The Untold Bad Yogi Story + New Challenge!

The Untold Bad Yogi Story + New Challenge!

I’ve been teaching yoga for a while… started when I was 17 and it was always the gig I had on the side. When I graduated college I had no clue what to do with my life. I was just meandering through life hoping something nice, like a lottery win or a cushy job with a six-figure salary, would fall in to my lap! (Which: no.) So after one of my weekly yoga classes, I’d mentioned needing to find a “real job” and one of my yogis happened to work at an investment firm. She REALLY REALLY REALLY wanted me to come by for an interview, and I reluctantly agreed. Partially because my mom would be super annoyed if I didn’t, and partly because I figured I had nothing to lose since I’d never get hired based on the fact that I knew nothing about investing and had no interest in working there 😉

Turns out, I got the job! I remember thinking, “Wow, cool! Wait, oh shit…” haha. But hey, it paid me well, I had fantastic benefits, and I learned more about financial markets and the world economy than I ever did in school… and that knowledge still serves me extremely well to this day. Yet somehow, I still hated it. I LOATHED going to work in the morning and Sunday evenings were usually spent in tears as I racked my brain for ANY other alternative. It was a serious struggle to wake up and know that I was about to spend nine to ten hours of my day doing work I didn’t care about while generally hating my life.

Shortly after christmas in the second year I worked there at around 10am, we all got an email telling us there was a young woman in our office (no older than 30 and newly married) who was killed in a car accident on her way to work. She was hit at an intersection and died instantly.

Let me just say that for me, any story like this just tears my soul apart. I’m super sensitive to this stuff as it is, but this time, it really hit home with more force than ever. It took everything inside me to not burst in to tears at work that day, and for weeks after that I was haunted by the same question:

if this was my last day on earth, is this what I’d want to spend my time doing?

It’s morbid, I know, but I was really worried about leaving this world while doing something I didn’t even remotely enjoy with people who I liked but certainly didn’t LOVE.

I knew I had to make a change and would have gone almost anywhere. So I applied for countless analyst positions at different firms, looked in to working in a restaurant again, and even got offered a teaching position in the English department at a local high school (a story for another day ;)). But I always kept coming back to the same thing: the only thing I really loved to do and looked forward to no matter what kind of day I had was teaching yoga. An entrepreneur himself, The Frenchman had been down a similar road years before and really encouraged me to go for it; honestly, without him, I might still be counting the minutes to 6pm every day ;)! So I took a deep breath, put in my two weeks notice so that my last day would be January 5th, and I prepared to start down the road of building Bad Yogi with The Frenchman at my side.
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That was one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever made. Even though I hated my job, it wasn’t easy to walk away from a healthy, stable income, a 401k, regular bonuses, health insurance and guaranteed upward mobility. So suffice it to say, when I started teaching full-time, I struggled. I was teaching 18 classes a week, driving as far as 40 miles from home to teach wherever I could, and pushing my body to the point of failure, just to get close to making almost half of what I did at the firm. And no benefits. Or insurance. Or savings. But don’t feel too bad for me— I really enjoyed my classes 🙂

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Fast-forward through lots of butt-busting, some yoga challenges, more butt-busting, travel, filming, travel, filming, filming, filming, travel, and a dash more butt-busting…

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Skype call in the parking lot of a yoga studio to discuss MYP details 😉

… and The Frenchman and I ended up on a plane to Berlin to film for MyYogaPro exactly one year and one month to the day that I left my job. It was definitely one of those moments that had me feeling extra grateful to have had the support to follow my gut.
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Arrived in Berlin, completely frozen, haha. I was so excited to start filming classes and warm up!

