Yes, I’m a Serious Yogi, But I Still Do These 6 Things.

Via Jennifer S. White
on Jun 20, 2013
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crack smokin' yoga teachers

I hope that my beloved elephant editors will still love me after this one.

I feel like I’m writing a blog that straight away sets me up for non-success with my fellow yoga and wellness community.

Yet here it is—a list of six things that I still do even though I consider myself a die-hard yogi.

1. Drink alcohol. For me, figuring out how to be a moderate drinker is, and probably always will be, a lifetime dance.

Alcoholism runs in my family and I’ve seen it destroy lives. Still, I can’t deny that a pint of the hoppiest ale that I can stand or a glass of an interesting wine turns me on. So, I’ve dedicated myself to the practice of mindful drinking—almost as much as I’ve dedicated myself to my mindful yoga practice.

2. I get angry. I might be the Hulk. Cute, friendly, bubbly even. Yet, wow, am I ever a Scorpio— because the people who truly know me understand that I can adrenaline rage with the best of them.

And it’s not that I don’t want to change; that I’m not seeking self-betterment (or enlightenment, for that matter). Because I do (want to change and be enlightened)! Yet I have a temper. Yep, there it is.

3. I Enjoy Exercise Sans Yoga Mat. (Sans as in without.) I received my Johnny-G Spinning certification in my third trimester of pregnancy—for real. (It was pretty hilarious for those present, trust me.) I also have a Nordic Track, circa 1980-whatever, and I regularly hike on trails in the gorgeously hilly terrain where I live. So, yoga mat, I love you, I need you—but I’m seeing someone else.

4. I eat bacon—and I like it. This is the one on the list that I think might divorce me from the other elephants, the ones who make my everyday life special. Long story cut short (and, if you know me in the slightest, this is extremely difficult for me to do), I was a vegetarian for well over a decade—actually, my husband was almost afraid to marry me when I began eating meat right before our nuptials. (Remember, ladies, men don’t want you to change after they’ve proposed.) I digress.

Again, the long and short of it is (I warned you that this was going to be a challenge) that, as much as it disturbs me, my body needs meat. There you have it.

Considering that when I was a vegetarian—to the utmost degree, mind you—one of my biggest turnoffs was other solo veggie-eaters who wore leather or ate gelatin (you get the point), it’s important to keep in mind that I’ve long been a proponent of using the entire animal if you do need utilize this form of protein within your diet.

As it turns out, (uncured) bacon (from the farm down the street) is delicious. (I promise, I love—and respect—you, fellow vegan elephants!)

5. I curse—like a sailor. I embarrass my husband, yet sadly not myself. I’m not sure if I need explain this one further.

6. I listen to angsty music. Recently I shared on Facebook that my two-and-a-half year old loves hard-core bands like Rage Against the Machine—and that this has re-connected me with my more rebellious nature (which, to be honest, she innately shares with me—thank God). Anyways, this little Facebook status update of mine didn’t receive much commentary (not unusual, I’m a geek)—but it did get me thinking about my sharing of this personal information, especially since I rarely divulge much about my daughter in writing.

Here’s the conclusion that I’ve come to—I would rather my tiny lady hear music that poses important questions (although potentially riddled with occasional cuss words) than to never hear it at all. So there you go. (Sorry, yogis.)

I’m not sure why I’m sharing this with you. I’m not an exhibitionist—I can barely wear a tank top while hiking on the towpath.

I guess it’s because one of my major pet peeves in life is people who are not authentic. So here it is, laid out on the table—a few things about the “real” me, a yoga lover.

Of course, another reason that I wrote this is that I honestly get extremely tired of yogic snobbery—the this-is-the-only-way-life-exists-and-one-can-achieve-enlightenment mentality.

I’m okay with who I am, maybe you aren’t, and I’m thick-skinned enough for that to bother me—for a minute or two before I mentally tell you to bugger off.

Regardless, there are some things that people won’t easily cough up—because they’re afraid you’ll judge them.

How about this: I promise not to tell on you if you won’t tell on me. (Because we all have parts of our personality that we don’t want put on display.)

But I will, put mine on display. But only for you. If you don’t tell.



