Sunday, November 15, 2009

Creepy Junior High Yoga... with Beer

There has been a LOT of talk about what "is" and "isn't/shouldn't" be yoga around the bloggy community lately. Overall I'm pretty tired of reading how other individuals view their yoga as best. Perhaps by remaining a student I'll keep the openness to learning and acceptance that seems to slip through the grasp of most yoga teachers immersed in what they believe is "right". At least, I hope to keep that integrity. (windmill in the fog at home)

Regardless, I do have a few issues on what I personally believe pushes those boundaries of acceptance (yoga as competition being one) and I thought I'd share a WTF yoga gossip with you.

In my village and the surrounding villages there are three or four yoga teachers. Which is strange as the population is so small and populated by fishermen and their wives for the most part. In any case, it has been growing in popularity where students (for the longest time wives who had money to spend on lulu clothing and classes) practiced in Legion Halls, old Ballet studios, school gyms and even lofts of barns (which I heard was beautiful).

I attended a few classes at the Legion while visiting family with a specific local instructor. It was a bit scary, the environment was pretty hostile and the women formed a cohesive, gossip-y judging group (there's a reason I decided to move away...). The instruction itself consisted of the teacher practicing at the front with most students trying to emulate her asanas without modifications or adjustments. If she suggested a more advanced version, EVERYONE tried it, whether or not they had the basics. (view from the water of my village!)

Not really my thing. A few more classes like that, leaving me feeling stressed and hostile and home practice it was for future family visits. An injury while being caught up in the competitive nature isn't really my thing, I'm there to learn and not compete.

The other day my mom, Tante C., cousin C. and cousin R's gf were in Halifax to shop. I was sick that week, but met up for supper. My cousin's gf is the epitome of why I don't practice yoga at home; money and brand-names are the most important thing and I'm sure she went home and let everyone know what I was wearing and what I said during supper. An example, she commented on my SamSara bag so I told her how it was vegan, a Canadian company and proceeds are donated to Canadian charities. Her response: did it cost more than a Mat&Nat bag? (as in, it's only cool if it did).

She practices with M., the non-adjusting teacher at home. She also informed us that she got my cousin, a fisherman, to practice yoga with her. Wow- that's pretty darn impressive! The instructor had set up a partner's yoga class and it was actually attended by the fisherman spouses!

How did the yoga teacher do it?

One acronym: BYOB. Yep, it was a bring your own beer/liquor yoga session. Apparently the men drank alcohol while the women warmed up on their mats and they watched. Kinda like a creepy junior high dance where the guys stood and watched the girls dance. Then they moved to the front of their partner's yoga mats and the women demonstrated asanas while they watched close up. For example, downward dog....and made some minor adjustments (pulling on the hips etc). According to my cousin's gf, comments were made about the suggestive nature of the postures and jokes were had. One man even said: "This is the closest I've ever been to an orgy with my wife around!"


These people paid for a set of partner yoga classes. Although the students think nothing of it, it surprises me that someone who traveled to India, trained with respected yogis in the city would do warp something so beautiful into an experience filled with sexism and alcohol.

But hey, that's just me... and I AM trying to move towards being more open and tolerant right?

Happy Sunday Yogi/nis and be safe: Don't Drink and Asana!

article and photos copyright of EcoYogini at


  1. Great blog, Eco. I really enjoyed the BYOB story, but also your account and beautiful pictures. I must visit Nova Scotia some day.

    I wonder why the instructor didn't insist that the men participate in the Yoga as a price of admission.

    Bob Weisenberg

  2. Not much to say to that except ick.... I am glad I never have to go to one of those sessions. Not for me.

  3. Oh dear, I honestly didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

    Some strange things are done in the name of yoga. I try to just let them wash over me... but this...oh my!

  4. Wow...that does push the boundaries...then, maybe that version of "partner yoga" is like what a rock writer said about the Red Hot Chili Peppers "bringing frat boys just a little bit closer to enlightenment." Okay, maybe it's not really true in either case.

    I often go to yoga classes in the center of a big city, with lots of Lululemon around, and have really never run into any of the gossipy, namebrandcentric stuff. Could it be that I'm simply insulated from it because I'm male? The guys I know who do yoga wear old t-shirts, gym shorts, or sweats (gotta admit, I sometimes wear spandex, but only because they're the bike shorts I ride to class in)...and I can only hope it stays that way...

  5. As much as we do strive to avoid judgment...I have to say that my primary reaction to that story is as follows: "um....yuck".

  6. I like to do yoga at my level as practise not competition. I have plenty of other areas to compete yoga is not one of them.

    You have an interesting viewpoint on yoga.

    I like reading your blog as always.

  7. Drinking and

    Great post on the mats, btw. That's incredible thorough!!

  8. BYOB smalltown yoga! amazing and hilarious! seriously, lol all the way. my optimistic side hopes that the fisherman husbands received some of the benefits of the practice through osmosis... however, my more realistic and cynical side thinks perhaps that's not too likely!

  9. great post about a gross story. i'd love to know if the instructor is certified and experienced.

  10. I'm in agreement with Linda-Sama's comment: You do your yoga and I'll do mine.

    Except I don't even really like the idea of "your" yoga and "my" yoga. Like there's some kind of ownership implied there.

