Erin Motz (aka the Bad Yogi) has crashed and burned plenty of times—and she’s proud of every single one of them. Learn what yoga fails taught her about the path to success on and off the mat.
Do you remember the first yoga class you ever attended? Mine was one big bust. I couldn’t understand anything the teacher said. I was sliding all over the place, because I left my socks on. I couldn’t do a single Chaturanga. And I was always at least two steps behind everyone else in class. Did I mention this was a Bikram class? By any account, this was a total strike out. But somehow I still loved it and couldn’t wait to come back. I might not practice Bikram anymore, but yoga led me down a path that has kept me balanced and healthy for the past 11 years. Now I make my living teaching yoga and running my own yoga-based business, so could I really consider that first class a “failure”? Without that first figurative face-plant, I’d never be where I am now.
If you’ve ever tried for something and fallen short, you know the sting of failure. But chances are, after coming out intact on the other side, you also know that crashing doesn’t say anything about who you are as a person. It is simply a step on the journey toward success, and yoga has a unique way of reminding us of this. I think Handstand is a lot of yogis’ “Everest” because it embodies the journey of yoga so well. It takes time, which comes with frustration and doubt and fear of coming up short again and again. Then one day, it just happens. And it happens not through luck but through the culmination of the work of every single time we’ve tried before and then tried again.
5 Lessons Yoga Has Taught Me About Failure
1) Failing doesn’t equal can’t.
Failure means that I’m working toward something NOT that I can’t do it.
2) Failing builds a better version of yourself.
It’s forced growth, which sometimes, is exactly what we need.
3) Every single person I look up to has failed—a lot.
Failure isn’t shameful, it’s a badge of honor.
4) Breathing through failure makes everything better.
When I’m mid-fail, the quickest way to make myself feel better is by coming back to my breath. Exhale, let it go, and try it again.
5) It’s not over until it’s OVER.
Meaning, even when I feel like I’ve put in every last bit of work I can, there’s usually an element I’m overlooking or a shift in perspective that can make my effort more effective.
ABOUT OUR WRITER
Listen, I’m not your traditional yogi: I’m the carnivorous, red wine, and French cheese-loving type and I teach vinyasa flow. My aim is to keep my classes fun and accessible, both in the studio and online. 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 may be a Bad Yogi, but if I’m being totally honest, teaching yoga has been one of my greatest pleasures; I practice to feed my teaching, but I teach to feed my life. —Erin Motz