Story by: Gabriella Gricius, Apr. 29, 2019
This past week, we were very excited to sit down with Erin Motz, the founder of Bad Yogi and talk with her about her yoga style, her history with teaching and what brought her to yoga in the first place!
Q: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me, I really appreciate it.
A: Of course!
Q: Just to start — tell me a bit about yourself
A: I’m Erin Motz and I’m the cofounder of Bad Yogi. While I used to teach regular yoga classes in studios and the gym… I was always a little bit different than other teachers, even though I really tried not to be. But over time I realized that pretending to be like other people was a really fast way to fail. So, I decided to just own who I was. Own the fact that I didn’t drive a Prius, that I wasn’t vegan, that I wasn’t this perfect yogi.
I’m not a perfect good yogi. I’m a bad yogi.
Somehow that kicked off this movement of people who completely agreed. I still remember so many yogis who reached out and said ‘Actually, I’m so glad you said that because I also don’t feel like I fit in.’ As time went on, teaching full time in a studio quickly became unsustainable. So, my partner/husband Adrien and I decided to move into an online space and bring my classes and style of teaching with us!
Q: So how long have you been practicing yoga?
A: 14 or 15 years.
Q: Wow that’s a long time. What motivated you to start teaching in the first place?
A: I actually had no intention of teaching when I started practicing. I just really loved it. I had gone from trying Zumba classes at the gym and running on the treadmill to being really bored with that and wondering what I should do next. I was looking for something else to do that was more interesting and I saw on the schedule there was this yoga class.
I thought oh yoga, I’ve heard of that. That would be cool. So, I tried it and I really loved it! A few weeks later, the teacher had to move, and she suggested I get certified and take over her class. So, after a gentle bit of peer pressure, I decided ‘Okay why not.’
Q: So, would you say you have a particular style of yoga you like the most? Or do you like a mix of everything?
A: I really enjoy teaching Vinyasa flow, but I also enjoy teaching Yin classes and other restorative classes. My favorite thing to teach is anything I can really break down and go into detail about. I love the nitty gritty, details of poses, and how to make them more effective, and how to make them make sense for your individual body. I think that is the most interesting and functional way of teaching someone yoga because it has to apply to their actual daily life. You know it’s one thing to see something on Instagram and it’s another thing to make it make sense to you.
Q: I completely agree. So, on that note, what advice would you give someone who just started practicing?
A: Honestly, I would say not to worry too much about the way you should be doing something and instead just focus on things that feel good. Don’t worry about getting poses perfectly right. Don’t even worry about the anatomy. Just focus on getting to class and committing yourself to a few minutes a day. Just get comfortable with the names of the poses and with moving your body in a different way. The rest will come later.
Q: And what would you say is the biggest struggle you’ve faced, whether it’s in your yoga practice or starting Bad Yogi?
A: With Bad Yogi there are struggles all the time. There are struggles weekly if not daily and it just depends on what we’re working on. But anytime you have a business or a project you’re working on, there’s always a struggle or something to figure out. There’s always bumps in the road.
Q: On that front, I know I’ve personally had moments like this but what would you say your most embarrassing moment is teaching or in your own practice?
In my personal practice… I’ve had a lot of awkward interactions with people in class. I would say I’m a little awkward in general around strangers and people I don’t know.
Anytime I’ve ever been to a studio, I feel like there’s always weird interactions that I have and I keep thinking about it the whole time. Should I have said this other thing? Or should I have not done that? Should I have moved this way? Should I have sat over here? You know, normal “I’m an awkward human” conversations.
As a teacher though, I’ve had plenty of those embarrassing moments. I remember once years ago I was in class. I was trying to describe a low bridge and I was trying to explain how you should engage the glutes. I was thinking maybe I shouldn’t use ‘glutes’ because I didn’t know if people knew the term. So, I ended up saying ‘You should feel this deep in your butt’ and nobody laughed. Meanwhile, I thought it was hilarious.
Q: Outside all of the embarrassing moments and struggles, what motivates you to keep teaching?
A: Honestly, it’s really cheesy but I’ve always said I practice to feed my teaching and I teach to feed my life. I love sharing this with other people. I love when people have these moments of ‘Oh my gosh, I just learned this thing about my body and how I can make this practice work better for me.’ So, I really just practice so I can learn more to continue sharing with other people. And I know that’s cheesy but that’s just the truth of it!
Q: I don’t think that’s cheesy! I think that makes total sense! So, on that same route, what does yoga mean to you?
A: You know, I think as a whole, the yoga community really romanticizes yoga as a whole and puts it on a pedestal of being this life-changing, life-altering thing. And for some people, I know it really is and that’s amazing. But for me, it’s actually not that romantic.
It doesn’t have a really profound deep spiritual meaning for me. I have loved it for a lot of practical reasons. I have loved it for how it has physically helped me but in terms of a greater profound meaning, I can’t honestly say that it does for me.
I love it and I love teaching it and it’s been a really functional addition to my life and has allowed me to connect with my own body. I don’t know if that’s an answer, but it’s been a really useful tool. In fact, I think it’s one of the best tools in my personal toolbox for how I maintain my overall wellness but beyond that, I don’t think I have a deeper answer.
Q: No! That’s completely reasonable answer. When people ask me what it means to me, I often just say it’s a great physical practice.
A: Yes! Exactly!
Q: And lastly what’s your favorite way to start the day?
A: Hmm, I’m kind of a slow person in the morning. I’m a bit of a sloth until about 10am. I like to get up slowly, I like to have a nice quiet breakfast with coffee and I totally totally break all of the rules of productive mornings. I eat my breakfast in front of my email while checking it and I sort of map out what I have coming up for the day.
And honestly, I really like that morning routine. I wake up. It’s quiet because my husband goes to the gym in the morning. So, I have our space to myself when I’m getting settled for the day. I don’t meditate first thing! I don’t do yoga first thing! I just chill.
Q: That sounds eerily similar to how I think most of us yogis start our day! Is there anything you would want to say to the yoganect audience?
A: For people who are practicing regularly, I would say keep doing what you’re doing. Keep exploring different yoga outside of what you’re used to. It’s so easy to get overly comfortable so we’re not growing anymore. So, each time you find yourself on autopilot, try something different and try something new.
Thank you so much Erin!
If you’re interested in finding out more about Erin Motz, you can find her on Bad Yogi, sign up for the Perfect Body Yoga Program (PBYP), sign up for her Bad Yogi Online Studio, take her classes on yoganect, and read Bad Yogi Lifestyle Magazine.