Words We Loathe & Abhor

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abundance / As in, “You know what you need? You just need to cultivate an attitude of abundance around your life. Then everything will be fine. It’s a fact.” No, it’s not a fact. It’s just not. And also, shut up.

ache / Or yearn, long, burn. Essentially, any word that is better suited to a Jude Deveraux romance novel. Not good cues for yoga poses! (Thanks, Nickie Medici)

align / This word is fine with an object modifier, as in “align your spine.” But when used to refer to some nebulous, half-cocked concept in a sentence such as: “You just need to align.” No, that’s not a sentence.

anus / When did “clench your anus” become a proper substitute for engaging mula bandha? The last thing yogis in the West need to do is tighten their anuses more than they already are. (Thanks, Shawn Radcliffe)

authentic self / “Whenever I am acting ornery, my mom says, ‘You are not being your authentic self.’” Often used to mean: “You’re being a brat; so act more like a new-age hippie.”  (Thanks, Shana Sturtz)

badass / I’m not a rapper; I’m not holding up a liquor store; I’m just in Warrior 2. Relax. (Thanks, Jessica Kenny!)

beautiful practice / So glad you can move like you’re in Cirque du Soleil. But is that really all yoga is doing for you? (Thanks, Nick Hansinger)

being / [noun] (As in human being?) No, no, more like “your whole being” (Oh, uh, like body?) No, more like, “being-ness”(Oh, I get it now… um, no, maybe not.) (Thanks, Mary Beth Ray)

bliss / This word makes us itchy. (Thanks, Lisa Avebury)

booty / “I was in a class where the teacher (a renowned one at that, huh?) ordered us to stick our booties up to the heavens. I almost walked out. But I am a masochist and sweated through the rest of class, hoping my Higher Power would not recognize my booty.” (Thanks, Keara Mullen)

burst / As in Cobra pose: “Burst your heart energy forward toward the front of the room…” and their collective force shatters the mirrors, sending glass shards to rain down and rip open innocent peace-seeking yogis. I, of course, am in the back of the studio and observe as these now bleeding and discombobulated beings tool around for the cell phones and iPhones they were hiding under their yoga mats.” Mayhem! (Thanks, Kristin Breheim)

buttocks / Especially, oh god, “Spread the flesh out from under your buttocks.”

container / Recently, heard of a teacher sleeping with his students who referred to having 11 women “in containers” — SACRED containers. Okay, yeah, sure. (Thanks, Kimberly Johnson)

crack your chest open / Ow. And can we all stop using the word crack in yoga classes?  (Thanks, Karen Caballero)

cultivate / From Birdie Greenberg: “If I hear another yoga teacher use the word cultivate in class as if its the only 3-syllable word she knows, my fucking head is going to explode.”

delicious / Unless you are Jeffrey Dahmer, yoga poses will never be delicious. (see also juicy).  (Thanks again, Shawn Radcliffe)

diva / The only thing that comes to mind is feminine products.  Probably not what you intended.

download / Enough with the “emotional downloads from the cosmos.” The only thing you should be downloading is the new Prince single. You probably just need a sandwich. (Thanks, Amelia Catone)

ego / The word itself is not annoying. It’s the hypocrisy with which it’s preached about by certain yoga teachers. We’ve come up with an alternative: YEGO. It’s a  portmanteau referring to the Yoga Ego.

enchantress / Submitted in a bio to a yoga studio in Mexico from a gringa yoga teacher coming to town. Only problem: there’s no translation for this stupid word in Spanish. (Thanks, Shana Sturtz)

energy / As in, “You’ve got really cute energy.” Read more.

energy / So tired it deserves a second entry.

essence / As in that… sort of… oh, je ne sais quoi (because you really don’t know what you’re referring to but you want to sound very spiritual, don’t you?); usually used in uber-airy-fairy phrases like “the very essence of your heart” or “essence of being.” (See “Being”) (Thanks, Mary Beth Ray)

evolutionary / Unless you’re actually talking about Darwin… (Thanks, Jayson Gaddis)

flesh / This word is bad enough when used to describe animal or human parts, but when a recipe asks me to “carve the flesh of the avocado,” it’s just a little too macabre. And it definitely doesn’t belong in a yoga class.

