Yes, I’m a Serious Yogi, But I Still Do These 6 Things.

Via Jennifer S. White
on Jun 20, 2013
get elephant's newsletter

crack smokin' yoga teachers

I hope that my beloved elephant editors will still love me after this one.

I feel like I’m writing a blog that straight away sets me up for non-success with my fellow yoga and wellness community.

Yet here it is—a list of six things that I still do even though I consider myself a die-hard yogi.

1. Drink alcohol. For me, figuring out how to be a moderate drinker is, and probably always will be, a lifetime dance.

Alcoholism runs in my family and I’ve seen it destroy lives. Still, I can’t deny that a pint of the hoppiest ale that I can stand or a glass of an interesting wine turns me on. So, I’ve dedicated myself to the practice of mindful drinking—almost as much as I’ve dedicated myself to my mindful yoga practice.

2. I get angry. I might be the Hulk. Cute, friendly, bubbly even. Yet, wow, am I ever a Scorpio— because the people who truly know me understand that I can adrenaline rage with the best of them.

And it’s not that I don’t want to change; that I’m not seeking self-betterment (or enlightenment, for that matter). Because I do (want to change and be enlightened)! Yet I have a temper. Yep, there it is.

3. I Enjoy Exercise Sans Yoga Mat. (Sans as in without.) I received my Johnny-G Spinning certification in my third trimester of pregnancy—for real. (It was pretty hilarious for those present, trust me.) I also have a Nordic Track, circa 1980-whatever, and I regularly hike on trails in the gorgeously hilly terrain where I live. So, yoga mat, I love you, I need you—but I’m seeing someone else.

4. I eat bacon—and I like it. This is the one on the list that I think might divorce me from the other elephants, the ones who make my everyday life special. Long story cut short (and, if you know me in the slightest, this is extremely difficult for me to do), I was a vegetarian for well over a decade—actually, my husband was almost afraid to marry me when I began eating meat right before our nuptials. (Remember, ladies, men don’t want you to change after they’ve proposed.) I digress.

Again, the long and short of it is (I warned you that this was going to be a challenge) that, as much as it disturbs me, my body needs meat. There you have it.

Considering that when I was a vegetarian—to the utmost degree, mind you—one of my biggest turnoffs was other solo veggie-eaters who wore leather or ate gelatin (you get the point), it’s important to keep in mind that I’ve long been a proponent of using the entire animal if you do need utilize this form of protein within your diet.

As it turns out, (uncured) bacon (from the farm down the street) is delicious. (I promise, I love—and respect—you, fellow vegan elephants!)

5. I curse—like a sailor. I embarrass my husband, yet sadly not myself. I’m not sure if I need explain this one further.

6. I listen to angsty music. Recently I shared on Facebook that my two-and-a-half year old loves hard-core bands like Rage Against the Machine—and that this has re-connected me with my more rebellious nature (which, to be honest, she innately shares with me—thank God). Anyways, this little Facebook status update of mine didn’t receive much commentary (not unusual, I’m a geek)—but it did get me thinking about my sharing of this personal information, especially since I rarely divulge much about my daughter in writing.

Here’s the conclusion that I’ve come to—I would rather my tiny lady hear music that poses important questions (although potentially riddled with occasional cuss words) than to never hear it at all. So there you go. (Sorry, yogis.)

I’m not sure why I’m sharing this with you. I’m not an exhibitionist—I can barely wear a tank top while hiking on the towpath.

I guess it’s because one of my major pet peeves in life is people who are not authentic. So here it is, laid out on the table—a few things about the “real” me, a yoga lover.

Of course, another reason that I wrote this is that I honestly get extremely tired of yogic snobbery—the this-is-the-only-way-life-exists-and-one-can-achieve-enlightenment mentality.

I’m okay with who I am, maybe you aren’t, and I’m thick-skinned enough for that to bother me—for a minute or two before I mentally tell you to bugger off.

Regardless, there are some things that people won’t easily cough up—because they’re afraid you’ll judge them.

How about this: I promise not to tell on you if you won’t tell on me. (Because we all have parts of our personality that we don’t want put on display.)

But I will, put mine on display. But only for you. If you don’t tell.



