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. Fan fuckin Tastic!! Love this as I gulp my fully caffeinated coffee.

  2. sam says:

    does cocaine count, Jivamukti?

  3. […] which went on to give birth to its own thread with 8 replies. This sparked a popular (and awesome) follow-up article exploring the idea of where judgment of others comes from and the yoga being the ability to stop, […]

  4. I'll drink to that, sister.

  5. Jesse Neidt says:

    Perfect, beautiful and so true. Thank you for your honesty and fearlessness. Practice was never supposed to equal competition.

  6. Nitai Aleks says:

    Candice thank you so much for writing this. I was raised with an 'eastern' religion and backed away from the dogma that comes along with most organized religions. Now as an adult I have embraced yoga as a huge part of my life but I am again running into the dogma that comes with most religions. Bottom line: We all can learn from each other by having the utmost compassion for others and finding humility in ourselves.
    thank you for sharing.

  7. Randy says:

    I'll drink to that! Cheers.

  8. Kate says:


  9. Robert Stewart says:

    Thank you for being the perfect example of what Candice is writing about. Nit picking.

  10. Sitara Bird says:

    Love it, love it, love it! & thank you!!

  11. mermaid says:

    The left handed branch of Tantra accepts meat-eating, alcohol drinking etc…The Samudra Manthan, the story of the churning of the ocean of milk which sets the stage for Kumbha Melas, where the demons and demi-gods were seeking the nector of life, Lakshmi was churned out, cow, moon, alcohol, and many other goodies. One of the baba's in Haridwar for the 2010 Kumbh Mela told us that marijuana was churned out (soma?) and that Shiva pocketed it for his own use!

    Narrow minded-ness and judgement is such and interesting phenomena; to me akin to ignorance. Why bother going to class everyday and having perfect poses if you are not going to study the broader science and philosophy that shows an asana practice as a fairly inconsequential aspect of the practice of yoga, and a love affair with the divine as the point of departure for understanding duality as maya: then it is ALL GOOD!

  12. dishelle says:

    Ahhh, "yogier than thou" yogis. Thank you for posting this – right on. We are human, hence we are flawed. Even though folks who practice yoga – a philosophy that is intended to foster compassion and connection – it's a long and winding road, and we can't help falling back into old grooves of cynicism, anger, judgment that may or may not have been simmering for lifetimes. Your advice to counter these old patterns is the best – pay attention, breathe, and try to step off the choo choo train of your old patterns. Love it!

  13. Romney says:

    I would find it hard to learn from someone who is "perfect". Firstly, because its difficult to identify with, and its difficult for them to identify with you. Secondly, because its impossible to be perfect!

  14. Guest says:

    Yoga teachers drink, I do, and I teach Vinyasa and teach Zen meditation. Haters are going to hate, its a sad truth about our current culture… Dont let them drag you down, that's what they want, misery loves company…

  15. Becky says:

    I am a crack smoking yoga teacher 😉

    If you haven't seen this, I highly recommend it.

  16. Jennifer says:

    Thank you for putting into words what I've felt so often.

  17. Leslie says:

    Thank you Candice, you are perfect, we are all perfectly imperfect. Thank you for once again articulating your truth., which so often aligns with my truth, and that of others that don't have your awesome voice. namaste~

  18. […] these delightful little human foibles [I just love this article that carrries the same sentiment — Crack Smokin' Yoga Teachers]. Just about every day this week, I thought about blogging only to find myself brushing it off with […]

  19. wearenatureworking says:

    What you do is part of your journey. There are ways to turbo-blast yourself into a more advanced stage of your personal journey, whatever that may be, and one of the ways is to quit any and all addictions or addictive substances. The choice is up to you how fast you are willing or able to travel on that path.

    One thing that I did think was kind of offensive is the picture of the girl in a bra with one hand in a fist and an aggressive facial expression. Mainly because it associates sexuality with aggression and addiction and I find that harmful on all levels. But again…your choice.

  20. No Yogi Here says:

    Yoga (and I'm no Yogi) is about BALANCE. Balance in a good & evil world, balance in an unbalanced world….real people, who yeah, ocassionally toot up a good ol' crack rock. So, if any of you are among those snobby elites, who seem to populate the yoga world lately (because Yoga is the "thing" to do) I hope you realize that your elitist culture has swayed many a people who could have benefited from its powers.

  21. Shawn says:

    Right on! I love this post – it is right in line with what I deal with on a daily basis, and blog about as well.

    If you ever have time, please check out my blog, very appropriately named –

  22. jhon baker says:

    I think it is all contextual. Once we parse out why we do things, anything, we can see the behavior in it's correct light and take the appropriate action. A drink or two after a particularly stressful day is not poisoning your body or mind but utilizing a tool available at your disposal. Utilizing this same tool frequently or justifying it by creatively making everyday a difficult one probably isn't in the nature of a spiritual or well being guide, and is poisoning your mind. To believe both situations are apples to apples is to reveal ignorance and an askance aspect of motivation and balance. The middle way is not best achieved by alining ourselves with notions of rightness or wrongness, pointing out the faults or excusing the faults of others, but living and practicing in a way that allows ourselves to break free from these same notions which are given to us from external sources and not a product of our true mind.