flutter / No, I don’t want to “flutter my lips” in yoga class; thanks for asking. (Thanks, Patty Ivey)

— gasm / As a suffix. “Yogasm,” “heartgasm,” “coregasm,” “chocolategasm.” All words actually wielded by renegade yoga teachers in class. We refuse to ever have a “yogasm,” on principle.  (Thanks, Erin Urton and Lee Davis

goddess / Unless your name begins with “Aphro” and ends with “dite” and you are also mythological, you are not a goddess.  Sorry.

heart of your hand / “Slide the heart of your hand under the soul of your foot.” Whaaaa? (Thanks, Ro Hudson)

honor / How many times has your fake happy yoga teacher told you to  “honor this” or “honor that” or “honor your body” in some stupid pose that 80% of the class should be modifying? Why don’t they just get some balls and tell people the people that don’t know where their limits are to do a variation? Seriously, I wish I had a dollar for every time some yoga dork used the word “honor.” (Thanks, Rebecca Cohen)

hubby / hubs / hubster / This has nothing to do with yoga. Still, please no.

I’ll be there in spirit / You really won’t… unless you’re planning on dying? (Thanks, Paula Archer)

in the now / “I’m just being in the now” doesn’t mean you can worm your way out of commitments (relationship, shared bills, monogamy) you made in another “now” when you were more into it. (Thanks, Robert Fortune)

inhaaaaaaale…  (long pause) exhaaaaaaaale / As said by any yoga teacher who is trying to emulate Baron Baptiste and who believes that it is actually helpful to drag out the “a” vowel to induce students to breathe better or deeper. WTF? You just sound phony and you’re annoying.(Thanks, Kim Groark)

inner body bright / Apparently this is something the Anusaras are into. Figures. (Thanks, Julie Melfi)

intention / When the teacher says to “set your intention for this class,” ours instantly shifts to “strangle this yoga teacher.”  (Thanks, Matthew Teague Miller)

it is what it is / A meaningless misunderstanding of Buddhism, which is used by wankers to score points and end conversations which make them feel uncomfortable. (Thanks, Rod Ellis)

japanese ham sandwich / First of all, aren’t the Japanese noted for their fish consumption? (Thanks to Heather Peroni)

journey / Moving from updog to downdog is not a journey. Neither is making coffee or going to the bank. If every mundane event of my life is going to qualify as a journey, then hold on, I’m going to need to strap on my spiritual backpack equipped with spiritual canteen. (Thanks, Emily Levy)

juicy / Fruit can be juicy.  Yoga postures cannot.

just / (adv.) a modifier used to diminish the difficulty of a pose or transition; often leaves the audience feeling inadequate when faced with the reality of the physical work. Ex.: “Place both hands on the floor and then just lift up into a levitating, one-armed handstand,” or, “You’re here in Broken Toes pose for just 10 breaths.” (Thanks, Kate Stone)

just sayin’… / A passive aggressive way of trailing off a sentence to insinuate complete contempt, which has somehow found it’s way into yoga classes of late. “Burst your heart forward. Just sayin’…” Ugh. Skin. Crawling. (Thanks, Laura Riggs)

karma / Overused. Severely un-understood. (Thanks, Kimberly Johnson)

kula / Since when did our posse become our “kula“? (Thank you Kate Vickers Deriso. And thank you to Karen E. Anderson for pointing out that when Richard Freeman talks about “kula,” he points out that in India, the word refers to Kindergarten. Not nice, Anusara people.)

lady’s holiday / If you think spending two days doubled over in pain whilst your insides shed themselves in the march towards infertility is a “holiday,” we suggest you get a new travel agent. (Thanks, Lindsay Bell)

let’s play / Especially when uttered in a little girl voice—which it always is—whether it is spoken by a 20-year-old female teacher or a 40-year-old man. Ick and eww. (Thanks, Jill Underhill)

low vibration / adj. – unevolved; negative; unawakened. We object to this term when used judgmentally, as it often is, to make a distinction between us (enlightened yogis) and them (everyone else.) For example: “I don’t invite low-vibration people into my home. I don’t want their auras staining the upholstery.” (Thanks, Laura Plummer)

love & light / Stop signing emails with this. Just stop. (Thanks, Lena Liambey)

lover / Admittedly, this has nothing to do with yoga either. But since it’s uttered by WAY too many yoga teachers, it’s in by association. So here’s the deal: no one wants to think about you having sex, okay?And we’re well past the 19th century.For your convenience, here’s a handy list of acceptable alternatives to use at your discretion:  partner, boyfriend, girlfriend, person with whom I hook up… you get the picture.

