Another 10 Things Yogis Won’t Tell You About Yoga Class.

Via Jennifer S. White
on Aug 6, 2013
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By: Lululemon Athletica

Okay, I’m braced for a barrage of hateful Facebook comments.

I’m ready because someone has to tell it like it is.

So let’s not waste time with fancy-schmancy introductions.

Without further ado, here are a few more things that yogis won’t tell you about yoga class, but I will (because I have no shame and self-proclaimed, awesome ADHD-blurting writing skills).


1. Groaning, moaning.

So a groan or a moan or a sigh slips out, either accidentally or on purpose during a yoga class. This happens to all of us, because a class simply feels good.

It happens once or twice.

Groaning and moaning throughout an entire class? Nope, not so much—go be an exhibitionist somewhere else.

2. B.O. 

This one didn’t make my other two lists because I thought it was fairly straight forward. Apparently it’s not.

I’ve actually gotten several requests to place this topic on my next similarly-themed article (You’re welcome.) And, no, I’m actually not kidding this time.

To be honest, this is the worst when it’s you. Everyone sweats and smells more than they’d truly like, at least from time to time. However, if you’re a warm-room fan like me, then try to find a deodorant that works for you most of the rest of the time.

I’ll admit that lately I’ve been sweating so much that my shirts still smell even after I’ve washed them. (Don’t worry, my mom’s on it.) So it’s not that I don’t understand—I’m just being a giver and helping some other yogis out. (Also, I warned you that I blurt, right?)

And consider not eating so much garlic before class too. Thanks.

3. Your purse isn’t as cool as you think.

I’m sooooo impressed that you can afford a thousand dollar handbag. (I’m not that impressed.) But maybe you should consider leaving it at home if you’re not comfortable putting it in the cubbies outside of the yoga room.

Can you imagine if all of us had a huge-ass, expensive bag in front of our mats while we practiced? For me, it kills the mood more than a little bit (and, also, the teachers need that space to walk around and, you know, teach).

4. It doesn’t have to be complicated.

I come to my mat because it brings me back to my center, back to the me without the swirling chaos that sometimes rattles around in my mind or the overwhelming emotions that often exist in my heart. Meaning, I don’t need overly complex sequencing.

In fact, this usually has the opposite effect of what I’m looking for because I have to get inside of my head to follow what’s happening—and I can’t drop into the sensations of my body where I truly need to be.

Over and over again, the classes that I choose to frequent are fairly simple, and they work—they make my physical self feel good, as well as those other aspects of me too.

5. I know that I’m not the only one who eats meat.

Now, I fully understand that in some yoga schools you actually have to be a vegan to be a certified instructor, and that the belief is that non-harming has to extend to not eating animal flesh; but the thing is, I eat meat—and I know I’m not the only one.

I was a vegetarian for well over a decade and I discovered that, for my body, eating meat makes me healthier. There you have it. (To the reader who wanted a more detailed, written explanation than this, you’re not getting it.) The long and short of it is that I’m severely hypoglycemic unless I consume small amounts of mindfully-raised meat.

I experimented more than you know on this, so don’t bother leaving suggestions in the feedback box. Although do go head and leave your prayers for my ignorant and blinded soul. Those were nice. (They were not nice—to be read in a Homer Simpson-style stage whisper.)

And, after considerable effort and thought, here’s the conclusion that I came to: non-harming extends to me too.

Also, quit being such an arrogant, judgmental asshole. Thanks again.

6. We’re not here to make money.

Contrary to popular belief, yoga teachers are not in it to get rich. Wait, is this a popular belief? If it’s not then why do so many teachers out there have at least one horror story of a student not acting out of a place of kindness, good yogi behavior, or even just pain civil courtesy when they provided after-class feedback?

While I absolutely understand that not all teachers float your boat, please keep in mind that basically all people who choose to teach yoga are there to simply share their passion with you.

Actually, writing about yoga is very much the same in that bloggers aren’t out for top dollars either—we’re here to share our thoughts and words with the hope that they might connect with someone else out there. Yeah, just go ahead and keep that in mind.

7. You’re not fooling me—I know you’re not a saint either.

Whether or not you’re as open as I am about publicly airing your quirks, everyone knows that you have them too—because no one is a picture of perfection. Well, maybe you are a picture, but that’s a flat, one-dimensional object and not a uniquely idiosyncratic person.

Sure, your little eccentricities and observations might be different than these, and you might even think that yours are more “yoga friendly.” But I’m here to suggest that we’re all fallible people, even if we practice yoga—yet isn’t this something to rejoice and find comfort in?

Besides being real about who we are doesn’t have to mean that we’re not all on a yogic journey towards being our best selves.

8. Size up in Lululemon.

Because even spandex can be too tight. Moving on…

9. It’s okay to admit that you came to your yoga practice for your body.

I get a little sick of yogis pretending that they all started out as enlightenment-seeking individuals. No, quite a lot of us came to yoga because we like the way it made our bodies feel or look or both—and that’s…okay!

It’s okay because I would also wager that many of us naturally move on from this initial and more superficial kick-start.

So, please, stop judging other, newer yogis for coming to class because they want to hone their flexibility and strength.

10. Everyone can practice yoga.

Contrary to what yoga snobs will have you believe, everyone can practice yoga—and I mean that.

I’d like to say that if you can walk you can practice yoga, but this isn’t true—you can practice yoga even if you can’t walk. (Some of my favorite students have been wheel-chair bound.)

Yes, I’m fully aware that I’ll possibly get several comments about how yoga has nothing to do with our bodies, etc, etc, but I’d like to politely ask those readers to re-check this article’s title. (Hint: it’s about yoga class, which tends to, generally speaking, be physically related. I digress.)

If you find yourself in a yoga classroom or setting where you feel unwelcome, then go somewhere else, but don’t give up! Trust me when I say that yoga is for everyone—you just might have to kiss a few frogs before you find your prince.

I stated that I was ready for nasty comments, and I am (as ready as possible considering that I’m a real person and not a robot, but that would be super cool—if a yoga-practicing robot had actually typed this article for us mere humans to read and relate to and laugh at). Anyways.

So why did I write this then, if I don’t like being called “not a real yogi” or “an asshole?”

(And to the person who said that I was just “good at yoga exercises,” you’re right. I’m really good. Okay, no I’m not.)

I wrote it because I believe that you can be a serious yoga practitioner and student of spirituality while—gasp!—maintaining a sense of humor. Who proclaimed that practicing yoga, looking in the mirror at your flaws and then laughing at them were mutually exclusive subjects? And, another thing, who said that it wasn’t my own toenails that I noticed and that grossed me out? (Alright, it wasn’t.) 

Maybe you strongly identify with this list of things that most yogis won’t tell you, or maybe you don’t. Either way, I’m fairly confident that this will be my last blog on the subject so you can either share away and help this go down in blogging history (which is my recommendation) or you can feel free to leave your snarky comment below (as long as it’s thoughtfully written).

Until next time, keep taking care of your toenails and wearing an appropriate deodorant. (Because, obviously, that’s the most important aspect of practicing yoga.)

“If God dwells inside of us like some people say, I sure hope He likes enchiladas, because that’s what He’s getting.” ~ Jack Handey

Like elephant yoga on Facebook.



Ed: Bryonie Wise

Photo: Lululemon Athletica


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.


36 Responses to “Another 10 Things Yogis Won’t Tell You About Yoga Class.”

  1. YoginiHuntie says:

    This is my favorite thing I've read all week! Seriously, Jennifer, I don't know how you managed to get all into my brain and know that I've been thinking these same things, but you did it. And if people get all up on you for any of this, I do believe they need to check themselves- because if we're all keeping it real, not a single one of us is truly perfect or adheres to anything to the letter. And more importantly, humor and silliness is one thing that I feel is missing from yoga classes. Yes, you can be a really serious practitioner, but for crying out loud if you don't giggle or if you can't have a sense of humor about the goings on in class or in your mind, then maybe you need to rethink why you're practicing in the first place. But that's just me. I'm a weird one Ike that.

