Secret Single Behavior (or SSB): (noun) a habit or activity that one might like to indulge in when home alone. (Of course, you don’t need to be single – it’s just stuff that goes down when no one’s around).
Yoga Goddess (or YG): (noun) any woman from Western civilization who teaches yoga for a living.
I read that definition in an article written by a wise woman a few years back, and it stuck. I mean, come on, who wouldn’t like a job title with the word goddess in it?
Secret Single Yoga Goddess Behavior (or SSYGB): (noun) those things YGs do when they are not working. (You know, the stuff that goes down when our students aren’t around.)
Now, before some of you start hating, I am a yogi and I try to live my yoga. Walk the walk, not just talk the talk. Occasionally stumbling along the way. I am not talking about someone who preaches but doesn’t practice. I am actually talking about those who try to practice each and every yama and niyama (yoga’s ethical principles) every single day of the year. But there are always those stereotypical ideas about us. The misconceptions of how we spend our time when not teaching. Usually things that really aren’t relevant to whether we are a good yoga teacher or “real yogi.” And maybe SSYGB is less about what we do and more about what we might not do. And while as YGs we should always aspire to live our yoga, we are not only yoga. It’s not all kombucha, kale and kumbaya.
Of course, I can’t speak for all the YGs out there, but here is a small glimpse into my SSYGB, my world out of the studio:
- As I just mentioned, kombucha is not for me. Nor are juice cleanses and endless cups of green tea. If you love that stuff, rock on. I prefer my coffee in the morning and my wine at night. I will sip Wild Turkey on occasion. As a SYG, I have been known to hang out at a bar every now and again. My shot of choice, tequila. Two shots…well, no good ever comes from that. And that’s all I am saying about it.
- Yes, I fit the vegetarian stereotype. I got the whole ahimsa, non-violence thing going on. But wagons were built to fall off. I don’t cook, so it is usually take out for me. My freezer contains exactly three items: vodka, ice cream and ice. As long as I have coffee, half and half, and cat food (for my cat, not me, FYI) in good supply, I can survive days without going out. Oh, and wine too. Let’s not forget that. I like my pizza and french fries, and the endless supply of homemade baked goodies my friends make for me – in moderation, of course. But we all need to indulge sometimes. You can keep your kale, if I can keep my gluten.
- I do not spend my time off taking yoga selfies. (Except the one for this article, of course). I rarely #stopdropandyoga. I also do everything I can to avoid following anyone on Instagram who posts a new pose #everydamnday. Post a high quality sarcastic quote, a cute cat or anything from Jared Leto, and I be liking. MY yoga challenge is trying to find ways to avoid seeing Instagram #yogachallenge postings. However, I will say this, you Instagram celebs get a whole new respect from me. How do you do it? I spent about five hours on just that one shot. Talk about practicing tapas – burn baby burn. It would take me another hour to just try and type all those cute hashtags on my tiny little keyboard to post with it. You are all #instacool.
- I don’t spend all day practicing yoga. (Well, I “practice” it all day long. But I mean the actual physical kind on the mat). Sometimes after being at my studio every day for five days straight, the last thing I want to do is take my mat out. (I might want to pull some hairs out, though.) The first thing I want to do is feel my ass on the couch and a drink in my hand. I wear many masks to run my studio. Mental and physical exhaustion sets in, and I can be pretty lazy when I am off. Case in point, the pizza I mentioned above. I store my empty pizza boxes in the oven. The recycling bin at my condo complex is THREE buildings away. (Remember, I don’t cook, so I never use my oven. Have no fear all you Fire Marshals out there!) I look at it more as brahmacharya – energy conservation – why make five trips when I can do it in just one? Makes good sense to me. The boxes fit quite neatly and are out of sight in the oven, so there’s your saucha – cleanliness. And that, my friends, is the art of killing two yoga principles with one stove.
