Mean Girls: Yoga Edition

It takes a lot of courage for me to post this picture, as my worries about what people—particularly other women—think of me has held me back many times.

It takes a lot of courage for me to post this picture, as my worries about what people—particularly other women—think of me has held me back many times.

Where shall I begin?

With such a weighty, potentially problematic topic as this, I kinda wanna just let Tina Fey’s movie do all the talking… and yet here I am.

Most of my life, I’ve worried and held fears about what other people think of me. I’ve allowed that worry to hold me back. And so I hid. I hid who I was. I hid my body. I hid my heart and soul. Because I wanted to be liked. I thought I needed to be liked in order to survive.

Humans are social creatures, and women tend to be more herd creatures than men—without the support of the group, we can easily fail. Women routinely attack one another ruthlessly—not often one on one, but as a group. It’s not unheard of for a group of girls to single out and bully someone they’ve decided isn’t “in.”

Sure, there are personal vendettas and occasionally the girls go one-on-one, face-to-face, which also isn’t pretty. Have you ever seen cats fight? Women behaving poorly toward each other ain’t called catty for nothing.

In fact, I’d like us to stop pointing and wagging our fingers at men, at how they treat us, and instead recognize and ADMIT that no one tears down women as viciously and aggressively as another woman who feels threatened. Ours is a cunning, manipulative, calculated kind of attack made all the worse by pretending it doesn’t exist. And so…

This is a call-to-arms for women to start treating each other better. In all walks of life. To take a good look in the mirror and be honest with yourself about how you treat other women. Sure, it may be baked in the cake of our evolutionary wiring to experience a flush of hormones when we feel our particular place on the totem pole might be getting encroached upon by another talented, beautiful woman. But we don’t have to act on them. We can watch the physiological reaction happening in our bodies, as if it’s just some other chemical reaction, like when you add vinegar to baking soda.

The difference, as even Mr. Buddha Himself noted, is action. Do we act on the animal impulse of anger, of fear, of threat, of survival? Or do we just watch it and notice how it passes?

When it comes to yoga and the yoga industry, I was incredibly naive. Maybe a few of you are—or were—too. So, let me be clear: the yoga world is incredibly competitive, cutthroat, and catty. If you are expecting rainbows and unicorns, and that all women in yoga uplift each other in a grand sisterhood of divine spirituality, allow me to be the one to burst your bubble. (Please. Allow me. I learned all this the hard way). My naiveté coupled with low self-esteem landed me in a place where I was angry. Very angry, and I said, “F*ck this. F*ck yoga. I’m moving to Chicago to pursue acting and modeling instead.” And so I did.

So disillusioned was I with yoga that I opted to go into two industries known for their levels of ruthlessness. Yes, I always wanted to model and act (something a fellow yoga teacher once ridiculed me for—”ugh, you think you could model?”), and I also liked knowing what I was getting myself into. What stung so much about the yoga betrayals (and there have been TONS of them… I’m debating writing a list just because it’s kind of funny at this point) is because it’s “yoga,” I wasn’t expecting it. I thought I had found a safe refuge from the world. But yoga—and the yoga industry—is very much a part of the world. And humans are humans wherever you find them.

That is to say, humans—at least a piece of them—are animals. And animals care about one thing: survival. What differentiates us from the other animals, though, is our spirituality. If we allow it, we can access that still, silent place within, that perennial Watcher, the Witness, the Awareness, and just watch as our survival modes flush through our system in a couple of seconds.

We’ll be much happier, much clearer (none of that karma accumulation), and so will our fellow human beings, some of whom we call women.

Full Moon Yoga