  2. Brilliant! Thank you for such a "real and honest" list. I'm a yoga teacher and my students love the fact that we can laugh at ourselves, talk about see through primark leggings, my ex-smoking habit, the odd glass of wine, farts and other things that make us humans beings. We do of course take our yoga seriously but we can also end up in a heap laughing. Putting yourself up on that enlightened pedestal is just asking to fall and be found out that we are also real.

  3. bce says:

    So true on all aspects, but the physical practice side statements, love it. Just because you do yoga doesnt mean you are going to turn into an enlightened guru with the ability to reach deep into someone's soul and heal them. To me that is what the physical practice does, i came to grips with my beliefs and spirituality WAYYY back, I am not on a journey to find myself or looking to find answers to life mysteries, been there, done that. I like yoga because it is a physically challenging endeavor that never has an end, it makes me feel good mentally and physically. I dont read the sutra's, I don't read spiritual books at all really, but people love my classes, so I must be doing something correct, without being an frequent visitor to india on a soul searching mission.

  4. @ashleyzabel says:

    Thank you for giving us the permission to admit we can just come for our body. Sometimes my intention is just to get a good workout. I feel guilty about it, but somedays it just is what it is.

  5. kirstan says:

    LOL! Fabulous! I'm still looking for enlightenment – I guess it comes. Please add 'less peanut butter and more teeth brushing' to the list of B.O. stuff; Yes!!! Stop bringing purses to class – Unless we can use it as a prop; Yes, I'm STILL working for a 6 pack (nope, not the beer) b/c I WANT that and some enlightenment would be super fab., too. I adore you for writing this. I wish the yoga studio chick where my mom went to ask about classes would have had your realization that ANYONE can do yoga; especially since Mom had been diagnosed with stage IV cancer and was looking for something peaceful but that would let her use her physical strength for the time she could and let her find the peace on the mat. But she didn't. Mom found peace off the mat, because that's how she was, but my opinion of 'that yogic vibe' took a big hit. Thanks for writing this – love the blurting and you're not an asshole. Want diet suggestions? Just kidding. 😉

  6. Occasional_Reader says:

    Practicing yoga for me is for the physical aspect…which feeds the mental/spiritual as well. I can get the same thing from running or xc skiing. I'm actually somewhat uncomfortable with too much chanting, sanskrit, rituals. I feel the same when in a Christian church. Someone else, very, very long ago thought up and decided on these rituals. Why do they mean anything to us? Just thinking out loud. They don't resonate with me. Why just adopt what others designed so long ago? As far as I'm concerned even true "Yogis" are fake. What happened to individuality.

  7. Bklyn says:

    I'll admit to even crying in yoga class, as in tears ready to stream down the face. It happens. Yoga can be an enormous release of emotional build-up for me. But I hide it rather well, and it usually happens right around the time of shivahsina (bet I got that spelling wrong too!), so no one is really looking.

  8. Stephy says:

    This one made me laugh harder than the first one! Thanks!

  9. devacat says:

    If you're looking for nasty comments, I'll say as an aging writer and yoga teacher that if you're old enough to blog, you're old enough to give your mom a break and deal with your own damn laundry. Otherwise, fun. 😉

  10. bodykarmabella says:

    Haha love you Jen!

  11. Kat Robinson says:

    No nasty comments here, I LOVED what you had to say! Amazing blog and I m sharing it!

  12. Um, my mom isn't doing my laundry. Read the link attached to that (it's about my mom giving me advice).

  13. Betsy says:

    She never said her mom does her laundry. She was making a reference to one of her recent blogs about things her mother taught her. Just FYI…

  14. pretzelgirl says:

    In the B.O. department, I swear by organic baby wipes. Seriously, you can get a lot done with one of those. I buy the refill packs because they come without a hard plastic case and put them in my bag (my schlubby, canvas, I-leave-it-outside bag.) In the laundry dept, you could try adding a little organic vinegar to the wash. That's what I wash my mat with and it works great. If you don't like the smell of vinegar, try a little lemon juice?

