Thursday, May 16, 2013


10 Things My Yoga Instructor Said That Almost Made Me Quit Yoga

1. “You hear the ice cream truck outside, acknowledge it, then let it go.”

2. “Externally rotate your left foot until it comes to rest behind your left foot.”

3. “Put your weight on your other butt.”

4. “Gentle panting here is encouraged.”

5. “Spiral your pelvis toward President Street.”

6. “Happy Friday!” (Read: it was Sunday afternoon.)

7. “Your skeleton wants to escape your skin.”

8. “Throw your spine to the other side of the room.”

9. “Do you need another blanket for your knees?”

10. “I’m teaching at a Total Silence Immersive Retreat in an ashram upstate. Here is a flier.”

Rebecca Jane Stokes also TumblsTweets, and Gets Looks.

111 Comments / Post A Comment


"Puff out your kidneys."

oh well never mind

@TheBelleWitch Yes! What is it about the kidneys? I got "let your kidneys soften".


@oh well never mind It's an Anusara yoga thing-- they teach that there are seven energetic "loops" in the body that fine tune alignment in poses. One of them is Kidney Loop. Puff out/soften your kidneys is probably yoga speak for "take the arch out of your lower back, but don't over engage your muscles to do it."


you are amazing!@t


"Are things hard today? It's okay. Mercury has been disabled."

And I panicked and wondered if World War Z had started and how she could use her calm, raspy hippy voice if a whole planet had been taken out.

The perils of being a literal thinker.


Bro-ga instructor (who kept telling us we "killed" poses) ended class with "I love you all, and there's nothing you can do about it".

sarah girl

@Todd@twitter Did we have the same instructor? Mine told us that we need to embrace being "wicked chill."



"Namaste, you righteous fuckers you."


@Todd@twitter I kind of love this.


@sarah girl come to think about it, I think I've had a dude tell us that we should be "wicked chill" as well. But that guy is just goofy and I'm cool with that.


@OhMarie you know the sentiment is maybe fine but the way he delivered them, particularly the pre-Namaste "I love you all..."was just plain creepy. He had this glint in his eyes. Plus he was a sub so I think he was maybe trying to butter people up. It didn't work.



If I had a broga instructor who said that I would sign up for a lifetime membership.



This sounds like something my instructor would say, but I find it kind of endearing that he's such a relentlessly positive person. I am not, and I deal with a lot of very dark stuff in my work life, so I feel like a couple hours of being forced to listen to irrational optimism and sunshine every week is probably healthy for me. I keep my eye rolls internal and usually feel a little nicer after each class.

Hot Doom

@City_Dater I like to imagine a shirtless, slightly sweaty, very bongos-mode Matthew McConnaughey saying this.


@Todd@twitter I love this too! He reminds me of one of my teachers who would be easily cast as an Australian surfer dude. (No idea if he has ever actually been in the water.) When he does warrior two, you can practically see the board under his feet.

Roxanne Rholes

@Hot Doom I have a broga teacher who is all tattooed and adorable. My favorite thing about his classes is that his male personal trainer coworkers all come, and it's actually really nice to have men in the class who aren't just there to check out women.

Note to dudes: us yoga ladies know when you're here for yoga and when you're here for creepin'. We know.


When I hear the ice cream truck outside, I am TERRIFIED, because I played way too much Twisted Metal when I was a kid, and also ice cream trucks weren't really a thing.



Thank you for reminding me of this.

Terrifying Wife-Avatar

My instructor has actually said #3, although she had the good sense to laugh at herself afterward.


Oh, god, I have so many. #shityogateacherssay is one of my most-used Twitter hashtags.

I think the worst is when they tell you that twists cleanse your organs, or inversions will speed up your metabolism. I also have this one particularly hippie yoga teacher who always reads excerpts from Blake and says things like, "History is over. Now we fly."

I also hate it when you're in something horrible like Pigeon or Warrior 3 and they tell you to smile.

ALSO. Why do they ALWAYS say "vertebrae" when they mean "vertebra"?

"Now lift up one vertebrae at a time..." NO NO NO THAT'S NOT A THING.


@special_boots Maybe one (batch of) vertebrae at a time? Are you sorting the spines of your vanquished enemies into a pile? (referencing this: http://thehairpin.com/2013/05/queens-in-history-tomyris [not just crazy])


Ugggh, plural vs singular nouns! Saying "dice" to mean a single die makes my eye twitch.


@special_boots Ugh that stupid bikram "wind relieving pose" -- you push all the gas into your transverse colon? Yeah, great idea!


@ThatWench Mine's "phenomena" - no, newscasters, it's not "a very strange phenomena." *teeth grind*


I know I've mentioned this here before, but: "Melt from the heart."

The worst part was, I understood what she meant, but I thought the wording was so insufferably stupid that I refused to do it.


@stonefruit My heart melted a bit at your yoga rage.


"Juice your spine."
"Hit the bottom of your ribcage as you draw your elbows down and you will unlock your karmic powers."
"This asana has protective qualities that will help guard your body against radiation from Fukishima."

This is why I no longer do yoga!

Laughable Walrus

@tofutticutie gotta love yoga-as-karmic healing. A yoga teacher once told me that placing a block in a certain position in my back would help me cleanse my lung tissue, which is where we hold onto anger. Nope, pretty sure the surge of irritation I'm feeling is not coming from the block placement.



floss your hip joint!

sceps yarx

@Laughable Walrus Ugh, it's only a short step from that to believing that diseases are caused by negative thoughts. So, you know, if you get cancer it's your own fault. Because you gave yourself cancer. *shudder*


"Have you ever seen a corpse? They look so peaceful."

Taking my hyper-stressed 1st year med student friend to yoga to help her forget anatomy class was a mistake.


@RNL *screams in abject terror*


Oh also! "Move your skin of your abdomen clockwise. Don't use your hands". What?


@RNL I don't know, I think statements like this are an attempt to describe very subtle movements. I've found when I don't think about how weird they sound and just try to do them, my body moves in ways I wouldn't have thought to move it without that instruction.


I have one teacher who is constantly telling us to close our eyes and quick "trying so hard" when we're in, like, locust or flying crow pose and it pisses me off because of course I'm struggling--that shit is complicated and hard! I am standing on my fucking arms, stop telling me that isn't hard.

Roxanne Rholes

@parallel-lines I only understand what that teacher is trying to say because once, on vacation, I decided to do some solo practice after having a coffee and whiskey and hot damn, I held crow for longer than I have ever held it, and I suspect it might have been the sweet, sweet whiskey.


I'm hearing impaired, so that makes it even more interesting sometimes. Last time I thought the instructor said something like, "Just take a moment to think about all the dead people who are watching you right now."
Haunted yoga!
Though, judging from the comments herein, maybe she really did say that, and it wasn't just my faulty ears?


@melmuu P.S. also, I love this piece. Hilarious.

Olympic Hopeful

This list is my favorite thing about today. I can't suspend my cynicism enough to commit to yoga. Also, the foot cramps!


@Olympic Hopeful I am one cynical bastard and I love yoga! but I also found a super great, kind and no-bullshit instructor. one quick namaste at the end is the only new age fluff we have to deal with.


@Olympic Hopeful I also struggle with foot cramps/charley horses at yoga. I think it happens because of activating my feet too suddenly, so one thing that has really helped is just warming up my feet and doing ankle circles before practicing. if you really want to do yoga try asking your teacher before/after class about how to overcome this!
PS I also love using a mini acuball on my feet.


@planforamiracle @Olympic Hopeful For me, it's often down to needing potassium; eating a banana about 45 minutes before class seems to help prevent the worst of the ow-ow-OW-sonofabitch-my-foot cramps.


"devote your practice to someone you really hate!"