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Ed: Kate Bartolotta


About Jennifer S. White

Jennifer S. White is a voracious reader, obsessive writer, passionate yoga instructor and drinker of hoppy ales. She’s also a devoted mama and wife (a stay-at-home yogi). She considers herself to be one of the funniest people who ever lived and she’s also an identical twin. In addition to her work on elephant journal, Jennifer has over 40 articles published on the wellness website MindBodyGreen and her yoga-themed column Your Personal Yogi ran in the newspaper Toledo Free Press. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in geology, absolutely no degrees in anything related to literature, and she currently owns a wheel of cheese. If you want to learn more about Jennifer, make sure to check out her writing, as she’s finally put her tendencies to over-think and over-share to good use. Jennifer is the author of The Best Day of Your Life, available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. She's also as excited as a five year old to announce the release of her second book, The Art of Parenting: Love Letters from a Mother, available on Amazon.


168 Responses to “Yes, I’m a Serious Yogi, But I Still Do These 6 Things.”

  1. Ally k. says:

    I have never been so inspired by someones authenticity. In a town where people judge many of your moves, I find this article motivating me to be my real self and be damn proud! NAMASTE.

  2. Jennifer White says:

    Thank you, Ally! I'm thankful that you got the entire point of why I wrote and shared this—we have nothing in life if we don't accept our real selves!

  3. livetstrae says:

    you are still an elephant to me <3

  4. Jennifer White says:

    Awwwww, shucks. Thank you so much <3

  5. pat says:

    Love this. If I had a daughter, I'd want her to be you!!! Or a sista! (And PS, I also use styrofoam cups for my smoothies, take that yogic snobs!!)

  6. AndrewPaciocco says:

    This is a great article, authentic is definitely the word. It's something I have previously and to a lesser degree still struggle with. Before I "found" a more eastern mindset and an a more in tune with nature type lifestyle I was smoking a pack and a half a day, eating nothing but pepperoni pizzas, bacon cheese burgers, etc. I fell in love with a vegetarian and it changed my life. (For the better! Mostly ;p) I pressured myself to match her devotion and actions. I quit smoking (for a couple months), I went veg with her and even full on vegan for several months, I quit gambling on playing pool and cards for about a year…

    The thing was the pressure to perform up to the "right" level was destroying me, the pressure of not being good enough, always needing to keep up with her and feeling weak when I couldn't. As time has passed I've slowly learned I don't need to be the picture perfect perfection of any movement. I'm just me and I'm more mindful than ever and always growing, even if I keep some vices for the time being. I still smoke (American Spirits — Woo hipster), I occasionally eat meat (It's crazy how much better local, real meat is than the bullshit we're trained to like from fast food). And I love to play cards (I also don't even think gambling is a "vice" per say in the EJ realm).

    We all are who we are right now in this second. Maybe next week, month, or year we'll be somewhere else but that’s irrelevant right now. It's just been a hard and continuing process to not only accept myself for where I am and who I am right now but everyone else too. I can't say "I accept that I smoke but refuse GMOs because they are bad for you" and turn around and say "Eww look at that girl eating a Baconator from Wendy's that's disgusting" We can't know where anyone else is on their path.

    So that lengthily and un-eloquent story leads me to the fact that I'd hope you wouldn't be judged for being brave enough to expose yourself here. There are anyway nay-sayers in every sect but I feel like this is a safe haven to be vulnerable while we learn about ourselves and each other. We can all use those reminders too of “Hey look, I’m not perfect either! It’s okay!”

  7. Jennifer White says:

    I can't tell you how much I loved reading your response, Andrew. I think you've just shown that you're much braver than I.

    I relate to, empathize with, and agree with what you're saying. This is one of the major reasons that I don't use the word "never." Never say never, because it'll bite you in the arse.

    As far as being a meat eater in a largely vegan community, I also whole-heartedly agree with your sentiments, particularly that the type of meat you purchase and eat, as well as the type of farming you support, relates directly to both environmental and personal health. Again, I don't want to judge others, as I stated and so did you, but I don't eat fast food. I don't buy my red meat (what I really need in my personal diet) from the regular ol' grocery store—there are so many more options out there than people realize or are willing to put the effort into finding. As far as cost goes, I've been pretty poor at various points in my life, and I always chose to spend the little money that I had on good food and exercise/health related items/activities.

