Yesterday was my day off. I usually stay pretty low on my days off because, well, because I can. However, yesterday I decided to take the kids out for lunch at the pub my husband manages. My kids have been going there since the day they were born and they know the place like the backs of their hands, but more importantly, all the staff know them like their own kids or little brothers. Plus, the place makes a damn fine burger (point number one.) It was well after the typical lunch hour (we know better than to go during the rush,) and since I had nothing of major importance to do (remember, it was my day off,) I had a beer with my burger (point number two.) Nothing about either of these points is anything new for me. I love red meat (I’ve been known to say I could bite a cow right on the ass, not that I ever have actually done it) and I love a good beer. Most everyone who knows me knows this, but there are a lot of folks who *think* they know me because they know what I do for a living, as was the case yesterday. Someone saw me eating a burger (gasp!) and drinking a beer (GASP!) and approached me with a “I just caught you with your hand in the cookie jar” sort of look and said to me, “I didn’t know you were so cool!” as they showed me that they, too, were eating a burger and drinking a grown up juice box. I, of course, smiled and said something along the lines of, “Well, I’m more than just what you see on the mat!,” and moved on. And then I came home and started a whole feed on Twitter with the hashtag #yogateachertruth. You can read most of them over there. ———>
It just got me thinking about how many misconceptions people have about yoga teachers and WHY they have these misconceptions. I have never made bones about who I am. I think I’m pretty much a “what you see is what you get” kind of a person. I’ve never tried to hide things about myself, even when they are really really ugly things. It never occurred to me to do anything else. I have moments and times when I am feeling on top of the world, totally yoga stoned, and especially enlightened, but I’ve never once pretended that I’m like that all the time. So, why in the world would folks be surprised to see me being human? I think it’s because so many well known yogins (famous and not so famous,) are always acting like life is one big fluffy cloud of awesomeness and they are SO much more enlightened than anyone else. How well did that work out for you, John Friend? Or how about the whole Rodney Yee scandal that folks have forgotten about? Dear Maude, it’s starting to look like all of yoga is just a bunch of folks who study more Jimmy Swaggart than Jivamukti. No wonder folks get the wrong impression of yoga teachers – many yoga teachers feed the wrong impressions!
Really, let me state something straight up: Even the most zen, yogic, blissed out person gets pissed off now and then. Even the most enlightened person needs to step out from under the Bodhi tree to get down with their bodacious self. It might not look like burgers and beer. It might look more like shameless shoe shopping, riotous speeding down the highway, or saying the word “Fuck” frequently (not that I would know anything at all about any of those things,) but I promise you, NO yoga teacher is *that* perfect, *that* serene, *that* superior. It doesn’t happen, it doesn’t exist. Know why? (Oh this is going to blow your minds, so sit down and wait for it.)
BECAUSE WE ARE HUMANS, TOO.
(Of course, there are many YTs that would debate and deny that. See above.)
So, before the whole title of this post loses it’s purpose, let’s get on to the list of a few of things I’ll not tell you.
In NO specific order:
“Oh I hang out in Scorpion for 108 minutes every morning before breakfast!” Please. Give me a break. Honestly, I can do Scorpion, but there are days when I cannot even freaking do Tree without falling. I’m okay with that and you should be, too.
“Some child spilled their cup of cow milk on my shoe at the playground and I nearly vomited! MILK!! MILK!! Can you imagine?!?! Gross.” Someone said that to me once. If I’m lying, I’m dying. I swear to Elvis and all that is holy, some crazy obsessive vegan said that to me. WHAT THE WHAT? Here’s the deal: eat or drink what you want. Don’t eat or drink what you don’t want. YAY for Vegans – I love many! But don’t for one second pretend to be so sanctimonious and sensitive that you cannot even tolerate a toddler – a TODDLER (they spill EVERYTHING) – spilling 3 drops of milk onto your shoe. Get over yourself, please, or I may be forced to vomit my bacon sundae upon you.
“I’m so much better / holier / yogier / more enlightened than you!” Really? REALLY? Yeah. That sounds terribly enlightened. Thanks for living the “we are all one” yoga model. You rock. :rolls eyes:
“I LOVE everyone!” Bullshit. I find that utter bullshit. I don’t love everyone. I don’t even like everyone! Now, do I respect the rights of everyone? Yes. Do I see everyone as my fellow human and thus a member of my human family? Yes. But let me just say: I don’t even like all the members of my birth family, much less every member of my human family! I’ll fight for your rights until the day I die, but that doesn’t mean I won’t also fight you.
“I just LOVE Kirtan! You can’t have a yoga life without it!!!” Okay, I admit, I do like some Kirtan. But I also do like some WHAM! , Kid Rock, and Ganesha knows I think the sun rises and sets in Shooter Jennings’ cowboy boots. I’m more likely to be found back stage, center stage, or sneaking onto the stage at some honkey tonk with a strong drink in hand and rowdiness in my heart than sitting on a cushion chanting “Hare Rama!” Again, I LOVE KIRTAN and I have, and will again, pull out that cushion, but only once for every 40 concerts I attend.
“Nice tights!!” They’re tights. They’re not yoga pants. I can see your underwear and everything under them. I’m okay with that if you are, but you should know that if I can see through them, so can the dude on the mat behind you.
“My kids never anger me. They are our future, they are our everything. If we show them anger or limits, they might know that they have anger and that they have limits!” Oh please. Children need to be able to explore allllllll their emotions and feelings. They need to be able to get angry. And DEAR SWEET ELVIS ON VELVET, kids need limits. If you think you’re doing the right thing by not limiting your children, why don’t you go on ahead and read We Need to Talk About Kevin.
“I can’t hang out with you because you’re my student, I’m your teacher, and I’m SO much better than you!” Oh please. PLEASE! This is such shit. When I hear teachers saying that they never would have lunch or dinner or a drink (tea is a drink, yo) with their students unless it’s a “teaching moment,” all I can think is, “Sweet sassafrass, you don’t have many friends, do you?” I’ll be honest – if I can’t hang with someone without them “teaching” me, well then, I won’t hang out with that person at all. And neither should you! Listen up: every teacher is a student, every student is a teacher. First round is on me, second is on you.
I’m not better than you (well, most of you — ugh, still struggling with that) and you’re not better than me. Yoga is meant to meet us where we are and take us where we’re *all* headed. You’ll not reach enlightenment any faster by avoiding bacon nor will I reach it any slower by running to roadhouses. We’re all on the same journey and we will all reach the same samadhi eventually, it’s just that our paths might take different routes to get there. So if it makes you feel better to take what you assume is the high road, you go right ahead. More power to you. I’ll take the dirt road and, I promise, we’ll cross the finish line together at exactly the same time.