So, you wanna be a yoga teacher

Published on October 26, 2011 by      Print
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By Georgie Abel 

So, you wanna be a yoga teacher. Ah yes, I can remember back to that time—so hopeful and starry-eyed. Well, before you embark on your journey (and yes, you should start calling it a “journey” too; it sounds really inspiring), you should know that recently there has been a lot of talk about how yoga teacher training courses aren’t producing teachers that are capable of running a safe and effective yoga class. And honestly, I couldn’t agree more. Just look at the curriculum: anatomy, sequencing, safety, breathing, adjustments, Sanskrit, blah de fucking blah. Believe me, none of that shit is actually gonna help you when it comes to teaching a real life yoga class. So to make sure you are fully prepared, here are the things that I wish I learned in teacher training

  1. People make weird faces while doing yoga… and how to not laugh at them.
    Most people look like they’re either 1.) gassy or 2.) having an orgasm after watching really weird porn.
  2. You’re probably gonna see a ball sack or two… and how not to stare.
    Maybe even a penis if your karma is really fucked up that day. Once it comes into your line of vision, it will be so disturbing that you won’t be able to look away. To be ball sack and penis safe, stay away from poses like Happy Baby. But when it comes to nipple slips and tons of luon-outlined vaginas, well, there’s just no getting away from those.
  3. You’re gonna know some of your students deepest, darkest, most embarrassing secrets… and how not to make fun of them.
    You’ll see a leopard-print thong peeking out of the top of that serious, business-y-looking dude’s shorts, a Slayer tattoo on that sorority girl’s lower back.
  4. There will be students that call you out if you mess up a sequence or teach a pose that “Remember! They told you they hated that one!”… and how not to strangle them with a yoga strap.
    Or hit them over the head with a Buddha statue.
  5.  You will start to judge everyone who doesn’t do yoga… and how to not appear like the egotistical bitch that you are.
    If a friend tells you about a problem they’re having, you’ll say that the only thing that could possibly help them is yoga. Preferably, your Detox class on Wednesday nights.
  6.  You will go through a short but intense phase of being a luluWhore… and how to pull yourself out of the inevitable depression that follows.
    You’ll spend all of your money on lululemon clothing, mats, towels, waterbottles, and boobie tassles (scheduled to come out next spring, but you’ve already got them pre-ordered). You’ll be broke and the only thing to your name will be a ton of semi-slutty workout clothes.
  7. You will deny things like ever having eaten meat, that you smoke weed by yourself sometimes, that your nickname is SuperSlooter, that you still use phrases like “shitty titties,” or that you once took shots of tequila before the kirtan… and how to keep doing these things without getting caught.
    If anyone figures out how to pull this off, email me directly.
  8.  You will realize that behind the scenes, yoga studios have more gossip and shit talking than anywhere else… and how not to ask MTV for a reality show contract.
    It will be tempting.
  9.  There will be students who want to have sex with you… and how not to have sex with them because they probably have chlamydia.
    All of the sudden you’re some sex symbol because you stand at the front of a classroom and tell people what to do with their bodies. The students that approach you will be the devastatingly horny ones, so watch out. Unless you’re into that stuff.
  10. You will think that you’ve found your True Self… and how not to believe that shit for a second.
    You’re a vegetarian trying to be a vegan but just can’t give up cheese quite yet. You drink coconut water and almond milk by the gallon. You practice yoga twice a day and meditate every hour. You know the Yoga Sutras by heart and recite them to random people on the subway. You don’t really shower anymore. You buy really dumb shirts that say “Ganesh is Fresh” and “Spiritual Gangster” and wear them to public places just so everyone knows that you are, without doubt, really enlightened. You take shots of wheatgrass before the kirtan. Patanjali ain’t got shit on you.This will happen. And you’ll think that this is You, the Real You, the Highest You. But believe me, it isn’t. The highest you was the free range meat-eating you, the one that had to look up how to pronounce lululemon and thought that kombucha tasted like stomach acid, the you that did questionable things with that guy from Sales at the office Christmas party and sometimes made a cake just to eat the batter. The you that did yoga because it made you feel awesome and thought that working in your garden was a perfectly acceptable form of meditation.The you that didn’t feel like a shitty person for not being all yoga-like.

So above all, what I wish I had learned in teacher training was that the world of yoga is full of contradiction and bullshit how not to fall for every last word of it.

About Georgie Abel

Georgie is a San Francisco Bay Area writer, rock climber, teacher and student of yoga, music nerd, adventurous soul, creative mind, curious world traveler, and lover of the outdoors. She is currently entirely confused about what to do with her life and loving every second of it. Visit Georgie at

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  1. Kate says:

    Yay yay yay! Yes, exactly. (And all other forms of affirmation.) Thanks for this post.

  2. D says:

    This is awesome, made me laugh and could not be more true! Thank you!!

  3. linda says:

    forget MTV. want my own “yoga studio takeover” Bravo reality series.

  4. Gayle says:

    Too funny – loving the Happy Baby part, so very very true. Thanks Georgie!

    What is it with yoga? It seems everyone goes through the yoga-solves-all-problems-let-me-fix-yours period of time (some people longer than others). And then ya see a chink in the armor and all the illusion falls away (to put it yogically) and you realize what an ass you’ve been.

    I’m not sure if any other mode of exercise or type of lifestyle change causes the same insanity.