    Good for you for being open enough to try other avenues of living, but, even more, for coming home to yourself. Sometimes vacations aren't all they're cracked up to be.

  8. Jennifer White says:

    hahahaha! ha!

    Oh, Pat, thank you for this. muah.

  9. Heather says:

    Sat Nam, I love this article, thank you. I am a Kundalini Yoga Teacher and have been through the same things as Andrew Paciocco and yourself, I have come to the conclusion that I can aspire to some of the things but as a human being I cant change habits of a life time (53 yrs) overnight. I, like him, still smoke, still eat meat sometimes, still drink alcohol and can get very angry and use some fairly colourful language! I, however, over a long period of time have noticed, I can no longer drink a bottle or 2 of wine (used to be normal-every day). I am contented with just 1 beer or glass of wine and not everyday. I don't eat meat every day anymore, but still have a smoking addiction. So I think I am getting there, slowly, one step at a time. Like Andrew, I was beating myself up for not being "perfect" overnight. Now, I say, "everything is as it should be" and it will evolve over time as it should. Jennifer, you are awesome just the way you are 🙂

  10. Andie M. says:

    <3 so you are LIVING! Yogis tend to be so "rigid" with the imposition of lifestyle choices. I love that you said what everyone else is so afraid to say! I tell students all the time, live your life. Enjoy things moderately and in balance. This is the key and everyone's experience here is unique. It's not a cookie cutter system. It's not one size fits all to reaching the state of awareness within oneself. We get there through hardships and living a real life. And this is what you have expressed here. Thank you for your openess and authenticity beautiful one. 🙂

  11. jade says:

    Oh god, you for me!!! A real authentic. I have such a difficult time with other aspects of living yoga such as 'Life' and where everything fits in without feeling the guilt or it affecting me and feeling the effects. You rock. I Love this article! Namaste

  12. Linda says:

    Thank you for sharing your authentic self and for your timely post. I just signed up for yoga teacher training in the fall and part of my delay in fulfilling this dream is that I didn't think I was "kumbaya" enough. I have so much in common with your list! And I've slowly let go what I thought I "should" be and I am embracing who I am and what I can bring to the yoga community. I love this post! so cheers (with a glass of wine) and pass the bacon. Thank you!!!

  13. Andrea says:

    Hahaha! A lot of us are like that. It's called life "balance". 🙂

  14. Tracie says:

    Love this. I am a yoga teacher and a writer as well and I, too, do ALL of these things you write about, plus a few more to boot. My newest favorite t-shirt reads "yoga rebel" and I accept that label wholeheartedly. I spent far too many decades believing I was never "good enough"…whatever the hell that means…and have finally come to the conclusion that not only am I "good enough" just as I am, WHO I am is pretty damn good. I don't spout mindless yogic platitudes in my classes, or anywhere else for that matter and I have no tolerance for those who do and then turn around and behave abhorrently. I say "hellz yes" to authenticity and screw the effed-up expectations of others.

    If you lived in my town, we would undoubtedly be friends. Of this I am quite sure.

  15. Kelli Prieur says:

    Love this article and am in exactly the same boat- saaaame!!! I think the best service we can do is exactly what you're doing- be authentic! There is such an overload of yoga- snobbery, it drives me mental, so hopefully every time a yogi gets a little more vulnerable and honest about who they really are, it will inspire others to drop that veil of perfection, which is a load of bullshit anyways, and do the same!!!! XXX

  16. spirayoga says:

    Ditto all of the above except #1, but I can replace that with 20+ years of smoking (with about 10 yrs overlap with my yoga practice). However, I don't smoke anymore :). Still, we are indeed, human. I applaud you for putting it out there. I laugh at myself every time I curse someone out who pisses me off (when I'm alone, of course). It's all good. We are all good at heart. Namaste, yogi.

  17. Love this. Permission to just be who we are! On a path to become better but loving the sh*t out of ourselves in the process. Even the meat eating, angry version of us who loves to swear and drink sometimes.
    Yee ha to you Jennifer S White.

