Is YAMA Talent More Harmful To The “Yoga Community” Than John Friend’s Penis Pursuits?

Ava Taylor. She can make you a famous yoga teacher.

A few weeks back John Friend of Anusara Yoga Inc. was caught skyclad with nowhere to run, his penis rocking the yoga world like no other could. Every goji berry snorting prAna fiend was happy and willing to be the first to hammer nails through his wrists in what was to be America’s finest public execution. All the while, rumors came fast and furious:

“I heard John Friend has sex with dead people!”

“I heard John Friend grows pot between his butt cheeks to stave off the Feds!”

“I heard John Friend injects the semen of adolescent yoga boys into his arm in order to conquer death!”

Every work-from-a-coffee-shop yogi with an iPad had a glorious opinion, and every opinion made me want stick a rabid porcupine up my urethra so as to remind me what pleasure feels like.

And yet, while John Friend was tapping a few sexy ladies on the possible sly, and according to a letter posted on Elephant this morning, admitting to as much, right out in the open was this total mess—The Paris Hiltoning of yoga lifestyle culture—that continues to pass into the shadows without creating more than a few raised eyebrows, proving once again that while America (and the American “yoga community” Douglas Brooks is so keen on saving) is still totally frightened of sex, this “scene” still gets the hardest of all jolly wet hard-ons every time there’s a chance to sell your soul for the all mighty green dollar. From the New York Times:

“Agent Pursues a Cut of the Yoga Boom”

[Ed. Below is the March 2011 article. We know you have busy lives, so we went right ahead and read between all those tiny lil’ lines for ya while cutting out all the useless bits! Enjoy.]

MAJOR-LEAGUE athletes have agents who negotiate multimillion-dollar contracts with provisions like private planes and Rolexes. Hollywood actors have agents who scout for their scripts. Now comes Ava Taylor, whom one blogger has called “the Ari Gold of yoga,” trying to make a business out of managing the careers of yoga teachers. Yes, yoga teachers have careers.

Now, this pretty much sums it up: Yoga teachers are in the same business as the embarrassingly rich athletes and Hollywood performers we all make fun of. Well, that was easy!

Ms. Taylor, 31, is well manicured, all but attached to her mobile device and confident of her place in the stratosphere.

“I can contact every yoga teacher of significance on the planet in about an hour,” Ms. Taylor wrote in an e-mail sent at 2 a.m.

Wait. This is a good thing?

Her company, YAMA Talent, which stands for Yoga Artists Management Agency, handles bookings and strategy for 45 teachers trying to put a price on the work they do in an industry valued at $5.7 billion.

How many zeros are there in a billion? I don’t know ’cause my calculator doesn’t count that high.

One of Ms. Taylor’s first clients, Sadie Nardini, is a former journalist and founder of the now-defunct Fierce Club in SoHo who aspires to become another Anthony Bourdain, the brash chef-turned-star of his own television series, “No Reservations” on the Travel Channel.

“He’s the bad boy of food, and I am the black sheep of yoga,” Ms. Nardini said in a telephone interview.

So, you can see where we’re headed with this turd-fest. “Brash,” “bad boy,” “fierce,” “star,” “television,” “yoga,” and if there is indeed a lingam watching over us in the sky, “now-defunct.”

Sadie

Currently, she is working with a television producer on a series based on her 2008 book, “Road Trip Guide to the Soul,” which she will pitch this month — with the help of Ms. Taylor — to national outlets like the Oprah Winfrey Network. The show would trail Ms. Nardini with a crew as she engaged pedestrians in a dialogue about relating to their inner selves. Ms. Nardini is unapologetic about seeking material rewards for her spiritual endeavors. “My landlord doesn’t take karma,” she said.

Remember that time you were in India during your Indian Rite of Passage where you simultaneously had explosive diarrhea seeping out of your anus and vomit spewing from your dehydrated mouth, all the while waiting on a train station platform for a train that never seemed arrive, the same train that was intended to take you to the US Embassy ’cause your passport was stolen by a guy who only three minutes earlier whipped out his penis in order to jerk off onto your exposed ankles? Remember when during that moment you looked up at the smog-polluted sky and like Jesus Christ bellowed out your seemingly final Whitman-esque barbaric yawp, “Father! Why have you forsaken me?!” Remember that? Spiritual endeavors are fun, right? Hey, Sadie. Put that in your pitch to Oprah. Cha-frickin-ching!