  5. Yoga Playlist Egoist says:

    Very clever and very funny!
    I do happy baby with my class so everyone stares at the ceiling…
    Lulu phase.. totally guilty!! Need to wean off quickly, however! I will need to teach 4 classes just to buy a pair of their cheapest leggings. I got close to finding my ‘true self’ but was fully annoyed and jaded before that could be realized.

  6. Erica Schmidt says:

    Intensely entertaining. Thank you! for number 1 and 7 especially. Sometimes people’s yoga faces make me feel rejected and I feel like crying. My teacher training did not address this eithers…

    • Georgie says:

      I know! Sometimes their face looks like they hate you, the class, and whatever you have to say. But it’s really just their yoga face. We all have one…

  7. Liz says:

    Does anyone ever apoplogize for the crap they put people through on the “path”?

  8. Barefootlotuss says:

    all about perspective. . . . .one thing any new teacher should get straight about as a student. . . .the word for criticism is “feedback” and you work for the students. . they don’t work for you.

  9. anna says:

    Thanks to this article, as well as most of this website, I’ve finally realized there are perks to living in a small town. One: I’ve never fallen for the whole luluCult (because there’s no place within 300 miles to buy any of that shit). Two: it’s usually my students who behave like this, not me. I love nothing more that spotting them at the bar on a Friday night and seeing them squirm a little because their yoga teacher caught them drinking. If they get extra-squirmy, I buy them another round. If I’m especially lucky we do a duet of “Islands in the Stream” for karaoke before last call.

  10. megan says:

    damn ball sacks!

  11. George says:

    I love this site because it shows how moronic yoga is. More please!

  12. Chrissy says:

    Love, love LOVE this article….I have watched the yoga “lifestyle” swallow up many people….that Spiritual Gangster shirt seems to be the required uniform at many of my area studios….I just want a t shirt that says “Irony” ….because that is the equivalent to the yogic gangsta t….

  13. Bria @ Yoga with Bria says:

    Freakin’ funny as hell. Loved every word of it. Georgie, if you figure out the solution to #4, email ME directly ;-)

  14. kkdoggydawg says:

    I love telling people, when they have the flu, that they SHOULD do yoga cuz no matter how bad they feel they will just “sweat it out” and it will cure them. I LOVE THAT ONE!!!!!!!

  15. eleles says:

    I once walked into a store and saw a t-shirt that said “Fuck yoga.” I almost fell over laughing. I still laugh about it to this day (although I’d never wear such a thing, to yoga or anywhere else, I’m glad it exists ;)

    • Georgie says:

      Hah! Love the shirt…but yeah, I don’t think I’d ever be brave enough to actually wear it. Besides…I actually really love yoga, there are just a lot of things about it that are silly. :) have a good day!

      • eleles says:

        Yeah, it would be especially inappropriate for the weekly classes with yoga goddess Peentz Dubble that I’m privileged to take part in :)

  16. Jaime says:

    Brilliant! So so true.

  17. So, you wanna be a yoga teacher. ~ Georgie Abel | elephant journal says:

    [...] wanna be a yoga teacher. ~ Georgie Abel  Originally published by our elephriends over at Recovering Yogi on October 26, 2011.  [...]

  18. Zaftig Diva says:



    Sad, but true. I went to yoga teacher training and was so totally immersed into their particular brand/culture. I believed, I really did, until they started marketing yoga butts and yoga for weight loss, while at the same time singing the “Yoga for Every Body” song. Worse was that they didn’t make their signature warrior clothing in any size with “plus” in mind.

    Add to that, I had signed up for a progressive study/workshop program only to find that they bought into the YA trip and doubled the requirements at triple the cost. While I still believe in the principles – yoga available to the masses – without exclusion, I refuse to support the corporate greed that had become the driving force of so many schools these days.

    Let’s just fart! That’s the point of unwinding poses.

    Sat Nam :)

  19. Sam says:

    Simply think that if you don’t know about Yoga and on the other hand I know a little bit about yoga than I can simply show you what little I know. We will do this by sharing our knowledge and if simple that if you know more about yoga than you are also a yoga teacher. When we give training for Yoga Teachers at our place than it’s totally with complete focus on you without any type of disturbance and daily distractions. If you are deeply interested in yoga than this is a great way to learn how to become a Yoga teacher.

  20. wendy says:

    I liked this article. I like doing yoga and it makes me feel better and healthier and more confident. On the otherhand, I think it is one of the most pretentious, obnoxious things there is that people do and it’s kind of sad because i think it’s just because how it’s been marketed to the masses in the U.S. But I’m not really sure what it is about yoga that bugs me so much. I just think that the way it’s done and presented in the U.S. is not really what it is or was inteneded to be. I think that is part of it. And I guess it also makes me mad when I go to a class and there are so many people there of all levels and types and …. i guess i feel it’s just too mainstream or something. Also, i think that people here in the U.S. try to make it into something it’s not and make it into a lifestyle like you are talking about that that makes me mad. You know, I don’t know what it is about yoga that bugs me. You know, something just popped into my head. When I was a teenager (I’m now 48) I used to do yoga at home by myself. I learned a little from tv and from a book and I did it privately and that seemed fine. That might be it for me, maybe i feel that it is something that is to be done privately and not made a big deal of. I know you have to learn somehow and maybe that is through a class but i guess it might be that it has gone too far into the mainstream. ithink that might be what bothers me about it. and all the things you talk about. I don’t know waht I’m talking about, but there’s something about yoga (as good as it seems to be for the body and mind) that is absolutely obnoxious.

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