Yoga teachers are psychos

Published on December 19, 2011 by      Print
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By Kirk Hensler

As much as I hate yoga, I love yoga.  As much as yoga people creep me out, they creep me out much less than normal people.  That being said, I spend a lot of time practicing yoga and hanging out with other people that practice yoga.  It’s all gravy in the beginning with yoga people, especially yoga teachers.  They are trained to harness all their beeswax and keep the red flags from flying.  But hang in there long enough, and good lord are these people fucking nuts.

Get them around some alcohol or other substances and you’ll think you’re witnessing a teenager’s first buzz.  Although that would imply it could be slightly entertaining and light-hearted.  The truth is, it’s like watching a car crash in slow motion.  Horrible thing to experience.

Years of bottling up emotions and force-feeding sutras don’t look so pretty when the mascara is running a marathon down your face and you’re balling about “the one that got away.”  And the yoga dudes… the dudes are busy trying to spark up a soul-gazing session with any poor young female that will hold their stare.  It’s creepy, all that intense eye contact.

But they’ll pull it together the next morning for the class they are teaching.

The problem is, they keep trying to teach me bullshit.  Telling me what I need to do in order to be happy and enlightened, as if they have a clue what that feels like.  I’m pretty sure if they were in a good state, they wouldn’t have needed to seek out yoga in the first place.  And I know that they took three drops of Kava tincture before class, so don’t go there.

You see, I love the yoga.  The teachers just keep trying to ruin it for me.

I remember learning something about balance from a teacher awhile ago.  She kept saying “You have to find the balance.” OK, then what?  Get fucking bored out of my mind?  It’s way less exciting than pushing the boundaries on each edge.  Maybe the spectrum gets smaller with time and there’s no other place to be than the middle, but maybe not.  Maybe you’re just really lame and then you die and nothing sweet happens after.

But they aren’t in the middle.  They are taking Percocets before workshops so they can maintain that glued-on smile look.

One minute they are telling you to be the observer of your thoughts and not to judge them, the next minute they are talking shit about some girl’s boots on the other side of the room.

They tell you yoga has really helped them find themselves; they’ve overcome all their bullshit.  And then they have a breakdown; they haven’t been fucked right in years because their partners are too busy trying to retain their semen in an attempt to impress them.

They tell you that you should meditate in the morning and the evening.  It will help you gain access to the inter-workings of your mind.  The judgments will slowly slip away.  First of all, that’s total bullshit, I’ve meditated for years and the second I see a guy in an Ed Hardy T-shirt driving a Range Rover my mind screams DOUCHE before I get a second to react.  But secondly, this isn’t communist China or dirt poor India, I’ve got a computer and shit, I’m checking Facebook before bed, maybe streaming The Office on Hulu.  I’ve been dealing with assholes all day and the last thing I want to do is sit down with myself and figure some shit out.  Just let it be over.  You want to pretend you meditate, good for you, you’re fucking weird and socially awkward, congrats on all your hard work.

The point is, let’s not be hypocrites.

This is America people, sorry to say.  We were conditioned to grow up ignorant, out of shape, lazy, judgmental, entitled, inconsiderate, and — most importantly — free.  I’m all about improving myself as a human and becoming more conscious of what is happening within me and around me.  But I am who I am and I don’t need some blissed-out, full of shit, 200-hours-isn’t-enough-time-to learn-shit yoga teacher telling me otherwise.  Because I know they are doing the same damn things as me.

Yoga is the drug that replaced the other drugs.  Yoga is some powerful shit.  Instead of having these people posted up on street corners hustling for crack, they are pillaging the aisles of Whole Foods looking for superfoods.  The yoga has brought them a long way and it’s ultimately great.  Cocoa over crack all day.

Now, hopefully, they will stop trying to convince me that they’ve got it all figured out.

About Kirk Hensler

Kirk Hensler was raised in metro Detroit on a steady diet of meat, potatoes and team sports. As a competitive athlete, he relied on his speed, power and dominant attitude to excel. Years later, when he took up martial arts, he was tossed around a sweaty dojo for months by various women and children. One day, while horizontal on the mat, he had the profound realization that their patience and finesse quietly trumped his strength and aggression. This led to an exploration of ancient Eastern philosophies, which, in turn, led Kirk to Taiwan, where he taught English, studied martial arts and ate a lot of delicious and strange street food. When Kirk returned to the US, he began applying what he’d learned to his Western, urban life and to his career as a wellness coach, martial arts instructor, and yoga teacher.

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108 Comments !

  1. kat says:


    great article and i totally agree…im a yoga teacher and i like to think of myself as “normal”. i drink, party on the weekends, dont meditate, and dont preach in my classes… but i love yoga and teaching yoga. i dont think that u need to be a barefoot vegan airy fairy goddess to be a “real yogi”.

    ive also had some crazy experiences with these so-called “real yogis” who dont drink, dont party, meditate 23 hours a day and preach their shit to anyone dumb enough to listen…and they have issues dude. major issues. they are dying to let loose and should you give them a few beers, they are off the walls, creepy, wierd, or all three.

    if there is nothing that turns me off more, its yoga teachers who love to preach and pretend they know everything about the inner workings of life and arent true to themselves and their realities. what they need is a dose of humility, in my opinion. i mean just be real.

    so i agree, stop the hypocrisy, be who u are and love yoga. isnt that all that matters?

    ps….You want to pretend you meditate, good for you, you’re fucking weird and socially awkward, congrats on all your hard work. <—— love that!

  2. Christina says:


    Thanks for shining a humorous spotlight on a legit issue! This sort of hypocrisy is EXACTLY why I’m not actively teaching right now, despite having a few certifications under my belt. (Certifications that, as you correctly point out, don’t necessarily mean a damn thing.) I have more self-work to do before I’m ready to truly lead, and when/if the time is right I’m sure I will be a badass, authentic teacher…but I’ll never have it all figured out, nor will I pretend otherwise! Relentless honesty is crucial to growth.

  3. robin says:


    haha love it :)

  4. Meaghan says:


    Compassion.

  5. Rachel Huntzicker says:


    I loved reading this. When I first started practicing, I had a lot of these same creepy experiences. The whole look behind the curtain or what some instructors and yogis are keeping pent-up can be absolutely scary. Not to mention a real disappointment. It took me a long time to see that this is where the importance of staying on your own mat and being cautious of how and to whom my fun-friend energy can flow. Yoga is fantastic but is not a solve all if one does not deal with the seat of the issues. Lots of love and compassion is key, plus safeguarding your own time to avoid these dis-enlightened situations…actually they are completely enlightening when you see them the way you do, Kurt. Nice reminder to practice what you preach.

    xo. R.

  6. Laura says:


    Amen brother.

  7. Chrissy says:


    Well done! This is MY version of what eloquent truly means! I love kickboxing and yoga, and feel that they are a great mix….only when I am dumb enough to open my mouth at my yoga class, I am told that I should not need to pursue such aggressive pastimes, and that getting on my mat and breathing into my body will “heal” my need to kick shit….REALLY? The same self proclaimed guru recommended that I look inside by meditating..and LORD have I tried…then I get bored..because I truly don’t want to spend that much time dissecting..well ME!

    • Tori says:


      Also, for what it’s worth, I find that trying to figure out why too hesitant/timid/aggressive/impulsive/overcalculating when I’m boxing is a hell of a lot of self-work and self-study on its own. Well, on its own with punching.

      • Chrissy says:


        I agree Tori….I am everyone’s emotional dumping ground (must be my aura…hahaha), so yeah…I just want to hit bags…I’ll sort myself out as I go…usually with a smile on my face!

  8. Jin says:


    You are an idiot

  9. Nicole S. Blakely says:


    Kirk, I think I love you. I have been telling people this for years!!!

  10. Andrea says:


    I think it comes down to this…in this country we don’t have Yoga Teachers, we have asana teachers. There is only a very small..small..small few from lineages that I would recommend that are worthy enough to be called a Yoga teacher within the art & science of Yoga.

    Geting a Yoga Fit cert. over the weekend…errr.sorry..not really going to work.

    I wouldn’t call you a yoga teacher if you drank, smoked, didn’t meditate, and simple wear the accessories of yoga.

    Frankly, from my experience all I see are teachers wearing the modern accessories of yoga knowledge..which is why this site was created because there is so much nonsense going on..it’s like Hollywood Yoga nonsense that has no relevance to anything. period.

    As a teacher, I don’t take what I do lightly, I certainly make it a point to understand the context of what I am teaching. I find it hard to swallow that so many teachers lack basic historical understandings of the Yoga tradition. I also shake my head trying to understand how the heck so many “teachers” just do what they want with no backing or understanding again of anything traditional or logical.

    I went to a Yoga conference..and felt like I was in a sorority…I left. I wouldn’t go to a teacher who didn’t practice or party’s hard on the weekends..that doesn’t make any sense..your not a teacher…your just playing the game and wearing the accessories.

    The problem is that there is FEW people who actually commit to practicing, living, and sharing the tradition. So lets just makes this easier and call yourself a physical asana teacher instead, unless you are actually kind, compassionate, humble, study, preserve the tradition, practice/implement, and use actually wisdom when talking to students and not making up stuff to fit some “Yogic” style then just keep quiet and figure out what you really want to do.

    Your making the practitioners who are actually devoting time, energy, and study to the science sound like a bunch of nutso’s. And if you just do what you want..and use it to justify your weekend binges, and lack of knowledge then you have no place teaching others.

    I wouldn’t go to a Doctor who just wore his/her blue coat and walked around with a RX pad waiting to hand out prescriptions for stuff that he was vague and ify about. I would go to a Doctor who understands the mechanism of the body, the science and history of medicine, nutrition, keeps his/her body clean and healthy and is a constant example of wellness and health. Wouldn’t you?

    • kaley says:


      Wow Andrea! sounds like you have a lot to work thru. Maybe being a bit self righteous without a sense of humour is what the root of your psychosis is……hahaha…..laugh a little. All of these comments to Kirk’s article is proving all of you who have some type of opinion whom y’all think is going to make a difference in the world is so important. Understandable for those who are searching for satisfaction of some sort to feel important cause isn’t that what your searching to become…..important!! Have fun without taking everything so seriously…..peace out sister! live your life and no one else’s.

      • Andrea says:


        I ‘m not sure that this is a judgment of my humor…ask any of my friends..I’m a pretty funny girl..Kaley..I don’t know why you would say I have a lot to work through? If this is just a joke website then I’ll move on. I understand this site and the humor in it.

        I don’t think I’m higher or more important then others thats absurd. I just really like to study, practice, and understand what I do for a living.

        peace

  11. Laura says:


    I am with Andrea on this.
    A lot of ‘teachers’ are just fitness instructors who can spew out a few yoga platitudes to impress their students, but have never done any real work on themselves. They worry more about the size of their bum than the size of their ego. Introspection? What introspection?
    Yoga is not a technique to stretch your body to the limit while your mind never stretches beyond the same habitual patterns of thinking.
    If teacher training placed as much emphasis on understanding Indian philosophy and the yoga scriptures, on pranayama and meditation and as it places on teaching asanas, maybe we would see a different kind of teachers. Now most of so-called yoga teachers are no different from ballet teachers…i see the same unhealthy narcissism and excessive focus on their bodies.

    • kaley says:


      no it means that you take things too seriously, have some fun Lisa!

    • bendybyatch says:


      um…. where are all you folks meeting these wasted, meat covered, silicone enhanced, supremely vain, plastic surgified, shallow alcoholic/class A drug addicted yoga teachers? Perhaps it’s a question of where you’re choosing to practice?

      So much judgment placed on lady teachers on this website… it’s fairly appalling.

