10 Things I Will Never Do In Yoga.

Via Michelle Marchildon
on Mar 26, 2012
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Competition, Wanderlust and porn:

Here are a few of my not-so-favorite things about yoga.

Ten things I will never do in yoga:

1. A yoga competition. It’s supposed to be “non-competitive.” Besides, I will probably kick your ass.


2. Ignore the teacher, and especially close my eyes and make the finger mudra while the teacher is talking. Puhleeese. Can you imagine if your kids did that while you were talking? Or your partner? “Um, I can’t hear you, because I’m uber-meditating.”


3. Go from down dog to handstand, to forward fold and press back up to handstand and then float to Chaturanga, Plank Pose. Okay, maybe not never, but certainly not now. And certainly not in a Level One Beginner Class. I don’t need that much attention.


4. Yoga Porn. You know what it is, where someone is doing a one-armed handstand on a cliff. It’s hard enough against a wall. However, if I looked as good as the girl in her underwear for Equinox, then I would absolutely do yoga in my skivvies.


5. Glorify the whole lying broken on a bathroom floor thing. I must have read at least 200 blogs that begin with someone being broken somewhere. In fact, that did happen to me, and it was much better when I stood up and brushed myself off.


6. Lose my sense of humor on the mat. Or anywhere else. And especially not in the really hard poses. I will laugh my way to enlightenment, or I will quit and try again in my next life.


7. Turn down a cupcake because it isn’t gluten free. Or a drink.


8. Attend a festival called “Wander” and “Lust” because I’m married and generally very happy at home. Unless they pay me a lot of money. As Cyndi Lauper says, money changes everything.


9. Start a class with meditation because I think that is cruel and unusual punishment. If more yogis actually read the Yoga Sutras by Patanjali, they would understand that the whole purpose of practicing is to get to the seated meditation, and not the other way around.


10. And never, again, will I put my trust in a “guru.” That also goes for being part of a cult, worshiping pagan rituals and hanging out with lots of Wiccans who are apparently having sex in covens and not inviting me. At least I hope I don’t. But really, who knows? I didn’t know about any of that stuff in the first place in Anusara yoga because I was too busy being non-competitive with my handstand just in case, you know, I needed to kick anybody’s ass.


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 www.YogiMuse.com. And you can take her classes on www.yogadownload.com.


76 Responses to “10 Things I Will Never Do In Yoga.”

  1. Sara says:

    High 5!! I appreciate your skeptism even if I am guilty of some softcore yoga porn.

  2. Andrew Gurvey says:

    I appreciate humor as much as the next person, but I see a lot of anger in your list. Maybe because I have my own biases. Your post is simply coming across as mean. All of the things you might "never" do are not necessarily bad things, and it feels like you are coming across as someone who is saying that one who does those things is somehow a part of some other world that isn't yoga. I'll concede that I am not about yoga competition or gurus and that you bring up some valid ideas. Your presentation is kind of harsh and insensitive, though. Of course, maybe I'm just hypersensitive and reading too much into it. Or maybe your post is just striking a nerve with me because I think some of the things you are condemning are based on anger at yourself. Maybe it bugs me because you make it sound like the "broken" people who don't get up and dust themselves off are somehow less than.

  3. Andrew Gurvey says:

    Or possibly, I'm bugged by the idea that pushing up into handstand from any position is being considered as something other than a way of transitioning into a pose. "Yoga Porn"…Really? So, if you are in a beautiful setting and wish to showcase a pose in that setting with photographic evidence, that's yoga porn. I guess I'm not seeing the humor in your list. Again…Possibly my shortcoming.

  4. Lee says:

    After just turning 50 and getting hurt in a yoga class, I wholeheartedly agree with "laughing myself to enlightenment.", because its all I can do right now with my ankle in a cast, after coming down out of a handstand and breaking my ankle in two places AND being used in the next class as the reason why "People that age ought to know their limits!"

    As you said earlier in the year "Thank you is the new F&$k You"

  5. Shannon says:

    Love #7!!!!!

  6. Apoptosis says:

    It sounds like maybe you do (have done) most of the things she's making fun of. No wonder you're bugged.

  7. Andrew Gurvey says:

    Apoptosis: guilty as charged. I should have been clearer about that, I suppose. That's exactly why I'm bugged. I've read some of the author's previous pieces, and I just felt like there was an edge to this "list" that did bother me. Having said that, I would never want to refuse any author the right to write whatever it is they want, but I did feel a need to say what made me uncomfortable about it. And please note that I finished off my statements by admitting that all of this may be my own emotional shortcomings.

  8. VQ2 says:

    Of course he has, he's the guy in handstand at Wanderlust every chance he gets. The 21st Century fakir …

    But that does not make him bad or worthy of scorn …

    Just not someone I want to be.

  9. Apoptosis says:

    Funny. The first two sentences of your reply sound like scorn.

  10. Apoptosis says:

    It's just satire. And not particularly cutting satire if you ask me, as the author is clearly making fun of herself as much as anyone else.

  11. Andrew Gurvey says:

    I get it. I suppose I just didn't find this particular satirical point-of-view very funny. Again, not condemning anyone, including the author, but it bugged me, and I shared accordingly (hopefully not disrespectfully, though). Your point is understood, and clearly something in all of this is striking a nerve with me, most likely my own hypocricy.

  12. Michelle Marchildon says:

    The funny thing about humor, is that not everyone thinks it's funny. I have re-read this to see if it was "mean" or mean-spirited and I don't see it. I do get a little peeved, as a teacher, when I have a beginner class and someone takes a space right in front to practice his handstand when everyone else is trying unsuccessfully to balance in Crow, Bakasana. That is self-absorbed and rude to the beginners. But if it is an advanced class, handstand all you want. Knock yourself out with triple Chaturangas. Be my guest. On the "yoga porn," I was trying to laugh a little at the hundreds of photos uploaded everyday where the yogi is very external, very much doing the pose for the camera. In my opinion, that has little to do with yoga, and a lot to do with the person, again saying, "look at meeeeeeee!" Somewhere yoga stopped being done from the inside out, and became very much about the outside world. Just my opinion. You are more than welcome to disagree, especially since you did so respectfully, and I'd love to see you in my advanced classes. I bet you are fun and inspiring to watch.

  13. Apoptosis says:

    I don't see any hypocrisy in your posts. You're awfully hard on yourself. Perhaps you mean you've chided someone for these same behaviors in the past?

    Regardless, humor is subjective. You are free to like it or not. I just am not sure where you get "mean" from.

  14. Andrew Gurvey says:

    Oh no. I don't mean to indicate that I have chided someone for these behaviors. I mean, I have definitely rallied against hypocricy, rather vocally (I have a lot of articles on EJ), but I don't think I mean to say that I have chided anyone else, although I may well have done such a thing. The word "mean" came to mind in looking at no. 5:
    Glorify the whole lying broken on a bathroom floor thing. I must have read at least 200 blogs that begin with someone being broken somewhere. In fact, that did happen to me, and it was much better when I stood up and brushed myself off.

    Having been that broken mess myself, I just felt like making light of something like that was in bad taste. The author does make very valid points re. yoga and competition, among other things, but again, I took exception with the presentation of some of the points. Having said all of that, though, it's obviously the mark of a good article or author when that kind of vehemence can be stirred up from within the reader of the article.

  15. omiya says:

    This is a great post. I love #9, could never understand that. A lot of this post is just about true yoga verus the westernization of yoga (not necessarily bad, just not all my cup of tea), trendification of yoga (no, not a real word, and bad because it encourages a whole new population of fairly shallow people to think they are "doing yoga" and not be very nice about it) and commoditization of yoga (bad in my opinion).

  16. sadienardini says:

    "Glorify the whole lying broken on a bathroom floor thing. I must have read at least 200 blogs that begin with someone being broken somewhere. In fact, that did happen to me, and it was much better when I stood up and brushed myself off."


  17. becks says:

    Sometimes seated meditation in the beginning anchors you into the present moment, creates a sacred space for the practice, is a good time for setting an intention and helps students to drop into the breath!

  18. Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Posted to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Tanya Lee Markul, Yoga Editor
    Like Elephant Yoga on Facebook
    Follow on Twitter

  19. Ilana says:

    Ok, this is officially the last article I'm reading on EJ. I'm sorry yoga made you so angry, and I'm sorry EJ seems to be the clearing house for every single angry yogi.

  20. Ilana says:

    Asana is precisely about the physical. It's about working the grossest part of our being. You can find asana in basketball, in dance, in farming…Just because someone isn't doing adho mukha svanasana and sirsasana doesn't mean they don't have their own PHYSICAL practice, and I don't see why there's anything wrong with taking pictures of it, or even competing, considering it's just one part, a physical part (you'd never see a meditation competition, ya?) As a teacher I'd never say "oh yoga is about going inside so forget your body," because this is not productive for students, particularly beginners who are still figuring out what their body really is (I realize you didn't suggest that, but sometimes when yoga teachers denounce the physical aspects of yoga, I wonder about the safety of alignment in the classroom). Yoga is about WORKING and PRACTICING towards a higher goal, and most people on this earth (raises hand) are VERY attached to their ego and their body but are WORKING on LEARNING non-attachment. It's not perfectly achieving ego-less-ness on the first go around, and maybe you have to take a thousand pictures of yourself in your handstand before you come to realize that picture is not serving anyone, but it's YOUR journey and YOUR lesson, and maybe you need a thousand pictures to learn how to get over your ego.

