If you’ve ever visited a yoga retreat or fancy studio, you’ll probably know certain buzzwords that made you feel inferior in one way or another.
Chances are, nothing is wrong with you.
In case you missed it, I am a yoga teacher.
Since I started practicing yoga in 2009, I had encountered so many teachers who I looked up to—and then got disappointed by their actual behavior. Most of these teachers were also pretty good at marketing themselves, while I was not so good at noticing that.
Before we get to the fun part of this article, I would like to point out that yoga is an amazing practice that basically saved my life. There are some troubling dynamics within the community, but that doesn’t disqualify the practice itself at all.
Here are six common wordings spiritualists use and what they actually mean:
1. Energy exchange/volunteering.
Translation: We are not going to pay you for your service to the community, but instead, we will give you access to our overpriced offerings at our rates—but please be aware: your work will be valued at minimum wage levels and counted in hours.
2. Toxic people.
Translation: Please stop seeing those friends who keep warning you about our business model. If they say something negative about your actions, decisions, or our community, they must be toxic and need to go. Just quit your job and trust the process.
3. The divine feminine and masculine.
Translation: Women have to be pretty, and men need to provide. I believe in the same gender roles as my grandmother did.
4. Don’t judge.
Translation: If something I say sounds ridiculous to you, I don’t want to hear your criticism. I paid a lot of money to get told what to think, and I am not allowing anyone to ruin this.
5. Plant medicine healed me.
Translation: I am too scared to see a real therapist, but getting high on plants helped me to not give a sh*t about society anymore.
6. I am plant-based.
Translation: I am not a vegetarian.
Once we realize that some yoga teachers and healers are just trying to make a living by promoting their unique approach, we are able to cut through the bullsh*t. There are so many well-educated teachers out there who deserve far more students. At the same time, we see incredibly successful influencers promoting their products behind a smokescreen of semantics.
Most of these folks don’t do this because they are bad people; many of them just realized at some point that manifesting doesn’t pay the bills.
If we want the yoga industry to heal from the hiccups of applied capitalism, it is upon us to empower teachers who are authentic. Instead of choosing teachers by popularity, fame, or looks, we should start listening to what they preach–and that includes questioning them.
There is nothing wrong with keeping toxic folks out of our life, taking plant medicine, having boundaries, judging what we hear, pay for classes, or (not 100 percent sure about that one) eat meat once in a while—but there is no need to sugarcoat shortcomings.
The more aware we are of spiritualist language, the easier it will be to find the right teacher and make the most of our practice.