are you faking it ’til you make it?

ONLY IN INDIA ©2017 Metta Yoga & Bodywork Company

Below is a question that was asked in a Facebook yoga group I belong to.  As a teacher who is persona non grata in my local “yoga community”, it was an important question.  My answer to the teacher’s question is below it.

“I’m wondering how people experience and process professional jealousy. It seems to be a part of our normal human experience, but it feels particularly horrible – sticky, viscous and taboo. Sometimes it’s ridiculous – resenting that a new teacher, who I’ve mentored and supported – has ten people in their first class, even though most of them are friends there to offer support. Other times it’s more peer-related: why has that person received that opportunity (even if it’s one I didn’t want) or that recognition or that amount of money? For me, it seems to be rooted partly in anxiety about my capacity to make a living (which is compromised because of my disabilities), and partly in a voracious need to be seen – which I can laugh about, but there it is.”

“I think it’s all about finding your niche and to stop trying to be all things for every yoga student. I’m not a “love and light” type of teacher so for those people looking for that, I’m not their teacher. There are plenty of others out there who will be. I always remember what I heard Seanne Corn say in a workshop, that she’d rather teach to the two who get it (i.e., what she teaches) than the 10 who don’t.  I’ve reconciled myself with that.  That might not mean a lot of money in my yoga bank account, but it’s all about choices. I’d rather be me than try to be something I’m not.  I’m not going to fake it to make it.”

What say you, yoga peeps?  Are you faking it by pushing down your emotions as if they are something dirty?

From my Buddhist perspective, less than beneficial emotions are not to be transcended, they are merely to be recognized and let go.  Yes, I know, SIMPLE BUT NOT EASY.

In this Facebook yoga group some said negative emotions should be transcended so we can evolve into an enlightened state.  Good luck with that Humans!

It fascinates me to see how many yoga people believe we are supposed to be immune to jealousy, hate, anger, bitterness, etc. merely because we practice yoga.  A 200 hour training, 1000 hours, or even 10,000 hours of training does not mean we become enlightened.  I mean seriously?!  Ramana Maharshi spent days in such deep samadhi that he was unaware of ant bites.  THAT’S trancendance, people!

After about six weeks, “he was carried out and cleaned up. For the next two months he stayed in the Subramanya Shrine, so unaware of his body and surroundings that food had to be placed in his mouth or he would have starved.”  And we expect to become enlightened or transcend painful emotions just because we do a little yoga?  WHAT?!  One woman commented in the Facebook group that she felt “immature” and so “unevolved” for having an emotion like jealousy.  I’ve heard the Dalai Lama say that sometimes he still gets annoyed at reporters’ dumb questions.  Hey, if HHDL can get miffed about dumb questions, so can I.

I have found these things to be extremely helpful to me over the years.

The first thing is the wonderful book Shadows on the Path by Abdi Assadi.  It is not a recent book but I think it’s the best I’ve read about our shadows on the spiritual path.  It will definitely be required reading if I ever get around to creating a teacher training.  My copy is heavily underlined and dog-eared.

The second thing is Jack Kornfield’s technique of RAIN:  “RAIN stands for Recognition, Acceptance, Investigation, and Non-Indentification. This acronym echoes the Zen poets who tell us “the rain falls equally on all things.” Like the nourishment of outer rain, the inner principles of RAIN can transform our difficulties.”

I also recommend Phillip Moffitt’s book, Emotional Chaos to Clarity: How to Live More Skillfully, Make Better Decisions, and Find Purpose in Life.   The Amazon blurb: “Despite our best-laid plans, life is difficult, and we sometimes experience anger, anxiety, frustration, and doubt. This emotional chaos can negatively affect the way we live our lives. Yet, Phillip Moffitt shows us that by cultivating a responsive mind rather than a reactive one, we can achieve a state of emotional clarity that allows us to act with a calm mind and a loving heart.”

Stop beating yourself up for being human.  You’re only a yoga teacher. 😉

tit for tat


“tit for tat” — an equivalent given in return….

Yeah, some spam emails just cry out for an answer.

In the 8 years I’ve been writing this blog I’ve had numerous requests to shill spread the word for yoga books, yoga clothes, yoga retreats, yoga workshops, yoga teacher trainings, ad infinitum. People get my email address and have no hesitation whatsoever about asking me to advertise — for free — their yoga product or yoga whatever.  Or, they sign me up for their E newsletter, unbeknownst to me, of course, until I get one.

The thing is, I would never think to ask anyone I did not know to publicize my retreats or workshops.  Ever.   But that’s me.  Apparently the new way of doing your yoga business is by saying “HEY, I LOVE YOUR  BLOG, SO CAN YOU…..”

The dead giveaway that I knew the email was bullshit was that the spammer said that they “know” I dig Iyengar yoga from my blog.  I have never written about Iyengar or  his yoga.  Disingenuous.  Gotcha.

I have no problem helping someone out.   Buddhist yoga teacher, Michael Stone, sent me his books (or at least his people did) when they asked me to publicize blurbs from his books in this blog.  A few other yoga authors also sent books when I reviewed them here.

So after all these years of being asked to shill spread the word about someone else’s stuff (a book about yoga retreats in India), I blew.  But when I answered one spammer like this:

 “I would be happy to write about and promote your book after receiving payment for my writing.  I suggest a minimum payment of $2,500.00 to promote your book.  Since I have been writing my blog since 2005 and have a strong and loyal following of hundreds of global yoga practitioners, I think $2,500.00 is a small price to pay for my being your “agent”, so to speak, to publicize your new book.  Should you wish to discuss payment, please feel free to contact me at this email address.”

Apparently the snark was too much for some sensitive types because someone wrote on this blog’s Facebook page, “Unfolding you.  Want to hear about yoga, not profits…that particular line of sarcasm just isn’t part of my journey right now.  Namaste.”

Oh, well.  Ya can’t please everyone.  As a former boss (attorney) used to tell me, “fuck ’em if they can’t take a joke.”


So for those who want me to write about your yoga product — PAY ME.   I won’t write for free, in fact, from what I hear, free-lance writers are very pissed off about the lack of or extremely low pay for writing.

Even though on paper this year it looks like I broke even (finally) on my business after 10 years, I actually have LESS money in my bank account because my tax refund was less because I made more money last year.  A Catch-22. 

So I need the rupees, the dough, the moolah, the dinero.

Or send me the cool clothes that you ask me to write about because the other day I pulled on some yoga pants that I bought in 2002.

A few years ago one yoga product company contacted me about shilling spreading the word about their product.  I said I would if they would send their products for the women I taught at the domestic violence shelter.  Never heard from them.  And never received any yoga products.

And those workshops and retreats and trainings you want me to advertise for you?  Only if you advertise my yoga retreat for next year.  In fact, my retreat from this year is how I made money to break even, NOT from teaching.

As the New Age Yoga Hipsters like to say, it’s all just an exchange of energy, keeping things balanced in the Universe, ya know what I mean?

Divine Tit for Divine Tat.

C’mon.  Movie stars at the awards shows get swag bags just for showing up.

re-inspired for #realyoga

This year has been on-again, off-again for me insofar as yoga.  While I am always grateful for the small, group classes I teach out of my house, the private yoga biz, i.e,. one-on-one yoga/yoga therapy, sucks.  The highlight this summer was helping one of the top-ranked college hurdlers in the country rehab from hip surgeries.  Her mother found me online and the funny thing is she lives down the street from me.  Small world.  I worked with her twice a week and it was a joy.  But a consistent income from that?  A student increase in my small group classes?  No.  This is the first  year I’ve spent more money on my yoga biz (such as trainings) than I brought in.  Someone tell me again how popular and mainstream yoga is.

After 10 years of teaching I seriously considered quitting this year.  “My yoga” is not popular because I am not mainstream, status quo.  Because I have been burned by yoga studio owners and am tired of all the drama yoga studios generate — and I will add IN MY AREA, but from what I hear, it’s not that different in other parts of the country and sometimes even worse — I no longer teach weekly classes in studios.  The style of yoga that I teach is not about kicking your ass and making you sweat, and if you bust out a handstand when I say “child’s pose”, I’m going to call you out.  I love traveling to teach workshops but as for teaching weekly classes, no thanks.  I suppose I would return to teaching classes depending on the studio AND the owner, but I have to say that even thinking about it brings up a physical sensation that is similar to PTSD.  Seriously.  That’s how badly I’ve been abused treated.  Don’t even get me started about the “yoga community.”

I became certified in teaching Trauma Sensitive Yoga this year, a training that I consider one of the most influential that I’ve ever taken, but getting people such as counselors to even consider it has been like pulling teeth.  As I was with eco-garden design with native plants (I am also a garden designer and a certified horticulturist) and thai yoga massage, I am once again ahead of my time.Then I decided to to finally conduct a teacher training and went through the Yoga Alliance rigamaroll.  Instead of being energized about finally being annointed an EXPERIENCED REGISTERED YOGA TEACHER, I became even more depressed.  Finally seeing all my training hours in 10 years — literally 1000 hours — written down in black and white made me think, “what the fuck am I doing?  why bother?”   All my training doesn’t mean shit to a tree, as Grace Slick sang, when it seems that all people care about is getting their ass kicked in a hot yoga class.  It is a rare person in my area of far west suburban Chicago who is willing to pay for private yoga classes — and I live in an upper middle class area.

And please don’t tell me that I am “manifesting” this.  If I hear one more person tell me to “let go of negativity”, “be open”, “throw it out to the Universe”, or any other New Age Secret clap-trap, I’m going NeNe Leakes on your asana.

The fact of the matter is that when one is passionate about  yoga as a path of transformation and all you get are closed doors and little interest, it is very discouraging and frustrating.  My private students understand my frustration and are extremely supportive.  They know I need to go to India because it is there that I am renourished, it is there that real yoga renews me.  Yeah, you read it: “real yoga” — and I don’t care if you don’t like the phrase because I am sick of the political correctness of modern yoga, yoga blogs included.

In all this mix, when I was at my lowest, once again someone whom I’ve never met lifts me up.  A new blog reader — yoga student for 20 years, teacher for 5 — emailed me and told me her story of frustration and indeed, hate, of yoga as it is now taught.  She told me that my writing here is an answer to a prayer and she wanted to express her gratitude.  She told me how her yoga mojo vanished and she entered the dark night of the yoga soul….as what is happening with me now.  She wrote:

“…living in the land of the yoga OBscene, southern california, made matters much worse.  i began to loathe and even used the word hate in re: to yoga.  i officially declared DIVORCE in june of this year.  what had it become?  where are “they” taking it?  who are all these 200 hr YA stamped people who know nothing about, nor care less about, living the yoga??  a friend suggested i stop cursing the dark and light a candle. and arrived.”

Her email overwhelmed me.  I started to cry.  Maybe I am doing something right, I thought, if my writing about yoga can have such an effect.  Aside from my regular weekly students, the support that I receive from those near is practically nil.  Almost all the support in what I do comes from people whom I’ve never met, YOU, out there, globally.  And that amazes me.

This August I finally met a long-time blog reader from Texas and we are collaborating on a yoga project that is going to rock the yoga world, IMO.  I got an email from another reader with a yoga contact in Nova Scotia.  I have another contact for yoga in Cuba.

So should I be depressed that hardly anyone gets me where I live?  Don’t we all want validation, approval from our community, isn’t that human nature?  After I read the above email to my husband, even he said that my home is OUT THERE, NOT HERE.  I just reside here, but I live OUT THERE.  As my friend in Texas reminded me, a prophet is never appreciated in their homeland.  Not that I consider myself a prophet, but I get the analogy.  A long ago private student told me that it’s hard being a pioneer because the pioneers get the arrows shot up the ass.

Ouch.  That’s what that is.

where’s the money?

YogaDork blogged that Lulu-NO THICK GIRLS ALLOWED-lemon had their best ever financial quarter. The company “plans to open 30 new showrooms and up to 15 new stores this year” Lulu-NO FAT BOTTOM GIRLS HERE-lemon said that “net revenues for the quarter ended May 2 were $138.3 million…” and “ended the quarter with $173.6 million in cash and cash equivalents compared with $59.3 million at the end of the first quarter of fiscal 2009.”

That’s a lot of clothes. That’s some serious coin.

Yoga Journal has always told us that there are millions of yoga practitioners in the United States spending millions of dollars on yoga paraphernalia, teacher trainings, you name it. Speaking only about teacher trainings, we all know that they can start around $2,000 (that’s an inexpensive one) and go well beyond $10,000. Sarah Powers started the Insight Yoga Institute and while the training sounds absolutely wonderful, it costs approximately $15,000.00 to complete.

Sarah, along with other teachers, also started the philanthropic Metta Journeys which travels to Rwanda and benefits Women for Women International. The Rwanda trip costs $5,745 with a $1,000 donation to Women for Women International. The cost does not include airfare and depending on where you live in the United States it could cost you $2,000 to fly to Africa.

Of course we have all seen the ads in yoga magazines for all types of yoga retreats taught by people you’ve never heard of and you can google “yoga retreats” and find literally hundreds all over the world. My teacher in Chicago is offering a yoga vacation in Italy costing $1,340-$1,880; a 10 day yoga vacation to Peru costing $3,140-$3,950; and his 19th yoga vacation in Mexico for $1,700-$2,800.00. None of his trips include airfare and as far as I know, he has never had to cancel a trip due to a lack of students.

(And yes I know I have just given everyone free advertising; would that I get the same from someone for my yoga endeavors.)

My question is: where’s the money?

In other words, who is going on all these trips to all these places for yoga?

The reason I ask is that I have an opportunity to teach in Bali for 10 days, two classes a day. If only 6 people came I would get my lodging and airfare paid for. If 7+ people came I would get paid a certain amount per person. It’s a legitimate offer from a reputable person and it sounds totally sweet, doesn’t it?

So why am I not foaming at the mouth with delight?

Because the last time I taught overseas not one person from the United States signed up for what I offered.

You may remember my Africa trip, my yin-yang yoga weekend with a seva component:

“The cost of the retreat was $1,108.00 and I was taking $108 from each westerner for the Seva Foundation. It was hoped that the founders of the clinic, Dr. Paul Courtright and Dr. Susan Lewallen, would be able to give us a tour of the facility. I thought it was a win-win situation for everyone involved…yoga + meditation + buddhadharma + seva under the African sky.

But no one signed up.

At least no one from the West. I sent my announcement to over 100 people around the United States, advertised it on Facebook and Twitter, and put an ad in a Chicagoland yoga magazine that has a circulation of over 20,000. The Seva Foundation put an announcement on their website’s home page. But not one person showed any interest in spite of the charitable component of the retreat.”

That’s why I am not jumping for joy at this latest offer for me to teach overseas. My Africa weekend was not that expensive relatively speaking because it included everything: yoga plus lodging and food and I told people where to get discounted flights to Tanzania.

The Bali retreat organizer has a client database of over 1,000 people but I hesitate to spend any money on advertising (i.e., another $500 ad in the local yoga magazine) because frankly, what happened last time (or should I say did not happen) felt like a kick in the teeth (and this is the first time I’m saying it out loud.) I advertised to literally over 20,000 people via print ad, my business newsletter, and of course social networking, but zilch. I can understand no one wanting to fly to Africa. What I don’t get is not one person expressing one iota of interest.

I believe that even in a bad economy there are people with disposable income. They’re spending it on $100 yoga pants. Obviously. Just ask Lulu.

I understand how someone with children can’t take off for 10 days, but I also know people (including teachers) who can’t commit to a weekend of yoga in their own backyard. For the most part, people who do yoga (and this includes teachers) tell me that any type of yoga trip is too expensive for them even in the United States. “It’s the economy,” stupid.

Maybe the lack of response to my thing was because I live in the Midwest, not the trendiest part of the country even if it is Chicago. Maybe it’s because I don’t do the fancy arm balances or kick someone’s yoga butt and that’s what people want. Maybe I really don’t have anything to offer.

So I ask again: where all the yoga peeps with money that I keep hearing about? Who is going on all these retreats?

Someone is because I see photos of lots of smiling faces at Kripalu or Omega or Esalen or Land of the Medicine Buddha or (fill in the blank.) I don’t see a dearth of people here.

Where’s the yoga money?