Like elephant yoga on Facebook.


Ed: Kate Bartolotta


About Jennifer S. White

Jennifer S. White is a voracious reader, obsessive writer, passionate yoga instructor and drinker of hoppy ales. She’s also a devoted mama and wife (a stay-at-home yogi). She considers herself to be one of the funniest people who ever lived and she’s also an identical twin. In addition to her work on elephant journal, Jennifer has over 40 articles published on the wellness website MindBodyGreen and her yoga-themed column Your Personal Yogi ran in the newspaper Toledo Free Press. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in geology, absolutely no degrees in anything related to literature, and she currently owns a wheel of cheese. If you want to learn more about Jennifer, make sure to check out her writing, as she’s finally put her tendencies to over-think and over-share to good use. Jennifer is the author of The Best Day of Your Life, available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. She's also as excited as a five year old to announce the release of her second book, The Art of Parenting: Love Letters from a Mother, available on Amazon.


168 Responses to “Yes, I’m a Serious Yogi, But I Still Do These 6 Things.”

  1. Ally k. says:

    I have never been so inspired by someones authenticity. In a town where people judge many of your moves, I find this article motivating me to be my real self and be damn proud! NAMASTE.

  2. livetstrae says:

    you are still an elephant to me <3

  3. pat says:

    Love this. If I had a daughter, I'd want her to be you!!! Or a sista! (And PS, I also use styrofoam cups for my smoothies, take that yogic snobs!!)

  4. AndrewPaciocco says:

    This is a great article, authentic is definitely the word. It's something I have previously and to a lesser degree still struggle with. Before I "found" a more eastern mindset and an a more in tune with nature type lifestyle I was smoking a pack and a half a day, eating nothing but pepperoni pizzas, bacon cheese burgers, etc. I fell in love with a vegetarian and it changed my life. (For the better! Mostly ;p) I pressured myself to match her devotion and actions. I quit smoking (for a couple months), I went veg with her and even full on vegan for several months, I quit gambling on playing pool and cards for about a year…

    The thing was the pressure to perform up to the "right" level was destroying me, the pressure of not being good enough, always needing to keep up with her and feeling weak when I couldn't. As time has passed I've slowly learned I don't need to be the picture perfect perfection of any movement. I'm just me and I'm more mindful than ever and always growing, even if I keep some vices for the time being. I still smoke (American Spirits — Woo hipster), I occasionally eat meat (It's crazy how much better local, real meat is than the bullshit we're trained to like from fast food). And I love to play cards (I also don't even think gambling is a "vice" per say in the EJ realm).

    We all are who we are right now in this second. Maybe next week, month, or year we'll be somewhere else but that’s irrelevant right now. It's just been a hard and continuing process to not only accept myself for where I am and who I am right now but everyone else too. I can't say "I accept that I smoke but refuse GMOs because they are bad for you" and turn around and say "Eww look at that girl eating a Baconator from Wendy's that's disgusting" We can't know where anyone else is on their path.

    So that lengthily and un-eloquent story leads me to the fact that I'd hope you wouldn't be judged for being brave enough to expose yourself here. There are anyway nay-sayers in every sect but I feel like this is a safe haven to be vulnerable while we learn about ourselves and each other. We can all use those reminders too of “Hey look, I’m not perfect either! It’s okay!”

  5. Heather says:

    Sat Nam, I love this article, thank you. I am a Kundalini Yoga Teacher and have been through the same things as Andrew Paciocco and yourself, I have come to the conclusion that I can aspire to some of the things but as a human being I cant change habits of a life time (53 yrs) overnight. I, like him, still smoke, still eat meat sometimes, still drink alcohol and can get very angry and use some fairly colourful language! I, however, over a long period of time have noticed, I can no longer drink a bottle or 2 of wine (used to be normal-every day). I am contented with just 1 beer or glass of wine and not everyday. I don't eat meat every day anymore, but still have a smoking addiction. So I think I am getting there, slowly, one step at a time. Like Andrew, I was beating myself up for not being "perfect" overnight. Now, I say, "everything is as it should be" and it will evolve over time as it should. Jennifer, you are awesome just the way you are :)

