October 9, 2011

Yoga Ditched Me for a Yoga Goddess.

I am in a bit of a fight with yoga and it feels like I am arguing with my best friend and losing.

Yoga and I used to be super tight. We hung out every day and, as far as I could tell, she was pretty much perfect as she was and I felt lucky to be amongst her friends.  But then, like a scene out of the movie Mean Girls,  yoga–the brainy, do-good, under-dog character played by (the, then, likable) Lindsey Lohan–was captivated and seduced by the A-list clique of plasticine “mean girls.” And all I could do was watch in horror from the side lines, as my best friend morphed into something she was not.

It didn’t matter how much milage I had on my mat, yoga ditched me like a bad habit for the swankier, skinnier, sexier yoga goddess.

As retaliation I chopped my hair off. How many yoga teachers do you know with a mom hair cut? Well, you know one now!  And then I began practicing at home–in my underwear.  Take that yoga. I don’t need your beautiful sun lit studio, or your fancy clothes.  I cleared some space between my laundry pile and my couch and I am getting along just fine, thanks.  And you know what? I’m bringing fat back. Yeah, that’s right.

Looking back, it all started with Lululemon and their glorious pants. Their pants can make anyone’s ass look good. Even mine. And that’s just it, they make yogis look good–almost too good. And now, everyone and their mom is wearing the Groove pant like it’s the yoga school uniform. I used to be able to identify my students by the way their butts looked in down dog but now every butt looks the same! I fondly remember a time when yoga didn’t care how my ass looked; yoga was just happy I got my ass on the mat.

And then, recently a teacher friend declared that her yoga classes were filling up as a result of her recent weight loss. She said, “I don’t care what you say, skinnier teachers are more popular.” Oy vey. Can this really be true? Will I have to give up my passion for all things sweet and tasty and take on running and cleanses to keep my classes full?  Is this what matters now? Is the competency of  a teacher measured by the size of her waist? Come on, yoga! You’re better than this! My very first teacher had a lot of extra love in her seat (and mid section, and thighs, and pretty much everywhere else) and she was the most beautiful woman I had ever met. If she were to prescribe to this notion that yogis must be skinny, she would be half the woman she is–in every single way.

But what really get’s my groove pants in a bunch is the recent photo craze of yogis in thigh high boots and mini dresses. Ok, I get it. Your body’s a temple and your asana is a prayer. So does that mean the skin tight dress is a very small prayer flag and your heels are an altar?  Sure, most yoga teachers have professional photos taken–I have (in head-to-toe Lululemon, no-less), but what’s with trying to sex things up? I don’t ever want to see my teacher’s yoni or its surrounding environs. Ever.  As an over protective friend, I want yoga to stay classy. Back in the day, when I first started doing yoga, my teacher wore a sweat suit. She oozed about as much sex appeal as Mr. Furley on 3’s company and her classes were filled to the brim. She could have been Fatty McButtter Pants or Stick Stickly underneath those sweats, we never could really tell, and it didn’t make an ounce of difference.

Now don’t get me wrong, this is not a woe-is-me kinda tale. I am truly captivated by the yoga goddesses out there. I just don’t need to be one of them. After almost 10 years of teaching yoga, I know that a good teacher is not measured by the size of her waist or the crazy arm balances she can do in heels (although, they sure do make for great cocktail party tricks!). To me, the measure of a good teacher is the sense of community she creates for her students–one which is welcoming, safe and comfortable.

So while Yoga is off trying to find herself, like an adolescent with growing pains, I will continue to eat all things sweet and tasty  and practice yoga amongst my laundry. And when the time is right, I will be here with open arms to welcome my old friend yoga back.






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Darren [Australia] Jul 3, 2013 12:18am

p.s. "“feel the honey golden light in your…unmentionables” How could you not laugh! I like you Laurie Jordan! Keeping it real for all of us.

Darren [Australia]d Jul 3, 2013 12:13am

"To me, the measure of a good teacher is the sense of community she creates for her students–one which is welcoming, safe and comfortable." That's all you needed to say!

Valerie Carruthers Oct 13, 2011 1:12pm

Great fun read. Amazingly polarized responses. I see it this way: All those cute Yoga costumes and the various figures wearing them are the External = maya (illusion) = the One in the many. Put 'em all in a room doing 108 Sun Salutation = the Internal = the many in the One. That's Yoga.

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Laurie Jordan

Laurie Jordan is the author of YAWNING YOGA: A GOODNIGHT BOOK FOR A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP based on her successful bedtime yoga series, Yawning Yoga and the creator of Little Sprouts Yoga for kids. She has a Masters in Social Work from Columbia University School of Social Work and is a certified yoga instructor for children and adults. Find her yoga practice here.

Laurie took her first yoga class when she was 15 but the experience left a nasty taste in her mouth. She was kicked out for laughing at the instructors mantra, “feel the honey golden light in your…unmentionables” Eeww.

Who would have thought that all these years later, that “honey golden” moment would be the one that influences her teaching the most? (Or at the very least, that it serves as a reminder to never say anything as hippy- dippy and dorky as that–and to always, always keep it real.)