lubricate / This word does not conjur images of synovial fluid. It conjurs images of a big hand in a plastic glove.   (Thanks, Susan Snyder)

luscious / “No matter what yoga pose it is used to describe, this word makes me think of breasts.”  (Thanks, Shawn Radcliffe)

manifest / Used in any context by anyone who has ever read The Secret. Otherwise, it’s fine. Read more at Elephant Journal.

marinate / No, we don’t want to marinate in the hip opener, either. Again, thanks for asking. (Thanks to Patty Ivey)

melt your heart / What does this even mean? Has anyone ever stopped to ask John Friend, what exactly do you mean, melt my heart? We assume this has something to do with your ribcage and its surrounding muscles, but why does it have to sound so graphic?

mmmm / A tasty food (or porn movie) sound often added at the end of sentences, as in “sink deeper into the hips…mmmm.”  (Thanks, Shawn Radcliffe)

monkey mind / Every time you tell me to get out of my monkey mind, I suddenly picture a freaking monkey and lose my concentration.   Stay focused on the teaching and leave the monkeys at home. (Thanks, Ginny)

moon / As in “I’m on my moon,” or, “If you’re on your moon, please don’t invert.”  That anyone can ever say this with a straight face is beyond me.  I mean… what kind of sense does this even make?  Even if my cycles were perfectly synced up with the moon, why would it be MY moon?  And why would I be ON it?  Argh!  (Thanks, Lia Aprile)

-ness / This suffix does not turn any random bullshit into a word! (E.g., “Enough-ness,” “interconnected-ness,” shut-the-fuck-up-ness,” “much-ness”) (Thanks, Jennifer Grebow)

oh my goddess / No. (thanks, Mandy Eubanks)

old soul / Guys, the phrase “She’s an old soul” is not an excuse to date someone far too young. Grow up. (thanks, Robert Fortune)

OMazing / Nothing is OMazing, including your pose. It’s a handstand. I get it. You’re excited. Now settle down. (thanks, Deanna Hirsch)

own skin / preceded by [XX] verb. “Live in your own skin,” “Arrive in your own skin.” It doesn’t even make sense! (Thanks, Jennifer Grebow)

peace fingers / They are not peace fingers!! They are just my first two fingers. There is no such thing as peace fingers, by which — when I return to my conscious mind to determine what the hell you are referring to, you 20-something rookie who wasn’t even alive when those fingers were genuinely used to do it — you mean the ones used to flash a peace sign. Yoga is a 10,000 year old science. You will never possess the capability to improve upon it. There is no Sanskrit word or concept for “peace fingers”. Stop stop stop stop stop!!! (Thanks, Ginny)

peel an onion / Your metaphor sucks.

quantum / Particularly when followed by “Healing.” Theoretical physicists don’t even really understand quantum mechanics, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t mean that you should be able to heal any disease instantly with your mind. (Thanks, Lee Davis)

relax Is there a more judgmental word in existence? In any context, this word is presumptuous and implies that the speaker is more zen than thou. But in a yoga class it’s unbearable. As if you can just flip a switch and let the pressure out! If we could do that, we wouldn’t need a word for it.  (thanks, Caroline van Kimmenade)

rockstar / Frequently coupled with the loathsome “badass.” “If one more local studio proudly posts about someone (teachers, students) being a “badass yoga rockstar,” I quit.” (Thanks, Emily Chiodo)

safe space / As in, “This class is a safe space.” Followed by, “Try harder, stay longer, breathe better… Whoops, sorry about your hamstring.” (Thanks, Jasmine Lamb)

sacred space/ Similar, but worse.

