She asks, “Oh, you’re a yoga teacher—do you teach hot yoga?”
I look at her innocent, well-meaning but ignorant face and try not to roll my eyes and say what I really want to say.
Instead, I just mumble, “No, I don’t teach hot yoga.”
When I started teaching yoga in 2004, if anything, people likely just nodded politely when I said I was a yoga teacher (not sure what that actually meant), or I would get an oh-my-aunt-does-yoga as a way to show that they were at least vaguely familiar.
“You’re a yoga teacher; I didn’t think girls your size could do yoga,” a stranger said to me after asking what I did for work while sharing a bus ride.
Others told me, “I can’t do yoga; I’m not flexible (or strong) enough.”
Well, dear reader, I hate to tell you this, but despite what the media, the pictures in an ad for yoga pants, the cover of Yoga Journal, or the people you see leaving a yoga studio would lead you to believe—yoga is not a f*cking workout.
Yoga is a tradition thousands of years old, it comes from India, and it’s not about putting your foot behind your head.
The yoga poses (asana), which we think of as yoga in the West, is just one small part of yoga. Yoga is pranayama, mantra, mudra, meditation, and spiritual study—just to mention a few of the many things that are part of this rich and beautiful tradition. A tradition which I love to practice, study, and teach.
You don’t need to be super-flexible, strong, or skinny to practice yoga.
Yoga is not about the latest trends such as hot yoga, AcroYoga, and many others.
Yoga is not about detoxing, getting a yoga butt, or getting your yoga body in time for swimsuit season.
Yoga is not a f*cking workout.
Yoga is not about getting strong enough for the pose on our vision board—it’s about building inner strength when our vision is not clear.
Yoga can help you with pain on a mental, emotional, and physical level—no doubt.
You don’t need a strong body for yoga but rather, a strong heart.
Yoga is not a f*cking workout; it’s actually a work-in.
I believe yoga has the power to transform lives and change the world. Yoga opens our minds and hearts to new ideas; it teaches us to think, study philosophy, and connect with ourselves.
I strongly believe if you can breathe, you can do yoga.
You don’t need to be flexible to practice yoga, but yoga will open your body and mind.
I believe yoga makes your life better. When we have a solid foundation, physically, mentally, and spiritually, we are far more content.
When we practice together in a spiritual community (sangha), we can see we have more in common than we thought.
It makes us more loving and kind, and this has a ripple effect on our friends, loved ones, and the world at large.
When we can get out of our small sense of self, it makes us warriors for equality and an ally of the ones who need our support.
It’s my honour to share this practice with others. I love and have a deep reverence for yoga. With all my privileged heart, I honour the rich Indian culture yoga comes from.
I study and learn—and when I make mistakes, I apologize and change.
So no, I don’t teach hot yoga because yoga is so much more than that.
For me, yoga is not a f*cking workout; it’s my way in.