  23. russ says:

    "That's not the way it's done traditionally in India. Yogis are not householders. "
    the tradition of house holder yogis is ancient. The Bhagavad Gita describes how Arjuna is abjured by Krishna not to renounce his duty but to do it as a servant of Krishna (karma yoga), ie as a "house holder", not a renunciate… Mysore/ashtanga yoga is meant entirely for householders… B.K.S. Iyengar, another householder, apparently enjoys a coffee and the newspaper early in the day.. some of the ancient rishis married and had children. Also in India, although asana may not be as widespread as it is in the west, it is sometimes done by ordinary people for its health benefits, not as part of a broader or dedicated yoga practice

    Being criticized by others for not being pure enough is alienating. Perfectionism is self defeating and generates suffering. People may come to their own understanding, or not, in their own time. Being nagged by the yoga equivalent of god botherers for having a coffee or a beer, etc, is just as likely to push people away from the yoga practises they are currently benefiting from as anything else.

    My introduction to the deeper practices of yoga (karma yoga, sitting practices, philosphy.. ) was from students of Baba Hari Das, an 88 year old mauni (silent, since 1952) renunciate, a Vaishnavite monk since 1942, who encourages his students to take responsibility for their own practices, and to live as house holder yogis, he discourages most people from the path of renunciation.

  24. Thanks for this great reminder. I was so disheartened when I read the comment thread from a story that I was prompted to write a blog post about it.


  25. msk says:

    One who does not slander or praise others, who looks upon gold and iron alike, who is free from pleasure and pain — he alone is called a true Yogi. SGGS p686

    One who looks upon all with a single eye, and knows them to be one and the same — he alone is known as a Yogi. SGGS p731

  26. integralhack says:

    Pot ok?

  27. Celtic Maharani says:

    Don't worry. What really boggles the mind is so called "yogis" and "yoga teachers" who eat meat, especially cow flesh.

  28. Sara says:

    Excellent! Thank you for this.

  29. Sam says:

    If you want to go for a good program of yoga teacher training than you should know that what they are providing in their course. One should aware in finding the difference in their basic and advanced course. To become a great yoga teacher you should have solid foundation and knowledge about basic skills. Here we are offer training programs for yoga teachers with at least 200 hours. We are having training with Cain Carroll, who is known for his worldwide teachings of yoga, meditation and self-healing.

  30. Hello, i feel that i noticed you visited my website so i came to go back the favor?.I’m trying to to find things to improve my website!I suppose its good enough to make use of some of your concepts!!

  31. Rev. Mike Kruse says:

    Shiva created yoga. Shiva smoked A LOT of weed and was frequently intoxicated. We are all Shiva. there is no need for judgement, perfection is only what we perceive it to be, if it makes you happy, and you aren't hurting anyone, have at it. oh ya, remember to breathe.
    great article

  32. Erin says:

    Totally agree with you… but I really just wanted to

    comment on how cute your bio pic is! I also have a “helper” 😉

  33. ChristinaLee says:

    Yes, Candice, we are all perfect, we need to remind ourselves, keep it real and maintain the that we are human, yogis or not. Thank you for sharing!

  34. Leslie Billington says:

    As a new yoga teacher, that was the best advice us “newbees” could get!! Thanks for the inspiration!!

  35. anastasia says:

    Haha, so true! I am glad you had the balls and say it. 🙂

    And i love your bio pic: I also practice yoga with babies crawling all over me. 🙂

  36. Sonyata says:

    "Yoga has saved my life in so many ways, saved my marriage and made me feel good about who I am." – that's beautiful!

    They asked me if I can put my foot behind my head. No. But I put it in my mouth occasionally. They said "You can't teach yoga if you smoke!"

    "Before Yoga, I used to climb out of bed like a corpse out of a coffin, reach for a cigarette and make a cup of coffee. After Yoga, I spring out of bed and walk to Starbucks to get a Latte' and smoke a cigar." That's progress.

    Yoga – it's not what you think.

  37. Candice Garrett says:

    Thanks! It was a great moment to catch!

  38. Lori W says:

    What ever happened to the yoga tenet of NOT judging others?? I’m a certified yoga instructor who has had a drink when needed, smoked a cigarette when I wanted to and has an on going love affair with cheeseburgers… Screw those people. Ahimsa – non violence, and sometimes a drink is needed to pull that one off 🙂

  39. Liz says:

    Too bad we have to take breaks from beating ourselves up to beat on others instead. I try to be better every day. Most of all, I really really try to shut off the voice when I hear it judging someone else. And, my goodness gracious, who doesn’t love wine? Why not live a little? 🙂 Thanks for the post.

  40. kiwiyogini says:

    So well put Annie – was thinking similar thoughts myself but you have articulated them beautifully – thank you!

  41. Jan says:

    So completely western to make yoga competitive! Namaste!

  42. beerasana says:

    This is why we created Beerasana. Because yoga is for EVERYONE.

  43. Loren says:

    fan frigging tastic!!!!

  44. […] Why can yogis and yoginis become apocalyptic about what food they put in their body, yet get drunk o… […]

  45. Carol says:

    I am a yoga teacher…could not agree more!! THanks for writing…

  46. Beerisgood says:

    Maybe we should hold teachers to a higher standard? To be a yoga teacher all you need is money and a 200hr teacher training. You can be a prescription drug abusing, alcoholic, big mac eater, std spreading, fundamentalist and teach yoga.

    So maybe we shouldn't be judgmental of those teachers that like to have a few drinks, but where do you draw the line? Is it ok for teachers to smoke cigarettes? Personally, I think crack is statistically safer than alcohol and, if we must, marijuana should be the goto drug of choice. It's non-addictive, comes from the earth, and hasn't killed anyone.

  47. Kimberly says: