fear and loathing in the yoga world

I’m just a problem girl.

It’s been said that one should never say never, but as for my teaching in any more yoga studios, for right now, in this present moment (and I actually said it all this week) I can say, never again.

In my humble opinion, when you’re a starry-eyed newbie yoga teacher there is a little part of you that longs for that perfect yoga community of like-minded holistic souls who will unconditionally love and support one other; where it does not make any difference what style one teaches, how much our yoga clothes cost, who one trained with, or whether one does adjustments or not, because in the end, it’s all good and perfect and lovely in the peace-love-dove yoga world. yoga teachers are all one big happy family when we travel to Mecca — I mean the yoga conferences — and happily chant AUM and SHANTI and celebrate the Goddess in each of us as we yoga trance dance and cry together in those ubiquitous group hugs….”farewell, Tiffani Shanti Lakshmi, see you next year at the Tantric Goddess workshop in Omaha!”

And then reality hits you in the face like a wet, stinky yoga mat rug that 100 Bikram yogis just sweated on.

I understand that people are people and human nature is what it is whether you’re a plumber or a Fortune 500 CEO. we all have our foibles and the little things that make us and the people in our lives insane. call me stupid, but somehow, somewhere deep inside one’s heart, you just don’t expect to be screwed (figuratively) by a another yoga teacher. that just ain’t supposed to happen. is it? somehow I just don’t expect to be treated like one of the huge piles of excrement that I walk around in an Indian street. I must have missed that day in my first teacher training: “What To Do When a Yoga Studio Owner Treats You Like Shit.”

Oh…I’m sorry…is that too real and honest for you? because I’ve been told that I’m too real and honest. well, fasten your seat belts, children, because you’re in for a bumpy ride.

Those of you who are regular readers might remember that I left a studio last year because the alcoholic studio owner walked in stumbling drunk to one of my workshops and into one of my classes (during savasana no less.) I wrote about it here and here. The irony is that the studio I refer to in those posts, the one where I moved to, the one I was so grateful to teach at, is the studio where I was FIRED from this week. yes, dear readers, yours truly was FIRED from a yoga studio. I was told that I was no longer welcome there.

The most surreal thing about it was that I was accused of things I did not do and instead of reasonably picking up the phone and asking whether these things were true, the studio owner fired off a screaming email — I WILL LET THAT SINK IN: I WAS FIRED IN AN EMAIL — telling me to mail my key because I was no longer welcome at the studio. but I digress. back to the alcoholic owner.

I understand addiction. believe me, I do. been there, done that, momma don’t ride dat hoss no mo’, y’all. and any of you out there who know or live with addicts know it’s hell. but when you try to help someone and you’re abused for it and you’re lied to, I walk. the thing is, I could handle the alcoholic owner, but what I could not handle was the total lack of support from every other teacher at the studio (except for one who also walked.) not one teacher called to show their support or to ask how I was. not one. ever. it was like I had died.

I was so upset about the situation that I talked to my teacher, a Theravadan Buddhist monk, who felt that those teachers talked the talk but didn’t walk the walk. he thanked me for coming to him because he said if she ever walked in liked that to his dharma class “I would just….” and he moved his fingers like he was walking, “and I would not even say goodbye.” he told me that I did the right thing in confronting the owner about her addiction. and if a Buddhist monk tells me that, then that’s OK by me.

So much for the “yoga community”, a phrase that makes me regurgitate faster than eating salmonella infested potato salad. and the rage over what I felt was a betrayal stuck in my body as chronic, sometimes excrutiating, back pain for a year. talk about my aversion creating my suffering.

to be continued…..

7 thoughts on “fear and loathing in the yoga world

  1. When I was in my early 20's I was the manager of a really popular restaurant in the theater district in Cleveland. This was a fun job that made tons of money for a young art student!! But, the biggest problem was the alcoholic owner…he made things shit for everyone that worked there, including his family, and eventually I noticed this effected even his customers. I learned alot from that experience of working there a couple years. I learned about integrity and respect..but I also learned that when there is someone with an addiction problem in a group relationship–it can not help but trickle down to all the people involved..no matter how minor their relationship to this person is. Addiction makes everyone's insecurities surface.Funny thing..this man fired me also, because I was someone who confronted the elephant in the room head on. I simply got tired of finding new ways to get around it every day!! Life is too short. Your Yoga practice is too powerful and precious to have it spotted or stained in any way by the energy of someone not ready to receive its wonderful gifts.You are a beautiful soul Linda, and I agree with your decision and your blessed teacher. Peace & Love.PS. When you have a moment please stop by my blog…I am raising money for Women For Women International by donating 100% of my profits off my paintings to their amazing work. I know everyone is feeling the economic pinch, so I lowered my prices to $10–all to help benefit this great cause. Thank you.

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  2. thank you so much for your support and for reading. you are right on about confronting the elephant in the room head on. it amazes me how much support I got at the time from people who don’t know me, but none (or very little) from the people who do.and I will definitely stop by your blog…Women for Women is a great organization.peace

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  3. I am slowly coming to the conclusion the “enlightened” community it really not so enlightened. I am specifically talking about the other teachers that didn’t reach out to you. I have had occasions where I have attened events for various causes given by various “enlightened” groups and received some of the worst treatment. This “firing” may have opened another door to where you are moving to.Guidance!

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  4. Hey Linda!I a with you. When I quit/was driven out of the studio where I worked by the Narcissistic Personality Disorder affected owner (google the term for the details) which I had attended and worked at for 6 plus years, not one of the teachers contacted me to even say goodbye. I considered them to be good friends and colleagues.All of them know the score here and have had the same problems I had, but I guess the “cachet” of the studio is enough– coupled with their fear– to keep everyone quiet and obedient. Very spiritual behaviour. I don’t know other jobs where people quit and no one even bothers to say good bye! Geesh. Just stay on your way. I am happier now than ever and teaching up a storm and loving it more than ever. I am confident the doors will open wide for you too. Thanks for putting this out there. Sometimes you feel like you are the only one who feels the way that you do, and it is so good to know that you are not alone. I am looking forward to hearing the rest of the story.Peace……..

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  5. Linda,I am really sorry to read what happened. But, I truly believe that good things happen to good people. sometimes bad things do happen to good people but something good comes out of it eventually.I know that it must be frustrating and I pobably do not have enough knowledge and experience being a newbie myself. Just try and maintain the peace and calm inside.Best Regards,Dhanashri

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  6. @anonymous: “Thanks for putting this out there. Sometimes you feel like you are the only one who feels the way that you do, and it is so good to know that you are not alone”thank you for reading and for your support! yes, I know how it feels to feel like you’re the only one!@bindi — kumbh mela 2010, girlfriend….

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