Ms. Taylor started YAMA in 2009 after quitting her job in marketing for the apparel company lululemon athletica. Her yoga teacher at the time happened — “cosmically,” she said — to be Schuyler Grant, the owner of the Kula Yoga Project studios in TriBeCa and Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and the wife of Jeff Krasno, the co-founder of Wanderlust, a roving festival that combines rock musicians and the rock stars of yoga.

Lululemon schwag. Never hurts to take a page out of the Dr. Bronner's playbook.

Dr. Bronner's. The real McCoy.

We already discussed what Wanderlust is good for, so we’ll just leave that.

Now, this is where it really gets good. See, Ms. Taylor used to work in a profession infamous for using people’s psychological weaknesses against themselves in order to make a profit (that is, marketing) for a company whose seemingly sole purpose is to profit off the dumbed-down vapid branding of yogic lifestyle (that is, Lululemon Athletica). However, the “cosmos” had a different plan (as it always does for those with dollar signs on the brain), and cavorting with let’s-make-yoga-frisky entrepreneurs was clearly written in the stars. That is to say, on the backs of willing “rock stars of yoga.”

Mr. Krasno, who is a co-owner of Velour Music Group, not only helped her expand her roster of connections, Ms. Taylor said, but also to understand the infrastructure of the yoga business and its parallels with the music industry.

See, this is strange. Anyone who has ever spent half a second in the music industry knows it to be a place fit only for talentless blood-sucking vampires. This is an important point, as it being compared to “yoga businesses” makes a whole ‘lotta sense. ‘Cause the music industry produced this pro-life girlfriend-knocker-upper….

Bieber

Who knows what yoga businesses will produce? Oh, right….

Friend

ZING!

YAMA rents office space in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, but Ms. Taylor prefers to meet clients (including a reporter) at a local gastro-pub, Watty & Meg, or at other spots in the city. And by living with roommates in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, she’s keeping costs down.

Now, we’re not one to proselytize vegetarianism (we believe diet to be naturally prescribed by a person’s environment), however, here’s what Watty & Meg are serving up this week:

~~~~~~~~~~~

Braised pork shank, parsnip & fennel mashed potato, swiss chard, raw tomato “confit” 23
Pepita crusted fluke with barbecued baby artichokes & jasmine rice 27

~~~~~~~~~~~

Iyengar

Only $27 bones for pepita crusted fluke??? Get BKS Iyengar on the phone. We. Are. Going. Out. To. Nite!

Ms. Taylor would not reveal her income or the details of her fee structure, but said she invested about $30,000 of her own money in the business. Last year, she said, YAMA arranged more than 100 “gigs” — speaking engagements, workshops, modeling spots — and already has that many on the books for the first quarter of this year.

I’m not suggesting it, but when I think of all these upcoming “speaking engagements, workshops, [and] modeling spots” this starts to make a lot of sense:

Another of Ms. Taylor’s clients, Leslie Kaminoff, who founded the Breathing Project, an educational nonprofit organization on West 26th Street, said that even with three decades of experience as a teacher, he was not sure how to value his products and services in the current marketplace.

Three decades in the biz and you didn’t know what to charge for a hoodie with your name Bedazzled on it??? Come on. That is just plain insane!

Dear, Leslie Kaminoff. This little thing called the “internet” has become very popular. On it you can research everything you need to know about what things cost, and how to promote yourself, and how to make a website. All for free! I mean, if all you needed to know was how much to charge for one of your workshops, you could’ve just emailed us!

Leslie

“I have every right to be rewarded for my work,” said Mr. Kaminoff, who recalls his early days making “next to nothing,” waiting for students in an empty studio. “This is not cashing in on work someone else has done.”

You tell ‘em, Leslie! Waiting for students in an empty studio is just BS. All these silly saps busting their yonis trying to get three of their friends to show up for some noon flow class are just plain suckers. The obvious answer to this conundrum is to get an agent with the bottom-line stitched to the inside of her Lululemon sports bra to exploit the yoga market for you. Very punk.

For now, he is glad to pay Ms. Taylor for her services and believes he is working more efficiently, he said. But as she expands her business, Mr. Kaminoff isn’t so sure he will continue to benefit. “The busier she gets, the less attention she can pay to me,” he said.