One night there was a work crew banging around outside the studio where I teach and the students were getting annoyed, so I said in my hippiest voice, "This is a good time to work on turning your attention inward," and then they all started laughing, so I think that I have a lot of work to do to establish my New Age credibility. Clearly I need to restock my binder full of Rumi poems and start talking more about chakras.

Quinn A@twitter

I don't go to yoga, but sometimes there are things in tai chi that make me give the instructor the sideeye. Like "it's stretched my spine!" No. It may have stretched your muscles or gotten you to stop slumping, but it did not stretch your spine. Or "move from the bones, not from the muscles". Or "if you do this for long enough, you'll get a potbelly...I see that face you're making, Quinn."


@Quinn A@twitter

well, but. You *can* put more space between your vertebrae, so surely that would count as stretching your spine, no? Unless your spine is fused solid, which, I hope not, this can be done...

Quinn A@twitter

@harebell Wait, seriously? Well, now I feel like a jerk.


When I go to yoga, it's a class full of kinky people taught by a fabulous gay pagan shaman. We get to learn what poses are good for sex and never have to explain where are bruises came from or feel shy about lifting our boobs and hoisting them out of the way.

regina dentata

@Blushingflwr tell me how i can go to this class!


@regina dentata Step 1 - Move to the DC Metro area.
Step 2 - Join The Crucible.
Step 3 - Wednesday nights at 7:30.


7. “Your skeleton wants to escape your skin.”

Ray Bradbury had a story about that...


Ha! President St. *high five*

Is there a place for like, Snorty Cynic Yoga? Like, play five minutes of audio from a woo-centric class and we can all laugh and laugh and then stop doing the yoga and maybe go get cheeseburgers and watch the first two seasons of "Miranda" back-to-back and talk about how bad-ass Miranda Hart is and then take a walk to get some ice cream and wine, because your body is a temple (I guess), even if you're not religious or anything and have always been vaguely uncomfortable with that concept as it relates to bodies, and the commodification of women's bodies especially, and why the hell is the liquor store closed already?!


@KatPruska No one I know has ever ugly-laugh-sobbed to the brilliance of Miranda Hart! Are you in need of a new friend?




"When I'm naked in bed and I roll over my breasts clap." *single clap*

ETA- "A savory muffin?! Life is full of enough disappointments, Gary. A savory muffin? I don't know you anymore!"


@claire@twitter I LOVE MIRANDA, I make everyone watch it when they need a new British tv show.
Can I join your friend group?


@cminor Such fun!


@KatPruska Once I was in an airport sobbing uncontrollably and got through it by repeatedly thinking of the scene where she gets stuck on the sushi conveyor belt.

P.S. I live in New York, can I join the group?


@KatPruska This is What I Call fun.


@cminor WHERE DO YOU MAKE THEM WATCH IT? I know not of these interwebs or where they keep anything if it's not on Netflix or Hulu.


@MEGA VENUTIAN SPACE SCORPION I am embarrassingly excited about this. New friends! Who might understand my sense of humor!


@Linette Uh, I have digital copies of all the episodes.

I wish I was physical friends with all of you because maybe one day we'd find a "random" flash drive together (maybe at my house?) and what do you know, there's Miranda on it! What?! Why?!


@KatPruska I just started watching Call the Midwife and she is fantastic, I'm so excited to know about her show!


@C.SanDiego I am so pleased to be your ambassador in things Miranda Hart! While "Miranda" must currently be acquired via mail from the UK or unsavory digital means (I do both, because I am half-Veruca Salt when it comes to new comedies: I want them immediately, but also experience overwhelming guilt) Netflix has "Hyperdrive" on its instant menu. It's super weird, especially if you (general you) don't know or like "Red Dwarf," but she's the funniest part of the show.


@KatPruska I usually love nerdy space things and I could NOT get into Hyperdrive. I did love Miranda on on it though. She was fantastic.


