Yoga makes yassholes out of all of us
A colleague of mine recently wrote a story called “Yoga = Heroin” for Elephant Journal. It’s about how so many of us treat yoga much like we’d treat any other addiction — we have to have it, or we turn into raging monsters.
Shortly after I read Philip’s story, I took a popular class in the Marina, an arguably soulless and affluent neighborhood in San Francisco. This being the beginning of January, the class was packed and the front desk staff had to turn a few people away. I happened to slide out into the lobby after class had begun (what? I had to pee!) and witnessed one of the unlucky late-comers have a full-on tantrum because she couldn’t take the class. She was nearly sobbing. “You don’t understand,” she whined reckishly to the poor unequipped desk staffer, who probably makes about $12 an hour and definitely isn’t trained in psychological emergencies. “I really needed this class!”
Oh we understand, alright. We’ve all been there. Ditching out of work early, racing through rush hour traffic, cutting people off, pitching a fit inside our cars because we can’t find a parking space. All in the name of getting to yoga on time so that we can RELAX and be better, more spiritual people.
But it doesn’t stop at that. Not only do we want our class, but we want our mat right exactly where we want it. In fact, we’re so attached to where our mat goes that we’ll shamelessly call ahead to the front desk (or maybe our friend is the yoga teacher that day, in which case we’re totally in) and have them “put a mat down” for us. Sound familiar?
We’re assholes about our yoga.
In Massachusetts, where I’m from, we like to refer to ourselves as Massholes. It sounds mean, but we say it with love. I like to think of us new wave of 21st century yogis as YASSHOLES. (I myself wrote an article about this recently for Elephant Journal, to mixed reviews.) We’re yassholes because we want to be good, we really do, but we lose our cool when we’re behind the wheel of a car. We text and drive. We cuss a lot. We have tempter tantrums when we’re tired or low blood sugar (okay maybe that’s just me). We’re just human.
A friend of mine who shamelessly adores all things yoga recently confided to me that she is sick to death of her yoga crowd. After her latest teacher training, she’s a borderline recovering yogi. I had a conversation with her that went something like this:
I love yoga.
What I don’t love? The lame, undertrained, know-it-all teachers. The obnoxious, smug yogis. The pressure to wear the latest lulus. The line around the block to get into the yoga studio. The eardrum-popping, nervous-system-shattering fusion music during a vinyasa class. The spiritual lecturing. The bossy physical corrections. The loathsome surprise partner yoga sessions. The cramped, dirty, smelly, overly intimate dressing rooms.
Do you want me to go on? Oh I can. But at the end of the day, what’s the value in waxing grumpy about “what’s happening to the yoga world” when I could just pick and choose my classes with a little more discriminatory aplomb? I still go to yoga. I call myself a “recovering yogi” with my tongue in my cheek. I’m recovering from the world of meaningless manifestation, vacuous positivity, and noxious yoga speak — and like Kris Nelson so eloquently put it, just trying not to be an asshole (or a yasshole) — but the timeless practice of yoga lives on in my heart, and there are still some decent yogic experiences to be had out there. I can say this, though, and proudly — I’m no longer addicted yoga.