Well, it’s rare, but the NYT does from time to time make a mistake, as that last quote obviously had a typo in it. Allow me to repair it:

“The busier she gets, the less attention she can pay to me,”

So, really! I’m really curious…. Where’s Douglas Brooks‘ above-it-all open letter to the public? Where’s Kelly Morris‘ I’m-cool-’cause-I-say-“fuck” take down? Where’s all the teachers jumping ship in order to save their hides? Where’s the fury? Where’s the fight? Where’s the condemnations?

Oh, right. It’s stuck in their wallets….

Pooh pooh on all y’all.

Anyway, here’s a list of all the teachers YAMA represents:

Alycea Ungaro
Angie Stewart-Goka
Ashley Turner
Brock Cahill
Dana Flynn
Derek Beres
Desi Bartlett
Diane Hudock
Dina Amsterdam
Duncan Wong
Eoin Finn
Faith Hunter
Giselle Mari
Gwen Lawrence
Hala Khouri
James Miller
Janet Stone
Kia Miller
Krista Cahill
Les Leventhal
Leslie Kaminoff
Mary Aranas
Matthew Cohen
Maya Fiennes
Michael Gannon
Raghunath
Ruslan Kleytman
Sadie Nardini
Sara Ivanhoe
Sarita Lou
Stacy McCarthy
Suzanne Sterling

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90 comments

  1. Ooops you left me out…Mamaste, Ava represents me & artfully so, I may add.

    • Thanks, Mamaste! However, your name is not on YAMA’s current website list of represented talent. It appears they left you out. Just sayin’.

      • Did you call them to find out? Anything…..Just saying…… ~Mamaste

        • To find out what? We were responding to the article. The article is right in front of us. But seriously, you might have them update the site. You’re paying for this stuff, right?!

      • To start with….if they represent me?

        • Like this? “Hi, YAMA Talent. I’m just curious. We’re responding to an article from the NYTs and was just randomly wondering if you had someone named “mamaste” on your roster. The name came to me in a dream and I thought I should follow up.”

          Come on, Mamaste. Just get that name up there on the website. That’s most important. (Unless of course, you AREN’T represented by them!?!?!?! Since, according to the website, that’s the way it seems).

  2. As someone who not only works her asana off in the trenches every day to bring the healing message of yoga to her beloved students, whether she reaches them in person or through the web or a camera lens, I was disappointed to read so many opinionated judgments of me, without so much as a phone call or an email to speak to me personally to substantiate your claims.

    This could have been a rich conversation that could have put some more healing and positivity into this community. As it stands, it seems we have just another anonymous hater on our hands…and the world has far too many of those already.

    Anyone who knows me, or takes the time to do so, knows that I make every effort to offer substantial and useful information–and give it all for free as well as other avenues, and I would teach one person with as much joy as one hundred. My mass media interest and direction comes from the fact that I’m trained in that world, with a journalism and ethics degree and want to use it to benefit as many people as I can with the time I have here on this planet. My show is not a Sadie-centric star vehicle, but a reality-based yoga class with real bodies, to help people with real-world challenges. But, then again–how would you know any of this?

    You never asked.

    Next time, feel free to contact me at Info@SadieNardini.com

    Namaste.
    Sadie

  3. Awww… Thanks, Sadie.

    1. Can you clarify for us what “opinionated judgments” of you we are on record as making? You mentioned that there were “so many,” but we can’t seem to find any. We offered a pitch you might send Oprah, and quoted a few buzz words from the NYT article that were in relation to their section on you, but I don’t see any *direct* statements about you as a person in our piece.

    2. We didn’t call you, because we had no claims to substantiate about you. Please see #1.

    3. We have no interest in “healing” the “community.” We state this very clearly in a number of places. Please read the end of this piece for better clarification: http://thebabarazzi.com/2012/02/29/open-letter-to-douglas-brooks-please-calm-down/

    4. We find that people who actually work in “trenches”—you know actual holes in the ground meant to keep you from being blown to pieces by bombs, not the “trenches” of having to wait for yet another rerouted F-Train—don’t have time for agents and meet-and-greets. So, please excuse us if we don’t, you know, sniffle.

    5. The number of times you have formally asked us to get in touch with you tells me you really want us to get in touch with you. Would you like us to interview you? I promise you, we are not as big as we may seem. However, it’s an interesting idea. If you want us to interview, just ask.

    6. We’re not anonymous! We believe the self to be the place of performance. In that place anything can happen! Therefor, we are who we say we are. You know, Judith Butler stuff (Sorta. Sorry Judy!). Unless you thought that for some reason the you you present to the world was in fact the “real you?” Oh, my. I hope not! Don’t you know there’s no such thing as a work of non-fiction?! In any case, if it helps, maybe think of us like the Economist, only without all those brains and charts.