That was just one event on the journey that brings us together now. Bad Yogi started as an inside joke I had with myself (the best kind, lol) and now is something that really means something to so many people. I’m embarrassed to admit that I totally used to pretend to like green juice and kombucha and kale and all the stuff that’s stereotypically “yogic,” because I felt so out of place otherwise. My experience with the yoga community was always bittersweet: i loved the practice, but the people I’ve interacted with have often been exclusive, judgmental, and cut from a cloth that I didn’t come from. I knew I couldn’t be alone, so I set out to build a new community. One for those of us who love yoga but don’t fit the mold we’ve been told is “correct.” In Bad Yogi classes, you won’t hear much Sanskrit, I totally forgive you if you don’t know your asana from your elbow, and I firmly believe that yoga is for everyone, from the kale-loving vegan to the prize-winning deer hunter. I don’t care if you’re a devout practitioner or a cursing, SUV-driving, cigarette-smoking asshole, you can breathe a sigh of relief, because you’re welcome here.

Bad Yogi is bringing yoga to people who wouldn’t have tried it before because of all the pretense that comes with it. We’re re-introducing yoga to people who were turned off by it once before but felt compelled to try it again. Bad Yogi isn’t just a punchline; it’s this huge extended yoga family that’s accepting and inclusive and stands up for making yoga appealing again. I want us to bring Bad Yogi to every corner of the world and grow this community to be bigger than we can even imagine.

Let’s do this, bad yogi army.

Spread the good word 😉 Our 10-Day Instagram Challenge Starts 1/1/15.

Over to you: Any similar stories out there? Love hearing them!

51 Comments

  1. I’m so glad I found your blog–I absolutely loved every word of this story and, as a yogi myself, hope to teach yoga one day. Following you Erin!

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    • Do it! If you go for it 100% you’ll get there 🙂

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  2. I can totally relate! 5 more months in my just okay job. Thanks for inspiring us!

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  3. You are such an inspiration, Erin! Thanks for sharing the behind-the-scenes stuff. I’m currently in the middle ground, I’m past “Woohoo I’m getting out of this job I hate!” but havent quite made it to “I’m so glad I followed my gut because what I’m doing now is 100x more awesome!” I know I’ll get there, it’s just going to take time, and I’m taking the steps I need to. Thanks for all you do!

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    • girrrrl, when i was in the throes of anxiety over whether or not i’d made the right choice, i was definitely NOT convinced either. hang in there– your gut doesn’t lie 😉

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  4. Aww I need to make sth with my life too but I don’t know what (or I know inside but don’t want to admit) but it’s so scarying…

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  5. You have so much courage! And good that your Frenchman was there to support you. Will you tell something about your major in college and that restaurant job? If you have more stories like this, be sure we are waiting:)

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    • Sure! I majored in International Relations + Economics. The restaurant job was a simple serving job but I ended up not pursuing that because I jumped right in to teaching full-time instead 🙂

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  6. A year ago I stumbled upon your 30 day yoga challenge and I am so grateful. Thank you for sharing your practice and more.

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  7. Lady, no need to like booch and green juice (although a good booch is the super-noms!). One of the things that I like best about yoga is that it’s called practice. It reminds me that nothing is ever exactly where it ought to be. Life is practice. Art is practice. Work is practice. And we all just keep practicing, every day.

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  8. Erin your bad yogi additude towards the snooty yoga world is the same I have! I love it for the practice and the growth it has sparked in me. I found yoga a little over a year ago after going through a tragic loss of my boyfriend of 5 years. I was lost and had no idea what to do with myself. Thankfully I looked to exercise and yoga after realizing partying and drinking didn’t help the pain. Somehow I found you on YouTube and became obsessed! Just want to say that I’m so thankful for your easy going yoga instruction and hopefully one day ill be passing through your part of Florida and can meet you and take a class in person. Sending you love light and all that hippy yogic bs!
    Lauren
    Wpb, fl
    Ps joining your challenge today!

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    • Thank YOU, Lorann!! So so happy/humbled that I had some small part in your yoga journey 🙂 So sorry to hear of everything you’ve been through but am THRILLED that you’re coming out stronger and lighter.