  12. Lisa says:


    Thank you Andrea for your response to this post, you wrote what I was thinking. As for Kirk, not all asana teachers are psychos. If that is what you truly believe (not just a smarmy title to a contribution that really says nothing new, witty or bright) I find it quite sad. Some are genuine, open “devotees on the path”. Those are the ones I am drawn to now, after having been exposed to many of the type you wrote of. Maybe my own BS detector got a bit more fine tuning having been exposed to the “less clear”. And I guess for me that was part of my own journey. Now I practice “radical discernment”. It doesn’t work for me, so I don’t attend those classes, but it may work for another. Who am I to judge? Or even say it is bad or wrong or “psycho”. If they are psycho, does that mean you are normal?

  13. Tim says:


    Dude… OMG… Seriously…..

    How could have written this…..

    ANY BETTER! SO GREAT! And so spot on!

  14. Aubrey says:


    “While the worst are full of passionate intensity, the best lack all conviction.” Yeates

    These comments are awesome and I love the fact that this article stirred so many of the die hards up, but if yoga is so powerful wouldn’t you think that shit like this article wouldn’t matter? I am not encouraging anyone to lose their luster for yoga, but stop taking yoga so seriously in general people. Get over your bullshit and allow yourself to laugh or don’t read articles on websites that might upset you bc one thing is for sure- getting reactionary and butt hurt isn’t mindful.

    • Lisa says:


      Aubrey, your response makes no sense at all. Is this not a forum for all opinions? It isn’t that anyone who may have a response other then “yeah dude I get you” is full of bs or reactionary-it seems you are the most reactionary. I think there are a few of us that find this kind of observation “common” and maybe we wanted to express that. If you have been in and around any kind of yoga community you know this goes one. And Andrea had the courage to point out a lot of what is called yoga-isn’t. And, if we were all yoga purists, I don’t think we would even be open to a blog like Recovering Yogi, so give it a break.

      • Joey says:


        HUMOR. Keep a sense of humor especially about oneself. It is a strength beyond all measure.

        This is a funny website, lighthearted, and not meant to be taken so seriously! Why not laugh, acknowledge the partial and exaggerated truth in this, and move on. Nothing really matters….and there is humor is EVERYTHING!:) I dont know what is funnier, the article or the people that have become so upset about it. :) Next Kirk should write an article about the comments on this article. Now that would be FUNNY.

      • kaley says:


        Aubrey’s response along with Joey’s make the most sense out of all these self absorbed, i-know-it-all comments. This article proves how psychotic y’all are, its pretty hilarious to read bc y’all are thinking you’re making some point when you’ve all been played by Kirk’s personal violin. Well done Kirk! Joey’s so right….you should right an article on all these comments who are writing about your article. Get the die hard’s more crazier! this is hilarious….

        • Andrea says:


          Your kind of a rouser aren’t you sweetie?! Hahha..now that’s funny! I think there is a lot more education that needs to be done if anyone will take an art & science seriously.

          • Will says:


            Have been travelling around oz and asia for a couple years and have just finished residing in Bangkok for a year. Most of the Thai yoga teachers here are basic fitness instructor to say the least. I have also found the yoga instructors who are foreigners who teach here to be complete weirdo’s and very rude individuals completely in it for the money. One teacher named Mark Scodellaro singled me out in a class off Asians and said I quote ‘if you’ve got monkey arms do the pose like this, however if you’ve got normal person arms do it like this’. He also makes other stupid comments in classes like if you are using a block he says ‘not very vinyassa like using funiture’ and ‘if you want those sexy abdominal muscles do this’. Another silly teacher I had the misfortune of meeting was a man called Les Smith. A silly rude little man who belittled me a class full of Asians also. I was quite taken back and shocked by some of these bitter yoga teachers. I also notice a weird cult like group that they seem to be in and really don’t accept outsiders. Had countless racist thai teachers but thats another story. Its almost expected from them however well educated western people should no better.

            • Tera says:


              Namaste Will!

              I completely agree with you. Living in Bangkok myself, I also have come across a lot of very strange yoga teachers. I know that one should not judge others. But I do lack this feeling of “fullness” and “happiness”, like having been nourished at all kosha-levels, when coming out of Bangkok yoga classes. As you said: The spirit here is more “fitness”.

              Having had yoga classes in India before, I can tell the difference between a humble and serious yogi and showmen/-women…

              Is there any loving kind male or female yoga teacher in Bangkok at all? Who wants to pass on the ultimate truth and bliss through yoga? Somebody who knows the scriptures and the eightfold path? If so, please could you communicate her or his identity? Thank you very much!

              Hari om,

              Tera

  15. Sang says:


    Dude, you been doing it all wrong since you still have that stick stuck up your ass. Only being funny; it’s humor! Get it?

  16. eleles says:


    Andrea, Thanks for posting! You saved me some work writing. :)

  17. Laura says:


    Kirk,
    i don’t know what kind of yoga teachers you are referring to, but your statement “if they were in a good state, they wouldn’t have needed to seek out yoga” is quite baffling. How do you define “being in a good state”? Often people embark on a spiritual journey precisely because they realise there is something missing in their lives: their habitual patterns of thinking, their routines, no longer work for them. Maybe they finally realised that in order to find themselves, they have to step aside. leave the rat race, ignore the calls of our materialistic society. What’s wrong with that?

    I would be more concerned with the stereotype of a yoga teacher as one bent double like a pretzel – yet this is neither the real aim of yoga (centering the mind), nor realistic for 99% of yoga practitioners.
    We – teachers and/or practitioners – run the risk of alienating people for whom many of these ‘extreme’ asana are both unappealing, inaccessible and frankly dangerous.

    • Serena says:


      I heard it as being a little wary of yoga teachers because they sometimes try and seem like they have all the answers and do tend to act like they hide the parts of themselves that are not all together. I think the creation of a false self is what is an issue, or at least what seems in most circumstances to be “false self.” I think everyone is a “bit” broken but what feels weird about yoga people is the fervent denial that seems to accompany them. I think sometimes they deny external reality rather than embody a model of how to deal in reality and make peace with it. I think your comment speaks to this when it refers to stepping aside, leaving the rat race and ignoring the calls of materialistic society. I am not sure we can step aside, leave and ignore these things and that’s not, to my mind possible or even desirable (at least without becoming terribly hypocritical). I think the author picks up on this when he says checks facebook and watches TV on hulu. I think he mostly wonders why yoga teachers have to pretend so hard that they don’t or that not doing so makes them so great?

