yoga-gurus game", "complicated asanas game" and "false spirituality game". We can be really spiritual and can achieve all we need spiritually without this bullshit. That's all I suggest to think about. Nothing else.
      No need to quit life or stop participating in it.

      The talk is about spirituality that became a "work" for million people and about their inability to deal with this with integrity. And about yoga practitioners that stop seeing and feeling the real essence of yoga inside them, being blinded by the brightness of yoga teachers who they make their idols – checking every day what smoothie they drink today, what color of yoga pants they wear and where's the next group activity that they can join "to play". That is all so unnecessary, really…

      Love your comment, thank you for sharing.

  32. Emily says:

    Nina,
    Thanks for sharing I’ve long felt this way and am transitioning out of teaching yoga..
    Too many years experiencing all that you mentioned, trying to bend yoga into a practice that could sustain my family’s financial needs even when I knew it wasn’t the right type of class for me or students. I value my personal practice now and that’s all I need.
    What are you doing now then if you have let go of everything in your bio?

    • Nina Mel says:

      Hi Emily. Thanks for this comment.
      I now don't do anything. I am writing for myself, reflecting, meditating and will dedicate next months to the inner work I am going through. I will try to see/find the way to do something that hundred percent reflects who I am inside – so that my outer expressions are in perfect sync with my inner self. No more compromises. No more fears.
      Wishing you to find your way too. Namaste.

      • Mary P. says:

        It took me a while to find my way after teaching as well….. you will find yours, and you are right, it will take a while for things to settle out. Best to you!

  33. Lee says:

    Agreed,,,your message is flawed…and opinionated- but I guess this is your piece so by all means. I disagree about the 'masters in a different realm' each individual (whom does not follow the religion of yoga) seeks their own master.

  34. lyn says:

    Wow, surprised at the anger toward the author. I began practising before 'yoga pants' existed, and remember yoga as an individual's practise. Teachers had extensive experience and knowledge of the asanas, and you came to learn from them. They lived the limbs of yoga but did not preach them. I'm not explaining myself well, but it was somehow so different.

    I don't go to yoga for socialization, for 'group activities' and get togethers. I go for me. Yoga is not a social activity.

    My favourite quote:

    How long will you go on wasting time and encouraging others to waste it as well? How long will you go on wandering around yoga studios without admitting to yourself that yoga is not a group activity, not a party or group entertainment?

    Yes! Thank you for saying what no one else has.

    • Nina Mel says:

      Lyn, Thank you for your words of support. I am happy that there are people out there like you who see yoga this way. Wish you all the best on your Path.

  35. emily says:

    Your writing is very obtuse and difficult to follow…almost more like an internal meditation that did not need to be externalized, or not it this way. Just my opinion…I can read pretty tough stuff, but I gave up on this about at third of the way through. You seem in my very humble opinion to need a bit more inner work…as do we all, of course.

    • Nina Mel says:

      This is not an easy read and not everyone will be able to get it, that's true. Sorry to hear you didn't find it useful for you, Emily. All the best!

  36. SleepyMoose.com says:

    Just to reiterate some great points made in this article:

    "Free yourself of the ridiculous idea that you need to do something worthwhile and important in this life, that you need to leave a trace or help as many people as possible. Free yourself of the desire to achieve lofty goals—these are all tricks of the mind.

    There is no mission, and there never has been, for anyone and to anyone. It’s merely a spiritually-justified mental trap.

    The ego invents a myriad of missions. It’s the new drug for the modern yoga-junkie.

    We cannot help anyone in any way as long as we haven’t reached it ourselves. And we cannot teach anyone anything, as long as we haven’t achieved the understanding on our own.

    We cannot walk their path for them. Otherwise, it is nothing more than intellectual knowledge passed from one person to another. There is no point in it; in fact, it causes more harm than good.

    The way is only inside, and this battle happens only on the personal level."

    "Spiritual knowledge cannot be transferred from person to person. It always descends upon us from above, directly into our being.

    To listen to it, to hear it and to follow it in every second of our lives—this is our only mission and the only straight and true way for man to reach oneness."

    "Yoga is an intimate, sacred practice—a quiet and tremulous communication between us and our own spirit that has nothing to do with unknown people sweating around us."

    AUM Vishwam Shantimastu

    • Nina Mel says:

      Thank you, Vishwam. Namaste.

      • david says:

        And I also agree with this part of your article that you wrote Nina. Peace to you Nina and keep strong….Thank you for this enlighting article. In sincere practice D.

  37. Will says:

    Since yoga has become very popular. There will be those that will try to make as much money as possible off the practice And there will be those that feel disenfranchised and seem to see through the illusion of modern yoga. We live in a wlrld of opposites. It seems to me that your 30 day retreat opened something within you that should be explored more deeply.
    Though I agree with many of your thoughts and ideas and remember they are your thoughts and ideas, I do believe that you are overgeneralizing many aspects of what you are talking about. To say that there are no enlightened yoga teachers one must first say what is enlightenment Remember that even those who are enlightened must still eat and drink, pee and poop and somehow live in this world. If not then you are dead and no longer here as an enlightened soul. There are many Swami Foolsyoualotanandas and few truly real yoga teachers.

    • Nina Mel says:

      Hi Will – thank you for the feedback. You definitely got the point – those who "enlightened" are dead (talking in material way) and no longer here. Those who are here are all humans, just like you – they can be spiritually- oriented, like you, or they can be not yet awakened to their spirituality. But they all struggle like you and like all of us. Thats why I say there is no Teacher here, no Master, no enlightened Guru in a way people usually perceive this terms and definitions.
      They exist, but they are not in this realm. Not any more. Though they and the One, the Supreme Mind – penetrate our consciousness every single moment passing down to us all the Light and Supreme Knowledge. We can and must be willing to receive that teachings – but within us, from them – not from the other humans like us who we idolize and consider enlightened. Namaste.

  38. Lee says:

    I have lots of respect for you. It's a shame that you don't teach anymore, I would probably have loved your classes. Good luck to you! Sounds like you are doing what you feel and saying what you think and that is very admirable.

    • Nina Mel says:

      Thank you, Lee. It's not a shame, it's a relief – both for me and for you. :) Good luck to you too on your Path.

  39. Julie Ancis says:

    I found this piece refreshing in many respects. The "posing" and commercialization of a deeply personal practice gets tiresome, to say the least. The superficial and disingenuous presentation by many teachers and centers often leaves one feeling empty. The reliance on others for "the answer" can never lead to inner strength and empowerment. Preying on others' vulnerabilities in an attempt to stroke one's own ego as a teacher/guide is unethical but happens too often. The answer truly lies within and genuine support from caring others can help facilitate that process.

  40. Myra says:

    I don't think "no one" is aware of it… I am.

  41. Karen says:

    We cannot see our own stuff. If we could, we would all be free from our patterns. We need a source of reflection. This is how we are one, how we help each other. A teacher without a teacher is a recipe for an ego to run amuck. It sounds like you interrupted the benefit of being in seclusion by coming out too quickly. There is more than this. Are you free? Have you reached kaivalya? If not, why share this message? Is it not another form of teaching? Albeit a depressing one? Masters are still here and they do not encourage attachment. I have witnessed miricales. I hope the energy around you shifts so that you too may attract these blessings.

    • Nina Mel says:

      Karen, thank you for your comment. I am totally blessed with the state I am in. That was not an easy choice, but knowing that it is Right for me gives me all the support and freedom I need.
      From your comment I see that you have lots of myths about ego, gurus, miracles, kaivalya or other "states to be reached" and so on. Perhaps you have been reading too much. Or listened to other struggling and mistaken humans in body who consider themselves to be Teachers and savers of humanity.
      In any case it didn't serve you good. Don't go for knowledge, go for understanding and your own experiences. Don't witness miracles, experience them yourself within yourself.
      Wishing you the very best on your spiritual journey.

      • amphibi1yogini says:

        Yup. It may take "longer", without the "guide"; but the journey is totally one's own.