  6. Andie M. says:

    <3 so you are LIVING! Yogis tend to be so "rigid" with the imposition of lifestyle choices. I love that you said what everyone else is so afraid to say! I tell students all the time, live your life. Enjoy things moderately and in balance. This is the key and everyone's experience here is unique. It's not a cookie cutter system. It's not one size fits all to reaching the state of awareness within oneself. We get there through hardships and living a real life. And this is what you have expressed here. Thank you for your openess and authenticity beautiful one. :)

  7. jade says:

    Oh god, you for me!!! A real authentic. I have such a difficult time with other aspects of living yoga such as 'Life' and where everything fits in without feeling the guilt or it affecting me and feeling the effects. You rock. I Love this article! Namaste

  8. Linda says:

    Thank you for sharing your authentic self and for your timely post. I just signed up for yoga teacher training in the fall and part of my delay in fulfilling this dream is that I didn't think I was "kumbaya" enough. I have so much in common with your list! And I've slowly let go what I thought I "should" be and I am embracing who I am and what I can bring to the yoga community. I love this post! so cheers (with a glass of wine) and pass the bacon. Thank you!!!

  9. Andrea says:

    Hahaha! A lot of us are like that. It's called life "balance". :-)

  10. Tracie says:

    Love this. I am a yoga teacher and a writer as well and I, too, do ALL of these things you write about, plus a few more to boot. My newest favorite t-shirt reads "yoga rebel" and I accept that label wholeheartedly. I spent far too many decades believing I was never "good enough"…whatever the hell that means…and have finally come to the conclusion that not only am I "good enough" just as I am, WHO I am is pretty damn good. I don't spout mindless yogic platitudes in my classes, or anywhere else for that matter and I have no tolerance for those who do and then turn around and behave abhorrently. I say "hellz yes" to authenticity and screw the effed-up expectations of others.

    If you lived in my town, we would undoubtedly be friends. Of this I am quite sure.

  11. Kelli Prieur says:

    Love this article and am in exactly the same boat- saaaame!!! I think the best service we can do is exactly what you're doing- be authentic! There is such an overload of yoga- snobbery, it drives me mental, so hopefully every time a yogi gets a little more vulnerable and honest about who they really are, it will inspire others to drop that veil of perfection, which is a load of bullshit anyways, and do the same!!!! XXX

  12. spirayoga says:

    Ditto all of the above except #1, but I can replace that with 20+ years of smoking (with about 10 yrs overlap with my yoga practice). However, I don't smoke anymore :). Still, we are indeed, human. I applaud you for putting it out there. I laugh at myself every time I curse someone out who pisses me off (when I'm alone, of course). It's all good. We are all good at heart. Namaste, yogi.

  13. Love this. Permission to just be who we are! On a path to become better but loving the sh*t out of ourselves in the process. Even the meat eating, angry version of us who loves to swear and drink sometimes.
    Yee ha to you Jennifer S White.

  14. Nancy says:

    Yes! *fist bump* I love your authenticity. I feel so often like I straddle some fence and get so pissed because I can't decide who put it up (was it ME?)! I live in rural midwest, by choice (for some reasons too numerous and personal-boring to detail). I tried to fit in for the first 2-3 years…now, I embrace who I am, and am working on being authentic. I know I freak people out with my liberal views, unschooling family, organic CSA, yoga group, 4-H kids, Doula, livestock farming, rebel and outspoken activist, wine-drinking self. That is OK. This is my life to live. In the words of a very dear friend. Everyone is doing the best they can at that given moment.

  15. Frank the Bunny says:

    welcome to being a normal human being…isn't it wonderful?

  16. Kevin Winters says:

    Yoga, like Buddhism for me, is a path, not a destination. To say that a yogi who hasn't completely forsaken meat and drink isn't a "real yogi" is like saying someone who plays football at the college level isn't a "real athlete" because he's not in the pros, or a gymnast who ranks as #1 in the US isn't a "real gymnast" because she isn't a gold-winning Olympian, or a student at a community college isn't a "real student" because they aren't going to an Ivy League school and has not won various academic awards. To use a phrase from the founder of my lineage: the journey is the goal. Anyone who says otherwise is (literally; absolutely no metaphor or ambiguity in saying this) selling something…and what they are selling isn't the authentic thing. Kudos for being human!

  17. solfulsoul says:

    This all makes wonderful sense and your honesty leaves no room for judgementss, but to me this all highlights the crux of health and spiriituality, self-bettterment and discipline. Certainly, as we can so see, they can co-exist, interdependently and exclusively with opposing, or at least differening aims, buut still with some sense of peace aand stability. You can live life on the edge, but you still need some kind of rest. What of harmony and prosperity, though? More practically speaking, not posing a problem to yourself or with the fellows of your community is one thing, but what does it mean to achieve excellence and mastery in the eyes of observers and opponents, alike. Of course, such ambitions are not awarded to all, but saftey and success and peace and prosperity and all harmony can be.

  18. Hui says:

    I am guilty of all these. I too respect all my fellow vegan yogis… on the topic of eating meat, I once read a brilliant blog post that one does not necessarily have to be vegan to practice 'ahimsa', and that other incredible actions such as volunteer charity work are equally as powerful, and that our vegan yogi friends shouldn't judge us meat-eaters.

  19. Dawn Wesselby says:

    Lovely article. So many people are 'fake' in the yoga world and profess to be soooo perfect but they're not. A teacher once berated me about my messy house and eating habits – in my defence I have 3 jobs and little time for domesticity – only to find when I stayed at her house once that it was worse than mine! Yoga will change you, it will improve you, but it isn't an overnight thing. As I tell my students 'I still get angry… I'm just not quite such a bitch when I do' 😀 One thing that is missing in our interactions with others is authenticity – drop the masks, be nice, be yourself. I don't want to live in a 'pink, fluffy world', I want to live with all of life's beauty and those parts that are not so beautiful too, I like contrast and I love yoga.

  20. yogimom76 says:

    Gosh, I so needed this article. Each day I rise and am left with guilty leftovers of the day before…And all because I had a few craft beers? Or because my boyfriend fried us up some Tipp City bacon. I love you and I love what you just shared. Thank you for helping this yogi see her "guilty pleasures" as not so guilty.

  21. Eva says:

    Lol, I LOVE your authenticity – totally agree with you and many of the other comments. Thanks for putting yourself out there!! xx

  22. natasha says:

    What does "die hard yogi" mean in this place and age anyway? I wonder what it means to the writer. Most "elephants" are certainly not himalayan mountain cave ascetics…so….what?

  23. Kelli Devine says:

    I feel like you are watching me and writing about it! Wow it is so nice to here from an authentic person…go on with your bad self!

  24. Donna Syms says:

    I'm with you.

  25. @keepomyoga says:

    Lovely post! Thank you for your authenticity. So much of the yoga journey is about recognizing the parts of yourself that you may not be proud of and integrating those parts with whole. One love!

  26. Alma says:

    I'm with you on what you say. I don't see anything wrong in doing yoga, getting angry and eating bacon. If it's what your body is asking you, go for it. As for those emotions, well, better out than in. Keep on being yourself and be proud of it.

  27. Casey says:

    Liked your post. The other day I had someone tell me that I wasn't the "typical" yogi. What is a typical yogi these days? Thank you for sharing your quirks :)

  28. cpregno says:

    You are a normal person doing your best to live mindfully. isn't that what a true yogi is? Thanks for this.

  29. yoga bear says:


  30. Alexandra says:

    Beautiful post. From the drinking to the swearing, it could have been written about me!

  31. TheLoneRider says:

    good to know it's not just me :)

  32. Dr Joe says:

    Great article. Essentially you are saying you are human and that you have multiple aspects to who you are. As we all do

  33. David Inmon says:

    Sounds like you are, well, human! Flawed, imperfect, striving, self-aware (which sets you apart from many of your fellow travelers). And you like bacon!! If you weren't already married (and my wife wasn't so handy with firearms) I would consider a proposing!! :-)
    Anyone who disagrees with you should be forced to wear those see-thru Lululemons for month! (I share your adrenaline rage issues)

  34. Niki Widmayer says:

    You forgot CHOCOLATE! :)

  35. Suz says:

    I am pretty sure I belong to your tribe.That’s for inspiring me to be myself.

  36. Marianne Kirk says:

    As a part-time yoga teacher for most of my life and admirer of Buddhist philosophy, I appreciate your honesty and have struggled with many of the same issues you have. However, I have another "sin" to confess. I wear nail polish – on my fingers and toes – and love it!!!

  37. Robyn says:

    Seriously, I hope nobody judges you for that. If they do, I'll sit down to a nice glass of wine and plate o' bacon with you.

  38. Amy says:

    I'm a yoga teacher, and you just described me! (I even own a Nordic Track – purchased in 1995 about a week before I gave birth to my first son). I started teaching in 1999, and felt like a bit of a fraud when I tried the Atkins diet. Now, I love the fact that I feel comfortable being real. I've never wanted to be a vegan and I still love my long walks and weighted workouts.

  39. Kris Lord says:

    I dig that you are real! Thanks for sharing.

  40. enlightenedchuffer says:

    AWESOME. Kevin Winters said it best above "the journey is the goal. Anyone who says otherwise is selling something…and what they are selling isn't the authentic thing.

    Keep on being yourself and enjoy the journey.

  41. northstar19 says:

    As you continue to do your practice daily, especially meditation, you will find that your vibration rate will become more and more rarefied. You will activate higher, and still higher, centers. And little by little, you will LET GO of the gross, dense, and vile. They will fall away from you gently. And you won't miss them, either. It will NOT be like putting away treasures; it will be like putting the trash out on the curb.

  42. northstar19 says:

    We are householders, not saints. But through this practice, we householders can become saints. Some day. :)

  43. Elaine says:

    You and I should be friends! Yoga is the calming influence in my life but my rock chick partying, egotistical, competitive spirit still lives on.

  44. Wendy says:

    Just today I was contemplating this very subject. While I was baking my bacon for my fresh broccoli out of the garden salad, I was literally thinking about how much I use the F word…..and what it means. It means nothing. I get angry, and that is what I say under my breath. The bacon…..I just read an article about a woman who lived 100+ and she said her secret was bacon every day. The most important piece of being a yogi or a human for that matter, is loving where I am in this moment. That is enough.

  45. Andy says:

    Great post- coming from another angle, I'm a little floored that more yogis or yoginis pretend like they don't drink, curse, listen to loud "angry" music, etc. I definitely do- always have. Most that I've known- do. It just feels differently when serious practitioners engage these activities: more of a playful spirit rather than desperation. I love that. I love how you wrote this. I also LOVE meat, & my body needs it (I've tried nixing it & got DANGEROUSLY thin). Thanks for the EFFING FIST-PUMP!

    And PS: false piety aggravates the SHIT out of me.

  46. Leah says:

    To me, yoga is all about observing where you are now – and being okay with it. We try so hard to live up to the public's view of what a yogi is, that we forget about the core of it – observing ourselves and being okay. I think you've got a better handle on it than a lot of people who try so hard to be so perfect…and then give all of it up because it is too hard. I am a vegan and it is easy for me, but I know that not everyone is there, nor should they be. I am happy that you've been brave enough to start this dialogue in the yoga community!

  47. Angel says:

    Haha, I love this. I just also posted my love of bacon, it's out there now, no turning back. I love that you are free to be you, since that's what yoga is about anyways. *internet five*

  48. JOhanna says:

    I think you are me. Thank you for the mirror, and for your authentic vulnerability. As I like to say, "It's all good, I don't care what it looks like." <3

  49. Brett says:

    why do you "need" meat?

  50. Vegan yogi says:

    Humans do not NEED meat to survive, your body does not need it! there are so many other non violent options out there. I truly do not believe that you can be a TRUE yogi in the lifestyle sense of the word unless you are vegan. Yogis are supposed to create a life of change from the energy you are consistently moving through your body and lead the way in non-violence. Yet, what you do each day, eat bacon, creates a life of misery for a gently pig who is actually smarter than a 3 year old child. They do not go willingly to slaughter, they are forced there and there lives are taken from them, so you can have your meat since you NEED it.

    Essentially, you are a person who can do yoga poses. NOT a yogi.

Leave a Reply