I’ve Got a Bone to Pick with My Yoga Teacher. ~ Tanya Maria Mah

Via elephant journal
on Oct 4, 2012
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I’m banning myself from reading anymore yoga, health or happiness blogs.

I’m ignoring the incessant spamming from life coaches, naturopaths and other wellness professionals.

I’m clicking “hide” and “unsubscribe” to block the daily bombardment of “inspirational life quotes” from my newsfeed.

I’m breaking up with Twitter and then I’m un-following people on instagram.

Someone needs to call it.

No more quinoa recipes, positive affirmations or “love yourself” watery diatribes. It’s really f*cking simple; just do the things you enjoy and make you happy.

There was a time in my life when the affirmations, life quotes and recipes did make me happy, but recently I’ve found myself getting lost in a sea of chia-seed appreciation groups, love hearts and Rumi quotes. This non-stop bombardment of information feels more like a fancy marketing strategy than a from-the-heart form of connection and communication.

Call me cynical, but I promised myself I would be more discerning with what messages I allow in and consume.

It’s crazy, but after reading post after post of inspirational quotes, or daily insights followed by images of people leaping into the air or mediating at the beach intertwined with cross product/service promotion, I kind of want to throw-up in my mouth a little.

Why complicate things with more dogma, more do’s and dont’s? Don’t do this, don’t eat that, meditate, sing, dance, dry-hump a yoga teacher blah, blah, blah. Don’t get me wrong, I loooovvve yoga, meditation and, on the odd occasion, would be totally up for dry-humping a yoga teacher. If you like, or want something, and it isn’t against the law, or has the potential to hurt others, I say go for it. I just don’t want to be saturated with stories of “self discovery” about it.

I really believe that we a suffering from an oversupply of well-meaning, but uppity teachers and wellness professionals who suffer from a rockstar complex. They may as well tattoo “I’m a rockstar, people pay attention and listen to me” on their foreheads.

It’s a freaking epidemic and it’s all over your newsfeed and spamming your inbox right now. So teachers, while I value your insights and your wisdom, I’m done with your chia-seed recipes, overused stock images and random quotes.

Show me something real: give me something of value, show me what makes you an individual, what makes you tick, your darkness, your light, your strength, your joy. Show me why you even bothered to become a teacher in the first place. Just don’t give me mainstream feel-good bullsh*t.

Don’t give me this watered down version of new-age spirituality.

Don’t cross promote your sister, your brother, your friend or your mom’s product, or service unless it’s extremely relevant, or you yourself have tried it and truly, hand-on-heart believe in it.

It’s not good enough, and the people who click ‘like’ or ‘subscribe’ deserve better than that.

Do not use the word “authentic” unless you truly are, and if you post a photo of the green smoothie you had for breakfast I will personally punch you in the face.




Tanya Maria Mah is a designer, an occasional seeker of all things true, a yogi, a hippie (not a hipster), a teeny-tiny disco dancer, a sometimes-cook and an eternal optimist. She can be creative, is frequently inappropriate and aspires for inspiration. When asked for a bio she Facebook polled her friends for one word that describes her and they came up with the following: loves hearts, crazy (this was mentioned a few times!), sunshine, bubbly, meatball, mcskank  (personal joke), excitable, spunky monkey, delicious, pixie and charismatically crazy (a new spin on an old favorite!) To get in touch, please email [email protected]


Editor: Thaddeus Haas

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106 Responses to “I’ve Got a Bone to Pick with My Yoga Teacher. ~ Tanya Maria Mah”

  1. Jean Marie says:

    I love this!

  2. kate says:

    Yes!!! I FEEL THIS WAY!

  3. Thank you. I tried it. I actually believed I could be one of them for awhile. But the words coming out of my mouth felt hallow, phoney, void of any real meaning. I realized that I was burned out on all of it. The holier than thou message yoga has become. I started yoga with the postures and loved it for years. When I started turning it into something more is when I grew to really hate it. Became burnt out and wanted to escape from anything associated with the topic. I did miss it though so I went back to the basics. Back where I started Classes outside of a studio, videos on tv, home practice without chanting, long meditations, or labored breathing. I slowly started to fall in love again. Less is more for me. Practicing two to three times a week is perfect vs. two to three times a day I was doing before. Now I'm trying to clear my feeds of so much positive health spam. I'm re-embracing my cynical side. The side that likes black humor, snide comments, and is a bit raunchy. The side that loves bad things in life as much as the good. Beer, pizza, skipping workouts, indulging in occasional unpleasant banter. And guess what, I feel like me again. Not some caricature of what the yoga industry tells me I need to be. The books and other remnants of my year of insanity are there to remind me of what I don't want to be instead of pressuring me to be something I am not. I've made peace with being perfectly imperfect. Dare I say majorly flawed but peacefully authentic.