        And that's what makes it worth it. Besides, what's the rush? What's the need for "advancing" (talking about goal-oriented asana yoga again, natch!) Anything could happen.

        I have never read anybody state that they want to die while standing on their head.

  42. Beth says:

    I understand about the celebrity of yoga and the business of yoga. My only question is how does a pure beginner who has never practised yoga before, be it asana or meditation or whatever, how do they know where to begin without someone giving them some instruction? It is ok for someone who has been practising for awhile to say they don't need a teacher but if we go back to basics we need to start somewhere. Unfortunately we do not live in India 100 years ago we live in the Western world so instruction will generally cost money but I don't believe all teachers are out there to conquer the world. And yes you do have to wonder about the celebrity yoga teachers, ther is one n particular that resides in LA and I've heard has a collection of cars. But getting back to my point where do beginners begin without some guidance? And for me the practice of yoga is also about sangha, or community, a place I can go to be with like minded people, to discuss topics that interest and stimulate me. Without a group yoga class I would miss that terribly. Solitude might suit some but not all. Infact elephant journal is a form of sangha. Namaste.

    • Nina Mel says:

      Hi Beth! See my reply to Ann below where I describe my self-practice. You don't need any guidance except your own self. You can get some information, inspiration etc. once in a while from whoever, why not – just remember that the real Teacher is only within.

      Socialize and have fun and feeling of belonging to the community – if you need it – but you can get everything what you seek there right inside your self. Your practice will be also different.

      Practice is practice. Socializing is socializing. Enjoy them separately but don't mix these things up.
      All the best to you.

  43. Vikram says:

    Wow, you use the word we many times in this article to make broad swathing spiritual generalizations from your own personal brand of self knowing assuming that what you "know" is true for all of us… Your article doesn't upset me, but begs the question why seek to criticize or debunk anything, especially something that may still have value for so many? who does this serve? If this planet is just a low level karmic school for the unenlightened, why did any of the past spiritual masters spend any time here? Nothing has really changed except how the we externalize and warp the material earth and manipulate it into a mass variety of new technology that makes a bunch of stuff move around faster… Just because we find a new way to describe the nature of atomic structures, it doesn't mean that its essential nature has changed. The same is true with yoga! Is compassion ever really a lost cause, even if folks are making a living spreading it? People are here to figure it out on their own, even if you chase a few misguided paths, you turn around go back a little way and try a new path.
    You are correct in some of your critique of the commercialization of yoga, but the same is true of any overly consumptive industry, we're destroying our environment to have the privilege to write on our laptops, drive our cars, etc…

    Consciousness according to Vedanta is unchanged no matter what we think about it, and for the record it is the substratum of all existence, all beings self realized or not are in essence enlightened, most just don't realize it… The problem is mostly based upon a lack of Knowledge of this fact, so ignorance for the most part rules the material plane, as long as people think that it's all there is… I guarantee that most spiritual seekers or modern day yogis have had a glimpse of their own shinning Self at some point, or why would they be seeking? It is true that there is the trap of spiritual egotism, where right before the body/mind/heart merges completely with spiritual awakening AKA the Self (which BTW is a process thats happening all the time, even if it is super slow in some) the ego can co-opt the experience and keep the seeker thinking that she/he is enlightened, and should get students, become a teacher, and become rich etc… (Even though there is nothing wrong with being rich, as long as you use your resources for good in this world). I've seen it time and time again, (self proclaimed enlightened teachers) until I went to India and found out that there are humble teachers who share what they know from their teachers, and from ancient scriptures written by all the self realized teachers from the past, and that the lines are not broken, but they certainly are not easy to find. Patanjali says that we must practice for a long time before there is any form of attainment or samadhi, certainly this is not for the casual yogi who only wants to lose weight, de-stress their life, and find an hour of peace a couple times a week as a break from the noise of our world. But to say that all the Masters are gone, and that you just know it, sounds like you've given up. I have compassion for you, and the conversations you've sparked are amazing! Even in your own realization no matter how controversial and opinionated it is, consciousness prevails!!