    I do the yoga that makes my body, mind and heart sing. I couldn't care less what I wear to yoga class, as long as its comfortable. I'm slightly disconcerted by the amount of Lulu I see everyone wearing. But hey, each to their own, right?

    When I eventually start teaching, I never want my classes to be about competition, clothes, brands or anything else like that! What I do want is for any class I teach to be as inspiring, challenging and interesting for people as possible. And to help others make peace with their bodies and minds.

    The rest... eh! I may not like competitive yoga or Bikram, and certainly not the kind of 'partner' yoga you've described. But I'm not gonna set up a protest about them any time soon. ;)

  11. I just picture the wives bribing their hubbies with booze to go to yoga..."But honey, you can bring your beer with you!" Crayness, I mean, yoga is the only place I can get AWAY from my drunk husband. LMAO

  12. lol, I'm glad you all enjoyed the story. Yep, definitely to each their own, however my first thought was the potential danger and liability this instructor could find herself. also I think she needed a liquor license for paying customers...

    she's certified and has been teaching for, well, at least 5 yrs if not more (most likely more).

    yep- from what I gathered, the men thought it was a nice show of T&A... with beer of course. (and trust me, it wouldn't have been just one. My brother can drink a quart of rum and still blow under the limit... sadly this has happened...)

  13. Actually, you don't need a liquor license unless the paying customers are actually paying for the alcohol. Liability could be an issue if the drinkers decided they wanted to actually do some yoga with some booze in them....when I was in grad school, once or twice I went these wine and cheese things (i.e. grad student dinner) before going to the gym, and nearly hurt myself--since alcohol works as an anaesthetic, as well as impairing judgement, it's easy to push yourself too hard without realizing I can only imagine what difficult asanas might suddenly seem like a good idea if I drank before doing yoga...

    Note: I wasn't drinking when I inexplicably signed myself "YogaforCentric" fact, I have no idea what that's about...

  14. Wow! That is too much! Your description of the beer and yoga is fantastic! That really happened?? It sounds like yoga in hell. Seriously nuts.

  15. Oh wow! I would be so uncomfortable in that byob yoga class. I'm sure my hubby would be just as uncomfortable, of course, after our last yoga class he was so worn out he probably was wishing he could have a beer instead.
    I find it sad when people get snobby about things. It sadly turns others away from something they might really enjoy or benefit from.

  16. Oh dear. I no longer go to classes either, mainly because of the same issues you describe. Ive never come across BYOB tho!



  17. Seriously, creepy. Ew. I thought I only knew the really creepy people, but that one is up there this morning! You poor thing...

    Interesting story though- gotta love the materialistic people (i.e. the people who brag about what they got and try to make you feel ittybitty about it!)



  18. Yep, I'd say that one goes too far. I wouldn't want to be there anyway.

    I understand what you're saying in the first paragraph--it got to me too, and that's one of the reasons I decided to remain a student too.

  19. Hee, hee--this one brought the comments FLYING in!

    I'll take a brief intermission for judgement...wait for it:


    Home practice it is then.

  20. Devil's advocate here -- If the ladies were having fun, and the guys were enjoying themselves, and the teacher was cool with it, I don't see what the big deal is.

    Sounds like some harmless fun that exposed a new demographic to yoga. It's not a class I would go to or enjoy, but if they did, that's awesome.

    Obviously the beer would have to go if these guys were to come back and actually practice, but that these guys participated at all is pretty cool.

  21. OMG! I can just picture it and wish I hadn't! :S

    They can do what they want at home but...really an orgy...what a comment!

    To each their own I guess.

  22. Sometimes I call beer "liquid yoga," but this is ridiculous. Oh well, I guess if everyone was having fun...

  23. After some thought...

    I really don't mind how people "find" yoga. If it's through the YMCA, Yoga fit, whatever.

    But the thought of using something so beautiful, so wonderful, like yoga in a sexist, misogynistic manner makes me want to vomit.

    I expect this kind of objectification of women from a huge corporation through their advertising, not from a real studio who complicitly encourages sexism and it's continuation through yoga.

    so ya- they had "fun". They also spent another hour making sure the women in that class remembered they were objects (whether consciously or unconsciously).

    Yoga is not a space where I want to worry that other individuals will be sexually explicit or that I will feel "less than human" or unsafe.

  24. I guess it's one of my "soap" boxes- and admittedly not something I can view or discuss objectively (since as a woman I am discriminated against...).

    I apologize though for coming across so passionately.

    We all have our journey huh? :)

  25. "They also spent another hour making sure the women in that class remembered they were objects (whether consciously or unconsciously)."---I thought that exact same thing, and it made my stomach turn.

    This story makes me sad. Such a disrespect to this beautiful practice.

    If this Yoga teacher took time to be quiet, and put her heart at work...I'm sure she could have found better ways to get those fisherman on a mat.

    My beloved, wonderful Yoga studio is now working with veterans and those still in the military--and transforming lives. But they do it in a way that appeals to them, and makes them feel safe and comfortable, while still being respectful to the practice.

    Unfortunately for those fisherman, they really missed the boat!

    (Pun intended.)

    Peace & Love.

  26. Eco - I think coming across passionately is just the right thing. Well done! - Inga


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