  21. Ilana says:

    no, you're right, this article is ANGRY, not funny.

  22. Ilana says:

    seems to be a common theme on this website… sarcasm being the tool of one who does not know how to express themselves adequately.

  23. Andrew Gurvey says:

    Well, I didn't find it funny, but I also would never want to refuse you your right to post it, and I can appreciate that I won't like everything out there. Having been the recipient of much derisive language my whole life, I try to be respectful when I do not agree with an author. I understand what you are saying about practicing asana in a way that may not be appropriate in a beginner class vs. advanced, and you do make that distinction, sort of. You condemned it overall and followed it up with not in a beginner class. For the record, although I do set up in front (I like to see the teacher and not have anyone in front of me), I would never start doing "advanced" poses in a "beginner" class, but I have been guilty of doing such things earlier in my yoga journey, and I have been admonished for it. For the record, I taught myself how to do a handstand, and it was very exciting to have learned such a thing, and I undoubtedly overkilled it in many classes. I am actually kind of embarrassed about that, but for the sake of disclosure, and because I am critizing what you wrote, I feel that I need to be honest in my own hypocricy and BS as well.

  24. Andrew Gurvey says:


    I also don't see an issue with someone doing a yoga pose for the camera. The whole idea of a picture is to say, "Look at meeeee!!!" or "Look at uuusssss!!". I'm looking at your EJ profile picture of you doing a rather impressive hamstrings stretch. In your satirical article asking Lululemon to make you an ambassador, the main photo is of you in Upa Vista Konasana (a pose that challenges me very much) with your head in your hands looking like you are just relaxing and chilling out. I have no issue with that, but I think, just because you are not at the edge of a cliff, you are just as guilty of "yoga porn". For the record, I think both pictures of you that I cited are gorgeous and you look phenomenal. It's also clear that you have an accomplished practice. Enough so that I might want to take a class with you. To be continued…

  25. Andrew Gurvey says:


    Part of that comes from me seeing your pictures and seeing that your poses are so gorgeous. Even if you don't agree with me, or think I am taking this way too seriously (I have a tendency to do that), I also hope you see where I am coming from, although I understand that, for the sake of civility and respect, we must agree to disagree.
    Also, Wanderlust is what you make of it. I went last year and had a great time. Apparently, because I did handstands everywhere and had pictures of me taken doing so, I'm a narcissist and egomaniac, according to some of the negative feedback I have received. Shame on me for uploading those photos, I guess…Yoga Porn. I had a great time at Wanderlust. It feels like, because you would never go, that your implied statement is that those of us who did go are somehow sexual deviants (you are "married and generally very happy at home"). I may have misread that, though. To be continued yet again 🙂

  26. Andrew Gurvey says:

    And, as far as no. 5 goes, I've met a lot of broken messes. I've been a broken mess. There's nothing glorious about it, but the stories tend to be worth telling. And those stories, at least the ones that I've read, generally do end with someone getting up and dusting themselves off. But maybe I missed something in the post.

    I can concede that I miss some jokes sometimes, or that not everyone's sense of humor is my cup of tea. I do appreciate you taking the time to respond, and I am looking at this whole exchange, from the reading of the article to an opportunity to talk with the author, as an opportunity for personal growth. So I thank you for that.

  27. guest says:

    nice post..I wish you could haveincludes any religion in 10, not just "pagean ,wiccan and cults" because every religion is a cult or a sect to someone else (and one is as silly or real as the next).

  28. Danielle Lordi says:

    Yeah so, thanks but no thanks. As a person with Celiac, if I don't turn down gluten-free food, I contribute to my risk of developing cancer. Wanderlust was a ton of fun. You seem angry and mean, and it's too bad EJ published this crap.

  29. Michelle Marchildon says:

    To the guest who posted about religion. Wow, I totally agree with you and I never thought of that. Thank you, and I mean it.

  30. Michelle Marchildon says:

    And to all the readers who think I am angry, I'm not! I LOVE Yoga. I'm just able to take myself, and yoga, lightly. It's a gift to be able to laugh at ourselves. Namaste.

