Nice Attitude…Now Chaturanga Away From Me, Please.

Via Anne Clendening
on Oct 7, 2013
get elephant's newsletter
Photo: JoAnn Land on Pinterest

Since when did people decide it’s cool to act arrogant?

You know, how when your best friend goes to Thailand for the first time, and they invariably come home and go on and on about how nice and super friendly the people are? How they seem free from worry, and how they’re so obliging and kind? They start wearing meditation beads around their neck. They talk about moving there.

And they show you their new tattoo, which vaguely resembles some kind of extinct alphabet.

I have a theory: that tattoo is a bunch of bullshit. It either spells out a dirty word, or it’s a bunch of gobbly-gook.

Still, you’re happy they got to travel to a land where people don’t throw a complete fit because they don’t understand the new iPhone update, or when MAC Makeup stops carrying their favorite lipstick color. I know it’s tragic, it’s a downright shame and maybe we should just go ahead and cancel Christmas this year.

I see this kind of thing all the time. Someone is probably on a Facebook rant right now about how 7-11 wouldn’t take his $100 bill.

The other day, I was teaching a yoga class when I saw a student who was completely in the wrong pose. When I let her know and asked if she’d like to join us, she answered, “No. Thank you, though.”

The chick actually said no. Wow.

And it was more of a snarl. But since it’s my job to make sure everyone is doing stuff right, I went back to her when she was creatively interpreting a different pose, and she said something I’ve never heard anyone say in yoga:

“I did it wrong on the first side, so I thought I’d do it the same way on the other side to keep it even.”

No, babe. Just, no. And thanks for vibing me out, yoga bully.

My reply:

“That makes no sense, just so you know, but okay, do your thing.”

Here’s what I might have said, if I wasn’t such a grown up:

“You’re lucky I have an even disposition, thanks to yoga. When I suggest something, I’m not really suggesting it. I’m actually telling you what to do. So do it, because your hostility is distracting to everyone else. Namaste, little girl.”

I know, now who’s the asshole?

How about this:

“Next time I see you, I’ll crank up the Zeppelin and keep you in Chair Pose for a half an hour.”

Lordy. I must not think bad thoughts. I must not think bad thoughts.

Then there’s the other girl in the same class who was sitting and texting. There must be something in the coconut water. I’ve actually seen people doing sit-ups while everyone else is in Savasana. I’ve seen them bring their dog to class and I’ve seen them get up and adjust the temperature.


Did I say help yourself?

I left class that day in a foul mood. And over the next week or so, people really started to push it:

“You look like you need some sun.”

“You look depressed.”

My favorite: “You look like you need a drink.”

Really? Thanks buddy, for making me feel like a bucketful of broken assholes.

Sometimes they back it up with the ol’ “In my family, if they tease you, it means they like you.” This, I cannot stand. It’s one of my least favorite ways of justifying making someone feel like shit.

Maybe I’m over sensitive, but what the hell is going on here?

I’m sorry, but if you’re walking around in your daily life like a snarky bastard, some would say you’re not doing yoga.

It’s not about being able to do the full expression of Upward Facing Bow. I don’t care if you eat meat, smoke a bunch of pot every day or bought a puppy from a fancy pet store when you could’ve rescued one from the pound.

Just be cool, Negative Nelly. It’s not that hard.

I probably won’t be visiting Thailand in the near future, but I can be considerate and sweet and all those things. And don’t worry, I was just kidding about Chair Pose (wink).


Like elephant yoga on Facebook.

Ed: Cat Beekmans/Bryonie WIse


About Anne Clendening

Anne Clendening is the author of the upcoming memoir, Bent: How Yoga Saved My Ass. Born and raised in L.A., she is a yoga teacher, a writer and occasionally slings cocktails in a Hollywood bar. She could eat chocolate cake for every meal of the day. She has a gigantic fear of heights and flying. And fire. She wishes she could speak French, play her guitar better and make cannoli. She's probably listening to The Dark Side Of The Moon right now. If you’re not easily offended, her darker thoughts can be read at Dirty Blonde Ink. She’ll be kickin’ it with her boxer dog and her hot Australian husband. Be her friend on Facebook if you dig. Her website is Anne Clendening Yoga. Peace, Love & Beatles.


