the story of the human yoga teacher

by michelle on February 27, 2013

Last week I went into my favorite local boutique to check out their spring duds. I tried on a pair of totally adorable cotton yoga pants — they were deliciously soft capri leggings with ruching detail at the bottom. So cute.

It’s all in the pants

When I came out of the dressing room, the clerk asked me how I liked them. I said, “Unfortunately they didn’t fit well — the crotch was too short, the soft fabric seemed like it wouldn’t hold its shape, and because the were so thin, they were totally unforgiving of cellulite dimples.”

She looked at me with half disbelief and half disgust and said, “You teach YOGA, you don’t have cellulite!”

I gave a chuckle at her presumptiveness, “Uh, well, actually I do.”

But she wouldn’t give. “But you TEACH yoga, right?”

I stared blankly as my brain tried to connect her nonsensical association.

She couldn’t stop. To no one in particular, other than perhaps the voices in her head, she rattled on as she walked around the store, “No, I’ve seen you little yoga teacher types, all stretchy and thin, and you glide around the room… you don’t have cellulite….” (Does it matter that this woman is petite and tiny enough to fit inside my shoe?)

But it’s more than the pants

Earlier that day I’d had a therapy session where, ironically, my therapist commented on “the dark side” of yoga—the expectation that yoga teachers are not supposed to have unspiritual emotions like jealousy, anger, or greed. This is a sneaky belief that I thought I’d addressed and called out of the dusty corner long ago, but there it was: my own judgment around my anger and jealousy and greed.

They really should put this in the job description

And thus we have the algorithm of a Good Yoga Teacher:

constant benevolence, selflessness, good nature, and cheer

any unfavorable emotions, including out bursts and bad moods


some % of occasional and justifiable sadness


no cellulite


Good and Worthy Yoga Teacher


Crap, I’m human? I thought I was a Yoga Teacher!

Let me just make it clear, friends: I teach yoga. And much to my own dismay, turns out I have feelings like jealously, greed, selfishness, insecurity, rage, and more, depending on the day.

And I have cellulite on my ass.

The end.


{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Amy February 27, 2013 at 12:21 pm

I am always so thankful when a yoga teacher shows their human, real side. It makes me feel so more more normal, instead of less-than. It’s refreshing.

I also feel thankful when you show up in my reader. So good to read your words, always. xoxo


michelle February 27, 2013 at 1:34 pm

@amy – likewise, friend, on all counts. xoxo


Rebekah February 27, 2013 at 1:55 pm

Yes, I second everything Amy said. I love this post… Plus, it gives me hope that a human being like me could maybe teach yoga sometime. <3


michelle March 1, 2013 at 8:36 am

yes, please! you as human = absolutely a wonderful teacher <3<3


Traci February 27, 2013 at 9:38 pm

I love you, I love you, I love you…your jealousy, greed, your selfishness, insecurity and rage…your kindness, warmth, insight and honesty…your counsel and friendship…and yes, your cellulite (still not all the way convinced it exists, but I will take your word for it)…I love all your sticky, messy, rich humanness and for allowing me to shine a light (and maybe a smirky smile) on mine. Thank you for sharing and filling my heart. xxxooo


michelle March 1, 2013 at 8:38 am

mmmm, back at you, traci! life is messy business and i am grateful to be in it with you! xo


Keleigh February 28, 2013 at 12:32 pm

I have to add my bias/stereotype that all yoga teachers have perfectly pedicured toes. (I have yet to see this proven wrong… ;) I love you, Ms. M, and am grateful always for your depth & honesty. xoxo


michelle March 1, 2013 at 8:39 am

ahh haaa! i can bust that one, too, right now!! lol…. thanks for *your* depth and honesty, kel. xoxo


Denice February 28, 2013 at 2:57 pm

….and I drink Diet Coke. There! It’s out!
My name is Denice. I teach yoga and drink Diet Coke.


michelle March 1, 2013 at 8:40 am

“hi, denice.” welcome to the party!! ;))


Gary February 28, 2013 at 3:03 pm

No cellulite has always been my measure for a yoga teacher ;-). Don’t worry there is even a little cellulite in a marathon.


michelle March 1, 2013 at 8:40 am

haa haa… funny, gary. well, if *marathoners* have it…. :))


hollyholt February 28, 2013 at 9:53 pm

We wanna-be Yoga Teachers need to hear messages like this, Michelle! This is why–the very reason why–I chose to do my training with you. A HUMAN Yoga Teacher! Yay!


michelle March 1, 2013 at 8:41 am

grateful to be exploring all of it with you, holly! xo


julie boone March 1, 2013 at 9:01 am

What a great post Michelle! It made me smile and nod in agreement.


michelle March 1, 2013 at 7:41 pm

thanks, julie! from one glorious human to another.. xoxo


Madeleine March 1, 2013 at 9:26 pm

This has to be the funniest blog post you’ve ever written. I LOVE IT.


Robert Webster March 5, 2013 at 11:57 am

The store clerk must be basing all her Yoga Teacher assumptions upon Kathryn Butig’s ads for Yoga Sox…LOVE the post MM!


Chelsea March 13, 2013 at 9:07 am

AMEN! We are yoga teachers, not enlightened masters…yet ;-)


Jeanne March 20, 2013 at 4:12 pm

Howling at my desk! Btw, Keleigh, I get a manicure twice a year, don’t own nail polish remover, so my last pedicure is slowly leaving my big toe….

Cheers to the perfection of imperfection!


Jessica March 20, 2013 at 4:31 pm

I just now got around to reading this post. I don’t know how I’ve missed it. You are way too cool, lady! I have to tell you that one time I wrote a list of 10 things yoga teachers do that you don’t know about. Eating at Foster’s Freeze was one of them. Also saying the “f” word is another one.
And you, and your other attributes, are why I go to It’s All Yoga ‘cuz your teachers are REAL!


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: