Sex and Yoga: How I Became a Yoga Teacher.

Via Michelle Marchildon
on Feb 29, 2012
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Hot and Sweaty Yoga: What's Going On?

It just may be true that there’s a connection between sex and yoga.

This may not be popular among my more truth-seeking friends who can debate the difference between Tantra, Rajanaka and Shiva/Shakti philosophies, but those of us who have our butt on the mat instead of our head in the stars have another perspective.

“Arousal, sweating and heavy breathing lead to predictable results,” writes William Broad in The New York Times. And may I add, duh?

I used to teach at a downtown studio where the population of yoginis to yogins was like, 50 to 1. While at most studios the adjustments I offered were to ask students to pull the sides of their waist back, or to engage something and at the same time let something go, at this studio I offered the kind of helpful advice you do not often hear from your yoga teacher.

“Sweetheart,” I said to one yogini, “You might want to put on some undies because the whole room can tell you’re a real brunette.” To another I offered, “If you want to get married, I might suggest you do not give away the dairy with that outfit.” For some reason, they asked me to not to teach at that studio anymore.

They probably thought I was just another suburban housewife looking for a little excitement in the yoga room while the kids were at Kindergarten. And, you know, to some degree they were right. When I first began yoga, I was looking for relief from my aching back (actually, I was looking for the Pilates room in my local gym, but I got lost, and that’s how I found yoga).  But please, don’t sell us suburban housewives short; we can be a rocking bunch.

One day early in my yoga journey I went to a studio looking for a class in Anusara and the teacher did not show up. So the manager offered that I should take a class in Kundalini instead. Of course, I don’t know the difference but I do know that the Universe created this opportunity for some purpose (I learned that in a yoga class somewhere).

The teacher had us sit and breathe. Ha ha ha, hee hee hee. It was just like giving birth, except you know, without the blinding screaming pain from being ripped apart. I’m thinking, “Okay, I’m done with this nonsense.”

That night my husband and I got the kids to bed and then got down to business since I suppose one of us was still awake.

And all of a sudden, I am on the freaking ceiling.

“What was that?”  Mike asked. Because truthfully, after 10 years of marriage and two toddlers things can get a little predictable in the sack, if those things even still exist. “Tell me what I did so I can do it again,” he said.

“I don’t think it was you,” I said. “I think it was that yoga class I took today.”

“Holy cow,” he said. “You need to go back right away.”

And that is how I became a yoga teacher.


Editor: Kate Bartolotta.


About Michelle Marchildon

Michelle Berman Marchildon is the Yogi Muse. She’s an award-winning journalist, and the author of Finding More on the Mat: How I Grew Better, Wiser and Stronger through Yoga. Her second book, Theme Weaver: Connect the Power of Inspiration to Teaching Yoga, is for yoga teachers who want to inspire their students. Michelle is a columnist for elephant journal and Origin Magazine and a contributor to Teachasana, My Yoga Online and Yoga Journal. She is an E-RYT 500 with Yoga Alliance and teaches in Denver, Co where she is busy raising two boys, two dogs and one husband. You can follow her on Facebook at Michelle Marchildon, The Yogi Muse. You can find her blog and website at And you can take her classes on


23 Responses to “Sex and Yoga: How I Became a Yoga Teacher.”

  1. Stewart J. Lawrence says:

    Awesome post. What I love about it is your utter lack of guile – your ovary-busting honesty. Duh, duh, and triple duh. It's amazing to me how many yoga people are in denial about this – at least publicly.

    I think it comes down to "girls aren't supposed to have sex on their minds."

    So, we keep insisting that men are the sexually aggressive beasts, while women are just fragile China dolls – or perhaps these wan little passion flowers gently swaying in the breeze?

    It's a sexist and "neo-Victorian view. It denies women – and men – their humanity.

    Men are not showing up in yoga class to look at women – trust me on this. The average guy in yoga is way more spiritual, and way "cooler," than the average female. We put up with a lot of giggly school-girlish chatter and gender condescension – and flat out stupidity – just to be there.

    And on a good day, there are other "brogins" in attendance, so we don't have to feel like we just walked into a gynecology exam.

    John Friend wasn't married, but the women who engaged in their own "on the ceiling" – or was it "in the dungeon"? – sex with him were indeed "banded."

    So, don't they have a responsibility for their own sexual behavior – their unmet needs, which they clearly chose to act on?
    No one held a gun to their head and said: fornicate.

    Thank you for restoring my faith in the ability of a contemporary 'yogini" to tell the unvarnished truth about herself. Most refreshing – and good luck with your new career.

  2. Stewart J. Lawrence says:

    I love how all these folks have read your piece – and then don't have the guts to comment. Very typical. What will the neighbors think?

    Here is a piece from New York magazine which also goes right to the pelvis of the matter. "Hooking Up at Yoga Class." Worth a read.

    Lots of great excerpts and quotes, including:

    "Diane, 30, a performance artist, has been doing yoga for four years and is a devotee largely because of the change it brought to her sex life. “I feel like it’s this secret thing that people who don’t do yoga don’t know about,” she says. “Yoga is all about becoming more in touch with your body, but on some level, all that really means is becoming more in touch with your sexual organs. Basically, you’re doing sexercises. It takes about six months to understand what they’re talking about when they say ‘Lift the pelvic floor,’ but once I did, it made my sex life 100 percent better.”

    Though she was orgasmic before she started practicing, she thinks those O’s were a pale imitation of what she has now: “I had clitoral orgasms before, but now I’m having G-spot orgasms. They’re much more whole-body. It’s the difference between body-surfing a tiny little wave and an entire wave coming over you.”

  3. I was thinking the same thing Stewart! I loooove this post Michelle. I may have to reconsider my decision not to teach yoga-hahah!

  4. Stewart J. Lawrence says:

    That's a hoot. I read your EJ column, too, Kate. It was wonderfully irreverent – and wonderfully smart, too. Thanks.

  5. Thank you Stewart. I do agree that the women who had sex with John Friend had responsibility in the matter. When we portray women as being incapable of consent, then we set them up as powerless and victimized underage children who just do whatever big strong men want. So ridiculous. However, that does not mean John did not have his own reponsibilities and a moral code to follow. He clearly violated an ethical responsibility not to take advantage of women who were his students, his staff and married to other people. As a teacher, and a wife, I try not to sleep with my students no matter how much the young single men throw themselves at me (the married ones not so much — I think we’re all too exhausted). I mean frankly, between yoga and all that sex, there’s only so much I can handle before I have to get home and make dinner.

  6. Stewart J. Lawrence says:

    Michelle, he did, but that's all we're hearing about.

    How is it possible that an industry in which 85% of the teachers and 80% of the students are women is somehow still plagued by rampant "male sexism"?

    Do women in yoga only get credit for the light, but when it's dark, suddenly, we turn to the men. Do we even know that male teachers are more guilty of this than female ones? We just assume that.

    It's part of the feminist double-standard that exists everywhere now, but it's exceptionally glaring in such a female-dominated environment.

    Sisterhood is powerful, I guess – but that can also apply to the power of collective denial.

  7. Stewart J. Lawrence says:

    Those women, as card-carrying members of Anusara, had the same responsibility to abide by whatever ethics came with being certified as part of their community – to say nothing of their marriage vows to their husbands. I don't want to belabor the point, but really, putting all the blame on John Friend is part of the self-same "guru" syndrome. He was all-powerful, therefore, all-blameworthy.

    Anyway, enough said! We can gathering the straying flock together and flog them all in unison, I suppose. Except that I suspect, when we get done tallying 18-20 years of Tantric bliss, and intrinsic horniness, we might have to rent out an entire stadium. We can sell tickets? What a fundraiser.


  8. anonymous says:

    Get a clue Stewart…John was their teacher…and there was a power differential. If you knew anything about psychology, you would understand the issue here.

  9. It should still be there…hmmm…will look.

  10. Michelle Marchildon says:

    Could easily be my pilot-error. Thanks.

  11. Stewart J. Lawrence says:

    That's the traditional, self-serving "answer of a "victimized" woman. Were they working for John Friend? They all had husbands, right? At the very least, they had a countervailing male "presence," and psychological and emotional anchor in their lives. Or, in fact, they didn't. I do understand the issue – and it's scary, but not for the reasons you think.

  12. Stewart J. Lawrence says:

    Your post is a scream! You are one funny lady. Cheer up, though. There are worse things in life than failing to pass muster as a Yoga Bimbo.

  13. Stewart J. Lawrence says:

    "Tantra doesn’t have any moral code."

    —- Aaron Star, founder of Hot Nude Yoga.

    "Tantra is, as Tantra does."

    —- Forrest Gump's mother

    I see a whole new T-Shirt business in the making!

  14. Joe Sparks says:

    It is not any person's fault if that person has a particular kind of pattern. Certainly no pattern is "better" than another. (They are all completely irrational and terrible.) To blame someone for their patterned behavior is a mistake. We do not have people who purposely do wrong; we have non-survival behavior enforced upon innocent humans by the unhealed residue of damages done to them. We do not have mean, destructive, vicious humans; we have kind, constructive, loving humans compelled to mean, destructive, vicious behavior by unhealed distress of which they are the first victims.It is important that we do not buy into any discriminatory attitude toward the worth of any human beings because of the degree to which they are involved. If we ourselves were free enough of our distresses any person's distresses would be easily handled. The judgemental description of "too deeply distressed guru" is really a projection on the gurus of the distress of the too-inflexible, too timid (" too deeply distressed" ) followers.

  15. Joe Sparks says:

    This is a lack of respect on both parties. Almost everyone without exception in class societies will find themselves in both oppressor and victim roles in different situations; i.e. nearly everyone has had experience in both roles. In an oppressive society, oppression is tightly woven into the fabric of every system, even in the Anusara community. The "kula" is exactly what each person makes of it and any disappointment expressed constitutes the person's own distress.

  16. Mamaste says:

    "Michelle this says it ALL: But please, don’t sell us suburban housewives short; we can be a rocking bunch."
    We really are. Great post. Lululmon's loss! ~Mamaste

  17. AnOldTimer says:

    No, from what I read on the erstwhile whistleblower site, all the women involved (in the latest bit of bruhaha anyway) were his colleagues, fellow teachers, one quite senior right? Yeah. Look, c'mon, honestly, this rubbish about these women being little helpless victims of his unstoppable manhood has got to stop. They are no more victims than the newly surgically enhanced milf having her way with the tennis pro at my gym. If you tell me he had a thing for luring in teen girls or seeking out recent divorcees with a vulnerable heart, okay, I'll help you pillory him some more. But these were nothing more and nothing less than independent grown women with their own minds, hearts, bodies and agendas.

    John's a bad, bad boy, and in that category these married women were his peers in sexual misconduct.

  18. Stewart J. Lawrence says:

    Gender equality! Sometimes I think only men believe in it now. Thanks Old Timer.

  19. Stewart J. Lawrence says:

    More T-Shirts!!!

    "My Guru Made be Do It!"

    "Anusara for What Happened – I Really Am."

    "A Friend in Bed is a Friend in Need."

  20. Mamaste says:

    Hahaha, I'll order them! ~Mamaste

  21. […] sex was not practiced by all Tantric sects and, when it was practiced, it was but one component in a […]

  22. […] my daughter great embarrassment. I posted this on my Facebook wall and quickly had to take it down. Sex and Yoga: How I Became a Yoga Teacher. by Michelle Marchildon. Michelle it was […]

  23. cathy says:

    this made me laugh out loud!
    and sign up to ge tkundalini training