    7. And, don’t take this the wrong way, but it seems like your feelings were hurt. Now, that’s no fun. No one likes that. Not even us. However, it appears as if you took great offense to some sort of perceived inferred slight against your good intentions in the world. Allow me to offer this bit of advice: take it with a grain of salt. We’re not attacking *you*. We’re not out to get *you*. I’m sure you’re a wonderful person who cares about people and buys the perfect gift for those you love. Really. I have no reason to doubt that. But know this: branding oneself is not a pretty thing. So long as you or anyone else engages in it, we will pick at it like an itchy scab, because that’s what 99.99999% of what the yoga market/agent/yogilebrity Spectacle is: an itchy scab. It’s a blood-clot waiting to fall off only to reveal what’s been always already beautiful and sustainable beneath it. Everything else is just pomp.

    Now, you can take that to the bank.

    • Mollie Galbraith

      I’m confused as to your intentions with this post about YAMA. Can you please tell us what you are hoping to accomplish? It comes across very clearly that you are definitely not interested in “healing the community” through this slam. Your post comes across as emotionally driven, and it becomes hard to distinguish any facts from opinion. Reading this makes me think that I should view social media, as a way of educating the masses about the practices of yoga, in a bad light. Yet here you are on Babarazzi doing that which you seem to judge with little respect.

      • Thank you for your comment, Mollie. If you like, please look around and get a feel for what we are doing in order to better understand our possible motivations for the piece in question. Be sure to look at our “About” page, as well as our “bio” on the elephant article. If you have any specific questions, we will do our best to answer them. Please, be well.

        • Thoa Kun

          As someone who’s new to yoga, I wondered what your ideal yoga teacher should be like. I live in a puny city in a third-world country and I don’t have any choice but to turn to those celebrity yogis for inspiration. Can a yoga teacher make a living without dumbing down the sanctity of yoga?

          • Hi, Thoa. Personally, I think yoga is about you and how you relate to it. If celebrities are the only way you can come at it right now, then by all means! Listen to those celebs! Just keep learning and trying to see what is out there and what else yoga can offer you. Good luck. And thank you for reading!

    • I have known and worked with Sadie for over 5 years now. I have worked with her to create videos, I built her website and I have helped her create content that she can give to the masses. In fact, I’m the one who approached Sadie to update her website because I personally love her message and wanted to help her share it with others. She didn’t approach me at all. Her fame is simply a byproduct of her awesomeness. She is the most authentic person I know (and if you knew her personally AT ALL, you would know she lives and breathes her message, on and off the mat). She works constantly, traveling the country to teach people her style and how to build their core from the foundation up. She is truly inspiring and empowering. In fact, Sadie gives so much of herself, I’m not sure how she hasn’t completely burnt herself out yet.

      Through Sadie, I have also met Ava Taylor, another yogini who lives and breathes yoga. I know for a fact that starting Yama Talent was a huge risk and leap on her part, because like me, she believes in all of the yoga instructors she represents. Honestly, it’s not about money with Sadie or Ava. It’s about MAKING A LIVING doing something you love. Sadly, people need money to live. I don’t think Ava or Sadie have “sold out” simply because they’re trying to make a living doing something they love. And honestly, it’s not about money. The money is nice, sure, but Sadie just wants to get her message out to as many people as she can. Likewise, Ava believes in each of the teachers she represents and works to help them spread their teachings.

      Working with Sadie and Ava, they have always done right by me. When it comes to business, they are always reasonable, and they always try to create WIN-WIN relationships where everyone succeeds. If Sadie succeeds, I succeed. If Ava succeeds, I succeed. Isn’t that really one of the most fundamental lessons that yoga teaches? Balance. Sadie has constantly inspired me, and because of her I am now a certified yoga teacher myself in addition to being a photographer and graphic designer. I’m on Team Sadie, baby, all the way.

      You, of course, are entitled to your own opinion, but that opinion is wrong.

  4. Laura

    Breath, take 5 mins and read back your last response to Sadie, Babarazzi. Why write such mean spirited and sarcastic thoughts? May I ask have you ever attended a yoga class with any of these inspiring teachers? I live in the UK and through the works of Yama Talent I have heard of a number of these teachers and have benefitted from the yoga they put out into the world. Yama Talent is just spreading the word for these truly great teachers so that more people can benefit from their message. What message are you putting out into the world which benefits the lives of others?

