This yoga festival is making me feel like shit

Published on August 9, 2012 by      Print
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By Emelia Symington Fedy

I am at a yoga festival with  thousands of yogis from across the US of A. We are all gathered here to practice, to play, to work hard together, and I find myself sitting all by myself feeling like shit.

I'm having an existential crisis BRB
I have to admit I did go into this experience preparing to hate the festival to a height I had never touched before. This is the kind of place where white people gather to affirm each other’s privilege and their butts, and my job is to be their teacher’s assistant during this process. As I am naturally a cynical person, you may ask: Why Emelia, why would you go to such a thing you were preparing to dislike so much? Good question.

The first class I am involved in has over three hundred people squished into it. The teacher has huge hair. The girls behind me are talking about how their dream is to be “yoga rock stars” just like her. Right away, my little inner asshole comes creeping out of my butt and gets ready to pounce.

Vapid bitches.

This big-haired teacher talks to us about how we are all one and how our disconnected feelings come from outside of ourselves. She talks about how our natural state is to always be in union with each other and it makes me want to cry a bit because that sounds like such a good idea. I leave the class and walk past all the hundreds of vendors hawking their yoga food and funky clothes and spiritual bracelets guaranteed to bring you into balance, and I feel even more sad and lonely than before.

The grandma in me is raging: “Don’t you young kids have more important things to do with your time than sculpt your glutes? This is not real yoga! In my day…” I shake my head at the tight little asses prancing around like ponies and head to the teachers’ lounge to have a rest.

All around me are other teachers podcasting, live blogging, giving interviews. Their voices are loud. The energy is high. They are out positive-ing each other. It gets me really stressed out because I’m not podcasting or blogging or feeling positive. I cannot be here now with any of these people because they are all too busy selling their sacred and revolutionary brands. I am ashamed. I feel like a real failure amidst all these spiritual entrepreneurs. I think “God, I am such a nobody loser.” Which is such an ironic thing to feel at a yoga festival, because didn’t she say we all supposed to be all one?

What is wrong with me? I feel bad. As in. I am a bad person. All of me is not allowed to be here.

I have to ignore the part of me that questions these people when they talk about loss of ego and then hard-sell their yoga DVD’s in the next breath. I push away the part of me that gets annoyed when I hear words like manifestation and co-creation but then I see them manifesting their own personal wealth and fame. I get pissed off when someone is talking to me and then sees someone who is more important to talk to so walks away mid…

Don’t get me wrong, this is definitely jealously speaking.

I would love to be extremely successful and rich from what I do, too, I just get super confused when I am told to let it flow and relax into my destiny and then I see teachers around me giving themselves hemmies from career pushing effort.

Yoga is such a mind fuck.

And all of you who seem to be able to stay on top of your fear and shame and self doubt—are you better than me? Because sometimes you act like you are better than me. How did you get better than me? What yoga DVD did you buy? There is an elitism in the yoga community that I have not encountered anywhere else in my life. There is a hierarchy, and if you are a rule breaker in any way, or a swearer or a smoker or chubby or poor, you might find yourself on the outside looking in.

I wonder how many other people at this event of thousands feel like shit? I wonder how many other people want to sneak into the bushes and eat a hamburger?  When told to breathe into their hearts and feel the love surrounding them, how many other people are thinking to themselves: I can’t feel a thing?

Or maybe it’s just me.

“No, it’s not,” says my cool friend. “The world is full of negativity and you get sucked into it. Of course you engage. You are a microcosm of the macrocosm and your job is to decide if you are going to breed more of the hate or not. Don’t be your mind’s bitch, Emelia. You cannot control your thoughts, but you can control what you do with them.”

So in the afternoon I start to rebel.

I run around and punch a few random people in the arm. It feels great.

I do a couple donkey kicks around the sacred space. I put on my big bling dollar sign necklace that I use when I need a big up.

I fart in class and then laugh.

I tell a woman that her handstand FUCKING rules in my outside voice.

I let the part of myself that feels so tiny here be a bit more free.

It is true that the emperor has no clothes on at this yoga festival. He is in down dog showing us his hairy balls, and it is easy to point and laugh, but that is what you always do, Emelia.

You are fighting the wrong battle here.

It’s not the yoga assholes that I hate; it’s the thoughts I have about the yoga assholes that I hate. So I want to invite you all to my new yoga festival. The prerequisites are high. There is no need for you to like yoga. Fuck ‘em if they can’t take a joke. Let it all hang out! Cuddle into a little ball, suck on your $9 kombucha, and know that the darkness you feel every day is a natural thing. Depressed allowed. Addicted allowed. Over-eaters allowed. Imperfect allowed. And if you see someone who has got bullshit sparkles shooting out of their butt, spank it! That is totally allowed too.

I make it to the end of the day. I am assisting a Thai yoga class and my teachers asks everyone to get into pairs, face each other, put our hands on each other’s hearts and look directly into each other’s eyes. Then we are told to breathe together. This is highly uncomfortable. This is bordering on impossible… because I work very hard at staying on top of my fear and shame and self doubt and I definitely don’t want someone else sneaking a peek.