    Yoga is a very private practice wether we are in a class or not. No body knows what I am experiencing on the inside, and as teachers it is negligent to assume that we can know what is going on for our students, just as it is to criticize other teachers. They are teaching what they know, and their students learn what they can and move on if it doesn't work, life goes on, and on and on… eventually people get some merit, they meet a real teacher or Satguru, who finally points them in a direction that makes complete sense, and there is a ripeness that happens, the student no longer needs the teacher or the teaching and just knows…
    I wish you all the best in your journey, I had to dive deep into the darkness for the pendulum to have enough momentum to swing completely the other way for me to jump off and land where I am now, so I understand where you are at… Must be difficult to do it in such a public way, good luck on the much longer retreat you must be headed towards, it's worth it!!
    Namaste

    • Nina Mel says:

      I disagree with you on several things but this is your opinion and that's fine. We all make our choices. Thank you for your comment, Vikram.

  44. Sydoni says:

    Words of wisdom.
    Couldn’t have said it better myself.

    I like art. Bodies in asana postures in which I present are art. Not YOGA.

    I QUOTE YOU

    All of these yoga systems, yoga organizations, yoga projects, yoga conferences, yoga festivals, yoga federations, yoga platforms, yoga missions and other toys in the hands of spiritual adolescents, are all deeply corrupt, to their very essence.

    UNQUOTE.

    I have been pushed and told to market and sell YOGA. TO PROMOTE IT.

    TO MAKE MONEY FROM IT.

    Never has this felt tight.

  45. Sydoni says:

    THATS WHY I’VE NEVER JOINED THE YOGA BUSINESS.

  46. cynthiabeard says:

    I resonate with parts of what you write here, especially about how yoga has become a business that emphasizes physical appearance, asanas, and competition while losing sight of the spiritual aspects. Where I diverge from your perspective is that I have encountered group yoga environments that don't fit this stereotype. What I feel has happened here is that you've identified the commodification that has occurred in the most prominent and common yoga studios, teachers, and classes that we are exposed to, and then extended the critique with an assumption that all yoga conforms to that mold.

    I also resonate with the reaction of withdrawing from that community and turning inward, as that's the default way I operate as an introvert. But I wonder if in the process of isolating oneself from community, an important aspect of yoga (off the mat) is minimized. I find value in building community and connecting with others, and the more I do this, the more I realize that separation from others is an illusion: we are all one.

    With that realization, I feel called to serve the world outside of my physical "be-ing." When others suffer, I suffer. To paraphrase a social justice saying, our liberation is all bound up together. It doesn't happen separately and in isolation. This worldview causes me to pause at your statement: "Spiritual knowledge cannot be transferred from person to person. It always descends upon us from above, directly into our being. To listen to it, to hear it and to follow it in every second of our lives—this is our only mission and the only straight and true way for man to reach oneness."

    I read that statement as implying that "spiritual knowledge" occurs in isolation, which is contrary to the awareness that we are indeed all one. I question whether "our only mission" in life is to experience spirituality as a solo journey. If extended fully, that sort of mission could serve as an excuse for not practicing compassion and loving-kindness for others outside of our physical be-ing (humans, animals, and the environment). To me, our purpose in life is indeed to serve the world with compassion, which reflexively serves the higher self as well. That's what yoga "on the mat" helps us to do: become more aware of how we can take our practice "off the mat" and into the world. Withdrawing and cloistering oneself away from community may fulfill a self-desire to exist in isolation, but abandoning the world around us is ultimately a form of self-abandonment. Peace to you on your ongoing journey and wherever it takes you. Namaste.

    • Nina Mel says:

      I totally support you in the idea of compassion and love for animals, humans and environment. I believe, this is a natural state of the one who is aware. And not the result of any practice. If you move in life looking mostly inside yourself for guidance – it doesn't mean you become unsocial, less compassionate or unloving. I believe the contrary is true. The more aware you are, the more conscious you are, the more Connected you are – the more compassionate and loving you are.

      Practicing in yoga studios or with yoga teachers has actually nothing to do with your ability to be compassionate. Self-practice instead can develop this – first to yourself, and then and only then you can be truly compassionate to others. Not the other way round.

