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Ask the Yogis: My Co-Worker Doesn’t Understand Yoga…

Welcome to the first edition of ask the yogis. On occasion, I may do this for my own personal dilemmas, or for anything you (the yogis!) might suggest I ask. Email me if you’ve got a dilemma to pose to the community!

One of my co-workers calls yoga, “fancy pants stretching,” and for the life of me, I can’t come up with a good enough comeback to convince said co-worker that it’s more than that. What do you say to yoga haters?

The best comment left below by Monday October 17 at 11:59 PM will win a Passport to Prana ($30 value) allowing you to sample one class from 20+ studios around Atlanta!

13 Responses to “Ask the Yogis: My Co-Worker Doesn’t Understand Yoga…”

  1. Mariel says:

    I would ask them what their biggest issue/problem with any injuries they’ve ever had, any sport they’ve ever played or participate in, or any physical pain or stress they ever feel, and then let them know, “There’s a yoga pose for that.” 😛

  2. miamar says:

    i don’t think you should say anything. try and practice karmic yoga and find a sincere interest in something your coworker finds peace though. all forms of yoga are amazing balance practices, if all energy was towards one opinion there would be no balance…


  3. flo says:

    My come back is typically something along these lines: “I can’t explain what yoga really is. For you to understand why don’t you come to one of my classes and see for yourself.” Oh and bring a towel because you will break a sweat. 🙂

    • Leah says:

      I guess you hit on the real issue: it is virtually impossible to explain what yoga is without having a personal experience with the practice. Also, because yoga is so many different things to so many people–and isn’t that beautiful!

  4. Sheila says:

    I was very disappointed to read such a negative reaction to Elizabeth’s initial response. I didn’t take Elizabeth’s response to be condescending in any way but took it to be very positive and self-affirming. I believe that we should all expect that others are genuinely trying to help (especially in the yoga community) unless it is very clear that they are not. Namaste.

    • Leah says:

      Thanks so much for contributing your thoughts, even the critical ones. They’re often the most important for growth.

      I felt, with the phrase, “the real question is why you cannot come up with an explanation,” that I was being attacked as not knowing who I am.

      As someone who keeps coming back to the yoga mat for the fact that it encourages knowing myself and accepting myself (neuroses and all), that felt like a bit of an attack on my entire practice.

      I also tend to take things VERY personally, which is a flaw that reared its ugly head when I posted what I did.

      Again, thanks for calling me out. I’ll do better in the future.

  5. Ashley says:

    Try Ember’s hot yoga!!!

    • Leah says:

      Yes, a good ol’ fashion hot yoga class could probably convince just about anyone to look at yoga differently.

      Still working on how to un-creepily “invite” this guy to a yoga class, without it looking like a come-on! haha

  6. Donna says:


    I’d say “I bet you noticed what’s in my fancy pants. You can thank yoga for that….” 🙂

  7. Elizabeth says:

    Apologies Leah, didn’t mean to sound condescending in any way 🙂 Simply meant, you sound like a great person who loves yoga, so just enjoy being awesome and don’t let this guy get you down. I DEFINITELY have encountered these people so many times, and this is what worked for me – I looked at myself and my experience, shared that, and if that wasn’t enough, I just let it go. Some people are just not ready or willing to listen.

  8. Elizabeth says:

    Why do you need to say anything? Just smile and enjoy your happy life. Not everyone needs to value something just because you value it.
    The real question is, why you cannot come up with an explanation. Just take some time with yourself and think about what yoga means to you, what changes you have noticed in health and happiness, and how you see that your life is better when you practice yoga. Your coworker may tease your yoga, but most of the time that means that they are interested deep-down, but still resistant for some reason, maybe some misconception or misinformation. If you must respond, share your experience. For example, because of my yoga practice, I smile more, laugh more, and I’ve lost over 100 lbs. That’s pretty hard to argue with.

    • Leah says:

      Your advice seems rather condescending, dont you think? I never questioned my own convictions about the practice. I’m not trying to get my coworker to value yoga, or even try a class, just to look at it from a different perspective. As I suggested, Ive given him answers but they’re not enough to convince my coworker that yoga is anything other than stretching.

      I love yoga because it makes me happy to be alive. I enjoy the myriad ways my body responds to asana and meditation and have always appreciated Eastern philosophy.

      I was just looking for different perspectives and figured other yogis had come across this at some point in their practices.

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