      Big love to you!! xo

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  9. Thanks so much for sharing your story!! So glad you made it to where you are today so you can share the Bad Yogi love with the world 🙂 <3

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  10. Well. Accidentally posted this on the wrong blog post, and then the system wouldn’t let me repost it. So this is me typing extra things to fool the computer. Kbye.

    Love it. I start YTT in 3 weeks and couldn’t be more excited. When BadYogi posts it’s first open position or internship, you’ll find my name in the pile. Just saying…

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    • lol! sounds like you’d fit right in! 😉 <3 oh, and happy YTT-ing! enjoy it!

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  11. Thanks for the honest inspiration, Erin! 🙂

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  12. I absolutely love this. Thanks for sharing the “roots” of where Bad Yogi came from. I’m not at the “I hate my day job” level, but I am at the “I want more than this” level. I started on a whim with your videos by suggestion of a friend and I’m so, so flag I started. The “elite” make it seem like some prestigious club. They’ve forgotten that they had to start somewhere too. You make yoga fun and challenging and it’s become the very best part of my day! So thank you.

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    • Thank YOU! <3 Wishing you swift and joyful change in your career! 🙂

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  13. Such a wonderful and inspirational story – thank you for taking time to share it with it as well as always have time of all us, for sharing with us your passion and love and humour, and so much more.

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  14. I love reading the full story after hearing about that last part and TOTALLY identifying with it all these months since I discovered your first 30-day challenge. I’ve been doing yoga for nearly 10 years but it really wasn’t until I found Bad Yogi that I felt like I could make a “home” in a yoga community, rather than be the rebel outcast 😉 — so thank you SO much for being the creator of that community! I took your workshop in Princeton a few months ago and it was the best time I’ve ever had in a studio. When I finally get my teacher training underway later this year I can only hope to do my part in spreading the Bad Yogi creed all over the northeast 😉 thanks for sharing your story and your practice with us.

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    • I remember everything about you, Alyssa! <– in the least creepy way possible… So glad there will be more of us out there. <3 Big love to you!

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  15. This is awesome, Erin! It sounds like you have had quite the journey leading you to right where you are supposed to be! I had a wonderful time practicing with you in Princeton, it was a great experience bringing lots of bad yogis together 🙂 I am so glad the Frenchman pushed you to take the plunge and do what you love, so now we can all do yoga with you!
    Sending bad yogi <3 from New Jersey!

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  16. I can relate….although your story is better than mine:) I worked in corporate america for 15 years working my up to veteran status and making that $100k plus income. I did not particularly “hate” what I was doing, but it was “high dislike”. I felt trapped because I was making so much money how could I walk away? Then 2008 came, my 100k job disappeared and I was near nervous breakdown. So what did I do? I jumped back into corporate america, because I really did not know anything else. Now, I was making much less money….but, still it seemed too high of a number to walk away from. Plus, the post 2008 corporate america had increased the stress level to an all time high. About a year into my last job, I started to question whether what I was doing was really helping clients grow their business and it became clear that it was not. Now add in having two kids to provide for. Trapped isn’t even the word for it. At least 2x a month I was coming down with flu like symptoms. I was convinced I was dying, except it was my soul that was dying. I kept hanging on, I took a MLOA……and I am now in what I call “recovery from corporate america”. Learning that there is another way to live. That while money is important, it ranks behind health and integrity. I love watching you grow….it certainly is an inspiration.

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    • wow, kim. i admire YOU! walking away is SO difficult, especially with more “resume time” behind you and a few more responsibilities. i don’t think i would have ever had the courage if i’d given myself more time to grow there. kudos to you for taking your life back. sending you big love!

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  17. Thank you for sharing this, I left a job I hated about 6 months ago and I’m still trying to find what I want to do, but it’s always great to read a story like this to help me know that I’m making the right choice!

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  18. This just made me tear up! I’m not doing the challenge (only because I now try to do only one IG challenge at a time to limit my social networking time) but I see you as a daily inspiration! I am a Buti Yoga instructor and by September will have my 200hr RYT and everything you just said resonates with me! I want my students to know that they don’t have to follow any particular “lifestyle” to practice with me! If I cite you could I use a quite from this blog post? If not then that’s great but I just want to thank you so much for being you!