  4. Alice says:

    One yogi's inspiration is another's flip the bird. I know from my personal experience that if I love something a lot I'm bound to dislike it immensely at some point. I think you hit the nail on the head when you said that at one point the superficial apspect of the yoga world worked for you. I wonder what changed and why? It's a curious world we live in and I am the first to admit that I have experienced my own bouts of cynicism and judgement of yogis and the world of yoga.

    I do remember, though, the feeling of being inspired and feeling connected and how much I was in love with yoga and what it had to offer. I guess sooner or later, I had to come down from that experience and begin to investigate why I was drawn to yoga in the first place and in leaving that world behind had to figure out what worked for me.

    It's like being married. The first 5 years of my marriage was inspirational bliss, the next 5 years, resignation and questions like " Are you as sick of me as I am of you?" to the next 5 years which I consider, "What would I like to have happen here and is it up to me or is this something that we work towards together?".

    Do I always work from that premise? Hell no, there are some days when the whole world looks pretty frickin' sad and pathetic. Yet, when that arises for me as an experience, I have begun to ask myself why? and what changed?

    In the end, I always have the right to my own opinion, as long as I see it as such.

    Thanks for your article and the chance to comment.

  5. Renee says:

    You need to do more yoga and Chillax!! I for love my inspirational quotes and life affirming quotes. I've heard way to many negatives in my life!! Send the love my way anytime !! Be grateful! Be compassionate be love

  6. Yikes says:

    Love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, LOVE!!!!!!!

  7. tanya_maria_mah says:

    Thankkkkkksss!!! Thats awesome (I was worried that people would get REALLY offended after reading) 🙂

  8. tanya_maria_mah says:

    so beautiful. I hear you, ive seen so many people go into yoga and become caricatures of their former selves because they’re SO busy trying to fit into this ridiculous idea. We need to honour both the light and dark aspects of ourselves otherwise we’re completely ignoring duality and our ultimate “wholeness” – thankyou for replying xx

  9. tanya_maria_mah says:

    yes, the superficial definitely worked and made me feel-good for a while BUT it wasn't the answer I was looking for because its SO vacuous and lacks any form of depth or true integrity. Yes its pretty and yes it feels nice but people deserve more, and I was searching for more depth and more connection.

    Fancy advitorial just dont’ cut it.

    Thank you Alice!! xx

  10. tanya_maria_mah says:

    haha thanks chicka, I’ll be sure to get my ohmmm on asap…just after i drink a green smoothie ( blahhhh) ! 🙂

  11. tanya_maria_mah says:

    Hand-on-heart THANKYOU! X

  12. Vision_Quest2 says:

    If I were still active on Facebook (THANK YOU, TIMELINE, YOUR FORCING ME TO HAVE YOU AS A USER INTERFACE, MADE MY DECISION TO LEAVE …. EASY) I'd share you with all my Facebook "friends".

    I wish you could not have to be preaching to the choir.

    Facebook is for USERs, (of people, NOT referring to technology), pure and simple.

    I'm working on how to share this post on Diaspora, however … once a social media user, always a social media user …

  13. greateacher says:

    love it love it.. when I have all day to schedule wtht nothing to do but make a green smoothie and go to yoga and gym and garden and click on lots of stuff.. I see who all else does and who posts so MMUUCCHH .. some ar eover-promoting, soem ar eunemployed, some post things I like… but when I work 8-9 hours and come home and have 100 FB entries and see that 3 people entered 45 of those.. and most friends had no time ( I gathered a lot of yoga friends) I reflect how unneeded much is for me now.

    However som eof thos eposts go tme through some less busy times and the constant stream of good will and love stil carries me.

  14. Micaela says:

    Take what you need. Leave the rest for others. Love the honesty, though. 🙂

  15. Jenifer says:

    So true.