      Thank you for your feedback, Cynthia.

      • cynthiabeard says:

        Thanks for continuing this dialogue and for your thoughts on interconnectedness. I would challenge this idea, though: "Practicing in yoga studios or with yoga teachers has actually nothing to do with your ability to be compassionate." The absolutist thinking that group practice has "nothing" to do with compassion runs the risk of not acknowledging the possibility that there are multiple ways to develop compassion, including in community.

        Perhaps what might offer a little more balance is to think in both/and terms instead of either/or. I have found value in Iyengar method classes for many reasons, including a teacher's recommendations (the teacher also happens to be a friend) of asanas that have reduced my hypothyroidism. Light on Yoga has a wealth of information about how specific asanas can address various medical conditions, and while we may eventually come to these realizations on our own, there can be value in discussing and sharing our experiences.

        In the classes I attend, we don't think of the studio as a substitute or replacement for a home practice. When I practice on my own, I typically incorporate at least a couple of asanas that I had felt resistance to in class. This allows me to deepen the asanas and become more aware of my body, at my own pace. In class the teacher might point out through observation something that could help me with my self-practice, and then I take that with me. A group of us also meets occasionally outside of class, in places such as local parks, to discuss yoga and other topics of mind-body-spirit awareness. We'll do a few asanas but then also do other types of movement.

        So, rather than view self-practice as oppositional to studio/group practice, the two can coexist and operate in tandem. That said, I think that when gathering as a group, it's important to set an intention for the practice and not fall into the trap of what has happened with the majority of American-style yoga. Your critique of it is so important, but perhaps there is a "middle way" that recognizes the value of community practice in addition to solo work.

        • amphibi1yogini says:

          You are lucky in that you have a community and share more than just a paid-for class. In the Big City, where I live – the students treat yoga as just another goal-oriented (I HATE that about vinyasa yoga classes) exercise (I HATE that trendiness about yoga that exists now) class (in an already-busy schedule) … Lucky for me, and my self-respect, as well; my bank account is forever trying to move back to that yoga-sparse zone.

          Taking only an occasional class for me, is a no-brainer. My practice happens on my own mat. My attitude is adjusted without onlookers. (Not that I am so introverted.)

          I work with what I have.

          I have also eschewed gyms for the past few years, and I DO get my exercise.

          I told my yoga teacher that I take yoga only for the supervision now (I have a newly-diagnosed chronic disease: diabetes) and not for the guidance. She understands.

      • river says:

        I love your article and all the great feedback and controversy it has created – a good thing to stir up unquestioned conditioning we all have. One clarification if you will – in response you wrote above to Cynthiabeard – this natural state of compassion, love for all beings that belongs to the one that is aware – you say that is not the result of any practice. Yet further down you say ""self- practice can develop this" is this not a practice? Was your own choice to spend 27 days listening deeply to your own connection with spirit not a practice?
        thank you for sharing your insights and i appreciate your response.

  47. Jambo says:

    Hello,

    I actually enjoyed reading your article however I feel that your experience of what is actually being ‘shared’ maybe limited to only the massive corporate teachings that are going on. It is so true that anyone can open a studio now and even worse, anyone can write a book or deliver a teacher training!

    I developed my company based on frustration of 2 things, ignorance of the medical model and money falling off the planet resulting in fewer services for addicts who had left rehab with nothing to do. I decided to take on a small group of apprentices and we committed to each other. Thy states clean whilst I trained them. Almost 3 years on I have an incredible team who have all tripped through repetitive prison sentences, addictions to drugs, alcohol & sex. Not to mention those with eating disorders, cancer survivors, trauma victims and sexually abused. My day time job is spent researching and opening clinics that help prescribers and commissioners understand why the work that we do is relevant as a cost effective and empowering method to sustain the concept of well-being and recovery.

    I think a mission statement is important, just because people are running their shows by mimicking ‘what works’ (how other business and entrepreneurial minds do so) then that is also fine.