42 Responses to “Nice Attitude…Now Chaturanga Away From Me, Please.”

  1. envisionhealing says:

    This article comes off as really bitter and arrogant. Where exactly is the even disposition? I would love to see all of the energy in this post channelled in a productive direction.

  2. Adrienne says:

    I have really enjoyed reading some of your stuff, but I have to say in this one your attachment is showing. I tell my students that they need to do the poses that work for them, and leave the rest. I'd rather see them laying in savasana (or doing sit-up, quietly), or in headstand in the corner than to do every pose exactly the way I call them out. I tell them that if they have a teach who tells or shames them otherwise to run out of the class and never come back. We're just guides, not god, my friend.

  3. Emily says:

    LOL. I think to even talk about the yucky things some people do in this world you have to have a sense of humor–and poke fun at them and yourself. The writer was clearly not trying to give manner lessons–she was admitting that she (like all of us) has mean thoughts sometimes. And, it's better to laugh at them than to secretly believe in them and become mean in reality! This article just made me laugh, not get up on my high horse.

  4. Emily says:

    LOL. I think to even talk about the yucky things some people do in this world you have to have a sense of humor–and poke fun at them and yourself. The writer was clearly not trying to give manner lessons–she was admitting that she (like all of us) has mean thoughts sometimes. And, it's better to laugh at them than to secretly believe in them and become mean in reality! This article just made me laugh, not get up on my high horse.

  5. Beth says:

    This was FUNNY. Thanks for the laugh Anne.

  6. BG2 says:

    Wow, who are you teaching? I have never seen any of this in five years of teaching from studios to gyms. Maybe you need a change of scene. Remember, whatever people have to say, it's really more about them than about you.

  7. nunh says:

    Your article comes off like the very people you are critizing. You do not sound like a teacher – you sound bitter. Your article is all over the map with negative projections. Even so, I like the gist of what you are hinting at and I even agree with some of your points. (Wink).

  8. katybrandes says:

    It's crazy to see people texting during yoga class … isn't that one of the things we go there to escape? I imagine yoga instructors see/hear a lot of crap that has to be frustrating. More power to you to "rise above."

  9. Dana Healy says:

    This article is fantastic! Look we are yoga teachers but we are HUMAN and people misconstrue a yogi for ” yes please walk all over me” absolutely not. I practice yoga to cope with people in daily life and of course to heal myself but teaching the general public is a true test of patience. I wrote a story once but never posted it bc well read the first negative comment…ha enough said.

  10. JC Peters says:

    You guys:

    It's not okay to treat yoga teachers like sh*t, and we're allowed to be hurt and mad about it. We quit waitressing for a reason.

    Love, a yoga teacher

  11. Mr Tang says:

    Very interesting article and interesting comments too.

    I confess to shock at the power and language used and my thoughts are that this is a teacher who cares and is a sensitive soul (aren't we all?) who has taken the opportunity to do the unthinkable and be human and talk of disappointment, shock and hurt and how she felt because of situations that arose in the most unexpected environment. Somewhere which most of us would consider a sanctuary rather than a sparring ring.

    Perhaps the tone could have been different and perhaps some more time between drafts might have adjusted the powerful emotions, but as a fellow human being who cocks up and can get upset I think it's actually a very brave move to publish this.

    I can only imagine that it's taking some mighty strong pranayama to be reading some of the feedback.

    Ultimately like the author will, we will make peace with what upsets us and then it passes and we move on. Today is a new and beautiful day right?

    This article is both provocative and useful and it's the yogi's job to share and listen and love with compassion and understand and counsel and hug and let go.

    I'm in. Are you?

  12. Little Orphan says:

    Hi guys, above all, thanks for reading, and I really do appreciate the comments, even (and especially) if you don't agree with what I had to say. This one has to take the cake: "We're just guides, not god, my friend." It just ain't that serious you guys. And big thanks to the people who LOL'd. You made my day 🙂

  13. Little Orphan says:

    Awesome! Thank you!

  14. Little Orphan says:

    Well put! Thank you!

  15. Little Orphan says:

    No, thank you!

  16. Little Orphan says:

    Thanks, got that right!

  17. Little Orphan says:

    Thank you, and I assure you I'm not bitter (except maybe for a few minutes that one day…) 🙂

  18. Little Orphan says:

    Yes! Thank you!

