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

Via Jennifer S. White
on Jun 20, 2013
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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.



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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. Lindsey says:

    Love this. I'm right there with you, on every item you listed, and I believe that there are many more yogis than you think who are in the same boat.

    On another note, I have been so enjoying many articles on EJ lately and getting to the bottom and realizing they are written by you. Love your writing. Keep it coming!!

    • Oh, my heart literally went pitter patter. Thank you.

      Personally, I'm always changing, evolving, shifting. I think to say you'll never do something is dishonest (even if unintentionally—example is that I never thought I would eat meat), but, more than this, I just want our yoga community to actually be open to love and kindness and compassion rather than judgment, fear and displacement.

      Thanks for your feedback!

  2. Sat Atma Singh says:

    Well, there a lot of thing you still need to figure out and lear. It is my prayer the Inner Wisdom will someday show you how all that 6 things contravene your authentic Self.

  3. You are like my twin. I work out A LOT but still would say I have all of these 6 things going on (minus the bacon, but I've got a sweet tooth)

  4. Edmonton,AB says:

    Is this really a confession? Is what she says all that shameful that she has to put up all those qualifiers? Seems obvious to me that people who practice yoga also do other things in life that are fun and rewarding. I am of the opinion that we are all diverse and eclectic. If anything, yoga helps us to embrace all those sides of who we are, not deny them, or hide them in shame. Yes, even the part of us that, gasp, likes to have an alcoholic beverage. We learn to love ourselves for who we are, as we are. And in so doing we begin to share the light of our truth with others (and that doesn't mean only the sunshine and lollipop version, because it's about truth not some idealized image of perfection). And then an even more awesome thing happens we get to see and embrace others for who they are, as they are too! Namaste. (light to light)

  5. toricott says:

    This is awesome of you to post this. I started teaching yoga three years ago and I've struggled with feeling okay about my less than perfect self. There definitely is a pull for us yogis to live one way and I don't think that's always right for everyone. I am working more and more to embrace every aspect of myself and not compare myself to other yogis. I am exactly where I'm supposed to be:)

    Much love,

  6. klm says:

    f**k yeah!! loved the read, thank you for this! and also, good for you 🙂

  7. Thank you for this! The only thing I don't do also is enjoy agnst ridden music.

  8. Shelby says:

    I just love this.

  9. michael says:

    I hardly ever eat bacon these days but I'm otherwise loving you as my female twin right now down the hoppiest ale/HULK/RATM details (all the exact examples for me too).

    Thanks, rock on& of course…namaste -_-

  10. Melissa says:

    Great article.. Probably because that's the kind of yogi I am as well! Rock on! 🙂

  11. G-race says:

    You go girl! The way I see it life is about striking a balance and always focusing on the things that are good for YOU, whether or not they are good for other people. Perhaps part of this path to enlightenment is figuring that out!

  12. Robin Turner says:

    In my Tantric days I used to say "I _have_ to eat meat and drink alcohol – it's my religion!"

  13. JenInSisters says:

    Practice does not only exist on a mat. A true and holistic practice happens with each step and in each moment. Connecting to nature is one of the most important practices of your yoga. Yoga is not only a physical form which occurs on your "mat." A serious yogini should feel compelled to leave her mat and search for herself in every place.

  14. Chelsea says:

    This list is great. I completely relate. But why all the parenthetical parentheses throughout, and why the plea for shamed secrecy at the end? It all seems to undermine the larger point that we can all be yogis in our own ways. Own it. No applogies.

  15. missD says:

    I LOVE this!!!!! I am loud, sometimes opinionated to the point of obnoxious, swear a blue streak, and DEF drink too much. AND, I am aware of all of the above, reflect on it, and sometimes even make headway; other times, I just feel 'it's okay to be me'. In fact, more often than not, erring on the side of the latter. 🙂 Great post!

  16. Ria swift says:

    I think the practice of yoga makes one a yogini, in your case. It doesn't mean you are there. When you are there you won't do the negative things that you find you are doing. No judgment…..but isn't that one of the points of yoga, to form a 'union' with the Divine? That is very different from the practice. Its like people thinking they have to calm their minds in order to meditate. You meditate to calm your mind. You do Yoga,or some people do, to create that union. Until you are there….you are still practicing. Doesn't mean you won't continue to practice. But I think you catch my drift. Practicing Yoga makes one a yogi/male and/or yogini/female. Purifying the self to the point of expulsion and immersion is part of the practice. Not that it matters. Just keep practising and you'll get to that place you think other people think you should be at. At least that is my take on what you wrote.

  17. cequall says:

    For me, this just highlights how much more embracing I want to be……of everyone! You could be describing me, down to the bacon…(I do make conscious choices on sustainably raised/range and organic meat). This seems to be a recurring theme as of late and it always takes me aback at just how judgmental seemingly "evolved" people can be.
    For me, I will strive to honor and show respect to each. Thank you for writing this..a nice reminder and a good smile :).

