An Indictment of Myself…& all other Hypocrites, Goofballs, Sellouts, Morons, Pretenders and Wannabes. ~ Andrew Gurvey

Via elephant journal
on Sep 5, 2011
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Andrew Gurvey Handstand on Squaw Chair

I confess. I wear Lululemon clothing.

I also confess to being confident, self-assured, and I believe in myself and I have no problem busting out a handstand whenever and wherever I want.

I enjoy being in the front row of a yoga class, no matter how sparse or crowded it is.

I like when my clothes match, I enjoy looking good, and I think I’m good looking. I like wearing t-shirts from the yoga studios I’ve been to and I have no problem advertising it. I am not ashamed of my body and I take off my shirt often.

When I teach, I often use pieces of sequences and ideas that I pick up from other teachers. I try to credit where I can, but I’ve taken so many different ideas from so many different teachers that I’m sure I miss some. I love mingling in the different yoga communities and nerding out by comparing yoga “notes.” I love talking about different styles of yoga and the perceptions—and misperceptions—of what happens in the yoga universe. I prefer vinyasa flow over other types of yoga, but I do not believe it is better or worse than those other types.

I’m a hypocrite. I’ve been guilty of being pretentious and condescending. I do the best I can to live by my ideals and by the teachings of yoga of which I am an eternal student and a very new teacher. But I make mistakes. I’ve given bad advice before and presumed myself to be tremendously more intelligent than I actually am.

I’m a vegetarian. This means that I have special dietary needs. I try to be low key about it and don’t flip out if the vegetables I ordered were grown in the same state where people eat hamburgers. My vegetarianism is health-based, not politically-based. I go to Starbucks. Sometimes I forget to bring my personal cup, so I end up wasting paper by utilizing the cups they provide.

I have a water ionizer and I shop at Whole Foods.

I like technology, although my super old flip phone would dictate otherwise. I have two computers. I use Facebook all the time. I play music in my yoga classes, and although I think my playlists are pretty awesome, I’ve played songs that haven’t always worked. I work a day job and teach yoga at night. I work my ass off and I have very little spare time.

Handstand - Wanderlust Store
Andrew Gurvey Handstand at the Wanderlust Store

I went to Wanderlust. I practiced in the front row of every yoga class I took. I do handstands in my sun salutations. I’m sure this will come as a great surprise to the anti-front row, anti-handstand-during-sun-salutations folks, but I practice in the front row for no other reason than that I like being close to the front. I press up to handstand in my sun salutations because it feels great, adds cohesion to my practice and allows me more opportunity for inversion. I know it’s crazy talk that anyone would have the audacity to do such things, because it must really mean that I am vying for the attention of everyone else in the room; it must also mean I am trying to invalidate their practices by showing the superiority of mine. I spoke to and smiled at every person I saw. If we made eye contact at Wanderlust, then I smiled at you. If you saw me at Wanderlust and we didn’t meet, you were very likely in one of the thirty places at which I did a handstand.

I have made an ass out of myself countless times throughout my life and my yoga career. I have overstepped my bounds with yoga teachers and fellow students. I’ve been banned from a yoga studio. I have talked when I should have listened. I have spaced out when I should have been present. I’ve fallen asleep in savasana. My ego has gotten in the way of my practice, and I have most definitely been competitive on a yoga mat. I’ve injured myself from not listening to a teacher and I’ve injured myself while listening to a teacher.

I’m moody, highly emotional, energetically charged, and have a permanent scar inside my mouth from having inserted my foot there so many times. I’m a challenging person to be around because I have an unfathomable energy level, among other things. I have two speeds: fast and faster. I have two temperatures: hot and hotter. I am two doshas: pitta and pitta2.

Handstand in a hot tub
Andrew Gurvey handstand in a hot tub

I battle with my ego every minute of every day and sometimes my ego wins.

I’m a flawed human being. I wake up each day and do the best I can to embrace all of the flaws I’ve listed above (along with the cornucopia of other flaws that I haven’t) so that I can move past them, perhaps become a better human being, and maybe take the yogic journey I’m on to another level.

