The 8 Dazzling Truths of Yoga Schmoga.

Via Michelle Margaret Fajkus
on Oct 16, 2010
get elephant's newsletter

My friend Lynn spent 17 years living in Nepal and Zimbabwe with her husband, raising their daughters, studying Buddhism, teaching yoga and soaking up diverse cultures. When we met a year ago, I asked her that most common and most annoying of questions for a yoga instructor, “What kind of yoga do you teach?”

She leaned in and confided, “You may not have heard of it. It’s very obscure. I practice what’s called ‘yoga schmoga.'”

It clicked. I practice yoga schmoga too. I have been practicing it since age twelve; I just never knew what it was. I used to get so hung up on “what kind of yoga” I should do. Hatha? Vinyasa? Ashtanga? Kundalini? Bhakti? Now I see it’s all the same. And I’m proud to practice and teach yoga schmoga. Here are its eight main make-believe tenets. Namaste!

1. All you need is metta. Metta is the Pali word for lovingkindness. Metta means thinking, speaking and acting from your heart. Cultivating compassion for oneself and all beings leads to peace and harmony at every level of being. It’s deep empathy — genuine care for of all beings, including yourself. Metta is gently noticing the thoughts and emotions that surface in your mind with each pose. It is softness. It is love, friendship, goodwill, kindness. Each breath imbued with metta anchors you to the blissful experience of this present moment.

2. Practice is a must. Yoga practice “on the mat” is an ideal laboratory for study. If you’re beating yourself up while executing a challenging pose, that’s not yoga. If your ego is straining to push further, further, too far… that’s not yoga. If you’re sending malicious thoughts to the girl in the perfect handstand next to you — that’s definitely not yoga. Dropping judgment is one of the keys to authentic practice. The catch-22 of a strong spiritual practice is that once you have the practice established, cutting back is not recommended, and quitting can be detrimental. But, trust me, the benefits far outweigh the difficulties of the practice.

3. Yoga is all the time. You don’t “do” yoga. You “be” yoga. Yoga means “union” in Sanskrit, “reunion” in the Tibetan language. Yoga asks: what are your patterns? What poses do you gravitate toward and shy away from? What is the universe trying to teach you? The yoga that is all the time is more than the physical yoga asana practice. It is mindfulness in motion. It is communication, relationship, sustenance, openness, strength. Practice may not make perfect in this lifetime, but it is the only thing that will illuminate you. What if you practiced yoga nonstop?

4. All things shall pass. Everyone has their own pain. We all share the same suffering. We love and hate, kiss and break hearts. It’s human nature. (We are humans in nature — how lucky we are.) All suffering works backward from a fear of death. Knowing that we will all pass away and that nothing lasts forever is what makes life sweet. No matter how foul or fabulous the mood, it is bound to pass. See new colors; taste strange fruits; push beyond your known and comfortable limits. Embrace inadequacy. Be gentle with yourself. There is no such thing as perfect balance. Mosquitoes will bite you. Everything will die.

5. Perfection is a myth. It’s great to be balanced but every now and then, break out of your rut. Shake things up. Be willing to risk. It’s okay to occasionally fall on your face. The things we find to moan about never cease to amaze me. (“I have a headache. I feel overwhelmed by my job. I am so unhealthy, tired, and lonely.”) Just like any other thought and feeling, most complaints are illusory. We might as well focus on what we’re grateful for. (“I was blessed to be born to a loving family in a safe, privileged country and to be given every opportunity for education, fulfillment and success.”) Strive for virtue but allow for failures. Be kind to yourself. As Dr. Seuss would say, you are the perfect you today.

6. Learning never stops. Soak up knowledge, add experience, get wisdom. Everyone is a teacher. Pay close attention. The precious people in our lives — from parents to partners to passersby — are mirrors for the best and worst in us. Be thankful for them. Express gratitude for your beating heart, your amazing lungs, the sun rising and setting each day. Listen to your intuition. Turn your attention inward. Moment to moment, as much as possible, follow your natural flow of energy: sleep when tired; eat when hungry; dance when you feel like it. Don’t fight to be something other than you are.

7. Balance self-awareness and self-acceptance. Know how you work and accept that you are in the right place at the right time. Remember that happiness is the journey and there is no final destination. Meditate for sanity, to become a beacon of peace, to get clear on your goals and dreams, to cultivate compassion, to surrender stress. Yoga’s effects are more magical and fast-acting than any pill, I promise. Meditation is the best medicine.

8. Be. Here. Now. Do one thing at a time with total awareness. Listen fully. Hear the nuances. When engaged in conversation, be present. Your undivided attention is the most valuable thing you can offer. The present is a gift. No matter what, we are on the path. With each inhale we turn into butterflies. With each exhale we release into spaciousness. Your only choice is to live in this present. Accept this gift. Whether you’re upset or irate, excited or frantic, breathe deeply to calm down. Take luxurious sips of air. Slow down. Enjoy equanimity. Find your balance.

Relax. It’s going to be okay, if not better!

Michelle Fajkus founded Yoga Freedom [] in November 2001 in Austin, Texas. She is blessed to have practiced yoga schmoga since 1993. A former advertising copywriter, she is now a freelance writer, international schoolteacher and mindfulness teacher. Michelle aims to make yoga a moving meditation that is accessible to people of all ages and body types. She currently lives and teaches in Guatemala City with her fierce Chihuahua, Lucy.


About Michelle Margaret Fajkus

Michelle Margaret is a Gemini yogini, writer, teacher and retreat leader who founded Yoga Freedom in 2002 in Austin, Texas. Her home since 2012 is Lake Atitlán, Guatemala where she lives in a tiny eco cabin with her Colombiano partner and their adorable daughter, dog and two gatos. Michelle has been writing this column for elephant journal since 2010 and has written some inspiring books, with more on the way. She leads yoga and mindfulness retreats and serves as the retreat managers for the stunningly beautiful Villa Sumaya on majestic Lago Atitlan. Her lineage is the very esoteric Yoga Schmoga, which incorporates hatha yoga asana, dharma (Buddhist) teachings, pranayama (breath work), yin yoga, mindfulness practices and meditation. Join Michelle on retreat in Guatemala!


9 Responses to “The 8 Dazzling Truths of Yoga Schmoga.”

  1. You can't fool me. I looked up Yoga Schmoga on Wikipedia and it wasn't there. (I really did, just to make sure.)

    Therefore, it doesn't exist.

    Seriously, I love this concept. Yoga Schmoga. Good blog.

    Bob Weisenberg

  2. monkeywithglasses says:

    Thank you.

  3. LlikesYoga says:

    It takes practice, practice, practice… Thank you for the reminder. Loved it!

  4. Mary Donnery says:

    Yoga Schmoga – Thank God I can finally label my practice! Fantastic article Michelle…peace:)

  5. yogafreedomfoundation says:

    Wow, thanks so much everyone! I'm genuinely touched by your sweet compliments. ¡Viva yoga schmoga!

  6. yogafreedomfoundation says:

    That's hilarious. I guess I should make a wikipedia page for it! 🙂

  7. […] semblance of earthly or spiritual success, I require one specific daily accommodation: a devoted yoga schmoga practice. Hatha yoga coupled with mindfulness meditation helps my body and mind stay fit, flexible, […]

  8. […] all of these things. But they are not the first, most pivotal and deciding factor in whether or not you will be able to do anything you wish, from chillaxing the mental chatter, to dropping a few pounds or cutting loose another kind of […]

  9. […] breathing in and out, in whatever activity you are doing or experience you are having. I call it yoga schmoga; basically, it’s […]