  18. Janel Harper says:

    I’m pretty sure you described myself. We’re two yogis in a pod sister!! Thanks for sharing.

  19. Well done Jennifer…. We are all human and each have our own closets. Your are living your "satya" and that is VERY yogic!! Cheers girlfriend!!

  20. I think we might be long lost separated twins. 🙂
    I do all that too (especially the bacon), and I still consider myself a pretty dedicated yogini. Except I hate hoppy beer–gimmie a Porter or a Stout any day!

  21. michelle says:

    Just wanted to tell you that i loved your article!
    Being a yogi doesn't mean or equal being vegan nor does it equal being this amazing cloud jumping ethereal thing that can do handstands!
    Thank you for writing this! A fellow yogi came in with a PBR shirt on and i said NICE shirt while another said, "NICE, a yoga teacher who wears a pabst blue ribbon beer shirt? that's not yogi of you" I had to stop myself from acting out and giving her a piece of my mind!
    I drink and ENJOY it and I love bacon!
    cheers to being a real person!

  22. Michelle Marchildon says:

    We were separated at birth.

  23. Nathan says:

    Can't one be a vegetarian because they don't like to eat meat? If you don't want your yoga community to judge you, you should also not judge others.

  24. Allison says:

    You just do you girl 🙂 Everyone needs balance in their lives. Bacon happens to be your balance.

  25. Mindi says:

    This is fantastic it is as if you were taking dictation from my brain I am so exhausted by the absolutist attitude so many have and you know have of those people, and maybe more go to the drive through with a hat and glasses. OR sneak out back and smoke a cigarette…I have always been befuddled by the Vegan who wears leather clothing and carries a leather bag – I am not judging that as so do I, but I never preach to others what they should and shouldn't do – except to just take care of themselves and be kind to their minds and bodies. I went vegan for about 9 months and got fat and sick – it total through off my thyroid, and my hormones. The first day I had a piece of chicken it was like I could run a marathon. Our bodies are the same outside but no one is exactly the same inside – even our family members. At the same time I eat vegetables and enjoy making healthier versions of recipes that call for meat and it is fine- but the intention is just to be healthy, well and have fun in life. DO YOU! Namaste and thank you for such a fantastic article!

  26. Erin says:

    Hi5 Sister! You made me feel like I wasn’t a terrible person. You are not alone, you brave and rebellious soul.

  27. Thank you for being who you are. You gain points in my book, not lose them, for your authenticity. People have to be true to their nature and your actions are giving others courage to do just that. I'll be you feel a bit exposed after writing that but ultimately relieved!

  28. Grass Oil says:

    i heart you. all of you. all of your bacon-eating rage-against-the-machine moderate-drinker dancer. you have a sister in me. you really do. namaste an' shit. 😉

  29. troop3626 says:

    Love! Love! Love! Your authenticity and willingness to share!

  30. Natalie says:

    Well I'm a yogi pole dancer, and I too swear like a trucker. You go girl. We are all united by our authentic, genuine and unique personalities. "The need to be normal is the predominant anxiety disorder in modern life." Thomas Moore, Original Self

  31. Grace says:

    Haha…#6 I find myself blasting 30 Seconds to Mars on my way out of the parking lot after I teach a really chill class..and kind of hope my students don’t see.

  32. monicasicoe says:

    cool and honest. but what about yama and niyama?cheers 🙂

  33. Ilana says:

    I'm so confused as to when "not drinking" and "not cursing" became synonymous with "a good yogi" and everyone feels the need to write these sort of self-justifying blog posts about the things they "do even though I do yoga." drink your beer, eat your bacon, mindfully and with joy, and who gives a shit what anyone else thinks about you?

  34. christy says:

    I felt like I was reading a description of myself. Beautifully written and well put.

  35. Very saddened by this. As a long time teacher and student and teacher of teachers, yeah, when I was in my 20’s and thirties and pathetically into my forties I mixed up the clubbing and the mat. I taught classes hungover and justified myself by saying “it kept me connected.” I too had a family history of addiction and then, low and behold, I had severe issues myself. Unfortunately it harmed my children, my focus, and my health. It’s samskara, yogis. It’s why we practice daily to learn control of the senses, not indulge them.

    Many years sober, I look back on time wasted that could have been spent personal spiritual evolution.

    Perhaps we are looking at the difference between those who practice asana and those who practice all 8 limbs, because this doesn’t meet any of Patanjali’s criterion.

    Your point of view may be popular, mine will be seen as “judgmental”- usually is. And people have tried to doing whatever they like, living for the senses and the ego for thousands of years. According to the texts, they haven’t been right yet.

  36. yogadivina says:

    Damn straight!!!