"Draw in your breath through your [body part that has nothing to do with normal respiration]"



@MollyculeTheory It may sound crazy, but I honestly think that when I imagine a tiny lung inhaling air into X part of my body, it allows for more openness in that part. I really think these visualizations do help us move in ways we wouldn't otherwise.


Ahhhh hahaha. My favorite to say while I'm teaching is to press down through your feet to elongate through your spine and to reach energetically to the other side of the room. When people look at me like I'm totally bat-shit crazy, I know I've gone too hippie.


@LolaLooksFrench But for real, there are a lot of tiny little muscle engagements and rotations in yoga poses to be doing them in an alignment that isn't going to ruin your knees or whatever. That is why we say some of the bat shit stuff that we do.


@LolaLooksFrench totally! so much of yoga is really subtle movements and even though my yoga teachers usually say ridiculous stuff, I find their instructions help me visualize how to do the pose better.


"Pull the flesh out from under your sits bones."

I do this automatically now.

Vera Knoop

@rachelrachel Oh damn, I guess we were in the same yoga class!


@rachelrachel Oh my god WHY do people say "sits bones"? They are sit bones. Right?


I think it's a German borrowing. Like how we use "sitz bath" in English for ladies with certain problems in need of healing.

But I hear you, it does seem like a word that is ready for some language-change!


@harebell every time my yoga teachers say "sits bones" I hear "sitz bath."


@rachelrachel They are sitz bones....http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tuberosity_of_the_ischium


@splendorofmorgan Omg. I stand corrected.


@splendorofmorgan THIS IS REVELATORY.



Beatrix Kiddo

@splendorofmorgan Thank you so much. I've irrationally hated this and been wrong about it for years!


@splendorofmorgan hahaha I always thought it was 'sith bones', and reminded me of star wars

Beatrix Kiddo

My personal favorites are:

"Pretend you have a unicorn horn. Do NOT pretend you are a pez dispenser."


"Make the backs of your thighs smile."

What now?


@Beatrix Kiddo HAHAHAHA! I love the instruction to DO pretend this, but definitely DO NOT pretend that!

Springtime for Voldemort

"Are there any men here today? No? Good. Now, reach up, through your vulva..."


@Springtime for Voldemort on second thought maybe I should NOT pursue yoga in Denver

Springtime for Voldemort

@Danzig! Hahaha, I'm pretty sure they're not open anymore. I could be wrong though; I was only 15 when I went (it's so wonderful to be a 15 year old girl, go to yoga for the first time, and have a strange woman talk about your vulva with other strange women...) so who knows.


"Picture your bottom as a flower, gently opening." That was the first and last time I went to yoga.

Graydon Gordian

One of my instructors repeatedly asks women of a certain body type if they used to be "athletic, like a wrestler," which personally is not something I would say to a woman. Although there's nothing specifically yoga-y about that particular brand of tone-deafness.

She also calls me "Ricky Ricardo," presumably cause I'm Latin and she can't remember my name but, eh, I don't mind.

Jolly Farton

@Graydon Gordian Is your yoga instructor Colleen from 30 Rock?

Lisa Frank

My instructor says "Can't lives on Won't Street." But I legitimately love it.


I first did yoga with a trainer that recommended it and taught it to us because it was difficult and athletic, she was minimally new-agey. but oh man, she was funny as fuck... "Ok, come into 'chair' pose... aaaaand up on your toes for 'balanced ottoman'... nnnooooow shift your hips back into 'public toilet'...." I collapsed from a particularly hard pose into hysterical laughter more than once!

Away Laughing

@RoxxieRae I somehow survived a high school track coach/visiting frat boy telling us to "stand like a tree... now harness the power of the skyyyyyy." I think I only fell once.


#5 -- I knew this was Brooklyn.

My contribution is "The pain loves you."


