Crack Smokin’ Yoga Teachers.

Via Candice Garrett
on Jun 16, 2011
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In some circles, admitting you had a drink is tantamount to robbing a bank and riding away on your getaway car that is powered by the blood of freshly caught kittens, while eating fried chicken, potato gunning newborn babies off the roof of your apartment and snorting crack off the back of your Gita.

I’ve never struggled to write from the heart and with honesty, even when I know I’m putting my private life out there. Truth be told, most writers write to get stuff off their chests in the first place. If it’s not edgy, if it doesn’t make you agree or disagree instantly, laugh, cry or ponder the meaning of life, then it’s probably not worth reading.

I wrote an article recently about a really hard day I had, and about having a drink at the end of it. Holy mother of dogma. While there were quite a few who could identify (mainly real humans, and mothers like me) there were quite a few purists and nay-sayers (I’m pretty sure they’re robots) as well. I am  still getting emails about it, and one or two article stalkers who continue to comment where I comment on the articles I am reading myself.

One email went like this: Yogis should not drink. That is the least that is expected of them.

Really? The least? How about honesty, integrity, kindness, compassion and discipline? How about cultivating our behavior towards others and how we speak to them, how we use their time?

This yoga culture of ours is so deep and rich and varied, made up of people of all races, backgrounds and interests, different socio-economic classes… that’s why there are so many different yoga styles to choose from. It’s like food, really, there’s something out there for everyone’s taste. And it should be that way.

But like anything else, there is a human tendency to set ourselves apart from others, to take our jobs, our interests and our money and find a reason to be better than someone else. This happens in yoga too: my Guru is the real guru, my tradition is the best, my poses are better than yours, I am skinnier than you, I wear the right clothes or eat the right food…I’m so much more yoga than you. Indeed, some of the most hateful comments I’ve ever read have been right here on elephant. Oh say, here, here and here. Well I’m gonna call bulls%^t on all of that right now.

If yoga is about finding out who and what we are, about refining ourselves and trying to come back to our true nature, then it is most definitely not about setting ourselves as better than anyone else, or about judging other people in any way. I can’t tell you how many times other teachers have “confessed” that they aren’t yoga because they drink, smoke, eat meat, don’t meditate, can’t do headstand, can’t do this pose, can’t do that pose…can’t, don’t, won’t, aren’t.  I see teachers, more than I would like to admit,  who are only interested in vying for position, as if this is some kind of popularity contest.

Yoga has saved my life in so many ways, saved my marriage and made me feel good about who I am. That’s it. That’s what’s important. And I will never, ever, be a teacher who is going to point out anyone else’s lack. One: because I have enough of my own junk to work through (don’t we all?)  And two: because lack is an illusion. We are already perfect and have what we need to progress past our samskaras.

It’s one thing to stand on the pedestal, as a teacher or as a student, and point out others’ issues. It’s another thing to dig deep inside yourself and see how our so called flaws can draw us into compassion for ourselves, and more importantly, toward each other.

So try this yogis: the next time you feel drawn to anger or judgment regarding someone else’s behavior, take a minute to breathe. If you’re already upset, the breath is fast and shallow, the blood pressure high. So breathe. Watch the breath slow down and lengthen. Then ask yourself if there is not some way that you can identify with the person you’re upset with, in some way…a time when you might have acted similarly. Then let it go. That’s the yoga, above any advanced pose, the ability to really watch our reactions and interactions in this world and to maybe choose another way.

Lastly: there is no destination, you never reach the finish line.  As soon as you think you get it, you’ve lost it and have to start all over again.

That’s why they call it a practice.


About Candice Garrett

Candice Garrett is a yoga teacher, writer, foodie and mother of three from Monterey, California. She is author of "Prenatal Yoga: Finding Movement in Fullness," assistant to Female Pelvic Floor Goddess Leslie Howard and director of the Nine Moons Prenatal Yoga teacher training program. Candice teaches yoga, prenatal yoga and pelvic health with workshops nationally. You can find her teaching schedule at Candice Garrett Yoga or her love of food at The Yogic Kitchen


126 Responses to “Crack Smokin’ Yoga Teachers.”

  1. "All the delightful things of the world – sweet sounds, lovely forms, all the pleasant tastes and touches and thoughts – these are all agreed to bring happiness if they are not grasped and possessed. But if you regard them merely as pleasures for your own use and satisfaction and do not see them as passing wonders, they will bring suffering." ~Sutta Nipata

  2. DKind says:

    Looks like you need to get your priorities straight.. and have a drink as well.

  3. thirtydaysofyoga says:

    Loved the defining moment, the epiphany when I realised it was the journey that was important, there was no end to it. When I realised people's judgement of my yoga were nothing to do with me. When people's judgement of my lifestyle were theirs to own. I t was a grand moment indeed! :O) Do I drink? Hell yeah, I'm a Scottish mother of three, it's in the job description. Will I always do so? Dunno, maybe, maybe not. My yoga journey may lead me on a different path but for now, I judge no-one elses journey and wish them the very best of health as I toast them with my malt. Slainte!

    Great article btw.. xx

  4. Sarah says:

    Great article! I totally agree – as a yoga teacher and occasional drinker I preserve the right to choose how I live my life. My attraction to yoga in the first place is the fact that it encompasses a million roads to Nirvana. I like to leave dogma and controlling others to militarists. We are yogis! Over the years I have changed so much in terms of my relationship to the world and my body. It has been organic. I have never done this or that because someone told me. Only ever because I discovered it on my own. I like that journey. I encourage it in others.

    There are a million ways to kneel and kiss the ground as Rumi says (and Seane Corn has so eloquently put on her website). Even though I don't eat meat I relish Sadie Nardini coming forward a few years back and confessing that she does. I also relish Colleen Saidman partnering with Estancia wine and saying it's ok in moderation. People should be free progress and journey as they need to. We are all different. The more I see things this way the more yogic I feel.

  5. åsa svensson says:

    well said!

  6. Stacey says:

    Perfect !!! Love love love 🙂

  7. Silver Rebel says:

    What about the Sahdu's in India who smoke copious amounts of ganga and practice yoga 24/7?

  8. Guest says:

    You rock

  9. holly troy says:

    Hilarious!! "Holy mother of dogma!!" Right on sista!

  10. Katie says:

    "lack is an illusion"
    Thank you so so much for this wonderful article!

  11. yoli says:

    Love this 🙂 Thank you for writing such a sincere and non-judgmental piece! ~namaste~

  12. Jennifer says:

    "As soon as you think you get it, you've lost it".. this is SO true.. Thank you!

  13. Liz says:

    If my teacher, guide, prist, guru, doctor, boss or friend… can have a real life without a zero-tolerance for human behavior, then I can trust that person. No saints or angels among us, but humans with experiences to share.
    I wanted to join a yoga center, then I found out it is a rule to be vegetarian, don't drink, don't smoke, the cloths to be only white, etc etc etc… That just sent me in another direction.
    Love the post! Thanks for sharing….

  14. Murky Water says:

    Thanks, I would like to disagree though. Our yoga culture is not deep, in fact, like most other aspects of our culture it is vapid and shallow. I have been teaching yoga for nearly 15 years. This does not mean that it is not beneficial, but yoga in the west only scratches at the surface of understanding. Thank you for you insights.

  15. Rio says:

    THIS is exactly why I 'don't do yoga'…rather i do enjoy a good thorough stretch, borrowing from various traditions, as a practice that suits me, when I feel it…spiritual hierarchies are as bullshit as any other type…anyone who has the nerve to attack another person's credibility or genuine spirit according to some fallible standard and the way they relate to or perceive it has missed something along the way…nothing wrong with that of course, but def off point imho…you go Mama! L'chaim…oh and kudos to the commenter above about Ganga and Soma. The Vedas are full of references to adulterants and 'yoga' was almost certainly inspired by their ingestion….

  16. LI_Mom says:

    This is way after the fact, but I thought it was sad that you only got one (negative) reply to this comment. You weren't nitpicking so much as pointing out that even when we strive not to judge each other, it's hard not to get defensive–and we sometimes do it without realizing it.

    You absolutely did not miss the point, and I thought you phrased this thoughtfully and respectfully. Thought I'd take a moment to tell you so. <3

  17. Nicole Haskell says:

    Thanks for the honesty, I feel exactly the same way! Hopefully you can remember the compliments you read here and forget any of the ego driven BS that sometimes shows up.

  18. Tina says:

    LOVE. THIS. Cheers!

  19. Madelyn says:

    This is one of my favorite articles. Thanks for calling bullshit on the hate, even right here on elephant.. gets tiring to see elitism all the time. Well said!

  20. Maria says:

    Amen! Straight forward and honest, thank you for posting this.

  21. Ian says:

    Hmmm…this enture article is about pointing out other people's lack.

  22. A.M. says:

    It's certainly nice to keep ourselves in check as teachers, and remind our selves to be human.
    Yet, likewise, there are often times where others will: put you on the 'pedestal' in their mind, judge you, and expect you to be something other than yourself.
    It gets complicated when many 'others' who feel themselves separate from those involved in the Yogic 'tribe.'
    (When in fact, all are welcome, it's a choice and a continual practise, as you said).
    Good points though on this end. I've been glad to be able to be easy on myself and compassionate about my own flaws – which, definitely makes it easier to love and accept everyone for where they're at on the life path. Cheers!

  23. A.M. says:

    Awesome. Good words.

  24. Jenni Bell says:

    Loved it! Yoga is for everyone. I am drinking champagne right now and I have a nutritional medics diploma. Cheers!

  25. Linda says:

    Good point Brooks! Judgment is a tricky rabbit hole we go down…

  26. LimboGirl says:

    Interesting. We're all so human and "flawed" in our own unique ways. Someone takes issue with you drinking and you take issue with them taking issue. For what it's worth, I love the article and take no issue with yoga teachers drinking wine (in fact shocked that you'd get flack for that). It's all just food for thought.