Despite all of my flaws, foibles, idiotic shenanigans, and general tomfoolery, I am still on a yogic path. Having said that, I’m sure there are plenty of people out there chomping at the bit, waiting to rip me to shreds because of my hypocrisy and sometimes painful honesty.

I told you all this about me because it seems that lately it has become stylish to deride people in the yoga community like me, who do things like wear Lululemon, practice in the front row of a yoga class, or shamelessly practice yoga poses. Since I do all of those things and more that probably draw derision from the same crowd, I felt it was time to stand up and say something.

Is there an enlightenment map? Can I take my yogic journey in the direction of that map? Or do I need that map to take my yogic journey? Until then, am I relegated to being a hypocrite and fool because I have made decisions that do not fit an appropriate mold?

If one does not have all of the answers, is it okay for that person to judge me? How about if that person does have all the answers? Does this legitimize judgment of others for their choices?

Handstand on a Rock
Andrew Gurvey handstand on a rock

Everyone who is practicing yoga is on some sort of journey. Some of us may not be as enlightened or as self-actualized as those who are passing judgment on us, but we are all still on a journey. Whether this sojourn resides in the physical or if we still haven’t gotten past the aesthetic, it’s still a journey. Apparently, though, there is a rating system for those journeys that only the elite and the enlightened understand. Oh, how I wish I had the teacher’s edition of Yoga for Dummies.

I guess the only viable option for me, at this point, is to stick with being who I am and you can stick with being who you are. Next time I see you, I’ll smile at you, give you a hug, and then maybe bust out a handstand.

Andrew GurveyAndrew Gurvey is an Engineer for the Fire Protection Division of Underwriters Laboratories by day, and a yoga teacher by night. Andrew’s arrival to the yoga mat was a long and winding road that has since turned into a powerful, focused journey. You can read his full bio on his website and connect with him on Facebook.


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36 Responses to “An Indictment of Myself…& all other Hypocrites, Goofballs, Sellouts, Morons, Pretenders and Wannabes. ~ Andrew Gurvey”

  1. connie says:

    Yaaaay!! I feel like applauding ! I am very grateful to read your honest and funny writing . I am 63 young years, and started Anusara Yoga at age 60. I also like to be in the front row as it puts me closer to the amazing teachers and less distracting with others in front of me ! What a journey and transformation Yoga has made and is making in the third third of my life….maybe beyond a third third ! I do not wear lululemon (not in my budget or size !), can't afford to go to retreats, but sure would go if I could, and do handstands with a little assist and really get a thrill from that and any inversions ! For sure I do not have all, if any answers and know for sure that the more I know, the more I do not know. It's all a wonderful journey in which I am grateful and thrilled to be present and happily enjoying ! Thank you for your honesty and writing…hope to meet you on the path !

  2. Yogini5 says:

    Well, doing full mayurasana in lotus lickety-split is even worse. Because it LOOKS more accessible to some of us who have not advanced in our yoga practice over years … In the front row, you give me full ability to check out the condition of your Lululemons (this helps me determine which studios I will feel comfortable in … the older and more pilled and over-washed, the better)

    This Kapha-Vata won't be traveling with the 21st century's answer to Deadheads (i.e. the Kulas of the Wanderlust Festival) any time soon.

    So, to each their own.

  3. catlyn777 says:

    WE all could benefit from more silence, inner and outer, and we all could meditate on compassion. Not a thing wrong with speaking with honesty, or learning more about our current weaknesses or views of reality using introspection. "who am I right now", it is a stage along the journey many if not most, so what, better than fake and pretentious?

  4. Yogini5 says:

    Not sure I understand you, but I think you're on the right track. I think so – because unless we have our mouth open, we can't speak out of both sides of it, now, CAN we …

  5. Chelsea says:

    Beautiful, poignant, and honest Andrew. Really enjoyed reading it.

  6. agurvey says:

    I hope to meet you too Connie. Thanks for such an enthusiastic response. You started at 60??!!! That is awesome! I do, indeed, hope we cross paths someday.

  7. agurvey says:

    Kirsten, I love this. That's my point. What you look like and what you wear OR where you set up in the room are completely irrelelvant. There appears to be a lot of stigma attached to this.