    I have spent about 20 minutes a week these days clearing out my facebook "likes" for the likes that I actually like to get information form, and then also cleared out all email newsletters that i get from everywhere.

    My biggest problem is the 'yoga-language as up-sell' — "Hey guys, remember to practice your aparigraha and get yourself a membership in the new year!" Or "Don't forget that Karma counts! There won't be any refunds if you decide you don't want to do the teacher training! Also, teacher training is for people who LOVE yoga and LOVE to share. Share the love! Take the training!"

    Subtext: you are a greedy bitch who refuses to support the studio, wants refunds when you get in over your head (or against your best interests), and if you're even opting out of the training, it's because you don't love yoga and you don't love to share. You are super-duper-uuper greedy and possessive about yoga. That's unyogic. SPEND MORE MONEY AT THE STUDIO TO BE MORE YOGIC!

    Yeah, cuz that's cool. Thanks.

    I run a studio. We do market. But, we keep it cool. First, no email newsletters. I'm tired of them and none of my clients want them anyway. We have a blog — it's mostly informative: schedule changes, introducing new teachers, people talking about what they do, housekeeping (ie, we need more people to trade cleaning for yoga classes). I also like to post funny things or things that are in my head — like songs by Kermit the Frog. We do have paper flyers which do well for people. This is opt-in, too, and we keep track of turn over (X number of printed items turned into Y clients). It's interesting to do that, because you can actually print on the minimum and save trees.

    I don't do the whole inspirational quote/photo. I prefer the funny and/or ridiculous. Yippies! 😀

  16. Angie says:

    Whatever makes you feel authentic- go for it- If it's really in your inner self to say something heart inspiring- go for it but if its not- don't, it won't come through as true. Love the article you clever, funny woman, there are many people who need to read this to hopefully assist them in coming more into their own authentic self. Leave the fear behind, the desire to please or the constant craving for acceptance. Sounding a little like an inspiration session? Maybe it is, but its my truth- so be it.

  17. Margot says:

    THANK YOU!!!

  18. Vision_Quest2 says:

    Let me introduce your teacher "friends" to my motto (and also the title of a series of my blog posts):

    "Yoga Freeloader, No; Home Practitioner, Yes!"

    Before these teachers grew dependent (at a cellular level) on the studio that they incestuously derive their "original" teaching ideas from by their being teachers taking classes from other teachers who take classes from yet other teachers (by now, student-onlies make up a tiny percentage of their "student" population …) many were (avocationally, of course) dancers or runners or drummers who knew a thing or two about self-practice … they HAD to have … coaches don't come cheap, you know … [some did come from money, but I can't imagine THAT kind of future-Olympic-calibre money without spending a moment alone on your sport or art …]

    To your iist I add:

    See you in class, baby …

    More of what you crave ….

    Get your '80s yoga on (we mean playlist … not MILD HATHA, you old duncecap) …

    You are INVITED to this workshop … (you have to click about 10 times to get the price, for it is not free and it is not broadcast on our website where you can see it either) ….

    [Always thought invitation means all expense paid /// My bad …]

    Ran out of time …

    Anyway, slow clap.

    I'd rather be out of the loop.

    Anybody who's anybody in my life are reaching me by snail mail and linked in invites.
    Yes, Linked In … my career is NOT yoga anything!

  19. tanya_maria_mah says:

    Thankyou SO much for wanting to share this and for seeing and appreciating the humour and the truth in my ranting 🙂

  20. tanya_maria_mah says:

    I know huh! Seriously, information overload

  21. tanya_maria_mah says:

    Thanks Micaela – just dont post the same image 20x – BLAH!

  22. tanya_maria_mah says:

    omg i h-a-t-e the upsell. Is so transparent, and off-putting. I understand that teachers, and wellness warriors need to make money and earn a living but don’t do a cheap sell to your students. dont flog your stupid products online, offer something unique and thats of value!

  23. tanya_maria_mah says:

    Thankyou my darling!! speak the word that are close to your heart, not something you pulled from the internet.

  24. tanya_maria_mah says:


  25. Scott says:

    Authenticity is recognizable. I've noticed that when I transition from giving the same cues that I myself have heard thousands of times from dozens of teachers from over the years, and move into speaking from the heart, students actually begin to listen. I have always heard "don't lecture your students" or "people do not like coming to class to sit for 20 minutes and listen to teachers talk". But there have been times when I let my mouth go into story telling mode, and I had 100% engagement from all the eyes in the room.

