Namaste M*therfuckers—Getting Over My Sh*tty Judging Mind & Giving Yoga Another Shot.

Via Chris Grosso
on Dec 13, 2012
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Photo: Grosso

A mind is like a parachute. It doesn’t work if it is not open.
~ Frank Zappa

I’ve been a bad boy.

I’ve entertained my judging mind for some years now in regards to yoga. I gave it a shot back around 2006 as I explored the Kundalini practice. It wasn’t sincere however. I wanted to like it, I really did, but while the potential for raising shakti energy excited me, my passion for the practice ended there. Nothing else about it resonated with me, nothing.

After that, I tried Bikram but couldn’t stand the f*cking heat. Granted that was many years ago so maybe things are different now.

Since then however, I’ve completely shut myself off from practicing Asana Yoga. I frequent the practice of Bhakti, Jnana & Karma Yoga, but the overall trendiness of the yoga scene has turned me off. Correction, my judgmental mind towards the trendiness of the scene has turned me off to it.

I know a large part of that is due to my early punk rock roots and distaste for all things mainstream. And hey, what’s more mainstream these days than yoga, right? After some gentle nudges from a friend, however, and taking a brutally honest look at myself— realizing I’ve mentally been an asshole about the whole thing—I’m ready to give it another go.

I’ve accepted that I’ve turned a blind eye to my judgmental nature regarding popular yoga culture, and while much of the trendiness truly doesn’t resonate with me, it’s still completely uncool of me to write the whole thing off simply because of that aspect.

Am I completely crazy though? I mean, there are some serious hipster elements happening, and even worse, a lot of Guru worship in certain practices and lineages going on right? Are they even called practices and lineages?

Anyways, I have a dear friend—who’s also a yoga teacher—that’s provided me with some great info. But it’s also my nature to explore all possible avenues and thus, I’d like to ask for your help, too. I’m not sure I’m ready to dive head first into the whole scene by taking classes, but at the very least, I’m ready to begin with some home practices.

So with that being said, does my experience resonate with any of you, and if so, how have you dealt with it? I make the aspiration daily in my meditation practice to cultivate greater lovingkindness for all beings, and I make it from a sincere place—I still come up miserably short when I find myself in the company of hipsters of any capacity. I know even reducing people to labels such a hipsters is in of itself shitty. I’m grateful to at least recognize this is my own shit however, not theirs.

It’s not easy to call myself on my own shit and put myself out there like this, but it’s even harder to allow my judging mind to keep me closed off from a practice, and people, who can have a beautiful impact on my life. So here’s to moving forward…

Ed: Lynn Hasselberger

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About Chris Grosso

Chris Grosso is a public speaker, writer, recovering addict and spiritual director. He has spoken and performed at Wanderlust Festival, Yoga Journal Conference, Sedona World Wisdom Days, Kripalu, and more. Chris created the popular hub for all things alternative, independent, and spiritual with and continues the exploration with his books Everything Mind (Sounds True Publishing) and Indie Spiritualist (Atria Books/Simon & Schuster). Follow Chris on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.


44 Responses to “Namaste M*therfuckers—Getting Over My Sh*tty Judging Mind & Giving Yoga Another Shot.”

  1. Humored says:

    It's not all "Your own shit" and yes, those elements exist, MORE than LESS.
    You may be interested in the comments of the following post (less those that have been deleted…) :

    Your blog post has been very astute and very on point.

    As there is no other way to "like" this than to comment, I felt I would show my support by doing exactly that.

  2. Jenn says:

    My suggestion is to find a traditional yoga studio where everyone feels more like family than the mainstream "hipster" yogi you were speaking of. Try to stay away from anything like corepower, maybe find a donation studio? Maybe try someplace that focuses on more than just yoga, like wellness communities with practitioners in ayurveda, massage, etc. I personally like going to a place where I feel welcomed and not judged by my appearance, whether or not I look like a "hipster" yogi. It's also important to find a teacher who you feel inspired/engaged with and that will meet you where you are in your practice; so I suggest going to a few places around you and trying out their new student package that way you can take class from a few different teachers and see which ones suit your fancy. There are also SOO many different styles of yoga and not every style is right for everybody. I personally have found that I love Yin, Bikram, Aerial, and Hatha classes and I try to get at least one of these classes in per week.

  3. Chris Grosso says:

    Thank you so much for the very informative response Jenn! It's greatly appreciated and will be utilized. Bows.

  4. Chris Grosso says:

    Thanks for the comment. It's god to hear it's not 110% me possibly. In all honesty, I haven't given it enough of a chance, hence my being unsure. But I do have a sincere intention to gift myself the practice of asana yoga and work on the not so pleasant thoughts that arise in my mind while doing so. Many thanks again to you.

  5. Humored says:

    You may also be interested in the blog of someone I truly respect:

  6. Chris Grosso says:

    Just quickly checked it out and yes, I can see I'll be digging more into that site in the coming days. Thanks so much for turning me onto it!

  7. Lauren says:

    Start at home! If you find a way to move your body that feels just right, and you love it, then you can seek a teacher or studio to practice in later. By then you'll have established your love of it without any regard to who else does it, their clothes, their hair, their attitude, their hipster-ness or feigned nonchalance.

    I have this same attitude about yoga (especially about the weird non-anatomy some teachers talk about, like floating your lower hips back in time as you flow your heart center forward…ummm, what? You mean arch my back?), and people who say "namaste" when I say "hello", or people who do yoga because they love the way their ass looks in lululemon…yuck. But yoga as movement is amazing, and it's an amazing way to ready yourself for meditation. Who gives a s**t who else likes it (or pretends to because it's cool)? If you dig it, it's yours.

    For home practice, nothing beats browsing Youtube – you can find any style of yoga, from almost any type of teacher, and any level. If you like what you find, the teachers or studios usually have a website with more videos or recommendations, and then you can invest in a DVD or a subscription to something like YogaGlo if you're really into it. Last step is the studio 😉

  8. Humored says:

    I feel you will greatly enjoy that blog and blogger.
    You're welcome.

    The truth is I enjoy bikram (though I do not practice it) as well as corepower and the fitness related asana yogas.


    Because they have eschewed the hipster elemental, ego led (besides Bikram), cult creating (again, besides Bikram) faux spirituality that has infected all of westernized yoga, as of late.

    There have been a few articles in EJ that speak to this:

    In my opinion, until people can get over themselves, as pointed out in the comments of the Ben Raslton article, yoga, as it is now, does more damage than good.

    That's merely my observation, though.

  9. Monica says:

    I can completely relate. Lately I find myself especially annoyed with "yoga speak." Y'know: "love and light," "hold the space," and please, please, don't call me a "goddess on my moon phase!!" But when I find myself involuntarily twitching at that stuff, I actually DO "just breathe" and remind myself that this yoga stuff works for me, whatever you call it, however you phrase it. It really HAS made me less judgmental and more grounded. The asana practice makes me and my body extremely happy, and I really need that physical practice to help quiet my mind down.

    So I think I've gotten to a place where I can see that the yoga hipster trendy stuff….well, some people need that to feel like like they belong to something. And that's OK….that's their stuff. I just need to get on my mat and quiet it all down. Home practice is most grounding, but it's also a good personal challenge for me to head out to a class and face my tendency to scowl and snark at the trendy. If I challenge myself to open up, I'll usually hear something that speaks to me no matter how it's phrased.

    And of course, finding a teacher who really does speak your language helps a whole real lot!!

  10. Chris Grosso says:

    And you observation, comments and links are all very greatly appreciated! Thanks so much!

  11. Chris Grosso says:

    You go Lauren! Your comment just made me want to high five someone, anyone… just to give a solid goddamn high five! Thanks so much. xo.

  12. Chris Grosso says:

    So awesome Monica. I literally laughed out loud at the "goddess on my moon phase" line. I'm actually blessed to have an amazingly dear friend and wonderful Yoga teacher Alanna Kaivalya giving me a few pointers on places to start. Too bad she lives in NYC or I'd definitely feel comfortable studying in a class she gives.

    Thanks for your comment!

  13. cara corr says:

    Hi Chris! I loved your post and I FEEL YA! I began at home for the very same reasons and came to yoga through meditation first. I started with this series by Kate Potter ( It emphasizes proper form and most importantly, the PUROSE of yoga which is really preparation for meditation and it helped me to not feel like a total tard when I stepped into my first yoga class…by myself. I wrote a little bit about my experience in an article that is posted here on elephant journal ( but, really, once you get over the fear of just getting out there…the universe will put the right people (teachers) in your path. There are still plenty of yogis out there that don't "get it" and think it's a great stretching exercise but, yoga is so much more. Yoga is MENTAL exercise. The most important thing I have learned in yoga is breath control and that by controlling the breath, we have absolute control of our physical bodies as we tap into that much deeper connection to spirit. I commend you for your self-observation and release of judgement… Namaste Motherfucker!! 😉

  14. cara says:

    Hi chris, me again… apparently it jacks up the links if i put them in parentheses…oops…try again


  15. katybrandes says:

    Love your piece here. I've been at it for 12 years off and on, beginning with a plain ol' "AM/PM yoga" Rodney Yee video way back when. The local Y introduced me to two great instructors in the last few years, and I've been stronger in my practice since then. I love my vinyasa class… , and that says a lot coming from a non-aerobic 40-something mom like me. It's the only thing that makes my tinnitus go away and helps turn down the inner volume at least for a short while.
    Try it again for you, man, and nobody else. You can find a good class without all the b.s. I found mind at the Y, go figure.

  16. Chris Grosso says:

    Ah, gotcha. Thanks for these links!!! xo.

  17. Chris Grosso says:

    Thanks for all of that info Cara. I loved this, "Yoga is MENTAL exercise. The most important thing I have learned in yoga is breath control and that by controlling the breath, we have absolute control of our physical bodies as we tap into that much deeper connection to spirit."

    Even over the past couple of days I've been doing the very basics of the basic here at home, I notice feeling a sense of wellness afterwards. Maybe it's mental… but I don't think so. Thanks for the comment and links. About to go check your EJ article! Bows.

  18. Chris Grosso says:

    Thanks for the comment Katy and I LOVE that you found a good class at the Y! That's what I'm trying to say, it's about the practice not the material stuff… So glad to hear you've had a good experience with it, especially regarding you tinniuts! Thanks again 🙂 xo.

  19. Linda Buzogany says:

    Have been completely cynical and judgy and turned off. I used to practice about 5x/wk. at a 'hipster' place, and have now rejected it completely. I don't know, I miss the grace and strength I found in myself, but it feels VERY right not to be a part of it right now. Trouble is, I can't find what I'm looking for. Yoga transition I guess. Thanks for making me feel not alone!


  20. Chris Grosso says:

    Thanks Linda for sharing so openly. It's good for me to know I'm not totally alone either in what I've seen and experienced. I love that you're able to honor the fact that it feels right not to practice right now. Most will probably disagree with that and say forge ahead etc, but I'm a firm believer that our heart is our truest teacher and when we allow it to guide us, it will never lead us astray. Wishing you all the best in your travels my friend! Bows.

  21. Edward Staskus says:

    Chris, about Bikram Yoga, the heat is the same in 2012 as it was in 2006, and, really, nothing else about it has changed, it's still the same 26-poses yoga exercise it always has been, I hear from reliable sources. About the Burroughs and Babarazzi wavelength, I would say that the actual practice of yoga exercise really has nothing to do with anything except itself, unless you look outside of it, but then it becomes a mess, unless we are writing about it, which in the event it is fine, because then it is criticism, not judgment. Anyway, yoga exercise is good for you, for the most part. Even Bikram and the "fucking" heat. There is a new book out called 'The Science of Yoga' written by the science editor of the NY Times. I would highly recommend it. Ed

  22. Chris Grosso says:

    Hey Ed, thanks for recommending the book. And I'm sure Bikram is the same 😉 I was referencing that I'm much different than I was back then. Appreciate the comment. Bows.

  23. Jo W says:

    Years ago I practiced yoga with the Hare Krishna group in Wellington, NZ. The camaraderie was great and the teaching style really clicked with me. After a sweaty workout we'd all sit down to a 3-course vege meal, all for an amount I could afford in my undergrad days! I've been to a few different yoga studios since and I can attest that it's not easy to find such a down-home vibe which I like personally. No branded stuff, and definitely no coconut water… Just people wanting to exercise their mind and/or body. But I guess what I want to say is, try going to as many studios as you can and you will find a class that will click i think.

  24. Sydoni says:

    I am in agreeance that Yoga has become trendy. And hipsters do exist. I’ve been a practicing Yogi for twenty years. It’s never been a devotional practice. More a gratitude and appreciation for the wondrous universe and my ability to feel my connection to the vast empty space which extends between cells and planets. Ya ya ya.

    I steer away from the trendy scenes. Here in Byron they have begun a major yoga festival. Great teachers present, wonderful beings in attendance.. But it all reeks of money and fame and glory to me. So far from what yoga is.

    Remember the yogi laying on the bed of nails. People forget this is yoga. They want the tights and the apparel and the coffee chit chat. ” oh I went to yoga today” and it indeed becomes one mighty pretentious affair.

    This is not yoga. !!!!!

    Go get some guidance and develop a self practice or find a teacher that you feel is in touch with what yoga is. Don’t give up on Yoga itself. It unfolds the secrets and science of the universe.

  25. Irene says:

    Personally, I love Bikram. While I relate to what you say about staying away from trendiness – I don't give a sh*t about that anymore. After all – isn't it just a more fancy and personal label if I insist on being so special that the "trendy stuff" isn't for me? I am really turned off by all these self-appointed yoga experts who all insist that yoga can only be this or that. Even if a person loves her lululemon and goes to a trendy studio, who is to say she doesn't get the benefits of yoga? After having practiced different styles of yoga, I love Bikram because it is so in your face and can be exhausting, but allows me to get much deeper in my practice through my body. Just go try different studios – you will find what speaks to you and don't get attached whether or not they are mainstream or trendy.

  26. Vision_Quest2 says:

    Yeah, but here in New York City, there seems to be an inverse relationship between the occurrence and appearance of new, unpilled, un-stretched out, non-lint-ridden and un-worn-through Lululemons (or lack of appearance of same); and an actual mild, old-school, primarily home practitioner friendly class that is spiritual in an authentic way …

    You can tell volumes about a yoga class wherein it seems that fashion is its function …

  27. Chris Grosso says:

    Wow Jo, that sounds like such a tremendous experience. How wonderful for you. As for visiting various studios, that's been a method that worked in my early spiritual stages, you know, the spiritual buffet line 😉 But how else will we know what truly does, and does not, resonate with us? Thanks so much for your comment! Bows.

  28. Chris Grosso says:

    Thanks so much for your comment Sydoni. I particularly understand what you mean when you say, "But it all reeks of money and fame and glory to me. So far from what yoga is." as that's totally what happened to so much of today's spirituality! Thanks for sharing your experience. Love.

  29. Chris Grosso says:

    "After all – isn't it just a more fancy and personal label if I insist on being so special that the "trendy stuff" isn't for me?" Yes, I totally agree Irene, hence calling myself on it in this article. They are thoughts that arise in my consciousness, and I'm finally addressing them. Thanks for your comment 🙂 Bows.