  18. Nancy says:

    Yes! *fist bump* I love your authenticity. I feel so often like I straddle some fence and get so pissed because I can't decide who put it up (was it ME?)! I live in rural midwest, by choice (for some reasons too numerous and personal-boring to detail). I tried to fit in for the first 2-3 years…now, I embrace who I am, and am working on being authentic. I know I freak people out with my liberal views, unschooling family, organic CSA, yoga group, 4-H kids, Doula, livestock farming, rebel and outspoken activist, wine-drinking self. That is OK. This is my life to live. In the words of a very dear friend. Everyone is doing the best they can at that given moment.

  19. Frank the Bunny says:

    welcome to being a normal human being…isn't it wonderful?

  20. Kevin Winters says:

    Yoga, like Buddhism for me, is a path, not a destination. To say that a yogi who hasn't completely forsaken meat and drink isn't a "real yogi" is like saying someone who plays football at the college level isn't a "real athlete" because he's not in the pros, or a gymnast who ranks as #1 in the US isn't a "real gymnast" because she isn't a gold-winning Olympian, or a student at a community college isn't a "real student" because they aren't going to an Ivy League school and has not won various academic awards. To use a phrase from the founder of my lineage: the journey is the goal. Anyone who says otherwise is (literally; absolutely no metaphor or ambiguity in saying this) selling something…and what they are selling isn't the authentic thing. Kudos for being human!

  21. solfulsoul says:

    This all makes wonderful sense and your honesty leaves no room for judgementss, but to me this all highlights the crux of health and spiriituality, self-bettterment and discipline. Certainly, as we can so see, they can co-exist, interdependently and exclusively with opposing, or at least differening aims, buut still with some sense of peace aand stability. You can live life on the edge, but you still need some kind of rest. What of harmony and prosperity, though? More practically speaking, not posing a problem to yourself or with the fellows of your community is one thing, but what does it mean to achieve excellence and mastery in the eyes of observers and opponents, alike. Of course, such ambitions are not awarded to all, but saftey and success and peace and prosperity and all harmony can be.

  22. Hui says:

    I am guilty of all these. I too respect all my fellow vegan yogis… on the topic of eating meat, I once read a brilliant blog post that one does not necessarily have to be vegan to practice 'ahimsa', and that other incredible actions such as volunteer charity work are equally as powerful, and that our vegan yogi friends shouldn't judge us meat-eaters.

  23. Kim says:

    What a wonderful article Jennifer! I believe that if there were more people in the world that are content with being themselves and unafraid to openly express that the world would be a much better place! I’m a yoga teacher too and whilst I have been vegetarian for over 23 years I do still swear, drink beer &/or wine and listen to music/watch films that most would not consider conducive to a ‘yogic lifestyle’. And I also have a temper at times. However, all of this is me & I am content with who I am and whatever I may become in the future. I’m glad to know there are so many people in the world already who accept themselves for who they are. Thank you for your inspirational article. Namaste

  24. Dawn Wesselby says:

    Lovely article. So many people are 'fake' in the yoga world and profess to be soooo perfect but they're not. A teacher once berated me about my messy house and eating habits – in my defence I have 3 jobs and little time for domesticity – only to find when I stayed at her house once that it was worse than mine! Yoga will change you, it will improve you, but it isn't an overnight thing. As I tell my students 'I still get angry… I'm just not quite such a bitch when I do' 😀 One thing that is missing in our interactions with others is authenticity – drop the masks, be nice, be yourself. I don't want to live in a 'pink, fluffy world', I want to live with all of life's beauty and those parts that are not so beautiful too, I like contrast and I love yoga.

  25. Jennifer White says:

    I am so honored by your response.
    I've also found that as I get older what "moderation" is changes. (Like you I don't eat meat every day, etc.)

    Again, just thank you so much for your kind words and open heart.

  26. Jennifer White says:

    Thanks, Andie!

    Your comments have sincerely touched and inspired me.

  27. Jennifer White says:

    Namaste, Jade!

    Thank you!

  28. Jennifer White says:

    Thank you, Linda!
    I have to tell you that one of my absolute favorite people in my own teacher training (and someone who really lives yoga) felt the same way as you describe.

    Have fun and good luck!

  29. Jennifer White says:

    Tracie, thanks for your comments! Isn't it ironically funny that those of us who are able to admit that we aspire to walk and live the yogic path, yet are, unfortunately, still mortal human beings, are deemed rebels? I'll take it 😉 Thanks again.

  30. Jennifer White says:

    That's just it, no one's perfect. I think of the yoga leaders who have "fell from grace." Each time people are shocked that someone is still human. (not that I'm condoning certain behaviors, mind you)

    Thank you, Kelli!

  31. Jennifer White says:

    Thank you! I could add several others to this list if that would help hee hee

  32. Jennifer White says:

    Thank you, Hannah! Your feedback inspires me!

  33. Jennifer White says:

    Ooooo you sound fascinating to have a glass of wine with 😉

    Keep on doing exactly what you're doing! (And thanks for sharing some of your thoughts with me.)

  34. Jennifer White says:

    can't complain.

  35. Jennifer White says:

    Thank you, Kevin!

    It's interesting. Most of the feedback (nearly all, actually) that I've received has been hugely positive. Yet here's the thing that I find funny—I didn't write a list of all the things that I do every single day that show I'm walking the talk when it comes to my commitment to my yoga practice and yogic lifestyle. Those things are shown, first of all, in the other numerous articles that I write almost daily and in who I am. I'm just not afraid of the dark anymore. (Thank you, yoga studies, for that.)

    Thanks again for your commentary!

  36. yogimom76 says:

    Gosh, I so needed this article. Each day I rise and am left with guilty leftovers of the day before…And all because I had a few craft beers? Or because my boyfriend fried us up some Tipp City bacon. I love you and I love what you just shared. Thank you for helping this yogi see her "guilty pleasures" as not so guilty.

  37. Jennifer White says:

    You know, Kim, I see it like this—if I can't own who I am, then how will I ever become wiser and more "evolved" on my path towards enlightenment?

    Thanks so much for your kind and generous feedback.


  38. Jennifer White says:

    My take is this, because this seriously is the shortened version (I had to eat meat for my own health)—non-harming extends to me too.

    Thanks for your feedback!

  39. Jennifer White says:

    Yes yes and yes! (And shame on that teacher.)

    I always say (in regards to dropping the mask) that we need to come out and play!

  40. Jennifer White says:

    The real downfall for many of us is the guilt (not these other things, and I write about this frequently.)
    Guilt brings us down—and it causes us to repeat cycles that maybe we wouldn't if we weren't continually re-pigeon holing ourselves.

    Rise and shine—it's a new day, a new you, filled with new opportunities! Thank you so much for bringing your authentic self into this discussion.

  41. Eva says:

    Lol, I LOVE your authenticity – totally agree with you and many of the other comments. Thanks for putting yourself out there!! xx

  42. natasha says:

    What does "die hard yogi" mean in this place and age anyway? I wonder what it means to the writer. Most "elephants" are certainly not himalayan mountain cave ascetics…so….what?

  43. Kelli Devine says:

    I feel like you are watching me and writing about it! Wow it is so nice to here from an authentic person…go on with your bad self!

  44. Donna Syms says:

    Me too, in Boganville, Australia. (red-neck country to you). No kids, but not giving in to the paradigm the rest of them get from TV.

  45. Donna Syms says:

    I'm with you.

  46. @keepomyoga says:

    Lovely post! Thank you for your authenticity. So much of the yoga journey is about recognizing the parts of yourself that you may not be proud of and integrating those parts with whole. One love!

  47. Alma says:

    I'm with you on what you say. I don't see anything wrong in doing yoga, getting angry and eating bacon. If it's what your body is asking you, go for it. As for those emotions, well, better out than in. Keep on being yourself and be proud of it.

  48. EmilyFV says:

    Jennifer, I think you're my twin Scorp sister from another mister! I feel like I wrote this article with the exception of the bacon part. I really do try to avoid bacon and red meat. Makes me feel bloated. Haha! Thanks so much for this amazing article!

  49. Casey says:

    Liked your post. The other day I had someone tell me that I wasn't the "typical" yogi. What is a typical yogi these days? Thank you for sharing your quirks 🙂

  50. cpregno says:

    You are a normal person doing your best to live mindfully. isn't that what a true yogi is? Thanks for this.