    • It may be hard to tell, but we were being a lot less sarcastic than you might think. Seriously.

      On another note, it’s good to be careful when stating that something is “just” being a certain way or “just” doing something, as in reference to your comment about YAMA. Experience tells us that most things happen for a myriad of reasons and arise out of a myriad of impulses.

  5. Well, my momma told me if I didn’t have anything nice to say, not to say anything at all. However, poppa told me that if someone else just didn’t have anything nice to say but they just couldn’t close their mouth, then someone should tell a bitch to shut it.

    So, in honor of my father, and nice folks just trying to get along, and your own ‘branded’ website and shitty attitudes, well, consider shutting your gaping pie holes. The world could use some healing, not more scab-picking.

    Sounds like there is some haterism in your game, maybe because you can’t get attention or money, and you begrudge those folks who do!

  6. Greenpoint

    Justin Bieber is not from this planet…

    Just sayin’…

    • Sent you an email seeing if we could interview ya.

      • Nice to see that you are choosing to let Sadie speak for herself by offering an interview – that’s what is needed; more listening, less projection!
        Also, I dig sarcasm, but does it ever change anything or just cause separation and smugness or condescension? Something to consider…
        On two other notes – its much more powerful to frame something through “what I prefer is” rather than “what I don’t like is”.
        The second thought – folks, it’s here, it’s physical, it’s an industry and it’s never going back to one teacher to one student. Given that, do you continue to moan for the past and exhibit fundamentalist traits, or engage with what it is in the desire to help shape the evolution? What would you like to see?we know what you don’t like already!
        Informed students are a shitty teachers worst nightmare – teach students to be students and to ask questions and probe for clarity and to find out where the teacher is coming from. If teacher hates that, you found that this teacher doesn’t know the role!

        • Sorry to say, chrispy, but authentic one-teacher-one-student traditions still exist in plenty, as do lineages existing outside mainstream hyper-capitalist celebrity yoga industry paradigms. With all due respect, if you haven’t found them, dare I say you aren’t really looking. You need to seek them out like your life depended on it, or else, your life probably just doesn’t depend on it. That is the difference.

          • Omiya

            Looking back at the EJ controversy led me to this comment — this is one of the best descriptions of the problems with yoga in the Western world and how to find the truth in yoga, in that same world. I searched for yoga in the big studios for years, my soul became emptier and my heart became heavier — but now here I am, full-circle, in a teeny-tiny Ashtanga Mysore studio. Heart is light, soul is full. Looks like y’all are now critiquing about 95% of yoga in N. America. Thank goodness for the 5% (!).

  7. sasha

    I don’t understand this blog or the writer’s intention. Why all the snarky comments, nasty insinuations and harsh judgements? What kind of yoga do you practice? It seems you are trying to do more harm than the yoga media perceives John Friend to be doing and even you accuse Yama Talent of doing. And who benefits from your article other than your own, seemingly quite inflated, ego?

    • Hey, Sasha. Thanks for the comment.

      My only suggestion is to really really really unpack what it is you think we are harming. As nothing can harm yoga, for it is eternal, what else is there? What else could we be taking the piss out of…? Really try and work it out. You’ll enjoy us all the more, I promise!

  8. sasha

    I have better things to do, but thanks for the suggestion.

    • Well you had the time to comment a few hours ago. I just thought you were interested in what we were about, as per your comment. In any case, life is busy, please take good care of yourself. Seriously. I know this sounds sarcastic. Everyone thinks we’re always being sarcastic! But seriously. Be well.

  9. JJ Love

    I totally get it and thank you for your blog. It’s great to have a counter-point to the piles of shlock that is squeezed out by the mainstream yoga industry and the various vested parties. The main thing is that I see you are actually not a hater- but seem to be a lover of yoga and the sanctity of it. Your stuff is biting, but so needed. Someone needs to say that the emperor has no clothes.

    If people read things here they don’t like, which are not true, they are free to walk on. As far as I know you don’t have a membership or teacher training or “Babarazzi Inspired Status” that you can take away if we don’t agree. Perhaps by the time Wanderlust comes around, you can have a reporter go there to do on-the-ground reporting.

    thanks and love

  10. “Where’s the fury? Where’s the fight?”

    Well, I definitely see the fury….every time I get online.

