The halo effect of yoga

Published on August 29, 2011 by      Print
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By Christine Schaefer

Thirteen years ago I fell blissfully in love with something other than my husband and new baby.

The au courant thing in my life was a no-strings-attached union, one that was just for me, so of course at the time I devoured our stolen moments together — not just for the sake of my lifted postpartum hind quarters, but also because I was donning a shiny new Yoga Halo given to me by my vinyasa yoga practice.

I have always been a surly gal. I am swift with a quip or an all out jab, just for shits and giggles, but never to intentionally harm (unless I was pissed off first, and frankly, if so, that is what ya get sucker). However, something curious happened on my way to enlightenment. For some reason, about six months into my yoga practice, I became mellower. The little things that would fry my backside didn’t seem to sting quite as much. No longer was I popping off in traffic or making faces at the grouchy customer in front of me at Starbucks. My friends were aghast; my sister was appalled, and told me, and I quote, “Whoever you are, please tell Christine to come back from Planet Earth Mother, because we miss her.”

Was it dewy Mom bliss, or was I wearing a happy hat? Why was I soooo okay with just about everything these days? I agree that we all mellow with age; however, this was a more sudden effect: the halo effect of sucking down too much Shakti as I grasped for something that would set me apart from my wham, bam role as a wife and mom (both of which I loved — but this is a role that many times makes women beg the “Who am I?” question, rather than just enjoying the ride.)

Upon further reflection (and after I blew out my hip for the fourth time, thank you very much relaxin), I came to realize that my yoga halo could use a little tarnishing.

Like many other areas of my life, I was under the foolish belief that I had to do yoga perfectly, even if that meant losing my edge and adopting a laissez faire flow outside of the sultry bamboo walls of class.

For a while longer, my vinyasa-through-life worked… until one day when it didn’t anymore. I can clearly remember my tipping point. It was when one teacher called herself “a conduit of light to clear the negative energy from your chakras.” At that point, I thought: “Hold up! I am just fine, as I am, right now, in this moment.” Also, can a mama get her workout on without all of the added jargon? Can one both be a yogi and enjoy sarcasm? Why does this all have to be so deep and so serious? Should being a yogi make one numb to the human moments that we all have?

After this moment, I knew that I could be both a yogi and be true to myself. After a few more moments, I knew that it is okay for me to be irritated by Cape Cod traffic with a screaming baby in the car, or that it is more than fine to poke fun at life’s little bothers. While we are at it might I add that it is fucking A AWESOME to make fun of people who suck? Because in this surly yogi’s opinion all of the above is soul food!

That evening I chuckled the entire Savasana, both at myself for thinking that a simple thing like yoga could turn a mouthy East Coast girl like me in to a twirling Pollyanna, as well as at someone who would ever be ridiculous enough to call themselves a ‘conduit’ of anything.

About Christine Caira Schaefer

Christine Caira Schaefer is a happy wife and mom who lives in the suburban Boston area. When she isn’t chasing her pre-teen kids around, writing for her blog, cutting her clients’ hair, or trying her damndest to get into the clinical rotations that ALL nursing school candidates need, she enjoys working out, volunteering at her kids school, and decorating her home. While she doesn’t feel insane enough for a 7-day-a-week hot yoga practice, she arguably sees why it could be easier to check out and hit the mat while allowing her husband to man her tribe. More about Christine.

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  1. Claire says:

    Christine, you made me chuckle the way you put it in this post! I hear ya!

  2. andrea says:

    Christine, this is reminder to me that their are so many Yoga teachers that don’t have any true understanding or actually knowledge in the history and context of Yogic philosophy or application. Just this line…

    It was when one teacher called herself “a conduit of light to clear the negative energy from your chakras.”

    I mean..what!? Why would that teacher say that??!!

    I have been studying the history, philosophy, and application for 6 years, I find it so amazing how yoga has turned into so much of what is mentioned here at Recovering Yogi.

    We have made yoga something it is not and the cooky and gooey ways “yoga teachers” chatter nonsense and spout words that make no sense only creates ripples of ignorance.

    Christine you are doing exactly what you need to do (and feel)!

    True yogic philosophy and applying it to daily living is about understanding YOU and the connection you hold.

    I get pretty passionate about this because it’s teachers that make comments like

    “a conduit of light to clear the negative energy from your chakras.” well…

    it just makes me insane how the history and knowledge is being diluted and turned into a way for “teachers” to become egotistical as though they have magical superpowers, their missing the point.

    Rock on Christine.

  3. Don says:

    Nice article Christine! I would like to have a teacher that is “a conduit of light to clear the negative energy from your chakras.” At the end of the class, we would show respect by saying Enemaste.

  4. Laura says:

    Alright lady – it will be my turn to go kick someone in the ass for you, and ruin my pedicure. If anyone were to say they were “a conduit of light to clear the negative energy from your chakras.” I would get off my mat and kick them in the shins for really portraying themselves to be GAWD, I agree with Andrea.

    Oh and Don – can we all adopt that phrase BTW?! Huh-lar-eee-ous!

