Nobody Puts Baby in a Corner.

Via Emma Magenta
on Feb 21, 2012
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Personal collection of Emma Magenta

Last week, after a bunch of us had resigned our Anusara yoga licenses, one of my staff called me.

“Emma, what I am going to do about all the times I say ‘we’ in my classes? All the times I say, ‘this is how we do it in Anusara yoga’, or ‘my teacher John Friend teaches that…’?”

I have only just begun to figure that stuff out myself. My teaching is peppered with self-referential comments about Anusara yoga’s founder, method, and community. Now that I’m re-examining these phrases, I realize why I used them so much: I never felt that my personal authority was enough to support what I was teaching.

As I told my friend, these events make me question: on whose authority do I speak? For eleven years I have rested on the authority granted me by John Friend and Anusara yoga. Now that I’ve resigned my license, what gives me the right to tell the 30 people in my class this morning what to do with their bodies?

I’ve concluded that it comes from this:

– my deep personal study of and inquiry into the matters under consideration
– my long experience of observing human bodies doing hatha yoga
– my community of students who choose to come to class and listen

I wish I could say that my authority is derived from my teachers (one of whom was John Friend) and my community of colleagues (Anusara yoga teachers and otherwise). But frankly, it doesn’t. Nobody’s listening to me because I have the John Friend seal of approval or because I have a good relationship with my colleagues. They’re listening to me because they perceive that I know what I’m doing. The people who don’t think I know what I’m doing, or don’t like what I’m doing, don’t come back! But enough of them DO come back that I know my offerings are striking a chord.

Any one of my regular students could have told me this, and in fact they have been telling me so over and over this week. I am so grateful. I feel that I’ve suddenly awakened to the fact that I have practiced hatha yoga for 13 years, I’ve taught it for eleven years, I have a degree in acupuncture, I am a well-educated, intelligent, creative, funny, mostly kind person. It’s time to claim my authority as my own.

Film: Dirty Dancing

Phrases I’m using now:

“In my experience…”
“The first time I tried this I…”
“Many of my students have told me that…”
“I’ve found that…”
“One of my teachers once told me that…”


Watch out, world.




About Emma Magenta

Emma Magenta is a yoga teacher and writer living in New Jersey. She grew up on a sheep farm in Kansas and attended Bryn Mawr College. She owns and operates South Mountain Yoga studio in South Orange, NJ with her husband. You can find out more about her on her website,


9 Responses to “Nobody Puts Baby in a Corner.”

  1. keith milby says:

    Congrats on making it your yoga

  2. Satyam says:


    That's right Emma – well done! Being your own stellar example is enough to persevere and inspire others on the path. Self-reflection combined with self-confidence – with a touch of surrender – is a great combination for moving ahead. Wonderful to read your post.

    Here is something I shared about the JF scandal and our contemporary yoga movement…


  3. Amy says:

    Awesome, Wise, and Beautiful! Thank you!

  4. Love it Emma. Especially the title. I relate, for sure, and this has been the central theme for me: stepping into my own power, needing no outside source for everything comes from within, and the entire universe is held in each breath and inner knowing.

    Okay, that was more poetic than I'd intended. Heh.

  5. LOVE LOVE LOVE!!! embrace your knowing let your light shine … when we embrace our own power we empower those around us to do the same.

  6. Kathy says:

    Emma, even though I don’t know you, Your words really resonated with me! I’m also a Yoga teacher and will continue to stand in my light, especially in my phrasing as well as claiming my authority. Thank You!

  7. David says:

    I love it! As an added plus, I get the sense that teaching this way might draw students to the authority of their own experience as well.

  8. Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Thanks for sharing this Emma! I believe you always have been and always will be your own authority whether or not you decide to assign it over to others (your teacher) or not. 🙂 xoxo

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Tanya Lee Markul, Yoga Editor
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  9. laurie greene says:

    THANK YOU! You have it now…in fact, you always did.