Hmm, I mean yoga teachers definitely say a lot of irritatingly cheery/medically unsound bullshit, but it also raises my hackles when they take the opposite tack e.g. "LET'S STRETCH THIS OUT, NO PRISONERS NO NEW AGE CHAKRA TALK JUST SWEAT" I'm happy I found a teacher who keeps the spiritual/meditative part of yoga intact without slipping into ridiculousness. (Not that everybody has to practice the spiritual/meditative part of yoga, of course; to give context, I grew up in an Eastern religion and I'm a little defensive of people either dismissing it as woo-woo or appropriating it.)

Edited for clarity

Vera Knoop

"Just skooch [sp?] your butt-flesh away from your sit-bones."


So this is a thing: Holy Yoga

A friend of a friend is involved in it and is planning on going on missions to 'the east' to teach this.

Just, whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!?

Vera Knoop

It occurs to me that these are also the kinds of things that voice teachers (at least mine) say; there's something about trying to use words to describe things that just are not verbal that lends itself to this kind of absurdity. My absolute favorite from the voice teacher was: "Now on the vowels, imagine that a tiny little mouth, like the one from Alien, comes out of your mouth and sings the syllable."

Angelos Tzelepis@twitter

I love these, and the comments as well.

My last teacher was my favorite, and in fact I didn't do class yoga for 8 months after she left town, I couldn't find anyone I liked. I just used a DVD.

She threw in some of the nonsense medical stuff, yes, but it was such a joyful class. Great soundtrack - no chanty stuff, but all kinds of great body-moving music . Great flow from build-up to the hard stuff to the cool down to shavasana. Great vibe. Her pay-what-you-want community class, which was how she made her name in the area, got to require reservations because 25-30 people started showing up and we were so close our mats were touching. We filled that room, and all felt it.

I finally have a new person, and she's very good, but I don't think that vibe will ever be replicated.





@cosmia I don't even know what a sit bone is? related: I typed it zit bone first.

fondue with cheddar

@redheaded&crazy I always assumed they're the bones that make contact with the chair when you sit? I don't know anatomy so I don't know which bones they are, exactly.


@fondue with cheddar : Yes, that's where they are, at the base of the pelvis- they're called the "tuberosity of the ischium" or the "sitz bones," so it's actually not just a silly expression your teacher uses, even though it totally sounds that way.

fondue with cheddar

@mysterygirl Does that have anything to do with a sitz bath? Tuberosity of the ischium sounds like a tentacle porn title.

@redheaded&crazy Zit bone: a sign of sexual arousal of an acne fetishist


@fondue with cheddar Haaa and ewwww.

J Walter Weatherman

@cosmia When I was 11 I had a riding instructor tell me to "stop riding on [my] crotch and sit back on [my] sitbones." I still have Feelings about that word.


You guys, last night in my hot flow class, someone was smoking weed behind the Tesco above the studio and they must have been RIGHT next to the air intake vent because the whole hot sweaty studio REEKED for ten minutes! It was like trying to balance INSIDE a bong hit. Hilarious.

fondue with cheddar

This reminds me of how my teacher always used to say "ballerinas have no thumbs," which she obviously meant figuratively because you tuck them into your palms. But I was six years old, so I thought ballerinas literally had their thumbs chopped off.


Thank you list-maker and commenters for giving me all the laughs I ever wanted. Good stuff.


I had a yoga teacher very sincerely and seriously tell us that we were a yoga army who would heal Boston on the day of the bombings. Also, it was clear that she didn't really know what had happened and hadn't read any news sources ("I guess something terrible happened in Boston, so we need to practice for them") and then afterwards was like "yeah! we are a yoga army! I know they felt that in Boston!"

We were 800 miles away from Boston.

I was so disgusted I nearly left.

But she's also a really good yoga teacher?


The New Age stuff is what drove me to barre classes to fill my pricey-strength-training-workout-class void. The clientele can be unbelievably prissy, but I found the classes were geared more as a workout than a spiritual experience. The instructors I had were more transparent like "this particular exercise will raise your booty higher" or "this one reduces that back arm flab."

Just Jessy

"Go as far back as you'd like. This is your upside-down time."


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