    I actually think that your opinion counts and it is a shame that your voice has dropped off the yoga scene because no matter what philosophy, hobby or missions we all have there is good as well as bad. I do however respect your decision.

    With regards to your suggestion of all the masters leaving the world, I understand where you are coming from. But there are different masters with us right now. I personally work with Ana Forrest for yoga amongst other teachers of different aspects of complementary medicine.. Each one making significant differences but not as people who suggest that ‘all is as it should be’ but more about reflecting on each individuals needs to become ‘adults’. I do hope that you can work with these individuals if you ever would like to continue working on yourself. After all, that is all that we can do. The results of that reflect in the success of each individuals practise.

    If you are ever in Newcastle, UK I would love to welcome you into the spaces that we teach in. I think you might get a totally unique experience when you get to meet the teachers, champions and students.

    • Nina Mel says:

      Jambo, I'd like to say thank you for such a feedback. I definitely understand your point and why you do what you do – and wish you and your company success in all means. All the best to you and thank you for invitation.

  48. Nina Mel says:

    From Ann: "Clearly you have gone down your own path and are in the process of evolving towards your own enlightenment in your own way. I respect your decision and boldness of no longer teaching.
    But you started somewhere small back in the day with going to classes, having various teachers, doing teacher trainings etc. Or didn't you? I would guess that you would NOT be at the place you are now without all of these steps. This would be the bio I would like and expect to see, what your path has been and how you have evolved."

    Ann,
    Several years I had a self-practice when no one explained me how to do the asana and what way – I didn't even use the books. That was a precious experience – it made me FEEL what asana is and "how it wants to get performed" within my body, it taught me to listen, to hear, to take responsibility for my mistakes if I over-practice and potentially get a trauma (I actually never ever had one, they started to appear when I started teaching others and demonstrate, being all on the outside with my attention, instead of being all absorbed on the inside like in self-practice).

    I had to learn to be so attentive and careful, knowing NO ONE is here to "save me" if I do it recklessly and break my neck. That was the best way to practice. The one I believe is really effective, that teaches us to know and immediately see ourselves, to get to know the body and it's limitations, and so on. That was also a period when I developed the abilities to see and feel the energy, it's lines and shapes, the influence of energy aspects of asanas and other things on my body and mind, etc. Which I never knew I am capable of seeing or feeling. When somebody teach you and give you instructions where to put your leg next and how, you are totally out of yourself, on external plane. You are being ruled. This doesn't serve you good if you see my point. That's why I say that this kind of practice with the teachers, with other people in the class and so on – does nothing to your real inner development except that you are having fun doing this in a company.

    I know what it can be for you, for everyone – who wants it to be THE PRACTICE – instead of a social fun…with traumatic experiences for body and mind and wasted time.
    The risk of traumas in the group class is so much higher than when you self-practice and grow your awareness of your self this way. It's a fantastic practice. It's a pity that others don't know what it can be as they are just stuck in their old believes "there should be a teacher", "teacher knows better", "group class is effective", "I will harm myself if I self-practice" or they just get lazy as for sure it's so much fun to go and see those amazing, interesting, bright, funny, kind, spiritual and successful <Miss A> or<Mister K> and listen to their jokes, and see their confidence, and watch their new Athena outfit and be guided, and be taken from one asana to another, and be told when to start, when to stop and when to leave the class…

    For sure all famous yoga teachers are amazing, who doubts! I also find them amazing. They are all cool and I like them – who doesn't? You can enjoy it once in a while for fun, socializing and your portion of inspiration, why not? But realize what it is for you – socialization. If you need this instead of spiritual practice – please enjoy it 3 times a week in a studio and that's it, your choice. What I say – it has nothing to do with YOUR PRACTICE. Your practice is an intimate process – and sorry – you have not even started to develop it if you are never one on one with it on a regular "dedicated" basis.