  5. Chrissy says:

    Thanks so much everyone! It is SO easy to get sucked in to what others view as ” yogic” behavior….and I agree Andrea….it is people like the ones mentioned in my articles that dumb down a beautiful philosophy, that would, no doubt, make the yogi forefathers swirl in their graves….
    I guess that I could not imagine even copping to being anything other than me….I’m not looking to change my outlook, my name, or my life….these are all unique to ME….yoga merely makes me the best Chrissy that I can be…
    I just dont quite know when everyone started going bat shit crazy in downward dog…yikes…if I am a conduit of anything, it is of sarcasm, silliness and medical information (because that is just one thing that I enjoy:)

  6. Brenna says:

    Good job mom!!

  7. Bria @ Yoga with Bria says:

    Wow, that conduit needs to come back down to earth. And while they’re at it, step down off the earthly pedestal they’ve put themselves on. We need the marble, not to lose our marbles doing Yoga.

    Love the self-acceptance and realness in this post, Christine. Yes, we do mellow with age, but yes, some people do suck and it IS awesome to make fun of them. Sometimes being a bad yogi is just too good. ;-)

  8. Chrissy says:

    Thanks so much Bria….
    You hit the nail on the head….why can’t we just practice free from ego and drama…it is funny….those ” conduits of light” are usually the ones who have the MOST ego…..weird….

  9. Jenifer says:

    Thanks for putting up such an awesome drawing of me. :D

    cue “you’re so vain. . .you probably think this cartoon is about you. . .”

  10. Chrissy says:

    Jenifer I think that the drawing is of ALL recovering yogis….funny thing is that my girls thought…( truly thought, oh dear God help me) , that Vanessa’s cartoon was LEGIT, yours truly their Mama….I don’t know if I should be proud that my kids see a pic of a lady telling someone to go Eff off and get warm fuzzier for their Mommy or if I should watch my tongue around my teens…HMMMMM…Vanessa did and always does represent the spirit of Recovering Yogi with her cartoons, but yup, my children sure do know how I am wired….here’s to hoping that they stick me in a nice raisin ranch :)

    • vanessafiola says:

      Chrissy, I hope your daughter(s?) grow up to be like you. :)

      I used to train with and assist a well known yoga teacher. He would say that we “are conduits for something greater.” He said it to remind people that when you’re teaching, ego is an awkward third wheel in the yoga room. (No pun intended.) Your story made me wonder f that is something passed along at many yoga trainings, and then basically misappropriated into false humility. Whatever. Thanks for your rad article!

      • Jenifer says:

        What does that guy have against tricycles? huh? huh? silly man. tricycles are awesome! and you don’t have to worry about balance as much, becuase you have that third wheel. :D

    • Jenifer says:

      my three year old uses “effing” quite liberally, on account of his mother. seriously, it was amazing. it’s not in any way bad either, like when he’s angry, just like “that slide is effing awesome!” and “i love effing kindy so much!” and so on. :D

      So, yeah. bad mother. I also forgot to send out the invitations to his birthday party early enough for anyone to come, so i had to push it back a month.

      I’m so going to win awards for the awesomeness of my motherhood.

      And other funny story — not related to children — i had a student tell me once that I wasn’t allowed to assist her because my “kundalini hadn’t properly arisen to the right point.” I asked her how she knew, did she have a kundiliniometer? and how much were they and where oculd I get one?

      she was not amused. I was.

      • Chrissy says:

        Jenifer, you little guy sounds pretty awesome! We all blow it as Mama sometimes, it happens….it is the ones who can’t admit it that scare me!
        And that student? WHOAH……your response was hysterical, but wow…who says that to a teacher? My sister in law says that ‘you can’t argue with crazy’ , and as I grow I am coming to realize that she is 100% correct!
        And frankly, your Kundalini sounds just fine to me…. ;)

  11. Joslyn Hamilton says:

    I think I am a “conduit of sarcasm” too. Thanks for putting words to it!

  12. Chrissy says:

    Vanessa, if only people COULD use the word “conduit” in such an ego free, intelligent way…because I truly do believe that ALL teachers are the springboard for information….it is when ego driven ding dongs get into the drivers seat, and spout their own BS, where the care for sharing anything greater bows out to them feeding their soul monsters…that is when it stinks, and in these cases I do send them light ( I know hokey, but we all need someone praying for us), because either they just don’t hear themselves or they are truly wrapped up in something that I could not even begin to articulate….The teachers that I have learned the most from are the ones who have been authentic and relatable…because while we all have differences , many commonalities exsist among people…

  13. Chrissy says:

    ANYTIME….I got words…that is for sure:) Thanks for the forum to express my words!

  14. andy says:

    This site is getting pretty smarmy.

  15. Carla says:

    Great article. I remember when you deviate from surly and I had to wash my sadness away with Chardonnay. Any excellent teacher knows that we provide the knowledge and inspiration so that our students may find their path in their own unique way. Some yoga instructors make it non-accessible for the sarcastic folks who enjoy poking fun at this crazy journey called life…

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    [...] published by our elephriends over at Recovering Yogi on August 29, [...]

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