  30. Chris Grosso says:

    See, here is where I know my mind would go nuts. Just more grist for the mill, I get that but it's tough. I have a lot of work to do breaking through these judging thoughts. I'm grateful that I recognize them for being there however and that I'm willing to work on it. Funny thing is, I don't even know what Lululemons are…

  31. Ben_Ralston says:

    Chris, brother,
    Please check out the Sivananda organization. It's pure, classical, traditional yoga, synthesizing Bhakti, Jnana, Karma, and Raja Yoga into a beautiful practice. The organization is worldwide, with ashrams on all continents. There is no Guru worship except in the sense that it was created by an extremely powerful Yogi whose memory is treasured as part of the lineage. I think you'll like it.
    With love,

  32. Ben_Ralston says:

    Chris, brother,
    Please check out the Sivananda organization. It's pure, classical, traditional yoga, synthesizing Bhakti, Jnana, Karma, and Raja Yoga into a beautiful practice. The organization is worldwide, with ashrams on all continents. There is no Guru worship except in the sense that it was created by an extremely powerful Yogi whose memory is treasured as part of the lineage. I think you'll like it.
    With love,

  33. Chris Grosso says:

    Thanks for your comment Ben! I was just digging on your most recent article yesterday, well done. I most certainly will look into Sivananda for sure. Sounds like it'd be right up my alley. Thanks man. Bows.

  34. Joe Sparks says:

    "Michaelle Edwards aims for nothing less than a revolution in the way yoga is understood and practiced. YogAlign is packed with well described anatomy and well researched principles of body structure. The author's dedication and spirit will inspire you with her vision of a pain-free yoga path to a naturally aligned body." Mary Bond, Author of The New Rules of Posture: How to Sit, Stand and Move in the Modern World.

  35. bobcat says:

    It's true yoga is mainstream. However, with beginner's mind you realize the chick wearing mala beads and chakra tattoo next to you is just as vulnerable and sweet inside as anyone. After a dozen years practicing and teaching yoga I pay less attention to the outer expressions though, I appreciate the effort going into looking yogic. Inside, everyone is just as real as me.

  36. Chris Grosso says:

    Thanks Joe. I look forward to checking that out! Bows.

  37. Chris Grosso says:

    Yes, absolutely. It's all love underneath. I'm working on it… and diligently. Thanks!

  38. Monica says:

    Alanna Kaivalya…I have her book! She's lovely.

  39. Gabriela says:

    I think we're all like that, thinking and judging, and I don't see it as being necessarily a bad thing. We're all searching for a path, and how else will we find it unless we search, try, search some more, practice and refine. My journey started in a studio where I learned the basic poses but then slowly moved away from that and started my own, personal search for balance. The internet is such a wonderful resource, so much larger that the local yoga community where I live. So I discovered Namaste TV, Rodney Yee, Patricia Walden,, Jason Crandell, Les Leventhal, Richard Freeman…my plethora of teachers who inspired me to deepen my practive and to look beyond asanas, to breath control and mind control. It is a self-conscious path where I continue to practice discipline and self-control, where I fell in control because there's no one there choosing classes for me, but it is is myself in search of my own.

  40. Chris Grosso says:

    That's the direction I'm headed in Gabriela. I appreciate the feedback 🙂
    Side note- I was honored to perform Kirtan with Alanna Kaivalya after Richard Freeman's Keynote at this years Yoga Journal Conference at Estes Park. He gave an amazing talk!

  41. Gabriela says:

    Maybe you can write a post on Richard Freeman's respective talk, I'd love to hear how inspiring it was 🙂

  42. Heather Callin says:

    Ahaha! I have a severe allergy to bullshit, and mainstream stuff is generally just evidence of people being sheep. That being said, Yoga hipsters are probably better off than the followers of the Fifty Shades. (Ugh…) It is encouraging to see someone take this position (har har) of realizing potentially good stuff may just happen to be hip. I have wanted to try yoga since I was a kid… and I will. I'm open to the right opportunity coming along, and I am finally starting to take time for me for the first time in years, so here's hoping. 🙂

  43. Vision_Quest2 says:

    There's a backlash brewing here in the States. Pretty soon the hipsters will be gone … to the next big thing.
    We've been here (some for a long, long time)
    Will you still be here?
    We will be waiting …:-)

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