What To Do If You Fucking Hate Yoga

For years now I’ve tried to enjoy mainstream yoga. I want so much to be into it and bendy like my glorious friend Emily (yep, we’re both called Emily and it’s cute AF).

But the harsh reality is, if we were food stuffs ‘on the mat’ glorious Emily would be a pretzel and I’d be a cheese stick.

Let me have a quick word on mainstream yoga and its bastardisation here in the west before the rest of this story unfolds.

The true sense of yoga has 8 arms to it. 

Here they are according to Google (and me a bit).

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Ya’ll should follow me on Insta!

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1.       The Yamas - rules of moral code which in the modern world translates to don’t be a dick to others.

2.       The Niyamas - rules of personal behaviour which I take to mean don’t be a dick to yourself.

3.       Asana - refers to yoga postures which we like to nickname things like, downward dog. Who the fuck came up with downward dog?

4.       Pranayama – breathing which ironically is something I struggle to do in a room full of other people’s sweat as the heat is cranked up to match the centre of the sun.

5.       Pratyahara -  withdrawal of the senses. Like, kill me now.

6.       Dharana - concentration. Huh?

7.       Dhyana - meditation.

8.       Samadhi - merging with the divine. But not like merging Nutella and ice cream - a different type of divine.

Do I know what they all mean? No, not really. Obviously.

Am I in any way trying to assert myself as a superior wealth of knowledge on the ancient art of Yoga? No. Obviously.

 But it’s kind of clear to me that typical western modern day yoga has taken one arm of the ancient practice (Asana), dressed it up in Lululemon garb and monetized the crap out of it by selling it as a spiritual way to get fit.

Sip on your chai latte as you hear this.

I am talking in sweeping generalisations (because I haven’t visited every single yoga studio in Australia or the world) and yes, I know that there are many wonderful instructors out there (I’m friends with some of them) who take their practice and teaching very seriously.

Now, before the tide of ‘feedback’ comes my way, let me be clear on the purpose of this blog.

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Seriously, INSTA

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It’ll be worth it I promise!

1.       To offer you my funny experiences ‘on the mat’ so that you’ll either crack a smile (come on, life isn’t meant to be so serious – even yogi’s are allowed to lovingly piss-take for a laugh) or totally resonate and be like, “yeah me too! I hate yoga too. Oh the glorious relief of admitting it!

2.       To highlight the things that people seek in a yoga practice which I believe are fundamental to our physical, emotional and spiritual health – and to offer you ways to have these needs met ‘off the mat’ should you, like me, hate fucking yoga.

3.       One and two pretty much cover it but my OCD likes things to be done in threes so…

This is my experience. 

It is a Saturday morning and in wafts the woman (although I suspect she’s unlikely to be older than 20) who will be my yoga instructor for the next hour.

She has impossibly perfect feet and I wonder if her Lululemon attire has actually been painted onto her body it is so clad to her.

She introduces herself as Sommer with an O and thank fuck she clarified it.

I don’t know how one is meant to downward dog under the assumption that her yoga instructor’s fake name (we all know her birth certificate reads Susan Clarke) is spelt in its common form.

With that crisis averted, Sommer fiddles with her iPod until the gentle sounds of Massive Attack (Namaste) fill the space.  

The ‘space’ (it’s called a room Susan, I mean Sommer) consists of Sommer, me and every other human that has ever existed.

It is a Saturday morning so should I have expected the class to be full?

Yes.

Is it logical that the studio would maximise its financial potential by cramming as many of us in as possible?

Yes.

Does this mean that the 1.73 inch gap between my mat and my neighbours mat is severely inadequate and will absolutely result in my Vinyasa (in modern yoga this word has been attributed to a sequence of movements) being interrupted by my neighbours foot?

Yes. Abso-fucking-lutely, yes.

Gerrard (my neighbour, he absolutely surely has to be called Gerrard) has a face that looks like he’s straining to be relaxed.

His superiority bugs me as much as his back hair does and I can barely concentrate on my Tree pose once I’ve clocked his creepily long fingernails.

For some reason, Tree pose is one I’m actually pretty good at and therefore my absolute favourite pose in the whole world ever and also the one I randomly break into in public spaces so that people know I do yoga.

I love it so much I made my family do it as a group activity on holiday in France. That’s me in the middle doing Tree Pose REAL gooooood!

