The fast road to enlightenment

Published on January 6, 2012 by      Print
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By Nadine Fawell

The Fast Road to Enlightenment (it’s not a journey…)

I’m not entirely sure my boyfriend ‘gets’ my yoga. OK, I’m pretty sure he doesn’t. He still thinks Down Dog is foreplay. Often, he takes PHOTOS of me while I’m doing my practice. Yeah, I know. Too much information, right?

He won’t do yoga either, unless we call it ‘stretching out’. And when we are ‘stretching out’, his preference is for poses where he REALLY feels the stretch, like some of the hamstring stretches, or ones he can’t quite do – arm balances, say.

If there’s no challenge, no burn, he’s not interested. It’s that way in the rest of his life too: he works insanely hard. He rides fast motorbikes to relax. Yup, those are his zen moments, going way too fast on two wheels.

And yet, he’s often more yogic than me, and he’s certainly better at handling the nastiness of life: more logical, more resilient. I went to him the other day, tail between my legs, because someone had left a slightly nasty response to my blog about how my body doesn’t bend right for yoga (when it was on Elephant Journal). She’d said I obviously need a lot more YOGA if I’m still hung up on my ass.

‘Well, babe,’ he said, ‘nobody’s perfect. You know you need to do yoga every day. Imagine how boring it would be if we WERE all perfect!’

Um. Yeah.

He also said he liked my ass. Oh, wait, too much information again. Oops.

Back to the nobody’s perfect thing. Why didn’t I think of that? How is it that I do so much yoga practice, and yet I need my bike-riding, speed-obsessed boyfriend to point out to me that bitchiness from yoga people is no different than from any other people. We are all just human, and flawed.

He’s never heard of it but he’s basically just talking about the yogic concept of Purnam, or wholeness, isn’t he?

Purnam: even though we are all whole and perfect on some level, we are all uniquely flawed too.

Like a bike with scraped up farings. Doesn’t make it any less of a bike. In fact, if you were my boyfriend, you’d probably be pretty excited about those scrapes, if you got them in an interesting way.

Also, they’d give you an excuse to go out to the garage and spend many happy hours disassembling, re-assembling, and generally tinkering with the bike. If the bike was perfect, there would be no fun to be had repairing it.

The man gets the yoga thing better than I do, goddammit!

Not fair. I mean, he has to bend his knees to touch his toes!

Doesn’t he know that means he doesn’t qualify for enlightenment?

It seems that he, Robert M. Pirsig (author of Zen and the Art of Motorcyle Maintenance), and all those other bike guys and gals, might be onto something. Alternative yoga, where the shit talk is generally lighthearted rather than earnest, and they tell each other where the speed cameras are. It’s odd: I sometimes think the motorbike folks have more of a community than we yogis, with our styles, our in-fighting, our earnestness.

Om Ducati.

 About Nadine Fawell

Nadine Fawell’s edit button doesn’t work: if there is something inappropriate to be said, she will say it. Often in yoga class. She drinks coffee and swears and sometimes she thinks deeply about life. You can find her at

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  1. Niki says:

    Nothing like biking to teach you about being here now

  2. babs says:

    You hit this one outta the park, Nadine! How very HUMAN of us to be flawed.

  3. Cora Wen says:

    I enjoy reading your posts Nadine, and have shared them with my friend and mentor Judith Hanson Lasater. We both applaud you for your courage to practice Yoga on life ;)

    My BF is also a moto riding GuruWhoGetsItWithoutStandingOnHisHead, and recently experienced a cyber attack on line so I enjoyed this piece even more!

    May we all be enough


  4. Aminda says:

    hence the reason my motorcycle license plate reads MY OM !! ;)

    PS don’t over glamorize the biker world they have “styles’ and “in fighting” too. some of the greatest humans I have ever met have been my biker friends. But at the end of the day they too are human do what you love, love what you do and if you get the chance get on two wheels as often as possible.

    • Nadine Fawell says:

      That’s great, Aminda! MY OM! I certainly finding riding the back of my BF’s bike does for my mind what yoga and meditation do. Just the opposite thing for my body.

      And I hear ya on the glamourising front – those Scary Bikers with their gangs and their illegal activities didn’t feature in the writing of this piece….

      Like you say, follow your interest and you will probably experience the flow state, which is, basically, yoga! Om everything :)

      Pity that doesn’t apply to eating sugar.

  5. The Fast Road to Enlightenment (it’s not a journey…) « Yoga with Nadine says:

    [...] the rest (and see the awesome illustration) over at Recovering Yogi! Share this:EmailPrintLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. from → yoga ← [...]