  8. agurvey says:

    Thank you so much for reading, Chelsea. I'm glad you enjoyed.

  9. agurvey says:

    I love this, Catlyn777. Thank you for such a thoughtful reply!

  10. Yogini5 says:

    At 57 years of age, and as a hatha practitioner (preferring more old-school classes) who practices mostly vinyasa and hatha at home, the answer is a resounding YESSSS!!!

  11. Yogini5 says:

    Also, mayurasana is the pose of choice of a real showperson (who would love to entice us advanced beginners into taking private sessions, etc., ad infinitum), requiring finesse, balance and flexibility as well as brute strength. The potential for the inner cleansing of that pose is quite a bit greater than doing mountain pose upside down. Maybe it's because you're an anusaraite or something, but it seems to wow the other advanced beginners where I hail from (not the studio I go to now, btw) …

  12. agurvey says:

    Fair enough. I respect your opinion 🙂 I imagine we probably won't run into each other on the mat, then.

  13. agurvey says:

    I think relegating a pose to being that of a showperson, as opposed to it being that of an introvert limits the pose and what it offers. I am not an anusarite, by the way. In fact, I have butted heads with Anusara yogis quite a few times in my career, although I love and respect that practice immensely. Mayurasana, in and of itself, is a yoga pose that offers its own benefits. Attaching a different meaning to that pose (i.e. that of a showperson) severely limits the pose itself, and takes away the offering of that pose, or those leading up to it for beginners or advanced beginners. As a practitioner of Mayurasana, I do not use brute strength, and am not even sure how to utilize brute strength, in that case. I thought you were right on with the finesse, balance, and flexibility part, though.

    Thank you for taking the time to reply. Your comments are VERY appreciated.

  14. Yogini5 says:

    Okay … Connie, really there should be more of you to represent our generation … I have myself seen even 80 year olds in advanced-level classes and workshops really holding their own. Though in a more thoughtful, measured vinyasa practice such as OM Yoga … nothing crazy-ass.

    [I admit I really don't know too much about Anusara.]

    Sadly, I have slowed down (I did injure myself—my home yoga practice is heavily Baptiste-inspired and pilates infused, even now) and am sliding very slowly down the other side of that hill. I'd never had the potential to be an advanced practitioner, but I was cusping on intermediate level a few months ago …

    I love to chant and get into the philosophy a little bit. Live a clean life, otherwise. There are 8 limbs to raja yoga. The studio I go to now, has primarily advanced beginner classes – mostly Himalayan Masters style.

  15. Yogini5 says:

    Somehow, I like your thoughtfulness … I have seen too many 21st century fakirs (no pun intended) in the over 4 years that I have been regularly practicing yoga … or at least those who did not explain themselves as fully as you did.

  16. connie says:

    The bumper sticker on my car says, "Be yourself, everyone else is already taken." Yes, at age 60 after starting chiropractic care for a wonky spine (30 yrs. of nursing) and being intersted in Yoga since the early 70's but never following my curiosity. I have no regrets in my past, but if I could change one thing it would be that I would have started Yoga much, much sooner ! But here we all are, on the path, and isn't it wonderful that we have the opportunity for our own choices and to dive in to our own beautiful selves to follow our hearts to happiness. To all, I say, "Enjoy this life journey !" Just be yourself and all truths will be revealed.

  17. Bob bernstein says:

    The only time those front row people piss me off is when I'm not in that row. I seek the guidance of the instructor whenever possible. Seeing a great handstand is enthralling and makes me strive to that awesomness. I too have a permanent scar in my mouth for the countless times my foot has been wedged so furiously there. And my path to enlightenment is personal, whether or not it meets your approval is meaningless to me and I only hope you find your Nirvana. Andrew you're an inspiration on so many different ways and least of all is the things you do on the mat but really your guidance off of it.

  18. Marlene says:

    After having been in classes with you Andrew, your coming up into handstands has never felt "show-offy" but just exuberant, that is just who you are. And isnt this the one thing alot of us are learning through our practice….to be me, more often. I enjoyed this article and think it will help everyone understand there are many, many paths to this thing we call yoga, handstand front row center, lululemons and in the teachers face or back row savasana in sweats. Yoga to the people. Rise and shine

  19. agurvey says:

    I bow to you, Connie, in reverence and admiration!