see you on the path It’s like these teachers need some way of saying “Goodbye, and please pay me again soon!” in the new ageiest way possible. And I especially hate when it’s said after a workshop or conference, where I really am probably never going to see the teacher again. And even if I did, they wouldn’t know who I am because I was a student in a 50-person class. Out of all 9 billion people on the planet, the chance of our paths crossing again depends entirely on my willingness to send money to that teacher’s path again. (Thanks, Leah Fulford)

serve you / As in: “letting go of that which no longer serves you.” Ugh — Can all yoga teachers please find a different way to say it?! (Thanks, Emily Levy)

shakitful / As in, “These vegetables are shakitful.”  (Actually spotted on a package of Kitchari by Deacon Carpenter)

shine / I will shine my collarbones if you can explain what that means. Deal? (Thanks, Barbara Ritthaler)

____shop / As in funshop, playshop, shaktishop… It’s just a workshop! Or, to put it more accurately, a forum where the teacher gets to talk a lot, demo (aka showoff), and charge more money than a regular class. (Submitted by a reader who is afraid to take credit for fear of the Anusara Mafia. It’s a real thing.)

shri / You know what this means? Really? Go on… ?  (Thanks, Kimberly Johnson)

sip / As in, “sip in another breath” or “sip in this yummy pose.” One sips coffee, tea, wine etc. What do these things have in common? They are actual liquids. Sadly, one does NOT “sip” poses or breath. Please think of a less creepy way to say it. (Thanks, Christine Schaefer)

sister / sistar / We don’t share parental chromosomes and it’s not the 70s. I’m not your “sister.” (Thanks, Carla Jayne Fergussen)

smile / No, YOU smile! (Thanks, Barbie Erickson and with props to Kimberly Johnson for writing a whole piece about this)

soul / If we were handing out awards for the Most Overused Words in the woo woo industry, this one would win hands down. We’re not. (Notable exceptions: When soul precedes the following suffixes or compound words: -less, -sucker, -train)

source / The Never ending, abundant,  blissful joy and oneness that is dad and mom’s trust fund. (Thanks, Piero Infante)

surrender / We are not going to surrender to our mat because we don’t like the implication we might go to jail for it. (Thanks, Sally Lander)

sweet spot / Ew, no. Stop. You are trying to connote something sexual here in the hope that people will like you more; whether you realize it or not, you are. I refuse to breathe into those “sweet spots” in pigeon. (Thanks, Emily Levy)

tail feathers / As in “shake your tail feathers.” (Thanks, Beka Olson)

tribe / Unless you’re actually Native American?

“true” yoga / As in “I practice true yoga.” What does this even mean? Also, no one cares.

universe / A wishy-washy substitute for “God.” (Thanks, Yoga for Cynics)

universe A wishy-washy substitute for “God.” (Thanks, Yoga for Cynics)

vata-ed out As in, “OMG I’m so vata-ed out right now.” Or, “My elbows are so vata.” Or any other way that someone who has just learned about the doshas tries to interject them into regular conversation. (Thanks, Ashlee Goite)

warrior of peace / -Uttered by the condescending teacher who kept us in Warrior II for about ten million hours and said, “The burning in your shoulders is an illusion – as ‘warriors of peace’ you can handle it.”   Really? ‘Cause as a “warrior of peace” yourself, my foot kicking you in the ass is an illusion too.  (Thanks, Chrissy Schaefer.)

wonderment / Wonderwhat?  It’s too bad that this is actually a real word.

work your edge / This refrain is particularly loathsome when followed or preceded by “Go at your own pace and modify if you need to.” Which is it, people? (Thanks, Meghann Foster)

yogic / As in, “Not yogic enough.” When someone utters this phrase, they are usually condemning some small and generally harmless pleasure, like coffee or sleeping late. You know what else isn’t yogic? An obsession with being yogic. (Thanks, Trish Tillman)

yogic heart center / As in, “Place your hands at your yogic heart center.” Otherwise known as your sternum. Or your actual heart. Or even your fourth chakra. Not a secret lulu pocket designed to hold a special heart just for the yogis of the world. (Thanks, Kate Stone)

yogini / There’s a reason it’s not called Recovering Yogini.

“You guys rock!” / “I don’t want to hear any more yoga instructors resort to these words as some sort of modern-day motivational statement. This is yoga, not a Rolling Stones reunion concert.” (Thanks, Angela Diaz)

yummy / For definition and usage, see “juicy.” (Thanks, Gaye Forren)

zen / Out of curiosity, what exactly does it mean when something is “zenlike”? Do you know? No? Didn’t think so.