  26. Vision_Quest2 says:

    Even if it's free instruction … we already KNOW it's a come-on, but PLEASE …
    Reference Sadie Nardini, she'd been an ace at this art. Before the inevitable sell-out, of course.

    I don't practice her Core Strength Vinyasa Yoga at all, but I cherry picked what I needed (for free); used her YouTube posts for reference purposes only …

    Sometimes, you gotta pay, but pay as little as you need to – I actually used a Shiva Rea dvd for reference purposes only, too …
    I created my own practice …

    It's called "originality" and it can't be found down at the yoga studio … although I did take about $1,000. USD worth of classes over nearly a 5 year period. Spent less money than even Grimmly did … but it's a different kind of practice what I do than what he does … I have inflexible hips (pretty inflexible all around for a woman) and in my late 50s …

    Better not find workshop hawkers on Diaspora … I am running out of social networks …

  27. tanya_maria_mah says:

    Absolutely! When you speak from your own heart, people WANT to listen because its authentic and its real. Its when your you’re not being authentic and when you’re sprouting pop-culture wisdom that people (like me!) get annoyed and stop paying attention.

  28. Vision_Quest2 says:

    Believe it or don't believe it. I just put you up on Diaspora.

    Now I saw something on there NSFW and have to cover it over …

  29. tanya_maria_mah says:

    haha you rock! thanks for sharing my yoga-angst with the world 🙂

  30. tanya_maria_mah says:

    Im happy to pay for quality services and products. Just don’t up-sell me!

  31. Vision_Quest2 says:

    And that goes DOUBLE for me … some of us don't have the money or the time to throw around …

  32. Jade Doherty says:

    This article is a LOLocaster and made me chuckle, giggle and chortle.

    Plus I totes agree. I got bored of my facebook being full of inspirational/insipid quotes too.

    Thank you for a Friday afternoon laugh!

  33. @stylistad says:

    Refreshingly, brutally honest. Well-said, and made me feel less guilty for having the same thoughts! nice job!

  34. sherimccord says:


  35. yoga bear says:

    WOW! I enjoy yoga but there seems to be the smoothie drinking, authentic, heart following…….. you know where I am going. I am not like many of the people in my yoga classes but they are who they are and is'nt it nice of me to allow it. I identify and know where you are coming from and I was there once myself. My practice(could never see my self saying that..) has taught me to be kind and gentle with myself which allows me to be kind and gentle with others. In other words I have the freedom to be who I want and all I have to do is be accepting of others. I am not passing judgement, I rather admire the way you express yourself. There was a time in my youth when I "hated everybody, especially me". I do not feel that way anymore and I suspect that yoga might be a little responsible along with the different types of people I come into contact with during class.

  36. Vision_Quest2 says:

    Appreciate that nobody is going to get off of social networks for mercenary purposes just because of a blog post or two …

    Please note: there are alternatives to Facebook, Twitter and the like.
    The more these posts to the bigger social media are ignored, the more they will be (in operant conditioning terms) extinguished ….

  37. alinamo says:

    Thank you for this honest and beautifully presented post! I so needed this at the end of a long week of a juice fast that I don't really understand. Screw the smoothie!! lol Luckily I didn't force my Facebook friends to look at any pictures.

  38. Heather says:

    I agree on the overused quotes. i read one yesterday and felt like saying, "and do you actually know what that means." But I decided to not ruffle any feathers. These days people use quotes that do not have personal experience backing it. It sounds good and is lovely, I know, but has not taken rooted.

    That being said, it is important to encourage and inspire people. As a teacher it is the number one thing you can do! However, giving one-liners and cute remarks to people seldom works. And I am confident most people know it is not the truth despite being flattered (ego). A student once shared with me how her instructor said to her,"that's award winning. "

    I guess the real problem was she had already studied with me and I had told her where some problems or more work lay. So telling her that made her know "nice job…but not real teaching."

    But let me ask you something…so you think people want real teaching? It's a two-way street …until people can handle more authentic teachers they also have to be ready to receive them.

