Two in the Bush

Via Bernadette Birney
on Jan 28, 2011
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“Close your eyes,” I’d said.

I was just about to lead the advanced group through the centering portion of our practice when one of our favorite blondes erupted, “Wait–before we start, I have gossip!”

That’s sort of how the Friday Advanced Practice rolls.  It’s half coffee kloctch, and half banging it out hardcore style.  We stand on our heads while we chat about our week.

I won’t share the gossip–what happens in the Friday Advanced stays in the Friday Advanced–but let’s just say that it inspired a conversation about our most awkward yoga moments.

My own all time low occurred around seven years ago.  I had just moved to Connecticut.  I was settling in and was, of all things, teaching Anusara yoga at an Ashtanga studio.  (A lovely studio owned by a lovely woman who was very gracious to have me there.)

As the writer of a blog, it should come as no surprise when I tell you that I love words.  I’ve always loved words.  Sometimes I love words so much that my mind races ahead, gets really excited, and thinks of more than one word to convey what I mean.  My mouth can’t keep up and slurs the words together.

For example, if my mind wants a student to “widen her collarbones to experience more breadth across them,”  my mouth might accidentally combine widen and breadth into the nonexistent word, widthen.  I’ve had this little glitch in my system since I learned to speak, and usually coining a new word charms me.

So, there I was, in the Ashtanga studio teaching Utkatasana.  It was a 7:00pm class and I was tired.  I slur more when I’m tired.  Or drunk, but I try to keep the drunk teaching to a minimum.

I had a new student in class and she was rounding her lower back.  That collapses the natural curve which, while a common misalignment, isn’t a good idea.  To support the lumbar curve, I’ll sometimes cue the aligning action by saying, “take your butt back.”  Sometimes I cue it, “take your tush back.”

Do you see where this is headed? Are you already cringing?

“Take your bush back!” I urged the poor woman who was taking her very first yoga class ever.  “Take your bush back!”

Then I dropped dead of mortification.  I’m actually writing this post from beyond the grave.

The End.

What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you in yoga class?


About Bernadette Birney

Bernadette Birney is a dyed-in-the-wool, freedom-loving tantrika. When she’s not busy conquering the world, taking hostages, feverishly freelancing, working on her book, and posting on-line essays, you can find her practicing the art of life-on-purpose, and teaching in Connecticut. / Bernadette has had the good fortune of studying with the great ones: she’s a certified Anusara yoga instructor, and has long pestered her Rajanaka Yoga mentor, Douglas Brooks. Known for her poetic and precise articulation, she insists that you can maintain a hard-core yoga practice and a sense of humor, too. Her classes, immersions and trainings are steeped in a life affirming philosophy that will invite you into the exploration of your own potential. / Bernadette was one of the earliest Certified Anusara yoga instructors in CT, and continues to mentor the local teaching community, leading trainings and retreats. She has contributed to Yoga Journal, Fit Yoga, Elephant Journal and Srividyalaya Amrta. She is also a Lululemon ambassador, and the author of the quirky, award-winning blog .


38 Responses to “Two in the Bush”

  1. Uddhava says:

    That is hilarious…of course!

  2. Very funny, Bernie. I don't have any funny stories I can remember at the moment.

  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by theyogatrap, Red Fox. Red Fox said: Two in the Bush […]

  4. Scott Moore says:

    My name is Scott Moore. I teach yoga in Salt Lake City. I have two favorite worst moments. 1) Like fair Bernatette I tend to make amalgams of words. I was cuing a twist that involved knees and hips and told a room full of women to turn their nips. So that was fantastic. 2) Then on another occasion, I had two particularly well endowed women with low cut tops in front of me as I was directing sun salutations and as they folded forward, I cued them to exhale and instead of releasing their breath, I said "release your breasts." Just roll with it, I say.

  5. jbnorton says:

    Thank you for teaching me to spell coffee kloctch. I think I need to go to CT on Fridays from now on. Peace, Jane

  6. Release your breasts! Turn your nips! Teehee! I love it! Thanks, Scott!

  7. We're saving a mat for you (:

  8. Thanks, Bob. You've probably just got your mind on higher things, like The Gita (;

  9. You're very kind. Just posting this now to Elephant Yoga Facebook page and Twitter.

  10. Yeah, try telling your students to "stretch" and "reach" at the same time and you might tell them to "wretch" as I have done. Yikes!