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    • and by “quite” I meant “quote” — I wanted to share it with my students!

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    • of COURSE! always feel free to quote/use anything 🙂 love that you’re spreading acceptance, too! <3

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  19. Thank you Erin for sharing so much, for being so real and for inspiring this 47 year old mom of four to not only love yoga, but love doing it every day!!

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  20. I love the things you share, you are so different than others yoginis and so appealing to anyone. Thanks to you my husband start doing some yoga and stretching his office cramped muscles. This posted is very inspiring I love yoga, fitness, moving and eating. I love green juices and kale and helping people to make better decisions for them selves. I would love to go that way in my career but I am petrified of failure so I stayed where I am now and just day dream about it. I promised myself to do something about it this year, even if that will be tiny step forward as long as it forward it will be good 🙂 Thanks for being.

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    • thank you so much! that means more than you know 🙂 yes yes yes! please take your small step! you’ll never regret it…

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  21. Great post. Did your DoyouYoga 30 day challenge in Dec and now doing your 4 week and ab challenge in Jan. Thanks for making yoga so accessable. I love your bad yogi ethos, and though I did yoga years ago, it’s only now that I’m really getting it.

    clementinebuttercup.blogspot.co.uk

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  22. You are the reason I got into yoga. I’ve always been scared off by the super flexible pretzel yoga moves because I can barely touch my toes on a good day. But I stumbled across your first 30 day challenge, and for some reason I decided to give yoga a chance. I think if it had been any of the other instructors I’ve watched since I would have given up and never looked back. But you got me hooked, and even my almost 4 year old enjoys playing yoga with me 🙂

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    • I also just happened upon the 30 day challenge and I loved it! I have been following those videos faithfully for a week now. In fact, I just told my boyfriend yesterday that I love doing yoga everyday (I look forward to it!) and I love the girl teaching in the videos! I just feel like Erin gets me and then I did some more research and found this story. Now it makes sense! She is just like me…no wonder! Thanks for being awesome and giving me the inspiration to do some daily good for my mind and body.

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  23. All I have to say is that I am so glad that you started this! Being in high school is definitely a challenge and sometimes I just don’t know where I fit in. Bad yogi is truly inspirational and I am proud to be apart of something that is so different but is able to cater to each individual need. And it’s just sooooo cool!

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  24. Love your work! Has completely changed my life for the better. Thanks for helping me start down this new and amazing path in my life. On day 14 of your 30 day yoga challenge. As you say have a good day be good feel good! Bad yogi for life!!! 🙂

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  25. So does ‘bad yogi’ mean someone who is bad at being the traditional yogi? I always thought it meant ‘bad ass yogi’. Which is it? I feel pretty badass because of yoga, I gotta say.

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  26. I have to say that the word has already spread to Czech Republic, Europe! I actually follow your work for a several months now because I just love your attitude! Looking forward for all your upcoming staff.

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  27. I love teaching fitness classes, I qualified 4 years ago, and have built up a little community of Mis-fits

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  28. This is really good to read! I finished university in the summer and am in the process of setting up as a musician/music teacher, which at the moment means living back with my parents and making barely any money as I build things up, whilst with a ‘proper’ job I could have my own place and a decent income. You can’t put any price on doing what you love!
    Also loving your yoga challenges, sooo good for my violin-screwed-up neck/shoulders/back 🙂
    Anna

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  29. Like so many others on here, I came across Erin by accident and never went back. I started picking random yoga videos to do at night and once I found Erin I knew she was “the one”. Instructions are simple and helpful and not condescending (not everyone is made of silly putty like some other yogis would have you believe). I’m actually going to get my mom into the 30 day challenge as well and she’s over 50. Keep doing what you do girl, you are the best by far!

