December 15, 2011

The real housewives of yoga shalas everywhere. ~ Laura Randeles

 Originally published by our elephriends over at Recovering Yogi on December 5, 2011. 

The real housewives of yoga shalas everywhere.

By Laura Randeles

Earlier this year I attended a yoga workshop with one of my favorite teachers, who was visiting the area from out of state. On the last day of the workshop, after a healthy dose of backbends, a group of us took the teacher out for a farewell dinner.

During the meal, one of my friends kept nervously looking at her phone and texting every few minutes. After about half an hour, she became increasingly uncomfortable and anxious, like she was ready to leave. Once we paid our bill and headed for the door, she whispered in my ear that one of her yoga teacher friends had been waiting outside for us the whole time.

Apparently, she refused to sit with us in the restaurant because she and one of the other teachers in our group weren’t on speaking terms. They had some sort of falling out and couldn’t be near each other’s chakra radiuses or something. The teacher waiting outside had not attended the workshop and was unaware that her yogenemy was invited to the dinner until she was already on her way. Only once her yognemesis had left our group did she join us. If I’ve lost you there, I apologize. I don’t make the news; just report it.

Needless to say, I totally rolled my eyes at the fact that two grown-ass women in their 30’s couldn’t sit at the same table after a yoga workshop, of all things. I thought, damn, who ordered the ego special with a side of immaturity? Can’t we all just get along and share a friggin’ plate of hummus and veggies? I’m not sure what the two teachers were fighting over and I didn’t consult them for this piece. Perhaps it was something serious. My friend tried to give me the background drama, but she lost me after using the words “Facebook” and “yoga pictures.” It sounded like a story my 10-year-old cousin told me once. Maybe one of the teachers was jealous of the other’s forward fold or something. I don’t know, perhaps they’ve even made up by now. Regardless, it’s not really any of my business.

But I’m going to pass judgment either way.

Forgive me if I’m off base here, it may be the patchouli incense fumes talking, but if the point of yoga is to conquer the ego and recognize the divinity of all sentient beings, even our enemies, then what’s up with all these bitches fighting like third graders?

The truth is, it’s all bullshit. We’re human, with egos of apocalyptic proportions. A weekend workshop can quickly become a scenario that looks like it came straight out of a Real Housewives episode, only with a saturation of prayer beads, Ganesh t-shirts, and an even larger demographic of alpha-females with lotus tattoos. I’ve seen women move their mats because they didn’t want to practice next to someone who might steal their spotlight, and yoginis competing for attention from master teachers like a bunch of horny teenage girls. Those are just the G-rated details from the yoga underworld, where Kool-Aid and unwanted sexual advances flow freely. It’s a sad and ugly train wreck that you can’t help but watch with equal amounts of repulsion and excitement.

It’s true that once people get really serious about yoga, they rid their pantries of processed foods, irrigate their nostrils, and start drinking wheat grass shots every day.

The cleansing process may go even further if you start to sever unhealthy relationships and break up with that douchebag boyfriend or say goodbye to individuals that don’t “serve you” well, like the bitchy college friend who pointed out every time you missed an eyebrow wax. These are good things.

But when all of that is said and done, what happens when we begin to turn on each other? When the yoga platform itself becomes a battleground where we start throwing neurotic missiles from our mat, then what’s the point? How are we living the practice when we’re just projecting our insecurities and resentment onto it? What kind of message do teachers send their students by having spats and petty quarrels with other teachers?

I don’t know the answer to those questions and won’t pretend I’m qualified to answer them. I admit I’ve been a guilty spectator in the past. I’m the girl that’s never advocated physical violence, but if a brawl breaks out in a bar I’m the first to run and shamelessly watch. I’d make the worst entourage member. But if solicited, my advice to the Real Housewives of Yoga Shalas Everywhere would be: Grow up. Get your shit together. You are adults; suck it up and play nice. After all, it’s only yoga.

However, if you insisting on fighting, then at the very least, please let me know when and where so I can watch.

About Laura Randeles 

Laura Randeles was raised in Houston, Texas and despised all forms of exercise (and movement in general) until doing her first sun salutation in 2006. She became a yoga teacher in 2008 and has taught various forms of yoga to anyone willing to show up to her classes. Laura happily spends most of her time drinking vanilla lattes, watching trashy reality television, and indulging in a good bowl of noodles. She now lives in Washington, DC and works as a contract attorney by day and yoga teacher by night. You can find Laura practicing ashtanga in her kitchen, cycling around town, or harassing friends about how often they stretch. Follow Laura on Twitter @ShivaniLove.

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