My Love Affair with the F-word.

Via Katrina Ariel
on Aug 16, 2012
get elephant's newsletter

A Yoga Teacher Talks About the Power of Profanity.

I tried to give it up, but it didn’t last. I’m not sure I even made it a full day, to be honest.

I’m talking about swearing here.

There is something to be said about keeping your speech clean, kind and conscious. It’s important, really. Yet I think profanity has a place there too. At least for me it does.

The power of sound is called Matrika Shakti in Sanskrit, and is a key concept to understand. It applies to everyday speaking as well as chanting and formulating phrases of intent:

Every sound carries vibration, and vibration is what makes up our world. So when you say something mean, or angry, or self-depreciating, it adds those vibrations into the make-up of “What Is.” If your speech is of beauty, integrity and compassion, that is what you contribute.Every sound and word conveys power.

Which is why many of the people I admire have refined their speech.

I’ve done this to a certain degree as well, though perhaps my speech is slightly more spicy than you’d expect for someone so dedicated to a path of higher frequency. I will give myself credit for dropping a lot of the vulgar things I used to say to myself. Not nice at all. I actually made a vow to stop beating myself up with thoughts of self-hatred. It’s been a hard road, and I sometimes slip a little, but I’ve come a very long way in that regard.

However, I acquired a fine appreciation for profanity at a youngish age, and it’s more or less stuck. Possibly the years I rode motorcycles and wore lots of black leather had something to do with all the creative swearwords I’ve collected in my vocabulary.

Yet, knowing that sound carries power, how is it that I still find myself dropping the f-bomb so often?

I was just lying on my back on the floor and the only word that properly described how I was feeling was “Fuck.”

Eloquent, I know.

Yes, I’ve done yoga today. Yes, I’ve meditated today. More than once, in fact. But sometimes life interferes with even my best efforts of staying serene and blissful and I find it appropriate to pull out some less than G-rated language.

You’ve got to move the energy somehow, right?

At the same time, I am aware of the tone behind my words. Sure, I’m a real human being with all the emotions that come with embodiment. But I’m not mean, and I try not to be crude or ugly with my words, even if they involve profanity. I think there is a difference between swearing and vulgarity, and the line is drawn in the tone of intent.

What I’m saying is that, there is, with this as with all things, a balance. Can you bring out four letter words in a way that is yogic? I think you can.

But beyond that, I’m writing this as a confession of sorts. Or perhaps it’s more of a statement of realism: that even while walking the path of love, aiming forever at the eternal state of oneness and unity and peace, there is something powerfully satisfying about saying it like it is—in whatever language you deem best!


Editor: Kate Bartolotta

Like elephant journal on Facebook.


About Katrina Ariel

Katrina Hokule’a Ariel is the author of Yoga for Dragon Riders, and singer/songwriter for her mantra album "Gratitude." She also has a sprawling yoga blog. She likes to do yoga in random places, cartwheel on a whim, and hug trees pretty much anywhere. Her life’s ambition is to be a sage-soul-singer-seeker-of-truth and use her considerable talents to help others realize how incredibly magnificent they are—that and curl up by the fire reading a good book. She describes herself as “part cat, part elf, and part hobbit,” though she occasionally admits that she is also human. You can find her on Facebook here


30 Responses to “My Love Affair with the F-word.”

  1. Caitlin Grace says:

    I believe that we all need to have a vice to help us stay humble and human while aspiring to be better. Mine is definitely swearing as sometimes it is the only way to fully express the feeling in the moment. So a few F bombs amongst a clean living life is not the end of the world.

  2. carrie says:

    Fuck yeah… I completely relate! Thank you for being real!

  3. Edward Staskus says:

    OK, Abe Lincoln once said that folks with few vices have few virtues, so maybe swearing is a good thing, but in my opinion the word fuck is the lazyman's noun, verb, adverb, adjective, and so on. When someone says something was really fucking great, they have not said anything. They might as well have grunted their pleasure about whatever it was. They have not articulated an emotion or observation in any meaningful way, just used fuck as a catchall. If I say, fuck, that hurt, you catch my drift, but again, I might as well have moaned as spoken words about it. Just my 2 fucking cents.

  4. runyogabeer says:

    I am so there. Sometimes it really is all that needs to be said. Just sums so much up. Especially my favorite usage – "fuck off" Just perfect so often

  5. YogaDivina says:

    It was just yesterday I need a Fuck refresher… here let me fucking share.

  6. Edward, I think you have a point, in that relying on any word, including the f-bomb, makes language ineffective. When used with some thought though, it can be quite potent. 🙂

  7. Thanks Bob! Glad it was worthwhile to you.

  8. Ha! Thanks for reading Carrie.

  9. Definitely. I also think that so many things have a place in life. We can get too dogmatic about what clean living is and forget to live. Glad you enjoyed the article Caitlin.

  10. Edward Staskus says:

    Sometimes it is definitely the most appropriate word, that is for sure!

