Erin Motz will share her different style at the Princeton Center for Yoga and Health
Published: _Friday, October 10, 2014 on Time Off
Written by: Susan Van Dongen, Special Writer
STRICT diet, correct attire, perfect and calm attitude at all times: sounds like a set of vows one takes when becoming a monk. But no, these things are not what you need to lead a religious life, just what certain practitioners and teachers believe makes for the “right yoga stuff.”
Yes indeed, there are yoga zealots out there, grim critics who look down on others who don’t take the practice as seriously they do. Erin Motz, a Florida-based yogi and yoga teacher, felt frustrated by the unspoken rules for practitioners and teachers, and turned this stern approach on its head.
“I was getting involved in the yoga scene and noticed that everyone was drinking green tea and having a vegan or another kind of impeccable diet, as well as doing all kinds of very difficult poses,” Ms. Motz says. "It was a struggle for me to do all this and enjoy myself. I thought, ‘This is what you have to do to be a yoga teacher? Surely there are other people out there who think like I do.’
“Eventually, I got tired of pretending that this was the ultimate way,” she continues. “I eat a steak every once in a while, drink red wine, and enjoy French cheeses. In other words, yoga is a part of my life, but it’s not the whole thing. When I realized that I could be myself and still easily fit yoga into my life, I started being happier with the way I am.”
Through her self-searching, Ms. Motz came up with her concept of “The Bad Yogi,” the carnivorous, wine-drinking, traveling yoga teacher who won’t throw a lot of Sanskrit at you in class, but who may tell a few corny jokes.
At the same time, her humor and fun method of teaching is not frivolous: Ms. Motz, 26, is a gifted yogi and author with a sound and serious understanding of yoga, anatomy, and practice; her sessions are accessible, grounded and inspired.
“The Bad Yogi” will be coming to the Princeton area for the first time, sharing her knowledge at the Princeton Center for Yoga and Health over the weekend of Oct.17 through 19. The sessions kick off Friday evening, Oct. 17, with Ms. Motz’ “Bad Yogi Master Class,” where practitioners will learn a bit about her philosophy, then dive into a dynamic workout that promises to be creative, playful and vigorous.
There are two sessions on Saturday, Oct. 18: “Happy Hips with a Side of Twists” takes place from 2-4 p.m., and is targeted to those whose hip muscles have stiffened from being seated on the job or on a long daily commute. Then, at 3 p.m., she’ll transition into “Core Madness,” with moves that not only strengthen one’s back and mid-section, but also build body awareness in every aspect and pose of one’s practice.
On Sunday, Oct. 19, at 11 a.m., Ms. Motz encourages you to “toss fear to the side” and learn “Fearless Flying — Arm Balances and Inversions,” great for the newbie or seasoned practitioner.
Reflecting on the circumstances of a 21st-century yogi, Ms. Motz says that some of the competitive aspects of yoga are due to the presence of smart phones and other devices with digital cameras that allow the yogi to pose, take a picture and then post it on social media. It’s like throwing down the Google+ (Plus) gauntlet to see who can outdo whom.
“It’s really prevalent,” Ms. Motz says. “Of course, the pictures that get the most attention are the ones where someone is in a really difficult pose, something that actually looks impossible. It’s done to impress people, and yes, it is impressive.”
People who are not so young and/or limber look at the pictures and get discouraged, thinking, “How in the world can I do that?” Then they just don’t bother with yoga.
“The competitive thing is out there, but it’s not all of what yoga is about,” Ms. Motz says. "There are poses that most people can do, and regardless of age, you can make yoga your own. "
Ms. Motz came to yoga as a high school senior, stressed out and sedentary, and looking for a pleasing and sensible exercise routine.
“I liked the yoga exercises, more than being on a treadmill or whatnot,” she says. “But it turned out that I really, really liked yoga, I almost became addicted. Two weeks after my first class, my instructor announced that she was leaving. She suggested I get certified and then take over her class. I didn’t take her seriously, but she kept at me.”
Seven years later, Ms. Motz occasionally pinches herself, wondering if her yoga journey is “really real.”
“It’s not something I thought I’d be able to do,” she says. “I don’t take it for granted, though. Also, my boyfriend helps me behind the scenes, so it’s not just me running the business. Also, some people say, ‘Wow, you’re lucky to be doing this,’ but we work really hard. I do love it though, and it feels natural, like, ‘Ah, this is what I should be doing.’”
Now, what about that monk-like serenity, which is supposed to be central to yogis and yoga teachers? Not so, Ms. Motz says, confessing that even after 10 years of doing yoga, she still swears in bad traffic, and gets as frustrated and anxious as the next person about this or that.
“When you get into the world of yoga, you feel like ‘I have to be able to control my thoughts and be serene all the time,’ but we logically know this is not true,” she says. “Things in everyday life will get us heated and will weigh on us. Will we ever in modern society be able to be totally serene? I don’t know, but yoga is a way to give ourselves a break, it’s a tool to help us manage this stress, and we’ll be better off in the long run.”
Erin Motz will be at the Princeton Center for Yoga and Health, 88 Orchard Hill Road, Skillman, Oct. 17-19. Sessions run: Oct. 17, 7:30-9:30 p.m.; Oct. 18, noon-2 p.m. and 3-4:30 p.m.; Oct. 19, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Weekend pass costs $140; a single workshop is $40. For more information, go to www.princetonyoga.com or call 609-924-7294. For more information on Erin Motz, go to www.erinmotz.com.