  19. Little Orphan says:

    Thanks Dana, you should post that article!

  20. Little Orphan says:

    That has to be my favorite comment so far 🙂

  21. alliecatconklin says:

    A bucket of broken assholes… that's the best thing I've heard all day! Great article, some of us only attend class to make sure we're doing things right, bummer those girls in your class are wasting your time when some people would LOVE to learn more.

  22. amphibi1yogini says:

    " 'I did it wrong on the first side, so I thought I’d do it the same way on the other side to keep it even.'

    "No, babe. Just, no. And thanks for vibing me out, yoga bully."

    No. She's got balls. Balls I wished I'd had. Instead, the teacher steamrolled right over me if they were so much the disposition to.

    See, sometimes THIS is one of the reasons I practice mostly at home. Gym yoga had been more forgiving in many ways …

  23. Auki says:

    Setting healthy boundaries is always a good thing. I thought this article was light-hearted fun. My gosh, some of the comments posted afterwards were sure cranky! 🙂

  24. Little Orphan says:

    Thank you, Auki! 🙂

  25. amphibi1yogini says:

    "Remember, whatever people have to say, it's really more about them than about you."

    Hoping that was a joke. Going through life (as I do) with a half-busted irony-o-meter isn't all that much edifying … or fun …

  26. @CyNyC says:

    I don't think this article comes off as "bitter and arrogant", I think it comes off as frustrated. She's venting about the same things that I sometimes vent about as a student. I come to class to get away from phones and computers and being plugged in, I find it distracting when someone has theirs in class, I am not evolved enough to just consider it a challenge to my focus and move on. As to "doing your own thing" in a class, it's one thing to modify a pose in either direction, taking it deeper/full expression or backing off but it's disruptive to the group energy to do something completely different and out of context. If you really want to do your own thing, don't come to a group class, as someone above mentioned, develop a home practice where you can do whatever you want all the time. Anne, thanks for being brave enough to let your frustration show, I appreciate it.

  27. Smoothwoven says:

    Dear Anne,

    After reading the comments and your reactions I have a few questions for you.

    Firstly, was the student doing the wrong pose doing another asana or something they made up? Either way, were they doing something that put themselves at risk of injury?

    Secondly, there is a very big difference in approach between the student who was doing their own pose (exerting what they feel is 'right' for their body) and the student who was texting (blatant disregard for sacred space). Why did you lump them both together as arrogant?

    And lastly, did you acknowledge to yourself at some point that it is -totally okay- for someone to do their own pose outside of a strict practise (one that specifically requests that it be followed to the letter) like Ashtanga or Bikram? I guess I am just concerned that in the article you didn't actually acknowledge that 'other pose' student's behaviour was okay and that your article was just a lark and a chance to express your anger in an entertaining fashion.

    By not explaining yourself, you have invited the misunderstanding which took place in the comments above. Also, by not explaining yourself you have sent the message that students should -not- to the pose that feels best for them, which can be dangerous.

    There are so many ways that women unconsciously cut each other up supposedly in the interest of humour. In the future, please think of the student who maybe abstaining from a pose for health reasons (which they are totally within their rights to not disclose), and may now assume that their instructor hates them or worse decide not to go because they can't keep up.

    Your job is to speak up when someone is at risk of hurting themselves (in which case you can speak right away) or if the practise is designed to be strict (in which case you can mention it after class for next time). Otherwise, why not let it go? At the very least please mention that your article is meant to be a self-therapeutic rant at the very beginning.

    Just please – don't send the message that doing what feels right for your body is wrong or shameful.

    In the spirit of self-exploration,

  28. Little Orphan says:

    I'll try to keep this simple. I've been doing yoga 16 years. I have over 700 hours of formal training and I've been teaching for six years. I know what I'm doing, and I know how to make space for variations, modifications and how to keep people safe, Hostile, weird and/or long winded comments aren't necessary. This was a case of someone in the wrong pose because she either wasn't listening, or I wasn't clear enough, so I let her know. No big deal, it happens. It was the passive aggressive snarl that got to me and vibed me out. So when you write in using basic, day one of yoga101 type of comments about keeping people safe and providing room to grow and thrive, I would A. watch your typos, B. write your own piece for elephant because clearly you need to be heard as much as I do (which I can totally respect) and C. if you live in L.A., come take my class and we can hug it out.

