Tag Archives: yoga

Fake Yoga Teacher Bios

I’m currently in the process of rewriting my bio, and I thought it would be funny to create some outlandish, fictional yoga teacher bios, based in part on what I’ve actually seen out there.

Jessica “Shakti” Steinberg

After dabbling for several months in transcendental tantric dance, neo-astrological shamanism, and hypno-waterbirth midwifery, Jessica finally discovered her true calling was sharing the sacred, transformative powers of vinyasa yoga (and subsequently, she legally changed her name to Shakti). She stumbled into a local studio as a college freshman to see if she could hang up a flyer for her animal rights club’s potluck vegan dinner on their community board, decided to stay for the lunch break power hour, and it was love at first down dog.

Two years and twelve teacher trainings later, she has developed and branded her own unique style of vinyasa called Rhythmic Soulful Spirit Flow, and she teaches ten classes a week in various makeshift practice spaces that she rents out of vegan restaurants, organic co-ops and new age bookstores. Shakti is eternally grateful for her daily five minute vipassana mediation, holotropic breathwork, and power yoga practice that she packs in somewhere between her full course load as a holistic psychology major, her part time job in the cheese department at Whole Foods (She just sells the cheese, you guys. She’s still a vegan!!), and her full schedule of yoga classes, as it allows her to maintain the serenity, bliss, and groundedness that’s so essential to spreading the many joys of this amazing practice to as wide an audience as possible.

Shakti has taught all yogis of all ages- from baby-and-me classes to grandma-and-me partner yoga workshops. She truly believes her fast-paced, high energy, dynamically challenging style of vinyasa yoga is accessible and adaptable for everyone.

She plans on traveling the world after she graduates college, recreating a vegan version of “Eat, Pray, Love” (okay, maybe she’ll SPLURGE and eat a dessert with honey. Sssh! Don’t tell 😉 ) which will include spending several months with her three gurus in various ashrams around India. And she hopes to share the many pearls of wisdom and insights gained from this journey with all you lovely yogis upon her return.

Om Shanti. May all beings be peaceful, happy, and free. And may we all be one with the universe and live in eternal abundance (for as long as we can afford our daily trips to Whole Foods)!

Jenna J. Johnson

Having been a competitive person throughout most of her high school and college years, especially during her tenure as captain of the Crew team at Harvard University (’06-’09), Jenna always tended to view yoga with a somewhat skeptical outlook. But when a fellow team member twisted her arm and dragged her to her first yoga class- a three hour “Ignite Your Inner Core Fire” workshop, taught in a blistering 100 degree room- she was hooked, right from the opening 5 minute forearm plank hold.

After emerging from the workshop, still dripping with sweat as well as with an otherworldly, euphoric bliss, Jenna immediately signed up for the studio’s accelerated 500-hour teacher training program. Within months she quit her job, began teaching full time, and has never looked back. She fell so deeply in love with the practice and the renewed sense of empowerment it gave her that she realized her true calling was to be a “yogtrepeneur,” a title she cleverly coined to describe her unique career as yoga teacher, life coach, nutrition consultant, brand ambassador, and owner of a successful chain of yoga studio/wellness spa/juice bars. (Special thanks to my father for funding all these projects. Where would I be without you, Daddy?)

An avid runner and cyclist, as well as a dedicated yogi, Jenna credits her daily three hour practice of sprinting meditations and hybrid spin/crossfit/yoga classes with keeping her sane, stress-free (and humble!) as she juggles the multiple balls that come with her multifaceted, fast-paced career. She prides herself on fostering a calm, supportive, noncompetitive environment in her classes, which will challenge you like no other. You’ll laugh, you’ll sweat, you’ll be inspired to achieve the seemingly impossible (case in point: we’re working on a new pose called eyelash stand this month- come try it!). And most importantly, you’ll cry. The Buddha might have said that suffering is optional, but didn’t someone great also say “No pain, no gain?” Jenna’s philosophy of the practice definitely leans toward the latter, but she embraces and welcomes all who can shell out the $29/class to her illustrious chain of studios, Inner Core Fire Power Yoga (www.icfpyoga.com)

In addition to being a five time Lululemon ambassador and a two time winner of New York Fitness and Wellness Magazine’s Best Yoga Instructor of NYC Award, Jenna’s other accomplishments include running the NYC marathon for the past eight years, and graduating in the top 10 percent of her MBA program at Columbia University. Always hungry for new challenges, she has most recently begun training for the 2016 Crossfit Games and an all new Ironman Triathlon that will take place in Siberia next winter.

Logan Lovejoy

“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience.”

Logan builds his powerful, transformative classes from the very essence of this idea, and the wisdom he channels through his words will entice you to discover your own inherent spirituality within. His precise instruction is steeped in an ancient tradition that’s rooted in equal parts anatomical alignment and his own cutting-edge Divine Chakra PhilosophyTM which he is currently developing into both a lecture series and a 1,008 page book (a number that, while it may appear random, has quite a lineage of sacred meaning attached to it).

Logan is self-trained and taught himself everything he knows, as he firmly believes that “You are your own Guru.” And he is eager to show you how you, too, can become yours (under his careful guidance, of course).

As his student, you will experience a powerful rebirthing that comes from of the pure poetry of his words as he guides you through his masterful sequences of postures, allowing you to emerge from the chrysalis that is your yoga mat so that you can spread your wings and expand beyond any preconceived ideas of who you once were to take flight into the glorious new life that awaits you outside the walls of this studio.

So come, take class! Be transformed! Discover your pure potential! Live Long and Prosper! And be sure to pre-order Logan’s self-published life-changing new book, Reconnecting To Your Essence: A Sacred Journey Through Your Chakras.

Don’t Let The Yoga Teacher Tell A Pigeon Story


I can only remember three times when I’ve ever rolled up my mat and walked out halfway through a yoga class. Two of these instances were because the room was hotter than a heatwave in Hell, and I felt too dizzy and depleted to continue my practice. The other time had more to do with the teacher’s words and intentions. Now, I’ve suffered through teachers’ nonsensical philosophical musings, crass jokes uttered either for reasons of egotism or shock value, and even annoyingly “cute” stories about how waiting in long lines at Disney World can teach us to cultivate patience just like yoga does (Isn’t it amazing how we find yoga everywhere, guys? Yay!!). But I had to draw the line when I was subjected to a politically charged rant about “evil in the world” and “faith in humanity” while attempting to focus internally in pigeon pose just one day after the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013.

Aside from this particular story hitting way too close to home and coming way too soon for many people in the room, it’s simply intrusive and counterproductive for a yoga teacher to impose his or her strong world views and political opinions on a diverse group of people who are mostly there to de-stress and develop a deeper mind-body connection. I try my hardest to tune out most of these superfluous storytelling moments that can show up in class, whether they’re rather innocuous anecdotes about the Whole Foods parking lot or preachy tirades about God-knows-what. But sometimes the words a teacher chooses to offer beyond alignment cues and mindfulness techniques can become so jarring and take me so far out of the physical experience I’m having in the pose that I seriously consider leaving class early. I can’t honestly remember the finer details of the speech about evildoers and that tragic day in Boston, but I do know that it lasted long enough to convince me that being in that room and listening to that teacher’s uncensored and rather insensitive verbal spewings was not serving me. So I left class feeling unfulfilled, pissed off, and wanting my 18 bucks back.

Now, I’m no stranger to the “pigeon story.” I’m honestly not sure where it originated or grew in popularity, but it was definitely the norm in many of the power classes I took during the mid-late 2000’s, when I was a yoga newbie. While the studio where I did my first training didn’t explicitly teach us to tell personal stories while we held our students in pigeon pose, many of my fellow trainees adopted this teaching technique through osmosis. If you regularly take classes from teachers who like to fill the silence with pseudo-spiritual teachings in the form of anecdotes about Starbucks running out of almond milk or getting stuck in horrendous traffic en route to class, chances are you’ll want to try this technique in your own classes. So, once I got comfortable enough with sequencing and cueing the poses, I made my one and only foray into the world of yoga story time by trying to illustrate some yogic principle through what I thought would be a cute little anecdote about the second graders I worked with. And it totally bombed. I felt awkward and inauthentic, and I wanted to apologize to my students afterward. Needless to say, I’ve never told another pigeon story.

In the wake of my lame ass attempt at a pigeon story, I began to question the necessity and usefulness of this teaching technique. And I came to realize that these anecdotes (or in some cases, speeches) mostly serve to distract students from the oftentimes intense, uncomfortable experience of maintaining stillness in a pose. While a teacher’s positive or humorous words can certainly enhance or ameliorate a student’s experience in a challenging posture, an over-reliance on stories and jokes can become a roadblock to some of the more seriously focused work of the practice. Introspection, meditation, and mindfulness are all the more challenging to put into action when we have to listen to rants about our attachment to smartphones and social media or hear about the latest really cute thing the teacher’s toddler or puppy did. I think it’s great when teachers can bring their unique personalities and experiences into their classes and make personal connections with their students. But I wish some of them would save the excessive chit-chat for the lobby after class and allow us to have what could be the one precious moment of silence and stillness in our day while we’re on the floor with our eyes closed in pigeon pose.

Poses like pigeon are still difficult for me to sustain, even after several years of regular practice. Mostly because I’m a runner with especially tight hips, but also because I have an overactive imagination and a tendency to avoid things that challenge me or that bring up discomfort. When you add a philosophical/political rant or an ingratiatingly cute story to that scenario, my mind wanders even further from the sensations of the pose, and the mind-body connection I’m trying to build gets washed away in a swelling wave of meaningless monologue. What I really need is silence, so these days I either practice at home or seek out teachers who value the importance of quiet space, especially in the more introspective poses.

Yoga means something different to each and every practitioner, and we all seek different things from our practice. While I do enjoy the occasional “hip hop yoga” class and value the simple insights or witty comments I might hear from one of my teachers, what I seek most from an asana practice these days is simplicity and sanctuary. I need at least a few minutes of uninterrupted, quiet space in which I can feel my body, hear my breath, and attempt to make peace with my stressed out, angst-ridden, tight hipped-and-hamstringed self. And I simply can’t do that when the teacher fills the room with an endless string of “blah, blah, blahs.” So, teachers, teach the poses, cue the breath, and show us your personality and humanity by making a snarky comment or insightful statement when it fits, but save the stories for the lobby. Or better yet, the smoothie bar after class.

Started From The Bottom, Now We’re Here? The Somewhat Parallel Career Paths of Musicians and Yogis


I spend a ridiculous amount of time thinking about music and yoga. Aside from television, pop culture, and the impending zombie apocalypse, they are the two subjects that definitely occupy the most space in my mind. Today, while my class was in a nice seven minute long savasana, instead of sitting in meditation and quieting my mind along with my class (as good yoga teachers are supposed to do) I got a Weezer song stuck in my head, then began to compose a Weird Al-style parody of said song, and finally let my mind wander off on a crazy tangent about the somewhat parallel careers that musicians and yoga teachers can experience.

But the more I started to explore and refine these tangential thoughts, they became less crazy and more relatable. Much like music, the teaching and practice of yoga is an art form, and many of the forces that influence the artistry, style, and expression of a musical artist or band, as well as the trajectory of their career, can also influence the craft and career of a yoga teacher. From social media and commercialism to fickle “fan bases” and controlling labels, managers (or studio owners), musicians and yoga instructors are dealing with some of the same challenges and fighting similar battles in order to express themselves authentically to an audience who appreciates them and relates to their work. Some have let fame and fortune go to their heads, some are on the verge of burnout, while others have plugged along steadily, showing commitment and dedication to their work and the people they serve. But to a certain degree, all have struggled to maintain integrity in an industry that can tear them apart just as quickly as it builds them up.

I decided to have a little fun with this idea, so I created a rough typology of sorts for yogis and musicians. The list of types that follows is open to interpretation and is by no means all-encompassing or scientifically valid. As much as I try to avoid slapping labels on people, sometimes it can be fun to play a little category game if you don’t take it too seriously. So if you’re a yogi who can take all of this with a grain of himalayan crystal salt, you might just be able to place yourself (or someone else) into one of the following seven categories:

1.) The Humble Success Stories:

These are the highly respected, inspirational, and still very much down to earth, accessible teachers whose classes might be as well attended as a Beyonce or Justin Timberlake concert, but who manage to keep it real and avoid letting popularity or success turn them into a mean girl or douchebag (what exactly is the male equivalent of a “mean girl,” anyway?). These teachers are much like the pop stars or lead singers who still come across as regular people in interviews or in stage banter. They’re the ones you’d want to have a drink with after the show, or rather a green smoothie with after class.

2) The “Too Cool For School” Type:

Much like indie bands who quickly became a household name, blew up in popularity, and in some cases went on to win prestigious awards (i.e. Arcade Fire, Bon Iver) these super popular, sometimes award winning, teachers may have let the fame go to their heads, making them quite different from their cousins in the previous group. In an effort to stay fresh and maintain their status as Queen Bees, these teachers might an adopt an even stronger flair for the fancy pants poses, and perhaps unwittingly create an exclusive environment in their classes that’s geared toward achieving these rather inaccessible poses. Like the artists or bands who get a little too avant-garde or experimental for their fan base or who start sounding like pricks when the press interviews them, these teachers can start to become less relatable and accessible, thus alienating their once loyal student base.

3) The Comeback Kids:

These teachers have taken a path that resembles those traveled by bands like Weezer or Ryan Adams (& The Cardinals), who took many risks and detours and faced some pretty intense personal demons while struggling to stay authentic and relevant. They may have fallen off the map at one point or another during their initially successful careers and lost some of their original fans, but they’ve now come full circle and reconnected with their roots in a way that feels refreshing. Instructors who have switched up their style and hopped from studio to studio in an effort to find the right fit would fall into this category. Perhaps after flirting rather clumsily with a myriad of styles such as Hot Power Vinyasa, Hip Hop Yoga, and a Shiva Rea-inspired Prana Flow, these teachers have scaled back on the experimentation and found a renewed sense of appreciation for a simple, steady, but powerful practice like the one they began teaching in the first place. Much like the once beloved band who is able to use the missteps and misadventures of their careers to create a rejuvenated spin on their classic style, these teachers are reconnecting with a student population who craves a unique, but back-to-basics approach to yoga asana.

4) The Classic Rockers:

These are your OG yogis, the ones who were teaching and practicing way before Instagram and Lululemon were even things. Hell, many of them were practicing yoga before the internet was even a thing, and their classes were probably held in church basements or community centers. Their classes aren’t fancy or flashy, and they might not be all about that bass or even that bakasana variation, but they are still faithfully serving and inspiring yogis of both the new and old schools alike while keeping the older traditions and finer nuances of the practice alive.

5) The Flavor of the Month:

Like an insanely catchy but overly repetitive and saccharine pop song that remains stuck in your head for a while, these teachers will lure in the masses with a flashy, athletic, youthful style that’s simply not sustainable for the long haul. Remember how you pretty much wanted to gouge your own eyes out after the 99th time you heard “Single Ladies” or “Blurred Lines” on the radio? Well, depending on your tolerance for pain and suffering, you’ll probably want to do the same after the 99th chaturanga pushup or bicycle sit up in these trendy, cardio style “yoga” classes, which are often taught by perfectly nice, but rather young and inexperienced instructors. These “flavor of the month” teachers and classes can often be found at the bigger chain studios, which pride themselves on being “the Starbucks of the yoga world,” offering a highly caffeinated, athletic, pre-packaged standard flow that, much like the songs that crack the Billboard top 10, get old pretty fast.

6) Not Quite A Household Name:

I feel like the majority of yoga teachers out there fall into this category. They’re the ones who have studied and worked hard to attract and maintain a loyal student base, but for whatever reason have not managed to attain the level of popularity or success (in terms of class numbers and compensation) that their cousins in the first two categories have found. These teachers are like the many mid-level indie rock and punk bands out there, who might have a die hard fan base, but will never be featured in Rolling Stone or even played on the soundtrack to a CW show. Maybe it’s a lack of concern with image or self-promotion, or a tendency to emphasize the simple over the flashy and fancy, but these highly skilled, uniquely gifted teachers will probably never achieve the handstand that would finally enable them to crack that yoga studio glass ceiling. Much like Drake, they “started from the bottom,” but unlike his rapid rise to superstardom, they’ve remained somewhere in the middle. And they’re usually okay with that. While their ass might not look “aahmaaaazing” in the latest size 4 Lulus, and while they might not get 100 likes on their latest Instagram selfie or make upwards of $100 per class, they’re out there doing what they love, faithfully serving the students who appreciate their style and approach.

7) The Masters of Reinvention

The teachers in this group have branched out beyond the physical practice and are doing some seriously focused work in fields such as ayurveda, mediation, yoga therapy, bodywork, or anatomy and physiology. They will often go on to teach less public classes and lead more workshops, trainings, and mentorships instead. In some ways their career path resembles that of artists who have masterfully reinvented and refined their sound over the years (Beck and Bjork come to mind), or those who go on to become producers or write film scores. Reshaping and expanding upon one’s teaching career can provide more sustainability and happiness, and I admire my colleagues who have gone on to build successful careers as yoga therapists, ayurvedic consultants, and teacher trainers.

As both a student and a teacher, I love the variety of teaching styles and studios I have to choose from. I’ve dabbled in almost as many styles of yoga as I have genres of music, having experienced brief love affairs with hot power yoga and hip hop yoga, just as I’ve had flings with pop punk and progressive house music. I’m happy with my “not quite a household name” status, and I feel like the teachers and bands who fall into that category, along with some “humble success stories,” are almost always my favorites. But regardless of which category we might impose on ourselves or someone else, we are all united by our shared experiences of growth and struggle. Yoga teachers and musicians alike will definitely experience their fair share of identity crises and growing pains as they find their voice and slip into a style that feels natural and authentic. All labels and comparisons aside, as long as they do their work from a place of truth and integrity, they will forge powerful, long lasting relationships with their students and fans. Who really cares if they’ve achieved Drake-level status or if they’re still somewhere near the bottom?