  11. Well, thank you, JJ Love. Perhaps we will find a way to crash the Wanderlust party.

  12. Greenpoint

    I’d love your blog too if you weren’t busy being so sarcastic all the time!

    (that’s a sarcastic statement fyi…)

  13. Rubytuesday

    I really appreciate the humor you bring to these gross topics. As a teacher and yoga student I am also sickened by the ego-maniacal nature of the yoga world the last couple of years in NYC. I am not sure where the humility has gone. It just seems that more is more is more is more. There seems to be two streams of yoga. Those teachers who are seeking fame and fortune and those who simply want to honor the depth of the practice, quietly, honestly and without the fanfare, glitz and glamor.

    • Ooooo, I guess the late night crew is the positive crew? Where were all y’all this morning when we were getting our asses chewed off? Thanks for the splendid comment, RubyT!

  14. tina

    Anyone else think it’s kinda funny that Yama, aka Yamaraja, is the lord of death, in Hinduism? Gave me a chuckle, when these guys cropped up & started recruiting, a coupla years back.

  15. Yoga Dude

    Follow the money. Yoga has reached the tipping point from moving from a niche oriented (as defined by # of practitioners / users / followers) pursuit into mainstream activity. As the industry of Yoga gains traction, there will be those who will follow the money and flood the industry with never before seen options and ‘opportunities’. It happens, it is the nature of a capitalism. Dilution of the original message, affronts to the orthodoxy, ‘new and better’ methods and gurus of the month will follow. It is the nature of the economic beast.

    Gone are the days of pure self selection where you sought out a teacher and initiated your practice. The grasshopper had to make a deliberate effort to engage. Today, the ‘Master’ has a website, book, DVD, YouTube channel, agent, show on FITtv or OWN and is making the move to be closer to the grasshopper. The difference in the model attracts a different audience. Some will benefit by being introduced to Yoga when they never would have sought out such a path. Most will simply be passing through like January gym members.

    The old way wasn’t driven by the “Master’s” ego but by the grasshopper’s curiosity.

    The era of the Yoga celebrity is here (has been for a while) and it isn’t going away. Just wait until the prop market becomes saturated with designer blocks and straps!

    Love the blog,

    Yoga_Dude

  16. sasha

    Thank’s for your well wishes. I wish you to be well too.
    One fact clarification- Kula Yoga was not born from of ex-Laughing Lotus teachers, that’s Yogamaya. While Kula Yoga project does have a few Laughing Lotus Graduates on their roster in, Schuyler and Alison -the original owners did not come from the schedule or school of Laughing Lotus.

    • Thanks, Sasha.

      Actually, that is the scenario we were referring to (the Kula happening). Not the Yogamaya split a few(?) years back.

      • sasha

        Correction-your imply that Kula was born from teachers “splitting” from LL. Not true.

        • Thank you, Sasha. You are correct. We clearly overemphasized the *technical* connection between Laughing Lotus and Kula based on some of the beef and peacocking that reared its head at the time. The statement has been removed. All the best.

  17. JJ Love

    Piggybacking on Yogadude,
    Looking at the macro level….the lululemons and wanderlusts and yoga journals makes me consider the micro level of the local studios and teachers who could potentially have a righting voice in all this.
    For thousands of years, the practices passed along though the lineage of masters were the practices that worked (mostly). What teachers taught was what worked. Now what is taught is what sells. It used to be that the people who taught yoga were chosen by their master. Now it is taught by anyone who can make it through a TT.

    A big driver is the neurotic, white knuckled, yoga-studio-owner. Most owners are people who loved yoga so much that they became teachers. Then they loved teaching so much that they opened a studio. Now they are entrepreneurs in a highly competitive business with little-or-no business acumen. The pressure of running the business eclipses the yoga, but few among them are actually aggressive enough to get their business running ease fully. They have to be cut-throat and na-ma-ste at the same time. Bad bad combos. If they do manage to get it together, their businesswoman-ness is ugly within the frame of yoga. But most don’t and operate, plan schedules, hire and pay teachers and do their thing from a place of struggle.

