Let’s face it – yoga is misunderstood in Western culture. For those that have never practiced or don’t practice often, it can easily be seen as an egotistical version of stretching where what you wear and how you pose is the most important aspect. This is simply not the case, although Instagram could tell you differently. Yoga is the culmination of body, breath, mind, and spirit. It’s a way to check out, connect, and refresh your soul – in whatever way you please. Most importantly, yoga is your practice.
Make Yoga Your Own Practice
When it comes to personalizing a yoga practice, no one does it quite as good as Erin Motz, founder of Bad Yogi, who is single-handedly redefining yoga culture and proving that there is so much more to yoga than a cute pair of Lululemon’s. The girl just gets it. She’s unapologetically herself and has drawn the attention of upwards of 100,000 fans on Facebook, all feeling the same way as Erin – the yoga culture needs to change!
Erin began Bad Yogi as an article for Huffington Post and since then it has spiraled into a clothing line, online courses, and a social community for all the “Bad Yogis” out there. Her voice for the non-superficial majority of yogis provides a humorous and warm approach for a lot of the insecurities and frustrations a yogi can feel on and off the mat. I had the chance to talk with Erin about Bad Yogi, her journey, and how to define your own yoga practice – read on to get all the details from our conversation:
Bad Yogi started as a post for Huffington Post, but at what point did you decide to call out the facade around the yoga community and become a voice for the real-life yogi?
I didn’t really plan on calling anyone out, I just saw what was happening inside the yoga community and wanted to hold a mirror up to all of us. It wasn’t strategic at all, so I’m glad people resonated with it 🙂
As a teacher, students will always look to you as an inspiration and role model of some sort, how has this shaped Bad Yogi and are there any lessons you’ve learned over the years from your students?
I don’t usually step back and think about my role as a role model, so I suppose I’m not really sure how that’s shaped my approach to anything, haha! Though I can say that I’m aware that my words carry weight when I say certain things, so I do make a very conscious effort in choosing my words wisely and with intention. The Bad Yogi Community is constantly teaching me things. Some of the most powerful lessons have been that we all feel lonely sometimes, we all want to find a place to belong, and we ALL struggle with feeling good enough on the regular. And there’s no quick fix for any of those things. The only answer and anecdote is connection. Connection has brought us together so we can stand up and say, “me too!” to a lot of those feelings and feel less alone in our awkward stumble towards self-improvement.
What has been the most challenging part of venturing out into redefining yoga culture and have you seen a noticeable shift in your direct (and indirect) community from Bad Yogi?
Oh my gosh, YES! Yoga has changed SO MUCH in the past 5 years, I can hardly believe it. Now, everyone drinks wine and wears funky pants. So many people are having open, honest conversations about everything from body image in yoga to faults in the industry. It’s really blown wide open since Bad Yogi has been on the scene… and I want to very clear that I’m not taking credit for all of that, but I do like to think that we at least empowered a few people to drop their guard a little, too. That’s my hope, anyway 😉
A lot of people tend to stay away from yoga because they “can’t touch their toes” or “don’t look good in yoga pants.” What advice do you give to those that are disillusioned by these sentiments and what do you see as the most common misconceptions of yoga?
If you can sit in a chair and breathe, you can do yoga. If you can lie in your bed and breathe, you can do yoga. Yoga is so much more than just fancy or complex poses and expensive yoga pants. I’d tell someone who’s skeptical to look around for teachers that make you say, “oh I can definitely get on board with that!” and see where it goes from there. Today I think common misconceptions are that you need a studio, it has to be expensive, and you have to have a dedicated Instagram account to document your practice. None of which are true, of course!
Since this is all about how you made your own practice, do you have any quirky and unique things you do in your personal practice or while teaching?
Hmm, well, when I teach in public I always cry when I first meet a group of people. It’s a mix of overwhelm, nerves, and humility but it’s like a reflex! So awkward! When I practice I often ditch the yoga mat and just stay on the floor. It feels totally freeing! Like the walls are down and borders are erased. And I always have music.
Erin and the team at Bad Yogi have opened up the world to discuss and reject a lot of the flaws that are present in the current Western yoga culture. The message of redefining yoga culture resonates with hundreds of thousands of individuals all simply looking to make yoga their own practice, without the worry of actually enjoying kale smoothies and getting “you can’t sit with us” stares. On Facebook, you can find their big, bad yoga community at Bad Yogi or head to the website to check out their blog, clothing line, and online courses offered. Embrace the Bad Yogi within and join their growing community!