    By the way, I posted a green smoothie, because I thought the color was awesome. :-0))

  39. Olga says:

    ahem sista!!!

  40. Vision_Quest2 says:

    "But let me ask you something…so you think people want real teaching? It's a two-way street …until people can handle more authentic teachers they also have to be ready to receive them."

    That's a bit of a fallacy.

    As long as worldly emoluments change hands, a market is constructed. I have the right to determine that I can handle an authentic teacher. Chances are they will be teaching a throwback, mild, hatha style in my case .. 'cause my body don't really play headstand, 'cause my mind and my spirit appreciates the sprituality …

    Is "authentic" the one who pushes you past your edge? Some may blindly think so. Maybe their bodies play that way. Maybe they're addicted to Kombucha or fasting. Maybe they played Gumby in the school play.

    Right now, my practice is grounded, really non-flying, yet really fast moving. The before-class intimidating, show-offy vibe turned me off. Really. I don't need some sanctimonious newbie teacher telling me that I'm not advanced enough not to consider that SHE is being a showoff doing pincha amayurasana gainst the wall before sitting on her mat as a student in our RESTORATIVE class …

    That's one reason why I'm not taking yoga at a studio (quelle scene), and taking pilates instead …

  41. Vision_Quest2 says:

    Oh, and another thing; and this happens almost as much on my blogsite as it does on social media.

    I don't need to see pictures of these teachers (some of them local) in advanced asana, and then they defriend me after I , far less advanced, but trying to understand them in terms of my internally rotated hips (a la Paul Grilley) and my age and what I already know; and they summarily defriend me after a pointed comment or two on their pic. If they don't want to discuss knowledge for free; and they wax paranoid on me; damned if I'm going to PAY for their business. I'm not in their fan club. That's obviously what they're going for, to a person.

    I'm off Facebook, so that's not an issue anymore.

    As for my blogsite, the poseurs can do what they want; because I do lecture videos about nutrition and don't blog about yoga anymore ….

  42. Jenifer says:

    It's true. Students are willing to pay for quality services, but the up sell is intense.

    In our process, we encourage people who are trying yoga for the first time to consider a class card of 1 class per week for 4 weeks. It costs $40, and you can take any class on the schedule. Otherwise, we recommend that they stay at the drop-in rate of $12 if they are going to be very busy or traveling.

    From there, everything is responsive, rather than creating products and trying to sell people on them. We surveyed our students and learned that they wanted to work on hamstrings more. We increased focus in classes on hamstrings AND then I gave it a shot to do a hamstring workshop. I picked the date/time/price, and it filled up in 4 days. I still have a few spaces available, but I'm not fussed as to whether or not it's "completely full." And one of the students couldn't make that date, but set up a second date for her runner's club, and that's all sorted now too. And then her running coach contacted me to create something for her people on-going, so we are working on that.

    So, the services sort of create themselves. Clients ask for what they want, you provide it. No selling necessary.

  43. greateacher says:

    oh, my, I have been blogging about yoga and venture dinto health writing in the last year. I still enjoy doing so. However, my little articles ar emuch less shock worthy as so many EJ articles these days.. no f**k to anythng.

  44. Vision_Quest2 says:

    I would not be surprised if your turnover in students is about average for your area and you don't have to continuously pack newbies in with 65% discounts for an unlimited month trial; nor push beginner students into more advanced classes just to "make room" for the hordes.

    Not that I'm in the business, myself.

    But I have an idea of what best practices could be …

  45. Vision_Quest2 says:

    So are mine, but my blog posts are heavily moderated by community leaders and the other members, many of whom subscribe to family values, church and general US heartland propriety. Kind of tough on this NYC-er to keep to "FCC broadcast codes", but for me it works, and helps keep nose to grindstone.

  46. tanya_maria_mah says:

    Thats perfect Jennifer! When you offer things that are valuable, quality and that people actually want , there’s no need to upselll or cross promote. Please send me a link to your studio – i’d love to have a snicky beak. 🙂

  47. tanya_maria_mah says:

    You’re so welcome. Thanks for seeing the humour in my scathing ranting! xx

  48. tanya_maria_mah says:

    haha since this was posted so many yoga friends have emailed or called saying they feel the same way! Im stoked not to be in the minority YEAH! x

    Thanks for reading 🙂

  49. tanya_maria_mah says: