When Yoga Voice Drowns out the Real Voice.

Via Michelle Marchildon
on Feb 18, 2013
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If you practice yoga, then you know all about yoga voice.

It is a sing-song, la-di-da way of speaking that makes most of us want to scream. But yoga voice is also a kind of groupthink that has infected yoga and it’s making even the smart people lose their mind.

Groupthink is a psychological term in which “the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in an incorrect or deviant decision-making outcome.” You know, like love and light over reality.

For example, not one yoga trade journal has written about the recent downside of upward dog except for internet sources. So I thought it might be time for this yogi to find her voice about yoga voice.

Why Yoga Voice Needs to Fade Away Forever.

It’s highly contagious. Whenever I hear yoga voice, the la-di-da kind, I immediately start using it too! It’s like a virus, or when you see Les Miserables, and afterward everyone starts singing at Starbucks. “Can-I-haaaave-a latte-pleeeeeeease?” Someone stop us before the high notes!

Yoga voice, the other kind, is contagious and intimidating. When ‘yoga voice’ becomes Groupthink, then there is only one way to be and it involves endless blessings and love bombing. Then the sanctimonious yogis tell the rest of us that we’re not yogic enough. The good news is they probably offer a yoga training that can help us with that.

For example, the yoga voice yogis say that I shouldn’t write about yoga because I find humor in life (Even though I have written two books, have a master’s degree and three decades in journalism). In fact, a troll once called my employers to say I shouldn’t be allowed to work because I’m not yogic and not funny. Which is ridiculous, because I’m very funny.

Yoga voice is spiritual bypassing. When a student has been abused by a teacher, and the teacher’s response is, “You are not yogic because you are not happy,” the teacher then destroys any validity the student has regarding her experience. This is spiritual bypassing in yoga voice.

When the yoga world supports the teacher by saying, “If you were yogic you would forgive and forget,” they support the abuse. This is what is going on the yoga world these days.

Yoga voice creates shame. A teacher who speaks in yoga voice may tell a student that if she feels anger, then she is not enlightened. This is usually followed by, “Please pay me $3,000 for my teacher training program which will help you to feel bliss.”

Yoga voice makes you stupid. For example, we know that shooting innocent people in a movie theater is bad, right? But many Colorado yogis said at the time, “Let’s send love to the shooter.” How about this: Let’s send the shooter to jail. Furthermore, let’s stop tolerating the killing of innocent people and children. That’s the kind of yoga voice I want to hear, but unfortunately that’s not the kind of voice that’s infecting yoga right now.

Yoga voice creates fear and silence. This is possibly the most dangerous result of the yoga voice virus: it makes us afraid to speak the truth. For example, did you know that not one yoga magazine covered the Anusara Yoga scandal last year? The New York Times, The Washington Post, New York Magazine, and Texas Monthly wrote about it, but what about our own trade magazines? Why? Because the yoga voice yogis said, “If you write about this you are not yogic.”

Therefore, I have decided I will not have yoga voice. I will write about the truth in yoga because the people who love this practice deserve to hear it. What’s more, I will forgive when earned, remember the teaching and laugh my way to enlightenment even if it kills me.

But if I don’t succeed, I bet there’s a training that can help me with that. Right? Blessings.


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Ed: 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.


34 Responses to “When Yoga Voice Drowns out the Real Voice.”

  1. Jill says:

    Michelle, lack of humor and faux sincerity are my chief criticisms of the yoga world. Oh, you can add goofy manipulative gurus to that, too. Humor helps at least some of us to acknowledge the darker, not-so-funny experiences in life. Thanks for being brave and using your wit to write about "touchy" topics, the impact of which some may not want to fully digest.

  2. Steph says:

    Michelle, thank you for this article. Great perspective!

  3. Donna says:

    It's true you are really funny! As a new teacher I'm trying hard not to have a yoga voice 'cause I think it's something that can really f&%*k with my head and my yoga. Love that you acknowledge this! D

  4. NIchole says:

    I always say that my classes always offer comic relief. Great article. Thanks for keeping it real!

  5. annegaelleyoga says:

    Merci (Thanks ;°) for that article. A clear and honest view !

  6. fragginfraggin says:

    Rage Against The Machine is part of my Yoga Asanas Playlist. Am I doing it right?

  7. Helbowie says:

    Ooh, how timely. I've been walking about for the past few weeks, desperately speaking to myself with my inner yogic voice and it took another person to say to me just today "£$%^ that, you were royally screwed over, why the hell are you holding it all in?". And now this. So thank you.

  8. Eileen says:

    Let's send the shooter to jail and try to find compassion for him, too. Accountability and love are not mutually exclusive.

  9. Misty says:

    I am so in love with your not-so-yogic voice!! It is real. I, along with many others, appreciate it!!

  10. No Blowhards says:

    I commend you on your decision! Did you steal the yoga voice thing from Philip Urso? I'm also sorry for all of the abuse and shaming you must have endured or administered to others in order to recognize these problems. It's difficult to control someone else's speech. Seems to me it would be more practical to encourage yoga students to find another teacher if they ever feel annoyed / threatened / victimized / offended / manipulated or controlled by their current yoga teacher. This is America after all. May the free market RULE!!