    Maybe all of us who are off to teach our classes today can think about this and think about what we are actually slangin’

  18. 108

    we are lucky if in this life we have the opportunity to realize that we can dedicate ourselves to something GREATER than ourselves. everyone doesn’t have the karma or piety to step into the situation where they are somehow, even beyond their own doing, attracted to a path that offers them depth of realization, or a method to gain depth of realization. i hope i am one of the lucky ones in THIS life…

    its impossible to speak to anyone’s path or where they are or how they are operating in THIS life to create karma or burn karma or whatever. one Guru said, “the only thing worse than knowing nothing about Yoga, it to know a LITTLE about Yoga.” i think this is 1) funny 2) poignant. let’s just hope that all yoga teachers and yoga students everywhere keep looking for a path to a path, give strong and honest self-reflection to their actions and contributions in the world, and come back the next day or the next life w/ a refined sense of accountability to the SUBJECT OF YOGA. i hope this for myself & others.

    thanks Babarazzi for putting forth things we ALL talk about in private anyways. once i naively said to my friend as we meandered around the wooden paths of Fire Island, “wouldn’t it be awesome if there were an island just like this with only yogis!?”. he responded (with his sharp wit, hilarity, & cool accent), “no honey, it would be total war. this yogi against that yogi, this method against that method.”

    also, a year ago i heard an Anusara teacher, before a class declare to everyone, “ONLY ANUSARA students do down-ward dog correctly.” to which i commented in utter shock, “actually, i don’t think that is true at all.” she was very confident and said, “no, its true, only anusara students know how to use their shoulders properly.” i said something else to refute, and then gave up b/c there was no point. kind of a funny story though.

  19. 108

    oh tina, that is kind of funny. i assume they were thinking about the Yamas/Niyamas… but as we know in yoga, there is a fine line between light and dark! aaaack!

  20. sasha

    Kula did not come from Laughing Lotus though, and you imply that in your article.

  21. Thank you Babarazzi! It’s HIGH TIME someone, anyone, shone this light on the turd-fest of shameless, salivating self-promotion that has infiltrated the yoga world. As for the disgruntled responders, they would do well to remember that when criticism REALLY gets under your skin, it’s usually… um… true :)

  22. Itstrue

    Sasha,
    I can see how the Babarazzi could have gotten confused. As I recall back in the day (being before YAMA and the marketing boom and yogalebrity status), Dana had a considerable amount of beef with anyone that posed a threat to her Laughing Lotus Studio. I know this because she was quite verbal in her dislike of her now yoga BFF’s back in the day. This includes the likes of Elena Brower (who now teachers at her studio at times), Kula Yoga, and even Ana Forrest got a mention once. As she says ” a day of judgement is a day of pain” . No wonder so many teachers run from Laughing Lotus once they have spent some time there. Shazaaaam!

    • sasha

      Yes, I know all this-I have been around for quite some time-so long in fact that I remember when Elena Brower taught at Laughing Lotus when it opened. Things are a lot different now, and Dana has made amends for her mistakes and treatment of people. Are we all led such perfect lives that we can sit in judgement of others missteps and behaviors of many years past?
      And I know this article is trying to shed light on what they see as a very real threat to the sanctity of yoga. Ok, I applaud them for that, speak your mind. But speak the truth to. If you are fighting the good fight, then you know your words and the truth will speak volumes. I can only speak to the LL portion of the story, where there is another misrepresentation: the before and after Yama change is not true. Dana looked like the “after picture” before Yama had anything to do with her career. It makes me wonder how many other “facts” Babarazzi is “confused” about.

      Also, if the author is so concerned about sanctity of yoga, why not write a blog about a teacher or studio that they so they can help spread the word about some real down to earth teachers that they dig. At least balance the blog so there is some reminder of why we practice yoga at all. It feels like the writer is siting around riled with anger and bitterness.

      • Sasha. Come on. You should know better. We have no intention of “protecting the sanctity of yoga.” Yoga doesn’t need our help. Yoga will just keep on keepin’ on, so long as people practice. It’s really that simple. To think that yoga needs our help would undermine the power of the tradition. No, we are simply giving celebrity yoga culture exactly what it deserves–as we state–the STAR treatment. Wan’ be a celeb? You gon’ get treated like one.

        So, in a way, this site has nothing to do with yoga! And in that, we hope it has EVERYTHING to do with yoga.