    No one knows better whats right or wrong for your body and self. No one can teach you do it 100 percent correct for yourself except yourself. No need of others between you and your spirit. You can see all the people in this world as your teachers, some way it's true – but the most important thing you need to develop is your relationships with your self, one on one – that's when you start to really learn sth. That's when it is an Experience instead of Information. You just try and see the difference for your self. It's a deepest practice ever possible. What's going on in the classes, what other yoga teachers support so that you keep believing you need them and keep supporting back their position in the industry – is so much different from what you can have for free for yourself. There is no comparison. Try it yourself, check it. It's not an easy thing to develop this relationships to yourself after the fun you are used to. But it's worth a try. Your choice, as always.

  49. Nina Mel says:

    Don't get me wrong, friends – I love and somewhat respect those yoga teachers around for what they have gone through and for their dedication of their time and energy, I totally understand why they do it and what it costs them, I know myself what it takes to get successful in yoga industry – they are all great, spiritually-oriented, interesting people who love yoga and doing this all perhaps with the best intentions. I was the same. What I say, is not that "they are bad and evil" (no, we all wanted the best for you, students), but that they might be – might be – somewhat "lost" in the game they developed and they think they have no way out. They maybe even do not want the way out. As it has so many sweet benefits and it's possible to find so many spiritual justifications of doing this (I know them all, yes, as I applied them to myself too) -that it's crazy even to consider to stop it. And that's ok!

    This article is for those who inside themselves feel like I do – and for them this is a call to pause and reconsider the way they are moving through life. Nothing personal, just my invitation for those who feel they are ruining themselves – to stop doing harm to themselves – and in a bigger picture to others, distracting them from what's real.

    But again – this is just an invitation to pause and think. And find the answer within. And be totally honest at least to yourself, no matter how uncomfortable it might be to confess in certain things even to yourself.
    Nothing else needed. Just think about it.

    Namaste.

    • amphibi1yogini says:

      I too saw the video of the former teacher I'd had (he'd moved on to the corporate, "commercial" side–to his real first love–marketing teacher trainings and teacher training marketing itself.

      Which makes sense to me.

      I saw the glimmer of regret (as a microexpression – from the book Blink) cross his eyes as he lamented the surfeit of yoga teachers produced in the past few years, who could not get jobs teaching yoga. [Of course, it remained unspoken that he'd been part of the problem.]

      I am grateful (although I think I'd spent too much money on this) for what I'd learned from group classes at a studio. But I'd also felt pushed down a rabbit hole into watery submergement, by greedy studio owners like him.

    • claire says:

      Hi Nina,

      Thanks for your honesty, courage and clarity. I trained as a yoga teacher 2 years ago. I thought there must be something wrong with me for having the enthusiasm of a pickled sea cucumber when it came to opening a studio. I lasted 8 weeks. Ghastly experience.

      Interesting what you say about the 2012 transition — and you may be right. Although I'm not sure all the spiritual masters have left the planet. You may feel inclined to ponder the musings of Jac O'keefe. I haven't been the same since I encountered her radical approach to the whole enlightenment industry.

      I'm intrigued by your books and will check them out. Cheers. Claire.

  50. Cal says:

    Thank you, Jerry Maguire. I hope you receive several "tips" for this insight. Maybe a new book is in order; you've found the answers that thinking mankind has searched for forever. It would be criminal to keep it to yourself. I'm just amazed that you were able to do it in only twenty seven days. You know, some people – masters – search for a lifetime. Am I wrong in thinking that if you've found the answer then you haven't? I'm just glad you were willing to share this teaser of the secret of life for free. Geez, twenty seven days without a phone, just imagine. I had an uncle in Kansas who never did own a phone. He was an excellent observer. He seemed to know his life. His preaching was by example only. He never wrote a book or imposed his ego. He just lived — well. He is still my yogi.Cal

    • Nina Mel says:

      Thank you for the comment, Cal – though it's a bit too sarcastic for me to spend time answering it – so I just wish you all the best.

      • Cal says:

        I'm glad you at least read it. I've had teachers like you who think they've found IT. Maybe you did; maybe you didn't. I can't tell from the reading. It's just the desire to sell yourself in the name of enlightenment that bothers me. Want to do good? Be good. Nothing more. Good luck trying to not promote yourself. I'm done.

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