  29. amphibi1yogini says:

    Thank you for this. As someone in a class taught by someone SO not-a-doctor, I had been ambushed into an inversion and forced to stay there … by the teacher who had – in the past – been ultra-liberal and "let me do my own thing without disturbing the energy of the class" .. and it happened yet once again – at another studio/in another style … [I'd been barely stronger by that time and had incurred a mild injury to my upper body by this second teacher, previously] …

    Later, after having proper diagnosis of my condition, I sustained a third injury to my upper body (second-ever in a class) – the class was mild, no inversions – just prep for her later teaching "beginner-friendly" arm balances … this is extremely recent …

    I am done with commercialized yoga classes now …

  30. amphibi1yogini says:

    Don't you dare teach me an insulting "Senior Yoga" class … even if you think by my comments above, I MUST be in Gentle Yoga 101 … I do a MAT pilates practice that would kick YOUR butt!!

  31. Little Orphan says:

    Probably- I've never done pilates!

  32. Sandy says:

    "Bucketful of broken assholes". LOL!!! YES!!!

    Thank you for this post, for being angry and letting it out. I ain't no yoga teacher but I have been in many a class where people are doing their own thing, their own poses (not talking about child's pose here), coming in late, leaving early, checking their phone – and MAN is it distracting! Oy!

    I have my own issues with teachers not being hands-on or being lost in their own practice, too, but I'll save that rant. 😉

    Personally it's nice to see/hear a teacher get fed up with how her students behave in class. I am not alone! Yay!

    We all have a little asshole in all of us, whether we like it or not. As long as it's not a bucketful. Of broken ones. I think I'm going to work that into my vocabulary, if you don't mind.

  33. amphibi1yogini says:

    I'm nowhere near "advanced" enough in asana to be a distraction if/when I would bust off onto my own tangent … well, one of the studio owners got me to "behave" in class [the popular one, not the brainy, moneyed, snobby one–and unlike the one successful with getting me to "behave", she'd also yanked-and-cranked on me before she'd gotten to–like it or not–KNOW me…]; and, now, I'm a happy camper at pilates class …

    I've got a Type A personality, but ONLY for pilates (and cardio dance–but that's a new story and dance teachers are DIFFERENT!). These yoga teachers took one look at my already-compromised body and ASS-umed I wanted to: 1) get my butt kicked, 2) lose weight, 3) lose inches, 4) get introduced to self-mortifying practices.

    You know what happens when you ASSume? You make an ASS out of U and ME …

  34. elephantjournal says:

    Amen. That's how I read it, too. Just being open, and making fun of others, and herself, about our attachments.

  35. onesadhaka says:

    So many articles these days seem a bit supercilious and arrogant, to say the least. However, this one did not come off as snarky and arrogant, as it might have otherwsie, since I relate…not only to the kooky antics, but to the darker side of us that is human and gets off-balance by these things. Somehow, the balance of the two made this article seem okay, although I can see how it might appear arrogant or exasperated to some (a similar article appeared so to me today). : )

  36. Justine says:

    Keep in mind, we students are ultimately responsible for our own bodies. We sign waivers. We have the right to do something different than teachers suggest. We aren’t sheep for goodness sakes. And sometimes people text because they have responsibilities yet they are trying to make room for themselves to come to yoga. Or they struggle to detach from texting and facebook addictions. Hopefully you and your students feel yoga bliss by the time you roll up your mats.

  37. Little Orphan says:

    Thank you onesadhaka!

  38. Little Orphan says:

    Thanks Justine, I know it can be hard for people to "unplug." But I draw the line when it comes to cell phones in class. It's only an hour!

  39. Staci says:

    Yes!!!! This response is awesome!

  40. Little Orphan says:

    Thanks Staci! 😉

  41. debi says:

    I’ve seen all of this, and often it is other teachers doing it. I agree with the comments that it is your own practice, your own body. But if you choose to come to a class rather than practice privately on your own, try to follow the teachers instruction (maybe you’ll learn something gasp!) and not be a distraction to the other students

  42. Little Orphan says:

    Hi all, I do have a soft side:… I'm spreading the love today!