  11. I love reading your posts. P.S ending with the word blessing is another thing to reconsider. Its become too abused in the yoga-speak too!

  12. Michelle Marchildon says:


  13. Michelle Marchildon says:

    It was meant to be. I was just the agent of the Universe.

  14. Michelle Marchildon says:

    Yoga voice is a common term. I didn't steal it, or even borrow it. If you put it as a search term into google, 62,400,000 references come up. Mine is only one of them.

  15. Michelle Marchildon says:

    Dear Yogabeetmama, I was being snarky when I said "Blessing." I read a writer once who said she had a hard time telling the difference between "blessing" and "bragging" in a sentence. Me too.

  16. […] When Yoga Voice Drowns out the Real Voice. […]

  17. Great post! I think yoga lovers will like this post.

    Nayeema Akter http://www.anamayaresort.com

  18. blessing says:

    Thank you.
    I used to have a "right" voice, before I knew yoga / yoga voice … taught to me by religion.
    For so long, this right voice, said I needed to be humble and sweet, and it allowed me to take on people's anger so that I literally never stood up for myself, never called out my family for the sexual abuse suffered, and those who stood passively by.
    It was only when I started yoga, that I learned self-love, and had a mentor who taught me that as I was worth it, to stand up for good against evil, to be a warrior princess.
    I now understand the true blessing comes when I am willing to put myself on the line, and it's not always pretty, but always worth it.

  19. Bravo, the yogi muse! This unconditional forgiveness madness must be stopped.

  20. No Blowhards says:


  21. Carolyn says:

    Love this article. It puts into words what I have felt for so long.

  22. Anna says:

    Thank you for this article. Yoga is very central to my life–I have been a yoga practitioner for many years and recently became a teacher, but I have to say, "yoga voice" has definitely alienated me from my yoga community. Last year, I was sexually assaulted by a studio teacher (who ended up assaulting multiple students), but in the spirit of "love and light" the managers wanted to allow him back into the studio as a student after three months (he would no longer be allowed to teach there). I think forgiveness is important. But you know what's also important? Changing the culture that has made sexual assault and abuse acceptable and an unavoidable part of life. It's good to know that there are other yoga practitioners and teachers out there who don't feel yogic because they don't have "love and light" shooting from their behinds.

  23. Michelle Marchildon says:

    Really, it's a shame Sarcastic Yogi that you and I live on different sides of the country. Think of the incredible brilliance we could come up with if only there was more alcohol involved.

  24. Michelle Marchildon says:

    Wow, exactly Anna. "I think forgiveness is important. But you know what's also important? Changing the culture that has made sexual assault and abuse acceptable and an unavoidable part of life. It's good to know that there are other yoga practitioners and teachers out there who don't feel yogic because they don't have "love and light" shooting from their behinds." I could not have said it better myself. I am standing and applauding.

  25. That'd be total shri.

    Auspiciously yours,


  26. mike says:

    Michelle, LOVED this article…long overdue. In Australia sanctimonious yogis don't last very long here.
    The reason why the Anusara issue wasn't written about in Yoga Mags was because, unlike commercial media, there are two sides to every story. Can't wait to see John Friend finally vindicated from all the intensity & others involved to finally accept responsibility….that unyogic?

  27. mike says:

    I was sexually assaulted multiple times by a female Yoga Teacher. When I brought it up with her I was very quickly removed form the class & made to feel very uncomfortable.

  28. Zoe Rei says:

    Amen! Thanks for a great article!

  29. Sookie says:

    Hmmn, how can he be "vindicated from the intensity", and what does that even mean? As you wrote, there are two sides, and he has done little to show that he understands that there was wrongdoing of any kind on his part. It seems he just went on vacation and started a new yoga method.

  30. Oh yeah…. THAT'S why I only practice yoga at home! 🙂

  31. Shannon says:

    You are protecting people that love Yoga from people who are not authentic. Yoga isn't a tool, it's a gift.

  32. Joe Sparks says:

    In my working class perspective what you are experiencing is the chronic Middle class patterns creeping into the yoga world. We forget the culture we all grew up in is oppressive, and we carry those patterns into every thing we do, unless we get a chance to heal from them. From day one we are so throughly conditioned and brain washed by the oppressive society. It is not surprizing we act out these patterns at each other in yoga and nothing changes no matter how long you have been practicing. We are taking our material with us. One reason you feel bad about it, is because you have tried not to slop it on other people and it hurts to see others act it out.

  33. Joe Sparks says:

    Lot of patterns are a fearful need for approval and pats-on-the-head from the "powers that be," or" my yoga studio/practice is better than your yoga studio/practice!". Middle class patterns have a huge competition pattern for being better. Mostly Middle class stuff is strong feelings that one must fit into, be approved by, and support this as the only way to practice. Like you, most of us are trying to function on top of this stuff, it will shift when we can examine and sort out the components of classism and become skilled at eliminating the patterns involved, we will be left with only our strengths. Thanks for sharing, you really care about people.

  34. serendipityherbals says:

    It's just nice to be real, warts and all! Kind of the point of greater consciousness, no? It's easy loving an idea all the time, but the real, that's of real value! So many people subliminate their consciousness to be "good" and they have left off loving for real. Let's all be real!