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Gerrard does not appreciate the space I occupy alongside him and we awkwardly try to avoid smacking each other in the face (relaxing) as we pivot into warrior 1, 2 or 3 (does anyone other than Gerrard or Sommer know which one is which?)

Gerrard displays his displeasure by my very existence (enlightened) by silently and stealthily letting one rip in my face as we forward bend to the side of the room.

Oi! Sommer, you know I’m not doing this right, I know I’m not doing this right, we know the other 52,379 people in this class aren’t doing this right (apart from Gerrard) so I guess it makes sense that you’re just going to let us get on our merry way to crippled-backs-ville!

It was at this point in this class that I was tipped over the edge. I was done. And as we moved into Shavasana which literally (okay not literally) translates to; lie down on your back and try not to fall asleep, I began to ponder what I have been trying to accomplish from yoga.

I broke it down into 3 categories and during the 1 minute and 29 seconds of meditation (successfully ticking the Dhyana box for the class but in no way shape or form giving anyone the chance to actually practice meditation) I worked it out.

1.       Physical health. Recently I saw a foodie turned yogi influencer interviewed and when asked what first drew her to yoga, she said “I wanted a 6 pack”. Now, I too would quite like a 6 pack and full credit to those who work hard enough to have one.  But if I was willing to work that hard and eat less cake, I’d still rather crunch up in the gym or my own living room floor than in Sandra’s (sorry, Sommer’s) sweaty studio. If, like me you hate yoga, go for a walk, eat nutritious food that nourishes you and stop wasting cash on bullshit expensive fads which just dress up the very simple principle we all know and love – eat less and move more. Wanna lose weight? You need to eat less calories (food) and do more exercise (move).

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Have you followed me on Insta yet?

Is this getting boring yet?

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2.       Emotional health. Taking time to quieten my busy, crazy mind is imperative. I do this by running next to the ocean, walking through the park barefoot, journaling, speaking to my coach and generally avoiding people like Gerrard.

3.       Spiritual health. Meditation is part of my daily practice and honestly, I think I would’ve lost my shit over the past couple of years without it. My clients often come to me claiming they “can’t” meditate but the truth is, if you can sit for longer than 1 minute and 29 seconds in your own space, in your own body and with your own mind, then you meditate. To help you out, I have some really powerful guided meditations over on my Youtube channel (subscribe here). But for me, my spiritual practice is more than this. It’s learning to be what I call “Unashamedly Human” which means I’m okay about not having all my shit together all the time (or any of the time for that matter). We so often expect perfection of ourselves, we forget to honour our own wishes in the desperation to please others, we let fear govern our actions and before you know it, you are searching frantically for peace and validation outside of yourself.

  Me in Bali doing something that looks suspiciously like Tree pose!

Me in Bali doing something that looks suspiciously like Tree pose!

This manifests in anxiety, disease in the body, over eating, breakdown in relationships, only ever just scraping by financially and generally feeling like something is missing. For years, this was me and no amount of yoga in Sommer’s overpriced, overheated studio helped (me. It didn’t help me. If you love yoga like my glorious friend Emily then rock on. Also – have I ever enjoyed yoga? Yes. In Bali – because I was in fucking Bali and that place is magical, so magical in fact I credit it in part to my off the charts business success of the past year and will be taking 10 women there in Feb to help them work on their businesses and mindset to 10x their results in 2019. Want in? Check this! 2 spots left so get in touch now emily@emilychadbourne.com)

Today, I take my physical, emotional and spiritual health seriously and life (and business) has changed dramatically since.

I have an inner peace, a faith and confidence in myself and the universe.

Does it waver sometimes?

Fuck yes! I’m human.

But the tools and strategies I have learnt, teach my clients and share in my workshops mean that I can do without the search of answers in a place that I don’t enjoy. I don’t need to pursue a practice that doesn’t fit with me, that I don’t enjoy and that honestly pisses me off.

Did it take me a fair few goes at different studios with different “Sommers” to work this out? Yes. But honestly doing life is so unique to each of us. It isn’t one size fits all. I have learnt and tried a wide range of things to figure out what keeps me sane and healthy and I’ll continue to explore new ways of being and living. For now though, I’ll leave yoga to Gerrard.

If you want to learn more about how I do That Crazy Thing Called Life then head to my free Facebook Group where I regularly run free courses.

As for this blog, let me know what you think. And let your mates know by giving it a good old share!

Love yoga or hate yoga, I trust it serves to remind you that your physical, emotional and spiritual health are the most important thing.

Thank you very much for reading.

Love, Em x