  31. lighthasmass says:

    Hahaha that was great, at first I was thinking you should never say never…..but you got me on the "wonder" and "lust" a few others earlier on qued me in on the seriousness of thing you will never do. I fully agree neither all but number 1.

  32. __MikeG__ says:

    Thanks for the serial posts. Didn't read any of them.

  33. Andrew Gurvey says:

    I'm glad you felt the freedom to express that. They weren't that interesting anyway. Your time was probably better spent expressing that you didn't read them.

  34. WOWOW! I have Celiac as well, but still find the gluten free bandwagon kind of silly.

  35. Hmmm, I think there's a huge difference between being honest and non taking ourselves too seriously and being an "angry yogi."

    I loved this perspective!

  36. And since I know and loooove Andrew and know and looove Michelle-I can safely say both of you know how to be broken and rise above it. And both of you are funny as hell and I think you'd get along swimmingly.

    xoxo to both of you & play nice!

  37. And this is the great thing about a reader created site. Lots of different opinions—(almost) all of them have a place. How 'bout you write up your thoughts and send them in? [email protected]

  38. __MikeG__ says:

    Good reply to my snark. Hugs.

  39. Sherry C. says:

    Love your blogs, Michelle! Especially this one. Can't wait to read your book.

  40. tony says:

    heh. I'm guilty of #2 but it's not what it looks like. Sometimes I close my eyes when a teacher is speaking so I can listen more carefully without being distracted by the fidgetters. Why show up for class if you aren't interested in what the teacher has to say?!

  41. Katy Poole says:

    Can't we have a sense of humor anymore? This post was funny. There wasn't anything angry in it at all. I was smiling for the first time today until I read the comments. The tirade against elephant for posting satirical pieces is getting old. And I hope you guys don't cave into the pressure and stop posting them. Because they're good. Now I'm going back to my smile. Thanks, Michelle for giving it to me today!

  42. Michelle, I LOVE this! Now I want to hear the 100 things you will NEVER DO in yoga! You ROCK!!!

  43. sara says:

    Are you kidding me right now? Relax, people!

  44. These are great.

    But special love for number 9. I never got that when I've seen it.

    Of course, I have a separate meditation practice but I don't tend to use yoga to prepare for meditation – which I'm missing Patanjali wisdom as well (even though I read the Yoga Sutras.)

  45. Ilana says:

    I don’t know, there seems to be a LOT of judging in this article disguised as “satire.” Satire is extreme comedy to make a point. This is neither extreme nor comical, and I’m getting tired of hearing “have a sense of humor,” because I actually consider myself to be rather light and not very serious at all bit like come ON! hating on every other person in the yoga studio (and probably every person who reads this website) in an utterly non-creative light… “Yogis who take pictures of themselves aren’t doing yoga because I don’t look as awesome in a handstand,” yawn, “yogis restrict their food but I like steak so since I do I’ll make rude jokes about people who don’t eat meat,” yawn. Satire works if it’s actually satirical. This is not.

  46. __MikeG__ says:

    What is funny is that you are bothered by "a lot of judging in the article". And this is after you made repeated posts when you judged the article to be "neither extreme nor comical". Irony, much? Hypocrisy, much?

  47. Andrew Gurvey says:

    Katy, I would like to respectfully reply to your statement since I've been rather "vocal", if you will, in espousing aspects of dislike for the article. I believe I provided fair reasoning and justification for my thoughts as to why I didn't find it funny. I only spoke for myself, including pointing out that whatever struck a nerve with me obviously has something to do with being "identified", as it were, in Michelle's post, and very clearly represents an issue with me and not Michelle. I don't think there is anything wrong with respectfully taking exception to something, with the understanding that we all have different senses of humor. Further, I just want to be clear that I LOVE that EJ allows satirical, non-satirical, fictional, funny, not funny, and controversial pieces. I don't think a piece should be turned down for publishing because it is controversial.

  48. Andrew Gurvey says:

    I am grateful for the comments section. I think the comments section is there so that people like us can state our opinions in a respectful manner. My hats off to Michelle for making me think about some of this stuff and why something like this would strike a nerve with me. My hats off to Elephant Journal for allowing us to speak our mind.

  49. moonlightlady56 says:

    Wonderful article!!!! I do Yin Yoga as often as possible. for many reasons. To learn stillness, really learn to do long sustained facing breaths, because I feel so good when I go! and to meditate instead of lay on my back in shivasna at the end. Funny when the vinyasa crowd appears in a class you can feel them really struggling to remain calm. Thats ok I struggle to do multiple backbends. And no you do not sound angry, you are a funny author with your own view. aloha

  50. Laurie says:

    this made my day. thank you for keeping it real