My Asana Kicks Your Asana’s Ass. ~ Brie Doyle

Via elephant journal
on May 14, 2011
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You know the type:

Sports bra only, teeny tiny spandex, killer tan and six-pack, fake knockers and naturally curly locks who’s always positioned front and center in class. You try not to notice her, but by God, you’d sleep with her if you didn’t have a husband and kids. The tiny bead of sweat coming off of her looks like liquid gold to your buckets of gnarly, salted byproduct. And while you’re grunting your way through every sun salutation, she bends beautifully with the grace of a Julliard-educated ballerina.

Photo: Tiffany Assman

What starts as awe quickly becomes jealously before you can blink twice. Suddenly you’re half way through class and the whole “focusing on yourself” thing has yet to happen because you can’t keep your eyes off the effing goddess to your left who is still holding her handstand. “Damn her!” You think as you take yet another swig of water noticing her bottle has yet to be cracked.

I get it. We’ve all been there. It’s hard to stay focused when lately yoga classes feel more like the Friday night meat-market out at the bars. And somehow, everyone in the town of Boulder has managed to have practiced yoga for at least twenty years already. What the? That or people here were just “born naturally flexible.” Sweet.

But viewing yoga as a sport or some kind of competitive endeavor is just ridiculous. I know and really believe that, even though at times I’m as guilty as the next idiot. So, I try and do as the cliché suggests and “focus on my breathing” and on my own practice.

Yet it never ceases to amaze me how many people do come to classes seemingly with the intention of having the “best asana.” Too many times I’ve heard students engage in hollow conversations about how they’ve “been to five yoga classes in the past two days,” and how they’re “sorry to hear you could only make it to one.” One upping each other in yoga? For real?

Photo: Lululemon Athletica

Well, maybe it’s the new age yoga challenge: how to have a healthy, grounded and mindful practice in a sea of competing Barbie and Kens. I guess it’s hard for me to feel that this profound practice, that at first felt so authentic and private, is as pop culture and expected as watching American Idol. Guess it’s time to get over that.

So, I suppose I have a new practice in my yoga. Next time I try to hold chaturanga too long because my homeboy Ken on the left is doing the same, maybe, just maybe I’ll remember to look inward as opposed to out.


Though pretentious yuppies abound in Brie’s home town of Boulder, CO, she can’t seem to find another place she’d rather live. But she’s been fortunate enough to try many places. From NYC to New Zealand, SE Asia, Japan, Nepal and India, Brie has traveled the world seeking adventure and stories to share. Pre-babies, she was a middle school teacher and a yoga teacher, but now that she is pumping out children, she stays at home and writes. She has written two novels, one based in India, one based in New York, and she is furiously seeking publication. In the meantime, she can be found making light of life on her blog:


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38 Responses to “My Asana Kicks Your Asana’s Ass. ~ Brie Doyle”

  1. Lilliputian says:

    Another way to approach this "asana jealousy", is that rather to wallow in one's own set backs from a particular form, take pleasure in the beauty someone who can perform it brings. By morphing jealousy into inspiration and outward love, then you truly shift your attitude within your practice.

  2. sarah says:

    Ouch. Maybe part of "looking inward instead of out" should involve a bio that avoids labeling others as "pretentious yuppies."

  3. Luke says:

    You definitely nailed it on this one. I just out of a yoga class that felt like a Saturday night happy hour with people abound like you're describing.

  4. Yiipppeee says:

    Everyone knows Boulder is filled with pretentious yuppies! It’s just part of Boulder’s identity. Luckily there are also a lot of wonderful people too 🙂

  5. tanya lee markul says:

    Hi Brie – nice! Love the reminder to turn our attention back to being inward.

    Great blog.

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

  6. Yogini5 says:

    That's true, EcoYogini. Not to say I am not competitive about other things (but chances are these are more cerebral things than athletic). First, choose your battles. Then, choose your allegiances. And, finally, move on, to CHOSEN venues. Because, paradoxically, they acted like they cared to have me stay at the kick-asana places. They'd really clung. Like a barnacle.

    I need enlightenment at my own pace. I know I will get there. To the kick-asana studios: Thanks but no thanks.

  7. Yogini5 says:

    And what is your home practice like?
    Do you even have one?

  8. Yogini5 says:

    It has nothing to do with the presence or absence of mirrors in the studio (some yoga studios also teach dance and dance-fitness in the same studio rooms, and they have to have at least mirrors if not other dance accoutrements) and everything to do with the style of yoga taught in that studio.

  9. Yogainthevalley says:

    Learning to deal with our tendencies towards competitiveness and judgement is part of the practice of yoga. Not everyone has learned that or is ready for it yet. Everyone gets there in their own time. Why should their primping or one-upmanship have any affect on your practice?
    …and I do agree that labeling people as "pretentious yuppies", or anything else, may not be in the full spirit of yoga.

  10. warriorsaint says:

    I agree! ..and do the same here in NY. There are some warm, funny, wonderful teachers here. I try to sample a new studio every month or so to kick start my home practice when I start to feel stale.

  11. warriorsaint says:


  12. SAL says:

    I like old hippie yoga, which included asanas (to prepare for meditation), meditation and striving to be a conscious, kind person. I think something is lost in a gymnastics-focused practice, although it's very beautiful to watch.

  13. Yogini5 says:

    I do, too. The Kundalini-infused neo-hippie kind rocks–

    And in the centering, calming, spirit-rising department: My kriya can kick asana ass, sometimes …

  14. Awesome, so cute! Love the use of light in these images.

  15. Just posted to "Featured Today" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

    Bob W.
    Yoga Editor

  16. Leah says:

    Maybe nothing is "lost" in an asana practice that is viewed at strong. Maybe the asana is a moving meditation to the practitioner.

  17. lek says:

    Indeed "hahahah"

  18. lek says:

    That is a nice responce. I bet you teach a great class.
    All the best.

  19. […] My Asana Kicks Your Asana’s Ass […]

  20. leah says:

    Right on!!!! I feel the same way you do Yogaman. My Asana practice is what some people think of as advanced, I think I have just become stronger and more flexible because I practice everyday. It makes me happy to venture outside of any box I can conceive and try new things, advanced variations.
    I don't think I'm showing off either, I think I am being true to my practice!!!

  21. Yogini5 says:

    It's one thing to have a practice like that after 25 years, and yet quite another to have a practice like that after 25 months; and then take a teacher training that takes – start to finish – about 1/4th that amount of time.

    And, from there, you teach an average person in their 50s who paid good, hard-earned money for your class, from the perspective that they could physically either be like you, the teacher … or never be like you, the teacher …

  22. Lek says:

    Boy this blog seems to have gotten up a lot of noses. 🙂
    I have really enjoyed reading the comments. There were some interesting observations on our fellow yogin.
    Cheers you lot.

  23. leah says:

    Why would it matter if the time frame was 25 months or 25 years? Why would it matter if a student who has been practicing for 25 months chose to take a teacher training, or the person who has been practicing for 25 years? Is the time frame the deciding factor for teaching a class?

    I've been practicing asana for 7 years and I've taken some great classes from teachers who were just certified to teachers who have been teaching 30 years.

  24. curtisbrown baltmd says:

    I belong to a thriving yoga community in Baltimore Md. Last night I stayed up in side crow for the first time after 5 years of practice. No applause in the room. No one knew but me – a personal victory. I laughed to myself and out loud a little bit, another one of my impossible poses, transformation.The point is not the pose, am I breathing?, just move and breathe. From beginners to advanced, I am inspired by the quiet devotion and dedication of those practicing around me. I am so grateful to them and my teachers for sharing their devotion by showing up to the mat everyday. Just read Donna Farhi's Teaching Yoga, she gives eloquent description of yoga etiquette and devotion throughout her book, very inspiring to me as a student. Thank you for your post.

  25. Yogini5 says:

    I have been practicing yoga asana regularly for only 4 years now.
    And for the first well over a year, avoided inversions—not liking them.
    The handstand that the mostly young people do speaks to me in a much different way than it does to someone half my late 50's age.

    But what do I know, having been a meditation addict for many years before ever taking to the mat?
    And what do I know, being immediately smitten by kirtan?
    Even chanting audibly in the gym while practicing on my own ? [Fish out of water, THERE]

  26. Yogini5 says:

    I have to tell myself that about Suzie Q (and remind myself of encouragement like that in other situations)–those All Level classes have got out of hand these days.

    Remember when All Level used to really mean "all levels" welcome and met where they are?
    Maybe you're a little young to remember …

  27. […] My Asana Kicks Your Asana’s Ass. ~ Brie Doyle […]

  28. Yogatchr says:

    I thought this was very very funny. A yogini with a sense of humor…Yay!! I shared this an several of my students and they got a kick out of it. It also generated some discussion about how the very lovely group of people I teach are joyful about each others practices as well as their own. Sometimes in class we even joke around. Scandalous!

  29. Yogatchr says:

    **with several of my students that is

  30. gretchen says:

    "And what is your home practice like?
    Do you even have one? "

    Why are you so obsessed with the home practice of others?!? For me, my home practice is a totally private space where I have the freedom to practice away from judges like you. And as JenG said, "I'm curious — do you even know any advanced practitioners that DON'T have a home practice?" I am so completely offended by your remarks. I have practiced religiously for about 12 years… in many studios and many gyms, and i continue to take ALL levels of class to suit my body/mind at that given time, and I take something away from every, single class. I also teach people from absolute beginner, to quite advanced. For the record, the main thing that I see in my students is their connection to their practice, not what postures they can twist their bodies into, or how beautiful the rendition. So, I am the tiny little thing with the long, wavy blonde hair, that can get into poses no one else in the class can achieve. Are you implying that I should hold back when I'm in a more basic class? Or that I should only practice at home so that you feel better about yourself and your practice? It's absolutely absurd! Guess what, my personal yoga practice is for my benefit alone. I would rather you keep your eyes and thoughts off of me. I have a question for you, Yogini5… It's not, do you have a "home practice," but rather, do you have a spiritual practice? Do you have an understanding of "yoga" off the mat?

  31. Yogini5 says:

    That first picture looks like a hot yoga class. The temperature exaggerates the gym-going body of the yogini in the foreground. Great photography.

  32. […] If an individual who was intent on a Yoga practice applied the highest values of Rand’s philosophy, that individual would undoubtedly be in India at this very moment perfecting every asana. […]

  33. Boulderisforchumps says:

    You live in Boulder, girlfriend! All that sh*t’s expected! Keep your asssana up yous a funny broad!

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  35. Yogini5 says:

    Yoga classes like that spawn professional yogis who think they can do a demonstration in a crowded New York City subway train:

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