      • Chrissy says:


        Excellent reply Serena…you basically hit the nail on the head for me with this..

      • Guru Du Jour says:


        Excellent post. I missed it the first time around. I’m also thinking about the more youthful instructors who have yet to experience a fraction of a fraction of what life has to offer (marriage, kids, divorce, aging parents, death of loved ones, career mishaps), yet they sometimes want others to believe they are experts on the cosmos ? To be fair I’ve encountered a number of young yoga devotees who do so desperately want to make a difference in a very genuine and authentic way so I can respect this. (I too was once young, and idealistic). On the other hand there is really no substitute for experience and the time required to form considered perspective, which can ultimately be shared with others as wisdom.

        Also I recall that when I was in my early 20s there were very few poses that I couldn’t do but aging (and some car accidents ) have changed that. I recall a recent event at yoga class wherein I opted out of the pose (even the modified one) due to a long time injury. The well meaning instructor came over and said “you can do this – I know you can” to which I replied “Sweetie. No I can’t. And you know what ? That’s okay “.

    • Carla Savita says:


      I agree with Andrea what is wrong with people needing a little guidance on the spiritual path. Also I think you understand yoga like millionaires understand what it is like to be homeless. For all your so called training you know nothing if that. I find your so called thesis to be the writings (ramblings of a very insecure and adolescent mentality) I thing you should study the true scriptures of yoga and not become so engrossed with the western thought of what yoga is.
      it is obvious that you are too self absorbed to understand true yogic principles.

    • tom says:


      you are obviously not in a good state….you’ve answered you’re own question

  18. Liz says:


    Obviously, we have known the same people. I was so turned off by this stuff that I used to go to one class and never go back. Being close to one of these phonies greatly disturbed the peace I felt, and I had to remove them from my life to get back to some form of reality. You hit the nail on the head with this article and I support your honesty.

  19. Guru Du Jour says:


    Entertaining article. It reminds me of the late 80s ascent of the commercial “New Age” movement and the associated health food stores, metaphysical bookstores and crystal shops, Windham Hill music, and “channeling”. What I found is that many practitioneers of various New Age “methods” were emotionally threadbare with ,at best, a tenuous grasp on reality. I saw worse fights in the local health food cooperative than I did in the bar I worked at while in school. Speaking of that bar it was amazing how many of these self proclaimed “gurus” would show up plastered out of their minds hitting on women half their age while talking up the merits of Reiki and “soul work”. It was all just a progression (regression more likely) of the ole “What’s your sign” thing. Maybe 10% of the people who were into these things were on the level. The others were just along for the ride to see if it could get them laid. The health food coop was basically a pick-up place for those alleging to be concerned with “spiritual” and “humanitarian” issues. I once heard a guy ask a woman “I’d love to know what wheat germ you recommend”. (Silly me – I didn’t realize how complex the wheat germ selection process could be).

    So when I look at the proliferation of yoga studios its “deja vu all over again” though the alibi is slightly better I suppose. I mean you are moving and ,if taken seriously, positive benefits are quite possible. But when I talk to some of the instructors its clear they are more concerned with how they look than how the class is progressing. They’ll move around the class, correcting poses, dropping generic words of encouragement, and sometimes touching people who might not really want to be, all of which is part of the yoga teacher MO. So its not really hard to fake being a concerned yoga teacher. On the other hand when you encounter someone who actually IS a good teacher they stand out in sharp relief against the superficial crowd. Its just that its becoming a rare thing to find these people.

    My last experience with a commercial yoga studio was in the change room wherein two of the yoga diva instructors were trying on different outfits and discussing how much cleavage they should show. They concluded that they needed to show a lot since enrollment was low and since they had an open house session later that day, the more skin the better to sign on men. I suppose I could look the other way on this since business is business though when I saw them actually “teach” the class, their form was deplorable and they spent most of their time giggling, flipping their hair, and rubbing the backs of men struggling to do basic poses. But you know what ? They got the quota. Maybe this is what yoga has come to….

    • Vision_Quest2 says:


      Thanks, Guru, for reminding me why I left the wannabe studio and never went back.

      I do remember one of my first classes being taught by the young teacher with a lot of cleavage, and as an older woman, I wondered why …

  20. Christine says:


    Interesting article. I appreciate your perspective. I do wonder why you are so angry, though? Why did you allow this horrible yoga teacher to affect you so deeply? Anyway, I don’t truly care about your response; it’s your journey, not mine. Be well. (Yes, I am a yoga teacher.)

    • YogiRaitch says:


      I, too, am a yoga teacher and I agree with Christine. There is, in any field, charlatans and posers and this is especially true of spiritual teachers. There are as many sincere, well-trained and educated teachers as there are of those that you vividly paint a portrait of.

      I’ve been a teacher since 2005 and practicing since 2000 and I’ve found it VERY easy to avoid the fakers and made it my goal to find the real seekers. I’m not saying that’s what YOUR pointing out, but your post just rubbed me the wrong way in general. Yoga is not just “powerful shit”…it’s also an ancient science with a variety of perspectives that maybe you need to start truly investigating.

  21. DJ crankananda says:


    Love this article. Made me LOL. Thanks for that.
    I’ve been teaching asana for almost 20 years and have never considered myself a “yoga teacher”. I’ll leave that up to the masters. Even Sri K Pattabhi Jois would say he was not a teacher of Yoga, but an asana teacher. It apparently takes many lifetimes to reach the level of Yoga Teacher status. That’s not really understood here in the west so that’s why we have so many issues with half baked asana teachers that have an identity crisis and thinking they’re gurus.

    You think the 200 hour teacher training neophytes are trouble try dealing with a freshly authorized Ashtanga teacher who just spent their last 53,000 Rupees on a worthless piece of paper. These people are down right convinced they’re the best thing since chai tea soy creamer. But you know, they’re only a few who have been given this privilege to teach the traditional system of driving more experienced teachers crazy.

  22. Jamie says:


    I have a funny image of this guy on his mat getting all pissed off in a yoga class when he should just pop a prozac and chill. Really, with all the problems in the world, this is what he writes about?

    • Chrissy says:


      “Pop a Prozac and chill” …if only it came down to that….I give it up to Kirk….just because he isn’t floating around, and is kicking it real he needs to be medicated? As a nursing student with a concentration in psychology, that just sounds short sighted in an easier said than done sort of way…NO medication is a panache, that all goes hand in hand with the comfort in expressing ones self…

      • Ang says:


        Yep Chrissy, I think your logic (stupid) is just what Kirkman needs to get away from. By the way, why do you feel you need to defend opposition comments so much? Did yoga hurt you or something?

        • Chrissy says:


          Nope yoga didn’t hurt me, just don’t like when people are careless with their “diagnostics” to just pop something and chill….it is always the ones who feel the need to tell others to chill that need to take their own advice…bottom line…who cares if he sounds ” angry” or ” uptight”, he can have his opinion , as can everyone, but the whole “meds” joke is tired , that’s all…but thanks for following my commentary. Open dialogue is great, like some of the opposing posts above ( the ones who countered with intelligence and had something to more to offer than the Spicoli infused chill out man stuff), because lets face it, if we all agreed life would br friggen boring…but yeah, to insinuate that anyone is hurt by anything to try to incite a pissy reaction…eh, not for me…

          • Fredrika says:


            just saying chrissy but you do come off like joslyn’s bitch.

          • Chrissy says:


            LOL! Hey whatever you feel is OK by me…I don’t agree with everything that folks post here, but when the bashing starts I weigh in…mostly because I think that it is way too easy to be a douche when one is insulated by the web…like I said above…it’s fine to disagree, but seriously…does anyone really need to be calling the writer an idiot? Does his opinion burn anyone’s ass badly enough to make a simple statement without explaining why….why not form an educated counter response like Andreas? She disagreed with respect and no doubt shifted the thought process of many, myself included…
            I feel that this post riled so many people up for many reasons….which to me is a good thing..

          • Joslyn Hamilton says:


            Hold the phones Fredrika, what do I have to do with any of this?

  23. Justin says:


    Taking a deep breath in, that’s good.

    Exhaling.

    There are some good points in this article, but they are all over the place.

    Mainly it’s the anger of this piece that is resonating with people.

    Nothing wrong with that.

    Be with the anger and the judgment.

    What’s it about?

    • Chrissy says:


      I could not agree more Justin…who knows…people are adverse to certain emotions, but I guess that is part of their process…I am okay with anger as long as it is felt, and then moved on from…I’ve found one of two things in my travels regarding anger (and this is just me). People either deny it, and stuff it down so far that it comes out in other ways, or they are addicted to popping off emotionally over every little slight…which is why I feel that a good rant every now and then ( provided it be dealt with and moved on from) can be OK..but yes anger is one of those things that seems to blindside people for whatever reason…

  24. KalliV says:


    “You want to pretend you meditate, good for you, you’re fucking weird and socially awkward, congrats on all your hard work.”

    This makes me laugh.

  25. Allie says:


    I like you, you’re funny. Want to go on a date?

  26. Ben Crosky says:


    So obviously there is a ton of truth to what is said. But by the act of even thinking about publishing something like this aren’t you the hypocrite that you are so passionately attacking?

    Why write this? Why seek the attention? Why take it so personally?

    Probably because you are still experimenting with what it means to feel strongly about something. That’s a good thing. Experimenting can lead to the most intense contradictions. But it is a good thing to move back and forth between extremes to find balance, (by the way balance doesn’t mean staying in the middle).

    So yes yoga teachers are the MOST hypocritical out of all the people I know as well, but being hypocritical is not a bad thing. It’s a product of play, of being curious, of seeking. The real issue is not being hypocritical, but the degree to which you own your contradiction.

    When you own your contradiction you start to realize there is beauty in it. It starts to become things like inhale and exhale, like strength and surrender, like light and darkness.

    And it’s damn scary to realize your parents are human, even more so that your yoga teachers are as human too. But don’t be afraid!

    So if your point is let’s not be hypocrites, mine is that we exist in a world of beautiful contradictions. So thank you for writing this hypocritical article.

    • rasmee rashika says:


      I really loved your response Ben Crosky. Thank you. It was like a little gem after digging for so long.

    • Darci says:


      HI Ben, When I read this article I was littered with frustration. As I read the comments, I couldn’t help but wonder what it must feel like for people to have come to this very narcissistic conclusion to what they think yoga in the west is really like. Then I read yours. It was both refreshing and breathtaking. You are right, our world is full of both contradictions and hypocrites, but I suppose it all depends on how you view your glass, half full or half empty.

      Thank you for the reminder that my glass is half full.

  27. Emily says:


    This article is hilarious but also contains a lot of truth. Yoga people ARE totally nuts – just read some of these comments.

    Thanks for the honesty Kirk.

  28. Hank says:


    Can you cram more stereotypes and clichés about yoga teachers into one post? Kind of hard to believe that a whiny, prissy post like this was written by a man.

    • Mara says:


      “Hard to believe a whiny, prissy post like this was written by a MAN.”
      ….. Seriously, Hank?

      FYI, “whiny and prissy” are not gender-specific reactions / displays / behaviors. You might want to think again before making such gender stereotypes. Its just plain ignorant and insulting.

  29. Lisa Clibon says:


    I *ahem* love yoga. The only place where I can go and essentialy be told and shown by example to “not judge yourself” but you absolutely CAN “judge like fucking crazy everybody else”.

    I love your writing Kirk, and you being a yoga teacher it seems that your sometimes tongue-in-cheek message may be misunderstood by some of the readers. Yes? I percieve a lot of the pieces written in Recovering Yogi in general to be hilarious and sometimes not-so-gentle reminders to ourselves – the authors. I know mine are.

  30. Hugh Whackman says:


    The indignation in some of these comments do a better job of making the author’s point than does the article. Some people enjoy taking themselves seriously I suppose. What yoga student HASN’T encountered at least one righteous, self-absorbed instructor who believes themselves to be the next incarnation of the Dali Lama ? It takes more than a 100 hour certificate, a spray tan, and some silicon to be “enlightened”.

  31. Vision_Quest2 says:


    Okay, how about I focus on the opposite?

    I once did have a yoga teacher who seemed to love all his students. He was chronologically mature, and from East India, and really respected and honored his guru …

    In his class, I even experienced countertransference, which is the state of therapeutic relationship in which the yoga student/client actually feels an emotional tie from the teacher.

    He is not teaching much anymore.

    The style he taught was mild, gave students actual knowledge with which they could take yoga asana out of the studio and on their own if they so chose; and yet he failed to draw students to the studio …

    • Serena says:


      “In his class, I even experienced countertransference, which is the state of therapeutic relationship in which the yoga student/client actually feels an emotional tie from the teacher.”

      Countertrasferrence refers to negative or problematic feelings induced in the therapist by the patient, often times projected into the therapist by the patient when they cannot consciously express or allow the feeling…. or simply put, its when you don’t like your patients because your own stuff gets in the way…

      Otherwise, sounds like a good experience…

  32. Jared says:


    This, let’s make fun of yoga teachers and yoga, has been so done several times before on Elephant Journal. FAIL

    • Vision_Quest2 says:


      Without addressing the real problems, and measures to reform yoga as it is today … and make it better, that’s the only reason for FAIL …

      But it IS satire, and as such has its limitations …

    • Morton says:


      I’m not seeing it that way. Pointing out the existence of over-earnest yoga instructors who sometimes affect the stereotypical characteristics of so called “real” yogis is in fact funny to observe – at least for those who recognize it. Its hardly a wholesale rejection of yoga and its benefits. I think of it as protective reaction wherein those who are committed to yoga don’t want to see it diluted or made into a pastiche of eastern philosophy and western commercialism, which has definitely happened. Some gyms have taken their trainers, thrown them into quicky yoga certification programs, and have rebranded them “yoga instructors” or “movement specialists” just to get a slice of the yoga money train. As a business person I can’t say I blame them though I know that what they are teaching is more accurately characterized as stretching exercises than yoga.

      On the flip side there are people who are long time practitioneers of yoga who sometimes mistakenly believe themselves to be “elevated” or “enlightened”, when in reality they are just really good at yoga poses. In my opinion – Yoga AND meditation are just two of the things one can do to improve quality of life though its hardly the beginning and end of everything as some of the more serious people would have you believe.

  33. Mad Choyles says:


    What about the cult aspect? Lots of jokes missed there!
    I remember taking a “free” yoga class every friday night where we meditated and were taught spirituality by the instructor. Flash eight months down the road and I found myself waking up at 4am to meditate for an hour, head over to the centre for a 6am “word of God” lesson, including 45min meditation. Rush to work (meditating in the car the whole way) where my breaks and even work time was dedicated to meditating on whatever I was doing. Get off work and rush to the centre for an evening class, with 45min meditation and “word of god” lesson. Back home and sit and meditate for a couple hours, hit the sack and repeat.
    All the while being indoctrinated into a serious cult that was sifting members out of society with their “free” yoga class and unfalsifiable ideology.
    There’s definitely a dark side to Yoga and meditation. Write an article about that and make me laugh some more!

  34. Barbara says:


    Love the manner & tone with which this article was written. Your humor on how we take ourselves way too seriously couldn’t be more true and apparently you pushed a button for some! I’ve studied and practiced for more than 20 years, and have chosen to teach adaptive yoga to children with disabilities for this very reason: to remember that we are ALL so painfully human.

  35. Jude says:


    What’s funny about this post is that it’s not funny. Oh wait, the comments are satire. Well done!

  36. Alex says:


    perfect!

  37. Mara says:


    I’m a yoga teacher and you nailed this one, Kirk.

    Tell me how fucked up YOU are, too, and THEN the real conversation can begin. I don’t need my teachers to arrogantly claim enlightenment (which, the claiming of it negates it anyways)… Give me the SHIT and the REAL and the HUMAN over the yoga-talk-schpiel any day.

    Kirk, you rock. Keep writing. I’d Facebook friend request you but I’ve deactivated that shit.

  38. Mara says:


    And, yes, I intentionally added the “ch”

  39. leslie says:


    being so critical of people in the practice only wastes time.

    wear that yoga shirt with pride boy!

  40. Reba says:


    Your central thesis here is that all (or most) yoga teachers are nuts and that they shouldn’t try to teach you “shit”. Ok, lets say that you are right and let’s explore that:

    How many doctors do you know that smoke? Drink excessively? Despite telling their patients every day not to do these things. I can think of 3 with very little mental energy- and I don’t know all that many doctors. How many shrinks do you know that are just plain NUTS? Pretty much most of them. What about nurses? Co-dependant? Oh yeah. ENTs? Worse yet. Cops too. I won’t even touch the question of clergy or other spiritual leaders.

    Does this mean this group of people can’t be good at their jobs? Does it mean they can’t help their fellow man? Nope. Sure, some are probably crippled beyond assistance. Some maybe even reckless. But most, despite their own issues do a great deal to help people every day.

    What else do these groups of people have in common besides a slightly higher level of crazy than the general populace? MORE COMPASSION. More conviction. A greater sense of the need to serve their fellow man.

    Yoga teachers are in this group too. I would say most of them take up teaching because yoga rocked their world and they really want to help someone else experience that little piece of magic. That has been my experience.

    But what if this whole group of people, decided that YOU WERE RIGHT? That they weren’t FIT to help or to council others as long as they still had freak flags to fly? What if all the yoga teachers decided to cancel their classes until they reached enlightenment and could levitate their asses to classes? The doctors stopped practicing, the cops and the nurses went home?

    Well, I think the world would pretty much suck ass if they listened to you. I am SO grateful to all my yoga teachers (crazy or not). As well as to the doctors and the nurses (those awesome and righteous nurses!), the cops, the shrinks, the ENTs, and everyone else who does their best to set their own shit aside and help the poor schmuck next to them. That’s what makes the world go!

    One of the yoga teachers I know says: Take what you need, and leave what you don’t! So I offer this to you, dude (I forgot your name). Take what you need, leave what you don’t. When you come in contact with the crazies…be grateful you have your act a little more together and find some compassion. Or don’t.

    • Chrissy says:


      LOVE you Reba!
      Sincerely an almost nurse ( 4 semesters left woohoo) who is married to a cop:)

    • David says:


      Thanks for the sanity, Reba. And the generosity. I’ve only recently begun reading yoga blogs. And if that were my only experience of the world of yoga classes I think I’d be running screaming for the door. Apparently a large proportion of yoga teachers are narcissistic incompetents. So, I don’t know how I’ve been so fortunate, but I’ve generally had excellent experiences in yoga classes for the past twenty years or so. So good in fact that I took teacher training and began teaching seven years ago, just before my sixtieth birthday.

      Yoga is a very deep set of practices and perhaps many people do not know that. Maybe even some teachers, though they certainly should know better. And if it’s true that there are so many clueless yoga teachers, I guess that could account for why there are so many commenters on yoga blogs that appear to have no understanding of yoga. In any case, if a person feels that their yoga teacher is a poser, well then go to a different teacher. There are in fact many good teachers who do their best to walk the walk both on the mat and off. It’s not for nothing that yoga has been around for five thousand years.

  41. Craig says:


    Reba should have gotten her comments published as an article here rather than Kirk.

    A funny read but pretty superficial. There are a lot of bad teachers out there and it sounds like you’ve had many of them. I think a better way to spend your time would be to seek out the good teachers rather than banging on the poor ones.
    All things have weird people in them but it’s important to seek out the ones you resonate with.

  42. andi says:


    I laughed very hard. Your article is cleverly written, bringing many smiles, and yes, intense giggles.

    Try 20+ year of asana, pranayama, AND meditation. All the flakiness of youth melts away … and then you end up with clarity. It’s definitely worth the steady climb up the mountain.

    Yes, enjoy and laugh at the contradictions of youth. There are many. Just don’t take those contradictions with for the entire journey.

  43. katie says:


    Great journalism Mr. Hensler…certainly touched a chord in many people and created intriguing dialogue…glad the conversation is out there. This is a great article to guide people to follow their own path when choosing who they want to learn from and how they would like to learn. Katie

  44. Mish says:


    WOW, this is great. Have to share this. Look at how many responses you received from this blog. Bravo. You say (I believe) what many think inside.
    I have pulled myself back as a teacher and have just stayed with the practice as a student. Don’t like the BS in studios (working in them) and all the drama.
    Thanks for sharing your views.
    Metta
    Mishy

  45. Taylor says:


    I think this is a really accurate portrayal of what is going on in a lot of yoga studio’s. Of course I am only able to speak from my point of view and that is that a lot of yoga teacher’s take one training and believe that they have it all figured out, as you’ve put it. This is largely the problem in my view. If someone is going to restrict themselves to one yoga training, they better be doing a shitload of self-education and practice in terms of meditation and different philosophies of yoga pertaining to how they treat themselves and the world around them. As a never-ending student of yoga and all things related I will be the first to tell you that I have almost nothing figured out, and that is what drives me forward to continuously learn. I give suggestions when I teach on how to relieve stress and get judgement and negative talk out of the way, but I certainly do those things myself all of the time. The difference between someone like me and someone else judging and finding negativity in their lives is that I am aware of it. If you can become aware of the things you are doing and recognize them as non-serving, you have the chance, or at least the capability to search out a way to change it. If you are not aware, it will be a never ending vicious cycle.

    Anywho, I think your blog is super thought provoking and touches on a lot of ver interesting points. Something to think about on my continuing journey and in the classes I teach. Thanks Kirk!

  46. JA says:


    Gratefulness is a quality of the open heart and not of the critical mind. It’s quite difficult to turn off the self-judging, which leads to judging all other around us. That requires sincere practice and commitment just as needed for any relationship or job. But I’m happy that you have found a place to express your feelings and defend them. We have a choice at all times to look out critically and see an imperfect world, or to enjoy ourselves in the dance of life. My wish for you and all others is that you have a wonderful life of joy and peace. I was fortunate enough to serve as a yoga teacher at Soledad Prison and Tracey Prison in California. Those students were so focused in every class, I once asked an inmate why they were so focused and perfect in their response in class. He answered, “If we don’t pay attention in class, we can lose this privilege, and this 2 hours of yoga is the only 2 hours during the day that we can relax and not worry about getting stabbed or killed in this place. When your appreciation is that deep, you will know what gratefulness is. All the best to you and others on this page.

  47. Inspector Gadget says:


    Kirk, you’re not better than those frauds

    “This led to an exploration of ancient Eastern philosophies, which, in turn, led Kirk to Taiwan, where he taught English”

    Way to twist the truth and make yourself out to be some sort of sage (hypocritical much?)- I knew plenty of these sleazy “English teachers.” Their motivations for heading to Asia were anything but “philosophical.” And the worst part is, absolutely no qualifications to teach English- as if they did anything of the sort while they were there.

    • kaley says:


      hahahaha ok inspector gadget….with a name like that, who’s the fraud? effing hilarious dude…..u live in a land that’s not even real…..

  48. Jimmu says:


    Dude, you are seriously f’ed up. If this is your experience, it just proves that you need help with your ego.

  49. Mame says:


    As a yoga teacher, this post just shows me how psycho some students are such as Kirk has demonstrated here.

  50. Mandi says:


    Now that is truly enlightening

  51. Braja Sorensen says:


    Re your brief bio, don’t you just love writing about yourself in the 3rd person like it’s someone else you’re writing about? When I do that it just makes me want to lie through my teeth…

    Holy crap this article made me laugh, and now I have a Bengali maid staring at me like I’m a freakin’ loonie cos she so doesn’t understand how it’s not actually this machine in front of me that’s making me laugh, but something that I’m reading on it. Never mind…

    I think you covered every teacher I’ve ever come across. I hope they don’t read this comment….

    xx

  52. Rosemary says:


    There’s a lot of hate going on in both this article and the comment section. Let’s cultivate peace love and rainbows shall we? yogis?

  53. rasmee rashika says:


    “Yoga is a drug that replaced all the other drugs”!
    Yeah, I have experienced the same sentiments because I got attached to it and so it became a drug. But also have experienced the practice as being very helpful. Something one teacher said always stuck with me, that “yoga is just a tool.”

  54. David says:


    I’m not convinced, man. Yes, there are a lot of hypocritical “teachers” around. But this is a pretty weak article, full of over-generalizations. Plenty of teachers work hard to live compassionately and mindfully. Through study and practice a lot of them are able to bring peace into their own lives and then share their insights with others. I hope you find the right teacher to help you take your practice up a notch, because it sounds like you have a lot of anger you’re dealing with.

  55. Lani Stites says:


  56. miss v says:


    to the author and all the commenters here i have one word: svadhyaya. it’s a yoga thing. give it a shot. it works wonders. good luck to all of us.

  57. bendybyatch says:


    “And the yoga dudes… the dudes are busy trying to spark up a soul-gazing session with any poor young female that will hold their stare. It’s creepy, all that intense eye contact.”

    Yes, yes. correct.
    **shudder**

    not cool, yoga dudes. not cool.

  58. sarah says:


    that’s gnarley energy…..not sure what to think – but it sells, yeah?

  59. sandra says:


    This was a a funny article and its about time someone pointed out the absurd behavior that has crept into the yoga “industry”. After taking a 2 decade hiatus from Yoga I was appalled by what I found on my return. The studios ,and their teachers, are all about the aesthetic and superficial yet , ironically, they use words like “holistic” and “integrated” to describe their approach. I checked out two studios both of whom had bulletin boards littered with business cards of “natural” surgical enhancement clinics (there is NOTHING natural about surgery).

    The women’s locker room banter sounds like a sorority along with comments on who has the best “boobie job”. I thought that I must be in an alternate universe or something. I guess 3 times a charm as the studio I eventually found was run by people who actually cared about Yoga beyond its social and hip value. The place was basic, quiet, and full of people who were there for body and mind – not to “hookup” or find the more affordable botox doctor. Moreover there was a sense of purpose and genuine care for students as opposed to the generic “yea girl – you can do it” approach favored by the “hip” instructors in the “cool” studios whose idea of spiritual practice is to say “namaste” to anyone who will listen. No Thanks, I ‘ll take my boring humble studio any day over the flash and glitz.

  60. John says:


    Thanks, Kirk. This is a great essay. The comments have been really fantastic. What I love the most about the Western Yoga community is the delicious irony of constant conflict about who has the formula of spiritual perfection exactly right. If one has any degree of spirituality, for real in his life, he has no need to judge others. We see a lot of judgement in the world of yoga, but probably not quite as much as the nazi vegan community. You want to talk about some crazy? Look no further. Thanks for the laughs!

  61. alicia says:


    simply amazing! my sentiments for sure thanks for putting it into words… and i love yoga too

  62. dbrockmanw says:


    Spot-on piece.

  63. deeling_irie says:


    I can speak on this because my (thankfully)ex-wife is one of these 200-hr, lululemon sweatshop clothes wearing, superficial, self-proclaimed enlightened yoginis. The article and comments both reinforce the ultimate, undeniable truth that you just can’t spell annoying without Y-O-G-A. At least not in English. Namaste.

  64. Will says:


    Have been travelling around oz and asia for a couple years and have just finished residing in Bangkok for a year. Most of the Thai yoga teachers here are basic fitness instructor to say the least. I have also found the yoga instructors who are foreigners who teach here to be complete weirdo’s and very rude individuals completely in it for the money. One teacher named Mark Scodellaro singled me out in a class off Asians and said I quote ‘if you’ve got monkey arms do the pose like this, however if you’ve got normal person arms do it like this’. He also makes other stupid comments in classes like if you are using a block he says ‘not very vinyassa like using funiture’ and ‘if you want those sexy abdominal muscles do this’. Another silly teacher I had the misfortune of meeting was a man called Les Smith. A silly rude little man who belittled me a class full of Asians also. I was quite taken back and shocked by some of these bitter yoga teachers. I also notice a weird cult like group that they seem to be in and really don’t accept outsiders. Had countless racist thai teachers but thats another story. Its almost expected from them however well educated western people should no better.

  65. Eliza Day says:


    Excellent piece and one I could identify with. I just dropped out of a yoga class I had taken on and off for the last year and a half after realizing that my teacher is bat shit crazy. It really kind of sucks because I love yoga…. Maybe I”ll just have to stick to my Rodney Yee videos for a while…

  66. Danny says:


    I loved this article. I have thought this so many times during class. Thank you for your honest remarks. Can you come teach my yoga class?

    Just stay honest and real :)

  67. Maria says:


    Amen! I know many of these “teachers”.

  68. Lynn says:


    Great discussion! I am researching transference and counter transference (having overly emotional response to a therapist or client) because of the increasing number of licensed mental health practitioners using yoga integrated with psychotherapy. Transference is already a problem to be dealt with by therapists as well as other things you discuss like the therapist authentically working on their own issues to be able to not have those issues interfere with ability to be objective. Including body and breath and chant with psychotherapy is powerfulllllll stuff and heightened ethics is impatative!! Good article thanks Lynn


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