I look at the stranger in front of me. I meet her gaze. My belly softens. I think: Am I better than you? Because sometimes I act like I am better than you. How did I get better than you? What DVD did I buy?

I look right into this woman’s eyes. I go deep and I feel it. Just for a moment. The oneness they have all been talking about. And it is real. And it is easy. And my heart opens. And it feels so good.

I start to cry a bit because this oneness is such a great idea.

Someone should trademark it. They would make billions.

About Emelia Symington Fedy

Emelia Symington Fedy is a theatre creator, writer, yogi, friend and popular raconteuse. Her favorite quote at the moment is: “Live the light, spread the light, be the light” (found on a Yogi Tea teabag). This is probably because she has a penchant for darkness.

Sign up for more of Emelia’s offbeat essays at her popular site

Filed under: Shady Gurus | Zombie Yoga and Tagged:


  1. Sarah says:

    I’ve never commented before, but I always love and relate to your articles so much. Also, we are hair twins, so we’re hot. Yay us.

    • emelia says:

      ya twinnie! glad you commented!

      Really. I want to see a pic!
      Mermaid Hair I like to call it but mine is actually naturally poop brown now. Im trying to accept all of me. he.
      So sign up on my website:

      then you get to get truth hits right in your in-box.

    • Lisa says:

      I forwarded this to a friend and wanted to share how she responded:

      On Mon, Aug 13, 2012 at 7:41 PM, Marianne wrote:

      I LOVE THIS!!!!! I battle with this every time I take to my mat. Whoever this woman is……we need to be best friends!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAAA!!!

  2. Shana says:

    Do you think that next year we could go together? I think you are to be my soul mate for Wanderlust, because I never would have braved it on my own. Courageous of you, but next year, it would be better if u had company, me.

  3. L says:

    “Don’t be your mind’s bitch” is my new favorite quote. Friggin’ great.

  4. cat gello says:

    I am sooo sorry that you think the yoga festival is MAKING you feel or do anything. It’s in your head and heart.. all that MAKING. You ar ein charge of your feelings. You have to get that.. here, there, in Wallmart, Nordstroms, in Sttarbucks, 7-11, at a red light, in a parking zone, watching tv, on the phone.. YOU a e in charge of your feelings. In a football stadium or a park pool.. it’s all YOU, just you in charge. I hope you tell the yoga festival folks how deeply you resent the opportunity to assist.. next year another who is more able to ‘hold’ dys-synchronicity in the world without yelling or punching people.

    • emelia says:

      The punching was cute and I asked in advance.
      The yelling was affirmations and she loved it.
      I agree that no one can make us feel anything.
      I did not resent anything about the experience. I actually felt oneness. Which was incredible.
      I did question and explore my uncomfortable feelings though. that is what I do for a living.

      Ps. This is an essay.

      • cat gello says:

        oh, so an essay is a made up scenario to be dramatic… or .. an article on yoga dork for effect.. or what actually happened and then the facts change when one remarks on the shallow and ungrateful nature of the writer.

        • D says:

          Lighten up and reread the article. She comes to terms with her feelings, as she stated in her reply.

    • Aimee says:

      I believe this article just MADE you feel something….

      • silki says:

        Ya, Aimee. It seems Cat believes we should CONTROL our emotions and be good little girls and boys. Welcome to spiritual bypassing and repression. So yogic.

  5. Barbara says:

    I love everything you write, Emelia! You’re the best, hands down.

  6. Andrew Gurvey says:

    Interesting Take. I went in 2011. I was probably one of the people that you would have resented or been annoyed with, but I’m okay with that :) I love that you explored what you were feeling and reached deep inside. Further, I love this article because it comes across so authentically. I am grateful to have read this.

    Someone like me is a little more extroverted at festivals like this and I tend to get caught up in the excitement. Having said that, I felt a lot of depth from some of the teachers I practiced with there, and felt it was lacking with others.

    Even having said that, reading your experience was really neat. Despite outward appearances, I feel like we all struggle with confidence and self-esteem in some way. It looks like this festival was an awesome opportunity of exploration for you.

    Thanks for writing that article. I like the stuff you write.


  7. Doc Rot says:

    This is a rare and delectable piece of yogic honesty. Beautifully written- rolls like non-sticky yoga mat down a castor oil mountain. Walks a line- steps over it, steps back again. True self reflection with multi-point perspective- not the kind that is so steeped in idealism that the mirror fogs up. At the same time, it works as a piece of writing- that is it inhabits an imaginative terrain that need not be taken literally, but can be used to highlight the imaginative universe even the godly among us have to negotiate and somehow come to terms with. Thanks for being an ambassador of the abnormal. Thoroughly enjoyed it!

    • emelia says:

      and you my man are my new best friend. I will be quoting this one to my friends and family when my self esteem is low. thank you. truly. I appreciate the insights and love.