  11. beejgalvan says:

    Bernie you are hilarious! I have had several, one memorable one was in Spanish as the word for penis and instep (top of your foot) are similar, so I told them to put their penis on the floor.. and another recent was a guy in my class was sweating and it was a perfect sweat heart on his shirt.. I exclaimed, "Oh look, Mark has a heart on!" :^)

  12. Nina Schiøtz says:

    Oh, BJ we are still laughing at that "Marc has a heart on"-story at Hamsa here in Copenhagen 🙂
    In Danish blocks can also be called a "klodser" which is also a word for balls. So I once cried out to one of my male students: "Gregers, hug the balls (block) between your legs"… Oh my…

  13. yogi tobye says:

    At a TT residential, I had a swedish fellow teacher shout out to me from across a crowded room (as we were all saying our goodbyes at the end of the weekend) "Tobye! I didn't recognise you with your clothes on!" you know… people look different in their civvies than in their yoga apparel!

    Goes without saying she was embarrassed and I felt pretty darn cool!

  14. Sybil says:

    I love waking up to yoga humor! Makes me smile all day.

  15. *jj* says:

    Funny stuff! Love the comments too…

  16. Kali Ma Das says:

    I once brought a class to 8 point pose, ashtangasana … "knees, chest and chin…there..(and what popped out of my mouth next) "nine point pose". The class exploded and a few folks let me know there ninth point couldn't quite reach the floor. death on the mat. I still laugh at that. Lord!

  17. Nancy A says:

    Now I KNOW I have to get a babysitter for Friday afternoons b/c it sounds damn fun! I will make it one of these days soon and I'll bring some fun stories!
    I recently taught a class to some newer students and after watching them do Vira II like Gumby I made them stop and I said: "watch me" (note that 20 people had their eyes planted on my every move) .. then I proceeded to demo Vira II with all sorts of descriptions and tucking of tailbone stuff. Suddenly my front foot moved one inch and i hit a tiny spot of water the previous class had left on the floor and almost went from Vira 11 to Hanumanasana in 2 seconds flat. So rather than demoing a safe warrior, I showed them a great way to hurt your hamstring. We are still talking about it in class.. it was not my most graceful moment. 😉

  18. Pauly says:

    I wanted to say "cat tilt" and it came out as "cat tit". Oops

  19. cbhananda says:

    I have nothing that funny to post but just wanted to say that I haven't laughed so hard (belly workout hard) in a long time and really appreciated it! And then the comments… oh, I'm starting to chuckle again just remembering them. Thanks all!

  20. yogiclarebear says:

    LOL! That is the BEST!!

  21. Thanks for taking the time to comment, cbhananda. A laughter belly workout is a fine thing!

  22. Maybe we should invent a new asana just so we can name it Cat Tit…

  23. Definitely come! We have a lot of fun.

    Oh, the hazards of talking and demoing!

  24. I might have dated anyone whose 9th point actually reached the floor. Tee hee!

  25. Thanks, jj. Yeah, loving the comments.

  26. Thanks, Sybil. I hope that you did, in fact, smile all day. Now I'm smiling too.

  27. That happens to me all the time in Whole Foods! I never remember people's names when they've got their clothes on, either.

  28. Beej, that's hilarious! What pose were you teaching when you told them to put their penis on the floor? Did anyone do it? Did you get his phone number?

  29. Positively wretched! (:

  30. yogadivina says:

    I started teaching yoga in Spanish a few years ago, English is my first language. I am teaching a restorative class and it is almost over, however, I decide we are going to do "happy baby" or dead bug" pose. Dont get all excited because you think you know what i said, because I didnt say "now for dead baby"
    I wish!
    The word for "bug" in Spanish is "bicho"
    "Bicho" also means "Penis"
    So here we are all relaxed and I am saying to myself happy baby ,, dead bug.. happy baby dead bug..
    said.. and now we will do …. "Bicho Feliz""
    Yeap.. "happy penis"
    They howled on the floor with laughter.. I just stood there shaking my head.
    Now, I take a deep breath before I announce, Happy Baby, Dead Bug, Happy Penis or Dead Baby.
    bj.. I never said top of foot (empeine) because it really sounded like "el pene"

  31. Oh my God, is that ever funny.

    Birnie, how about a new blog called "Funniest Yoga Teacher Bloopers" so more people can enjoy these? (With a stick figure drawing for each, of course.)

    Bob W. Yoga Editor
    (Join Elephant Yoga on Facebook)

  32. Katrina Knudsen says:

    OMG, way, way too funny.

  33. Great minds think alike, Bob. On it!

    Also–Dead Baby and Happy Penis fill my heart with glee.

  34. Kimberly says:

    That's awesome. I'm going to take my bush back when I do Utkatasana from now on. 🙂