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  30. I was forced to get education by my mom. So I got a degree from IT. I work ina big firm, you can say it pays great. Unfortunately I can’t leave it cause to pay for my education I ‘ve signed a contract so I need to work straight 5 years for the company (it is been 4). I always loved writing, i took literature classes and now I do very small online magazines gigs. But the problem is that my full time job is so intense I hardly get any time for the gigs – and I can’t jump to being writer fulltime because it pays zero in my developing country. And our economical crisis is in full swing, but writting all this I realize I make more excuses than solutions and I now I end up thinking that maybe it is all fear. Fear of failure as much as fear of success. Anyway, I am totally on the crossroads now, don’t know which direction to look or go. Just sharing.

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    • Well Karoline, you’ve got only one more year left to go and I say you start following your heart now doing anything and everything you love. The more time you make for it and put into it, the more opportunities will present themselves. By the time your year is up, I’ll bet you’ll know what you path you want to take 🙂

      This will be a beautiful crossroads for you!

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  31. I love your story Erin! I had a similar story in the dancing world. I come from a ballroom background but now do mostly social salsa and bachata dancing. When I switched over to more social dancing, I found a lot of contention between performance and social dancers and musical purists and people that say Technique X is better than Technique Y… I think everyone needs to just get their butts on the dance floor and have a good time.

    At first I just felt not good enough for the salsa crowd, but eventually I decided I didn’t care and I would just dance how I liked… as I write this, I’m hanging out in Colombia on a short trip and have been dancing my heart out… so there naysayers!

    Anyway, your story about yoga is very refreshing and I wrote a little about it on my own blog today, hope you don’t mind! 🙂

    Love the community you’ve developed, keep up the inspiration!

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  32. Mucho gratitude to you for sharing this part of your story! So many of us struggle with discovering and honouring our life’s purpose. You are such an inspiration to so many (obviously ;)) in particular to this stay at home mom moonlighting once a week (or so) as a yoga teacher, searching for a way to practice/teach more in a way conductive to such a lifestyle… I so appreciate how inclusive and accessible everything you put out there is. THANK YOU!

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  33. As I’m reading this post I have tears literally streaming down my face, thinking that this is exactly what life should be about. I also do believe that yoga is for everybody. I first came across your videos through DoYouYoga and absolutely loved it. I began doing yoga in 2011 (by myself, as there are not a lot of studios in South Africa) and I stopped after a few months because I did not feel as though I fit the criteria to be a yogi. In 2014 I decided screw that, screw the criteria I’m going to start doing yoga again, four months later I came across your videos and I became obsessed (not in the weird way). So after this long comment, I actually just wanted to say thank you for being true and kind. Lots and lots of love from South Africa xxx

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    • Hi Frankie! Wow– bravo! I’m so glad you decided to find yoga again and even more honored that my classes vibed with you. Thank you so so much! xo

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  34. I absolutely lovvvvve this post! My mom and I started trying to get into yoga about 6 months ago after her doctor recommended it for some back pain, and after I started my first year of law school – talk about stress and tension lol! I couldn’t find a yoga dvd, class, whatever that fit my schedule, pretty perpetually cheerful attitude, or embarrassed-amateur status until I stumbled upon your 30 day yoga challenge. Yoga has become my favorite release and oasis from the day because of your videos! Needless to say, I’m super thankful you chose this new awesome life!

    Again, thank you so, so much from me, my mom, and even my little yoga dogs who go crazy when I roll my mat out!

    -Madison

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  36. 9 years ago I started school again to become a teacher. It wasn’t easy with a household and 6 month old baby… but now I feel blessed being able to teach young children every day and it was the best decision I ever made. If you feel in your heart you should be doing something else… GO FOR IT !!

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  37. Thanks for sharing your story! I just stumbled across your YouTube site and am feeling so inspired and encouraged! I just recently graduated college and am grappling with the decision to either settle into a secure job which I know in my heart will not make me happy or go down a different path and continue my education in a completely different field. Your story reinforces the fact that we must never ignore our heart when it is telling us that something needs to change!

    Reply

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