- I do not spend all my time talking about yoga. Well, maybe that is a bit of an exaggeration…yoga does come up in my conversations probably a bit more than the normal non-yoga goddess person. But often it’s to make fun of it. Yes, I am a firm believer that it is good to laugh at yoga. (This article for instance…THAT’S FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO HAVE NOT GOTTEN THE JOKE YET. Yes, I was yelling). Yoga is life changing stuff and sometimes we need to lighten up about it. Especially if we are trying to practice it. But mostly my girlfriends and I talk about sex, saving turtles, getting old, solving world hunger, girl problems (the struggle is real), my online dating tribulations (that’s for comedy relief after the whole world hunger conversation), how it would be so much better if women ran the world, and who we want to punch in the face, but of course won’t because, you know, all that yoga and non-violence crap we are supposed to be practicing. (I think that’s probably the point in the conversation where we start mocking yoga).
- Now, as mentioned before, being single is not required for your normal secret single behavior. Nor is it for SSB of a yoga goddess. All of the above can be “practiced” single, attached or otherwise engaged. But, I am single, so here goes…believe it or not, the last thing I want to do is date a yoga dude. I don’t know what it is, but most of the ones I have met were just way too intense for me – and I refer back to the need to “lighten up” and the “yoga crap” mentioned above. (Disclaimer: I said “most,” not all. Just to clarify, before you yoga dudes get your yoga shorts all in a bunch.) Too much of a good thing perhaps? I prefer someone to be yang to my yin. Sthira to my sukha. Hard to my soft. (OK people, get your minds out of the gutter, you yoga peeps know what I’m talkin’ about). Maybe this is where I should give another shout out to all you Fire Marshals…
So you ask, what is the point to all of this? Well, I guess it’s this. I am just like everyone else. Simply trying to do the best I can. Hopefully, because of my yoga practice, maybe I do that with a little more awareness than I would have if I had not found yoga.
We all have our jobs, some of us are lucky enough to have not only careers we love, but careers that are true extensions of our self. I am one of those. But no matter how much we love our job or live our job, we all need to sometimes let our hair down and take our yoga pants off.
Whether I throw out my pizza boxes that day or the next week, or drink wine instead of green tea, doesn’t determine whether I am a good person or not. I will tell you what does – my actions, my words, how I treat others, my intentions behind what I do. Do I succeed all the time? No. But without yoga, I would most likely fail more often than not.
And I don’t think this makes me less of a yoga teacher either. I think it makes me a realistic one. Perhaps I don’t fit into the “typical” stereotype with some things, but I won’t pretend to be something I am not – secretly or not so secretly. I am fairly confident that many of my students already know quite a few of the aforementioned things. (And if not, now they do.)
Honesty trumps hummus. (And there’s another one of those damn yamas popping up again.)
So you see, it’s not about kombucha, kale or selfie flare. It’s about the yamas, the niyamas and perhaps knowing a quote or two from the Dalai Lama. Can you like and do those three things AND practice the yamas and niyamas? Absofuckinlutely. (And if you haven’t picked up on that yet, I recommend going back to the part about lightening up and getting the joke). Yoga Gs don’t need to own mala beads to practice mindful deeds. But ya can…
A few of my yogi friends and I like to joke that we do yoga so we don’t kill people. And while obviously the reality is not that extreme, I do know without yoga I would be a lot worse off.
And this is what else I know: I know that when I would rather run away screaming from an extremely difficult situation, yoga has helped me stay and see it through. I know that I have absolutely no control over other people’s actions, but I do have control over mine. I know that most of the time more force creates more resistance, and though usually the harder choice, by letting go just enough the universe has a funny way of working things out – the way they should.
And because of my practice I know that I am enough, and looking for someone or something else to complete me would be an endless search.
I know that I am totally, abundantly flawlessly flawed, and sometimes the best thing I can do is just try to keep it real. And get my ass off the couch and back on the mat…where I can keep practicing it all.
I also know that life is pretty messy, and sometimes #whenyogajustisntenough, well there is always that bottle of vodka in the freezer…
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