  15. I love this. And as for #2, big thumbs up. Every morning when I get to parsvakonasana, I think to myself, "you should really lay off the cumin." 😉

  16. hahaha! Oh, Kate, I love you. I'm serious, definitely part of the time the spice offender is me. xoxo

  17. Thank you! I second everything you stated. Humor is truly a part of life that creates joy and helps you get through the junk!

  18. Thank God there are others out there. I rejoice in being part of a yoga community with you in it.

  19. Hmmm…a prop, now why have I never thought of that? 😉 haha!!

    On a serious note, I truly believe that there's a class/studio/teacher out there for all of us, and it's too bad that your mom didn't have time to find it.

    Thanks so much, Kirstan for making ME laugh!

  20. That's one of the benefits of practicing in the hot room—is it sweat or tears?! 😉

    You are not alone on that front…

  21. Thanks! You probably got more out of it if you've read the others 😉

  22. Thank you thank you!

  23. Thanks I appreciate the tips! Because I wasn't kidding…my shirts stink… 😉

  24. Samantha says:

    As a practicing yogi-ni of nearly 20 years and a yoga instructor I SO love this! Each and every point I could comment on and have a story for! lol Your honesty and groundedness of saying it how it is, is wonderfully refreshing and in my opinion the whole point of yoga and being who you are in any moment. Its not what you 'represent' or what you have learned and how you try to portray yourself. it is BEING – as is. Thank you for this!!

  25. betlamed says:

    "Groaning and moaning throughout an entire class? Nope, not so much—go be an exhibitionist somewhere else."

    Like… in a tantra class? *g*

    Seriously – a room chock full of grown-ups who moan and groan as if they were trying to make the building collapse is… fun.. in a strange way.

  26. finn325 says:

    Got to love a yogi with a sense of humour… thanks so much for sharing!

  27. Nope not as in a tantric class, as in the practitioner next to you moaning and groaning for no reason (because, sadly, some people just want attention). I agree with you on its merits, though! (Which is why I didn't totally shoot it down, just excessive and unnecessary, porn-like groaning.)

  28. amphibi1yogini says:

    Only #9 rattles my chain. Seriously!

    I'd been a transcendental meditation addict and came to yoga to come to grips with that. Yoga had to always meet me on the spiritual level and help me out along those lines, along with the physical.

    I've had to put up with those darned holier-than-thou vegans in the process (style I'd chose, mostly … caveat emptor always!), but I'd come out the other side only slightly burned and can laugh about that now!

    There are some serious spiritual addictions out there that are, in their behavioral aspects gone wrong, frankly ruining lives ….

  29. John V says:

    I've read all of your top ten lists of what yogis don't tell you, and I love them!
    Thank you.
    I prefer classes that encourage lightheartedness and laughter.

  30. Cathy says:

    Loved your comments! I have been a yoga instructor for 20 years here in South Africa and have had much laughter and some tears in class over the years; but love watching how my pupils benefit from the classes both mentally and physically.

  31. Thanks for the encouragement, John! I absolutely agree with you—and being lighthearted in class often encourages our muscles to let go and release more easily when we need them to!

  32. Thanks, Cathy! It's nice to know that this connected with you and that laughter in the classroom is a universally important subject.

  33. adkjerseygirl says:

    This is fantastic, Jen. And you're definitely not an asshole. You've pulled yourself out of the yoga ghetto you're no longer lost in the the blissed-out, soft, sweet, always positive, never angry, never rebellious, green juice saturated yoga ghetto. and for that you should be ridiculously proud! BOOM!

  34. amphibi1yogini says:

    Nah! Yoga costs much too much to be nothing but dead serious about it. As many other New Yorkers are. But, you see, that's why I practice yoga mostly on my own, at home. Both problems solved!

  35. Viv says:

    Great & funny.
    And also true!!