The Bad Yogi Story
It’s not that I was a full outcast, it’s just that I was never fully “cool” either. Like, no one’s giving me a wedgie in front of the cool kids table, but they’re not saving me a seat either. I’m not talking about school (though, same); I’m talking about my place within the traditional yoga community. The cool kids table there has the same Mean Girls vibes but with the special flair unique to modern wellness culture. I started teaching when I was really young– like 16– and all I ever hoped to be was like any of the popular yoga teachers in my city. I just wanted to be casually invited to pull up a seat at their proverbial table, so I copied their ultra-advanced teaching styles (and hurt my back in the process). I pretended to like what they did (and choked down wheat grass shots like, “mmm, healthy IS delicious!” 🤢). I spent too much of my paycheck on the indie, expensive leggings they all swore by (spoiler alert: they’re not that great).
I taught with that “perfect yogi” filter for a while. Seven years, actually. It wasn’t until I was 24 and about to quit my very grownup job in finance to teach yoga full time that I knew something had to change. Now that I’d be teaching 22+ classes a week, I knew faking it full-time would be a fast way to fail. So I walked into class one day and owned it: I’m not this perfect yogi. I don’t care if I never drive a Prius. I don’t know why I’m wearing these mala beads. I ate pizza before I came here. I drank too much wine last night. I’ve seen more episodes of Keeping Up With The Kardashians then I have pages of the Yoga Sutras. So yeah, I’m not a “good” yogi. I’m bad. I’m a BAD YOGI.
And I expected to be met with plenty of people walking out. I held my breath for the inevitable criticism from my students after class, but it never came. One after another they all ran to thank me and tell me, “OH MY GOD, ME TOO!!” “I’m so glad someone else said it!”
It was a revelation that who I was at my core was already enough to be accepted by the only people who really mattered to me– my students. I didn’t intend to “empower” or “inspire” anyone with this, but Bad Yogi has always resonated with the ones who, had they been in that class, would have also run up to tell me, “OMG ME TOO!” Our beliefs about yoga are the same: yoga shouldn’t be a judgmental, self-righteous clique where we have to meet a laundry list of prerequisites to feel like we belong here. There’s a new table in town and it’s big enough for everyone. Whether you’re a kale-loving vegan or prize-winning deer hunter, we believe everyone can benefit from this, and whoever is down with a vibe of TRUE acceptance, self-awareness, a willingness to learn from each other, and a desire to do the kind of yoga that’s interesting, fun, and effective THIS is the place for you.
That said, this might not be the place for you if you truly think yoga should never come without the spirituality or the chakras. You might not enjoy my teaching if you prefer doing yoga as performance with lots of advanced poses straight off the ‘gram. I might not be the one for you if you like your teacher to look like they walked straight off a runway with full hair and makeup for every class. I show up to my digital classes exactly as I would in a studio– my hair’s a little all over the place and there might be bags under my eyes (#momlife), but best believe I show up as my best self for you every time.
You won’t hear much sanskrit and I don’t care if you don’t know your asana from your elbow. I won’t beat you over the head with spirituality either. I really believe in yoga as a functional tool to help correct muscle dysfunction. I’m a Certified Personal Trainer too (NASM), but yoga remains my favorite way to gain strategic strength, decrease tension, and increase range of motion. It can be strong but it can also be soothing. It can make you sweat and it can also put you to sleep. It won’t replace medical care, but it can probably replace a serving of caffeine and the two Aleve you take for the back pain caused by those chronically tight hips. You know what, we’ll talk about that later…
But if you’ve read all the way to this point, welcome home 🤗 I wish we could share a glass of wine and exchange life stories in a bar that’s not too cool or too crowded. Or too expensive. Or too far. You know what? Can we just meet at my place? I have cheese! And Netflix! Bring a friend and we can do yoga first then kill a bottle of red and get all WTF over Tiger King and Dead to Me.
Thanks for joining me here ❤️ If you wanna learn more and actually unroll your mat for a class with me, sign up for my emails here.
GabriellaMay 21, 2020 at 10:28 am
I love the concept of Bad Yogi so much! I’ve been coming to your classes (virtually of course) for years now and I never fail to come away feeling motivated, happy, and like I’m part of something inclusive and friendly. The Bad Yogi community is out of this world amazing. And of course, it wouldn’t be possible without Erin 🙂
Erin MotzMay 24, 2020 at 10:23 am
thank you so much, gabriella! xo
SashaMay 22, 2020 at 12:47 pm
Hey there, I just discovered your site/channel several days ago. Thanks for (re-)posting your story as its great to put your classes into perspective! Anyway looking forward to more classes, and now not questioning my habit of wine with dinner after practice.
Erin MotzMay 24, 2020 at 10:22 am
hey sasha! welcome! thank you so much for being here, for the kind words, and of course for doing yoga with me. it means the world to have you here <3 cheers! 😉
Beth HanrahanJuly 27, 2020 at 11:21 am
I LOVE your message!! I feel like I want to throw up every time a yoga teacher or practitioner POSES for a Facebook pic or whatever social media platform. I’ve been teaching for about 10 years. No frills. No HUGE following. I take pride in not being someone else’s guru. I think your view is refreshing!!!
Susan S SelckmanNovember 17, 2021 at 12:28 pm
thank you for being real— in real fake world— the world needs more of you
bloxorzDecember 22, 2022 at 3:34 am
It’s like me. 🙂 I love Dad Yogi