  6. Jenifer says:

    Several points in no specific order:

    1. my husband does yoga on occasion (perhaps once a week), but his real practice of mindfulness that develops this capacity of which you speak is. . . lifting weights. I know, right? Who knew that you didn’t need yoga to do yoga? :D

    2. i still practice with bent knees. i am unenlightened. :(

    3. i also like your ass. partdon me, but it is true. I confessed this to all students yesterday in my class. I wanted them to face a certain direction, because A. it allows them to turn inward and focus more (in general), and B. i find it easier to ‘read” bodies from behind. So, I told them “I like to look at you from behind. It’s awesome.” And my student goes “are you looking at our butts? I would not have pegged you for a butt girl?” And of course, I had to respond with, “well, you guys do have nice yoga butts.”

    This is how it goes in my classes. (awkward social faux pas).

  7. Nadine Fawell says:


    Now, here’s the IRRITATING thing: I don’t have to bend my knees, but it’s very clear to one and all (partly because I have told them) that I, too, am unenlightened…

    Which begs the question: if it’s not bendiness that gets you there, then what does? Oh yes, I remember now. Motorbikes :)

    And you, ass-viewing teacher you, sound like JUST my kinda teacher!

  8. MK says:

    Danke. Well put. It’s exactly how I feel right now. Think I’ll go out and wash my car : ) Love, lots. xxx

  9. Christine says:

    All I can say is…Nadine, you are too cute! I agree with you…no one is perfect! I’m sorry in the day of information and people think that they still can be so utterly non-human enlightened beings that exist to cease to exist? How boring. I enjoy the human side of being human. I enjoy understanding what makes me tick. I like seeing the gifts around us! And I’m tired of pretending that because I teach yoga or that I do yoga…that I’m some enlightened being…NO I”M NOT!! Firstly, I have kids, Secondly I like a beer. Thirdly…well you get my drift. When we become honest with ourselves…this is yoga! Not looking the part of the enlightened ones of the past, or of the ones that might be today. :) So you keep up the awesomeness that you are! And you are imperfect indeed, but that’s what makes you utterly perfect! :)

    • Nadine Fawell says:

      Hi Christine!

      OMG, beer AND kids? But I bet you can straighten your legs in forward bends, and that’s all that counts ;)

      Thanks for reading, you sound awesome.

    • Jenifer says:


      I dont’ know about you, but since I had the cute kid, my vagina has major comments about every teacher’s sequence every class. I have to crack a joke about it, or people think I am having major tummy troubles. I just say “no, my vagina likes to monologue.”

      And this, my dear ones, is what you get in my classes. Nice, right? LOL

      I may not be enlightened, but I’m fairly certain my vagina thinks she is.

      • Nadine Fawell says:

        Jenifer, you really are a cracker. You and your vagina. Who is clearly enlightened. Like DUH. She brought LIFE into the world! You want more of a miracle than that?

      • Chrissy says:

        Jenifer , I think that I just tinkled a little bit reading this! Hahahaha!
        Yup, those cute kiddos ( or not so cute anymore teens) definitely change a hella LOT!

  10. Chrissy says:

    I too, am partnered with my true voice of reason…my husband breaks stuff down so simply…stuff that all of my yoga and delving just don’t touch! It is kinda nice to have a gentle reminder that it is OK to be human :)

    • Nadine Fawell says:

      Hey Chrissy!

      I know, it’s almost becoming clear that the reason yoga in the West is practiced mainly by women is….we need it more (don’t tell the men, it’ll make them insufferable).

      • Chrissy says:

        Very, very, true…however, their outlets to release their frustration, angst, anxiety etc. are more widely socially acceptable…when I tell people that I get into the octagon with guys to hit bags they are either horrified, o tell me that I am a “bad ass” … for the record, I am a suburban Mom, granted, with an edge..but badass because I like to kickbox? Uh….not really? I love yoga as well…what’s a girl to do?

  11. Braja says:

    I’m so glad you said Om Ducati. Cos if you’d said anything else we would have had to have a whole “my bike is better than yours” thing like those egotistical, puffed up, ego-bloated, empty-headed wanna-be “yogis” do when someone burns their sorry arse with words that don’t stroke their freakin’ prana, or what-frikkin’-ever it is they’re strokin’……

    I didn’t know someone had said a nasty on your post about your butt. I might have to wander over their and drop a load of Inyerfaceism on them.

    Om shanti.

  12. The fast road to enlightenment. ~ Nadine Fawell | elephant journal says:

    [...] road to enlightenment. ~ Nadine Fawell Originally published by our elephriends over at Recovering Yogi on January 6, 2011.  [...]

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