Yogi’s are the most disconnected and self-serving people I know.

Emelia Symington Fedy —  February 8, 2012 — 6 Comments

…and I can say this because I am one. Not just a yogi, but also a yoga teacher with two certificates under my belt.

You can call me the average Jane of Yoga, you can call me very generally entrenched in the community.

I teach workshops, I fly to far away places to study with the teachers that inspire me. I have a strong home practice- although I have not gone so far as to get an Om tattoo.

I feel incredibly disconnected to the world and my own heart most of the time and this is why I practice yoga. I stopped going to public classes because I found they only enhanced my disconnected feeling. I would enter the room; start competing for the extra inch of space between my mat and hers. I would sneak looks at the ass in Down Dog in front of me and notice happily it was chubbier than mine. I would see the woman in the full Lululemon uniform and prickle with judgment. What kind of person thinks that is yoga? How dare she glide in to this spiritual space and flaunt her eating disorder for all to see. I wish I could get an eating disorder.

And only when I was going to two back-to-back advanced Anusara classes a day, feeling like a fucking rock star did I decide to cancel my membership and opt for the lame-o home practice where my sweat glands decide to sleep in and I may pause to check my emails half way through the shortened practice. But at least I am only feeling the poison towards myself. At least I am not leaching this negative energy on all the exercise bunnies in the room.

This is what I am talking about, and I know I am not alone because I have talked to a lot of other practitioners and we are all complaining about the same thing. How we are getting away from the spirit of which yoga was first intended and moving way too far into the cosmetic realm.

One of my teachers seems to be going farther and farther down this path, the path of yoga branding and gorgeous website design and merchandise for sale and complete internet saturation, to the point that I am no longer racking up credit card debt to follow his workshop schedule. This is a person that I was so inspired by I changed my life trajectory. I quit my job and lifelong passion to follow a new career of study under him. I worked harder than I have ever worked in my life to get into the teacher training. I literally transformed by body inside and out. I was consumed with the teachings of this person. I would hang on his every word. I would take what he said to be truth.

I had my fall from grace when on facebook, the teacher quoted himself. His facebook status was an “Inspirational quote” ~His Name. I thought, don’t you only quote people who are dead? Don’t you only quote other people? Who in their right mind quotes themselves? No one. This man had stepped off the path.

I have noticed that when I am practicing meditation and yoga on a more hard core basis I can feel that it actually separates me further from the state of union I am longing for because now that I have a small amount of dedication and have heard a small whisper from the divine I am above.

Now I am feeling a sense of peace, now I can taste a secret others cannot and I now am going to rush out and teach it!

Canadians are usually too humble for this; we are a bit to embarrassed- “what if someone knows more than me in the class? I better take a few more sessions before I start printing workshop posters…” This fear is not such a bad idea. Having humility, being worried that I am not ready to teach while teaching yoga could be a trait to cultivate.

On the other hand, Yogi Bhajan has a famous quote (I can quote him because I am not him and he is dead) The greatest progress in life is when you know your limitations, and then you have the courage to drop them.” But I think we have swung way too far with the pendulum now. I long to go back to the old school roots system where I didn’t teach shit on a stick till my master told me I could teach and that was probably decades into a fierce practice.

Yogi Bhajan also says Your job is to control yourself. Your job is to discipline yourself. Your job is to deal with everything in life with affection, love and kindness.” Now the controlling and disciplining myself part is on lock-down, it’s the affection, love and kindness that I struggle with. How do I be kind to someone who is, for example, making a ton of money teaching a brand of yoga that continues to affirm in every way that they are to be personally exalted. This sounds like a cult, this sounds like egos gone wild, this sounds like I am a very jealous and frustrated woman.

Getting up for sadhana in the morning is a totally selfish act – for personal strength, for personal intuition, for personal sharpness, for personal discipline, and overall for absolute personal prosperity.”~Yogi Bhajan

For me this is the entire point. There is great room for selfishness in this practice, it is actually necessary and imperative. I have to put my personal practice higher on the to-do list than my co-op chore because if I don’t I will never practice. And if I never practice I turn into a miserable, miserly, holier than though mess who hates everyone.

And if my teacher needs to be cut down to size that is not my job- it is God’s.

And if someone in my class thinks she is cooler than she is than good for her. I’m sure if we all thought we were a bit cooler we might all get a lot cooler.

And if someone wants to dedicate their life to organizing a 5000 year old spiritual tradition into a manual that makes money then do it because that means more people will do yoga and then more people will get self centered and then more people will fall off the pedestal and then more people will start questioning what does union really mean? Really?

And together as egocentric, imperfect, selfish motherfuckers we will all rise up. We will get to see so much higher and get to go way down deeper.

Whatever the wonky method, yoga changed my life. I’m still full of hate sometimes, I still roll around in agony when it’s time to get on the mat, but I’m trying. I’m doing my very best.

Emelia Symington Fedy

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Emelia is a Social Acupuncturist. She needles in to the heart of the matter. Emelia works in theatre. She is a freelance radio producer, writer and storyteller. Her favorite quote at the moment is: "Live the light, spread the light, be the light." This is probably because she has a penchant for darkness.

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6 responses to Yogi’s are the most disconnected and self-serving people I know.

  1. Hey I just stumbled upon your blog post. I just have to say, I think it’s very possible you’ve found yourself in the wrong style of yoga with the wrong teacher. I see what your describe above, around me constantly. None of that is any of our business though. You say you want to go back to the old school way of yoga where it was a spiritual practice, but then why do you surround yourself with the very thing that irritates you? What other people do in and with their practice has absolutely nothing to do with us. Therefor by you even writing this post and/or just letting it get to you should show you exactly what YOUR doing wrong. This all starts and stops with you. The negative energies you feel are coming from you. The person in the lead to toe lulu lemon isn’t judging you, you’re judging her on her outfit choice, purchase choice and then extending it to her yoga choice. You cannot ask anyone around you to change until you yourself does. The yoga I practice reminds me on a daily basis to be focused on myself, improve myself, keep myself on the path. It does not matter what my teacher is doing, the guy next to me is doing, or what a writer on a blog is doing. I don’t know what kind of yoga you are doing, but it in no way resembles the yoga practice I am doing. You probably won’t approve this comment because there will be spelling errors or grammatical errors and that’s just wrong for someone like me to try and tell you how you live your life…. But I don’t care. I just hope you see this and realize how ugly YOU are being, and maybe, just maybe, it’s YOU who is the problem.

    • Emelia Symington Fedy July 21, 2014 at

      Hey,
      I totally agree with you that I’m the one with the problem. This essay is about being honest with the practice and my imperfections within it. Speaking the dark truth about how I feel. That is what this entire website is dedicated to, poking into uncomfortable places that trigger and challenging comfort. I don’t think asking questions and noticing my judgements and bringing humour to the situation is ugly though. I think it’s human. Of course I would post your comment. Free speech at TTBG. All are welcome. Especially the ugly ones!

  2. Hey,

    I know this post is an old one, but I went searching for some kind of relevant experience about yoga, and realness, and feminism, and I’m not really sure whatever other adjectives would cover what I’ve been googling/searching for but this was a great post to stumble upon. I, too, struggle with the same issues you spoke about in this post… most especially with who’s responsibility it is to take those teachers/ideas down a notch. I often feel like if there’s something you live and love with your whole heart, but parts of it are turning icky and weird, isn’t it your responsibility to help heal and shift and change that thing? I often struggle whether or not to speak up about those icky and weird parts… most especially when it comes to creating spaces in yoga that are inclusive and genuine. I’m not sure what the answer is, but I’m glad to see someone else thinks those thoughts :) Strength in numbers and all that. Great post.

    • Emelia Symington Fedy April 25, 2013 at

      strength in numbers. exactly! thanks for your hit on the topic. Allies!

  3. hi Emelia

    when u say ur an yogi, teach yoga…. & have certificates…do u teach Asanas or the path for search for truth !!

    do u think certificates can identify an yogi !!

    What’s ur real aim in being in the path of yoga !!!

    have u realised the self !!
    if not … i suggest u to first spend time in knowing the real self…

    only after realising the self…. u can help others by showing the path….

    this is not teaching… don’t believe that somebody teach u or u can teach anyone yoga… if someone says that they can teach yoga its just some asanas and breathing exercises… as they don’t know the basic purpose of yoga

    sorry if it hurts u
    keep smiling and practising till u realise the self

    • Emelia Symington Fedy July 16, 2012 at

      I almost didn’t approve this comment because I thought getting advice and feedback about my yoga practice from someone who writes ur for your and u for you was weird. But then I realized that was judging and I don’t want to judge people I don’t know. I just want to offer up my honest experience about living imperfectly so I decided to allow it. yr comments don’t hurt me. Thanks for the cncrn tho.

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