  20. agurvey says:

    Wow, Marlene! Thank you for such a thoughtful, wonderful, insightful and what I consider to be highly complimentary reply. It's true. Since the paths of yoga, and the paths to yoga are infinite, trying to quantify peoples' journeys into words like "clique", or "show-off", or "narcissist", or "introvert", or "extrovert", actually takes one further away from the yoga that we are all trying to embrace. Yoga is for all of us, no matter what your choice!

  21. agurvey says:

    Thank you so much, Bob! I feel the same way when I see people do the splits, or any of those other super bendy things I can't do. It makes me want to find that pose myself, and improve upon it in my own way. That's the beauty of variety and of practicing with others.

  22. Enlightened yogi says:

    If you smile at me I'll just punch you in your fat ugly face, stfu ah

  23. charlie says:

    Andrew! I really enjoyed reading this and since I'm NOT on facebook (but do wear lululemon and drink starbucks), I'm grateful to have yogi friends who forward me your writings:) Thanks for lifting my spirits today with a some laughter and allowing me a few minutes to reflect….

  24. agurvey says:

    Thanks for reading, Charlie! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

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  26. Very well written, and honest. There seems to be this misconception that as yoga teachers, we're either complete hypocrites or people are shocked if we're having a bagel. These extreme ideas only enforce the notion that we are separate from one another, when in reality, it is our interconnectedness that allows us to learn from each other. Straight up congrats to you for being able to do a handstand in a Sun Salutation. My ego is jealous of you, but my heart is very, very happy for you. Keep practicing in the way that feels authentic for you, and keep sharing your vision. peace, love, ~T

  27. agurvey says:

    Hi Temple. I agree with you on so many levels. If more people would embrace their connections with one another, instead of creating divisiveness (myself included, by the way), then we would all be able to learn so much more. This doesn't preclude separate disciplines or styles of yoga. It's the idea and understanding that we all have something to offer, regardless of our perceptions.

    I embrace my flaws, because my flaws embrace my truth.

    Thank you for such thoughtful comments, Temple.

  28. Carl says:

    Keep it real bro, if only more people in the world would actually walk their own talk then the world would be a less judgmental and honest place to reside. PEACE

  29. LukeOZ says:

    You are the Kanye West of yogis. And I mean that as a compliment. Must be that Ch-town attitude. Yea Man!!

    It takes a real man to confront his shadow, to look it in the eyes, to expose it with vulnerability and humor.

    The shadow has power, grace, fire, and lots and lots of prana. We cannot ignore or denigrate the shadow self, it must be integrated, and I have a whole lot more respect for testicular men such as yourself, and none for the shallow nice-guy new-age wimps that tend to predominate in the yoga scene. I know becase I was once one myself, and had to full on embrace that inner wildman to get back into the light and onto the path. Bring that fire, brother, and keep on shining its light on that shadow.


  30. jbnorton says:

    Connie, if you're ever on Martha's Vineyard, please come to one of my classes as my guest. You sound awesome. Om Namah Shivaya!

  31. Thank you so much for the compliments, Luke. I do the best I can to keep it real, although it's always a challenge. As you have yourself, I have gone through a number of incarnations in my yoga life to finally reach the age of authenticity, where I hope to continue to exist for the rest of my career. It seems like you are on that same path.

    Thanks for such wonderful comments.

  32. connie says:

    Jane, I would love that ! I listen to MVY radio a lot, on the web…My husband & I were last on the island in about 1991 and stayed out in West Tisbury at Rosalie Powell's B&B. Went to a 12 step meeting at a hall the Oak Bluffs and swore we saw little pilgrim children running through the windswept trees on the night drive back to our inn ! It was a lovely visit and I'll look forward to returning and the excitement of a Yoga class in the Vineyard ! Thank you, Jane, and Namaste.

  33. Carl, you're the man. From one guy keeping it real to another guy, thanks for your comments.

  34. dominic says:

    Not so much a hyp-om-crite(hell, who isn’t?) More like typically self-absorbed to the brink of “enlightened” arrogance and most certainly annoying.

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