  37. yogi says:

    what is a non-serious yogi?

  38. melissab says:

    Reading this just made my day! I too consider myself to be a serious yogini, but am also a huge fan of "non-yoga" activities. I appreciate your authentic, witty post. Namaste and Cheers!

  39. @BreannaHo says:

    I feel like you are my clone! I like all of this. Thank you for sharing—and believe me, there are more of us out there than the yoga magazines tell us.

  40. coffeesonlove says:

    Yes! I feel like you took my life story before you wrote this. I love finding pieces that I totally identify with. Rock on my Scorpio sister!

  41. lisa says:

    You rule! Fellow scorpion

  42. laskiyoga says:

    Thank you for posting something so real! I'm a yogi as well but I do enjoy a nice glass of scotch from time to time and I love how completely honest and authentic you are. I really could relate to this!

  43. Tim says:

    This is a great example of how tradition can become "stolen" and then manipulated to suit your fancy. Yoga is not America, it is Indian, and it is thousands of years old. Furthermore, the type of "Asana Yoga" that is all the rage in the West is hardly practiced in India at all as compared to other Yogic systems that are extremely focused on spirituality and devotion. Therefore, you aren't even slightly qualified to call yourself a "serious Yogi" (a label that is hilarious for a self-entitled American to mention in the face of actual serious Yogis in the East). You can't take an ancient word with profoundly deep roots and then carve it out to mean "one who likes to work out and look fit". That is totally bogus. It is distorting what real Yoga is and it is giving the incredibly deep philosophy and practices of ancient India a horrible representation in the West.

    A "serious Yogi" is actually a rare soul to find in today's world. They are entirely selfless, dedicated to seeking truth and giving up all things for the pursuit of Love of God. Not eating meat or drinking alcohol are only premature symptoms of one who has just BEGUN the path of becoming a "serious Yogi". That is the true definition of the word with respect to the real tradition that it originates from. If you do not like that definition pick another word, don't be upset because you are "stereotyped" into being the type that word is supposed to define!

    "American Yoga" is not Yoga. Anyone who is even slightly interested in real yoga NEEDS to know that fact. And also, the world needs more REAL yoga desperately (compassion), so all this American propaganda is really just heading in the opposite direction of where we need to go. Don't let this be an excuse to enable your unhealthy habits and poor life-choices. It's not hard to live a life free of meat and alcohol. No, you don't need meat for adequate protein there's more in kale per weight then steak. Let's stop this nonsense by embracing the healthy attitude of India, not stealing there "flashy" traditions and then carrying about with all our unhealthy American habits; What then is the real point?

  44. Sabine says:

    Great article and agree with everything, except the Vegetarian thing.

    Sorry, but unless you raise the animal yourself, kill and slaughter it yourself with love and kindness, you're just shifting the responsibility and guilt to an unknown third party.

    If I ever get hungry enough to do the above, I will eat animals. Until then, I will remain compassionate and respectful of my fellow living beings and find something else to eat that won't harm anyone.

    Love and light to you and all.

  45. abluesky says:

    So what makes you a yogi in the first place? Asana practice?

  46. Louis says:

    It's fantastic you're being authentic; however I'm sorry, your body does not need meat, it needs a bunch of micronutrients. I have no respect for your disrespect for other individuals – it's oppressive, it's derogatory, and it's unethical.

  47. Val Bellemare says:

    Kudos. Well said.
    I am glad to know I am not the only one.
    I appreciate the authenticity.

    I have done my Yoga teacher training and I as well partake in all of the 6 things above. Perfection isn't the goal, seeking awareness and maintaining that curious mind is where it's at ( :

  48. f-stop mama says:

    Love this! Being a serious yogi does not mean abiding by strict rules. It means enjoying life and doing things in moderation. I admire those who choose not to drink at all, but for me this is not necessary. We all have to find our own path and sometimes that means indulging in something we enjoy that may not completely align with the mainstream yogic path. That's o.k. That's living and I say go for it!

  49. laportama says:

    You're a normal person. So am I. Just because I don't follow Patanjali's sutras and the Baghavad GIta to the letter doesn't mean I'm not a good person. But it does mean that while I have some awareness, I am not a yogi.

    On the other hand, having become aware of yama, niyama, and the rest of the ashtanga and the teachings of the bible and the Gita, with a desire to progress in spiritual development, and prayer, meditation, and personal accountability, life improves in unexpected ways at unexpected times.

    Yoga chittavritti nirodha, and what you're describing is a set of troublesome but common obsessions, compulsions, and "defects" in the form of habits and worries. I'd be a little careful about certain comparisons in the form of criticisms, descriptions, and complaints and justifications, most of which are unnecessary.

    As always, it's about what we can do not what we can't do.

  50. ReadsTooMuch says:

    I absolutely love this! Great article. One of the best I've read on ElephantJournal so far.

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