  11. tarafirma says:

    Nice one Katrina!

    I do think it's a matter of consciousness. We bring that to all our words, not just the four letter ones. How many times is the question "how are you doing?" asked, then answered consciously? We echo the mundane reply 'I'm fine and you?' or some other rhetoric when I yearn for a more conscious call and response…. 'What keeps you going day after day of minimal sleep with a smile on your face?' 'I am driven by the love a Mother has for her child.'
    How am I doing? I'm pretty fucking tired thanks for asking! But really I know this too will pass and I want to cherish every moment; exciting and mundane.

    Ms. Txx

  12. cathy says:

    interesting…. I disagree.

  13. You can absolutely do that Cathy. 🙂 I wonder, though, in what way do you disagree? Do you have a perspective to share that can shed some light on the subject?

  14. cathy says:

    "every sound carries vibration and that vibration makes up our world" from the article.

    Or maybe research and reflect on the depth, meaning, intent of the feelings which need to be expressed by those swear words.. get a thesaurus! become more literate and learn to say things like,.. spectacular, glorious, tragic, hurtful, angering, shaming, bewildered, intensely angry, bitter, angst, furious, bewildered, offended, delayed, deliberately, hateful, intent..

    be a healthy contributor to the range of human expression instead of relying on crude sometimes offending guttural intonations to express yourself.

  15. cathy says:

    I checked back to see if you or anyone had read my comments..
    Then I decided to read your bio and book info! Surprise! Not a f…k in the book or its description! You can write a well-developed sentence and a thoght out book with a sequence without resorting to " try the f..k fo rawhile and then another sh..t may occur. You can write without using swear words!

  16. Sheila says:

    I think I love you… I so relate… and quite frankly, (I teach yoga), and sometimes even swear in class. Some may find this very inappropriate. although, you know what, my students love it & live it. Someone once gave me a book on Etiquette of Teaching, and one of my students literally said, 'throw that shit away". She also explained, that she loved that she come into a class, not too yuppy, not too trendy & that everyone was just being themselves, and yoga is not only about seemingly being perfect, but also about excepting who we are… and I am some who says 'fuck'… a lot! 😉

    Thanks for this share… loved it. I particularly appreciated that you described the world in vibration through sound & I firmly believe that sometimes there is no better word to use than the word 'fuck'. In love making, in seeing a wonderful luminous rainbow, in pain, in awe… you get it… I know 'you' do!! 😉


  17. Sheila says:

    For myself, the word 'fuck' is sometimes very passionately used. Nothing a thesaurus can help me find a better term for. Sometimes its not about 'finding' the right word, nor about someone's education. Sometimes is just fits, perfectly.

  18. […] To that, I blurted out in a relatively innocuous tone, “What are you? A p*ssy?” […]

  19. 1Boddhisattva says:

    Interesting topic. As I became more dedicated to the path over the last year, my use of 'certain words' actually increased. Why? Because I was loosening up – in SO many ways – including in regard to the rules I had for myself. Attractive, educated women from affluent neighborhoods…we don't cuss in public, right? Heaven forbid that someone might get the wrong idea about me or a man runs for cover when the S-word comes out of my mouth after a couple of beers (beer…a whole different topic).

    I have actually found a certain kind of freedom is allowing myself to use profanity when I feel like it. However, I have made a conscious decision to reduce my use of it in general conversation – but only because I've decided that I don't like the way it sounds…not because of any 'rules'.

    Namaste, and thanks for the post.

  20. Robben says:

    I am also known as the swearing yogi… The F-word sometimes puts just the right kinda energy into the story of what is being told… Laughter was had by all.

  21. Heather says:

    I like this article….but did not like the leading pic….could have done better….because I have a great t-shirt that is my alter ego….that would have worked well for this post…

    As one partner said, the f word says it all quite succiently…. and you cannot get better than that. In the English language…there really is yet to be another word that is an equal match..

  22. Of course I can Cathy. 🙂

    My point wasn't that I need to use swear words, or even that I do so that often. It was that I give myself the freedom to include them when useful just like any other vocabulary. You notice I only said the f-word once in this article?

  23. Thanks for sharing Sheila. Your students appreciate you being real. Me too!

  24. Yes! I relate completely to the process of giving myself more freedom as I progress on the path.

    And I don't swear that often in conversation with others… Except those closest to me. But not my Mom and Dad.

    Namaste, and thanks for reading!

  25. Laughter is good! 🙂

  26. It was hard to choose a pic for this one Heather. I actually left it up to my editor and think she did a decent job at finding something controversial to match the subject. Unfortunately we didn't have access to that t-shirt of yours.

    Thanks for reading. Glad you enjoyed it!

  27. […] After a tense exchange, the general sense of which was that, because I had left the lane, I was no longer entitled to my place in it, I lost my temper and gave him the finger. Doubling down in textbook New York fashion, he held up both middle fingers, with a “Yeah, fuck you twice.” […]