  8. Lisa O'Brien says:

    Sign me up for Emelia’s yoga festival.

    It’s what the yoga world needs!

    This is fantastic work; you’re fantastic.

    Thank you,


  9. swami nobodhi says:

    So many people have been burnt in this fucking elitist yoga industry…. It should be eradicated!

  10. Assaf says:

    Brilliant, fucking be-ri-li-antttt!
    Sign me up for your self-hating-yogi festival, and do consider touring with it over here..
    Lota love,
    Tel-Aviv, Israel..

  11. C init says:

    I just quoted you on facebook….You’ve hit the big time now. I’m not sure what that will do to your rock star status….and I’m going to quote you again. Because you I love this!!!!!!

    • emelia says:

      When I am a rockstar (hmmm what instrument shall I learn) the only thing that will change is I will blog from a hammock and NOT put the sandwich that I am buying for lunch on my credit card. The rest….will remain the same. Love you!

  12. Tim Vandehey says:

    I’d like to thank your bio for introducing me to the word “raconteuse.” I hadn’t known that I had a secret longing to know what the female counterpart to a raconteur is, but evidently I did, and there it was, like a dash of yerba mate in the face.

  13. Charles says:

    I usually skim read blogs but was captivated by your every word here. I felt outraged, engaged, abused and amused. I laughed, related, learnt and berated. You ROCK !!! Thank You :)

  14. Warriorsaint says:

    I have been chuckling about this blog all day. Can’t get the vision of
    a frisky, donkey-kicking, farty, (self described)”mermaid” haired, yoga rogue skittering around the overly pious yoga mavens.

  15. Warriorsaint says:

    ..out of my head :-)

  16. WarRetreat says:

    Shame you didn’t get there the week prior to get some grounding: the VFW national convention was going on in Reno. Thousands of veterans in a display of “oneness” working for programing that will help veterans and families. Now that’s cool. And that’s the real stuff.

    • VQ2 says:

      … and “yoga” (as we know it) not needed THERE …

      ‘if she were at that convention first, this would have been a whole ‘nother article.

  17. Maynard says:

    I’ve always loved how a good ol fart can clear the air. Ironic isn’t it!

  18. Kristan Cunningham says:

    Thank you so much for writing this. Great article, great read, great observant and truthful experience. You really are already a “yoga rock star” (I’m sorry but I cringed the first time I ever heard this term and was like WHAT THE???) because you can see the light in the darkest of places within and take the teachings “home”. I have a somewhat similar experience that happened to me at a yoga festival overseas in 2011. I think your article has inspired me in one way or another to get off my ass and start writing as well and when I do I’ll be sure to share the story with you. I’m sure you’ll get a donkey kick out of it. ;) Keep on shining! P.S. we need to hang out!!!

  19. Theodore Prewer says:

    Wow, superb blog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you made blogging look easy. The overall look of your site is great, as well as the content!. Thanks For Your article about This yoga festival is making me feel like shit | RecoveringYogi .

  20. This Yoga Festival is Making Me Feel Like Shit | Trying to be Good says:

    [...] CLICK HERE for the whole nightmarish story. [...]

  21. Isabel Remus says:

    Honest, raw and beautiful, as always…

  22. Baer Charlton, WR1T3R says:

    Back in the day, before there were superstars, my Chi Sensa’s wife taught yoga. My Sensa said that I was too uptight and needed to learn to flow with the breeze. So I stayed for her class.

    Traffic in LA was hell even back then, and some times she would get there as the class was supposed to start. More than a few times, she walked through the door, threw her yoga bag in the corner as she was taking off her lawyer business suit. Down tho bra and panties (loved the ones that said “Litigate My Ass”) and start teaching. This was a yogi that lived yoga 24/7 – - life is everywhere was her favorite saying.

    One day she got there about ten minutes late. Her skirt made it through the front door dragged by her left foot. The heels came off in the car. Her blouse was a flash of white satin and she was about half way to the front of a class that was at least half male, before she realized that she hadn’t worn a bra that day. There was no hesitation in her walk, just a slight smile as she turned and plopped down in a cross-legged sit and promptly farted. No blush…. just a small comment “finally, I got that last bit of the freeway out.”

    I looked at the pictures . . . and wondered… what does a beat-up cowboy hat have to do with yoga.

    My answer was instantaneous, as I sat down to write, and farted.

    I don’t have to place my hand on your chest….. I know we are one.


  23. Alice says:

    “There is an elitism in the yoga community that I have not encountered anywhere else in my life.”

    If this is how you feel, do not take a dance class ever. It s for your own good. :)

  24. The Hypocrisy of the Light Leaders. | Trying To Be Good says:

    [...] see happening that I just cannot abide. E.g.: FU Spiritual Teacher, You Don’t Know Shit and This Yoga Festival is Making Me Feel Like Shit. and The Abundance Train Just [...]

  25. Sherrice Kirby says:

    omg.. Wanderlust Whistler.. we clearly were in all the same classes..
    love you

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