      • 108

        when a person puts themselves forth as a GURU or a teachers teacher or whatever stuff, then there is some sort of bar (dare i say a HIGH bar) that should be met in regards to connection to the subject & living their life in accordance with what they preach. when those people fail, OVER & OVER, AND display themselves in the public light, it is natural to bring that dis-grace forth. sorry sasha, i don’t agree that pointing out a fact (like the bad behavior of many self-proclaimed guru’s) is “sitting in judgement”. its just a fact. and i find it commonplace & unfortunate in yoga culture circles to use yogic language to wrong others, esp for speaking out. its akin to trashing the whistle blower. its praised when journalists lift the veil from untruth to truth, in corporate fraud, political messes, scandal, etc. why not now in the new INDUSTRY of yoga… ?

        this is a bit of a stretch, but the point is clear….. its like saying that if we comment on the Ugandan Dictator we are sitting in judgement. or if we disagree w/ the current politics we are sitting in judgement. i think the babarazzi’s entire purpose is to point out the mis-alignment of the celebra-players in the yoga world, for the mere fact that they have asked to be seen as the leaders, and therefore should be required by the STUDENTS & fellow yogis to live up to their public personas.

        truly its just all NOISE, and we should just voice our thoughts and then let them go, and eventually just let it all go…. but i have noticed that Babarazzi has not written anything about several MAJOR players in the YOGA world, like Eddie Stern, who does seem to be living & practicing with some serious integrity in this life.

        anyway… another opinion.

      • sasha

        Thanks 108 for your reply, and yes that is quite a stretch-this is all about silly over-inflated yoga teachers and bloggers- and no one is getting killed, raped or maimed. Since we all have precious little time or energy I suggest that we all use it to fight the good fight for justice in the world and not pay attention to celebrity gossip rags and rants, whether in the yoga world or not.
        Babarazzi, my main beef in the comment was that you lied in the the article, and I applaud you for removing that section. I hope your fight here for truth and transparency brings you many happy returns.

        Peace

        • Hehe. Nah, we didn’t lie. Just had been misinformed on the details. You find out quick, there is absolutely no reason to lie when critiquing, deconstructing, or unpacking contemporary money-fiending yoga culture. The stuff more or less writes itself. Lying would actually take away from the punch. Feel free to check out our “about” page for our correction policy.

      • 108

        hi sasha,
        when we’re talking about the subject of Yoga and YOGA GURUS & “yoga teachers’ teacher”, silly over-inflated [ego?] is actually THE point. as you know, the entirety of yoga is about squelching the tendencies of the ego, moving ones-self OUT OF THE CENTER (ego-consciousness), and into the periphery of SPACE or consciousness. Therefore how could one be a GURU or TT or Master if they, admittedly by you…and experienced by MANY!, have “silly over-inflated [egos]”?

        I will take it one step further and include that it is NOT JUST SILLY OVERINFLATED EGOS that we’re talking about (although that would be enough). its actual real world harm to people (emotional, financial, physical, etc) that many yogalebrities are inflicting (and that is the DIRTY secret of yoga). we know this is the ‘TYPICAL human nature’ to look out for ones-self even if that means harming a few in the path (this is accepted to a certain extent in capitalism & politics & such), but in the realm of yoga, if one is to perch themselves high as a leader on the subject, they should AT THE LEAST be required to hold a standard ABOVE the average, wouldn’t you agree? YOGA that is the subject, YOGA is what needs to be adhered to. what is there to learn from a person who is far from YOGA? even if they got better than they were, which is great, and definitely worth something, its not GURU or MASTER. it just isn’t. Mastry is more than, “im better now than before.” its MASTRY over of ones own senses, emotions, etc. its YOGA.

        yes there are teachers who are NON-Celebrity yoga teachers who do the same thing. and either way, celeb or not, if one is to “teach yoga”, on SOME level to have YOGA, not just desire to have it.

        so not to slam people on their path, we don’t know the details of where they came from or where they will go, but if one makes the leap to call themselves a GURU or Master or Teachers Teacher, then one MUST uphold some HIGHER standard, and when they don’t….b/c of the mere fact that THEY PUT THEMSELVES in the bright lights, BABARAZZI & the many students/teachers who know better, will comment.

        i appreciate your exchange.

        • D

          Well said. There are no shortcuts to become a “guru”. In Western culture it seems we expect to be able to achieve such status in a year or two and one 500 hour TT course. It doesn’t work like that. Mastery is not simple. It’s like playing an instrument – daily practice, constantly improving, and after every point of improvement finding another place of weakness and improving there. There is no way to fake it. And people who do or attempt to are like these talentless pop starts – lots of hype, little substance.

  23. Greenpoint

    It’s not so much bringing the light to darkness, but bringing the darkness to light…

    something like that….

  24. soulsurfer

    I wish Sadie would get over it and get an interview! I enjoy her youtube videos in her kitchen, thats kinda the earthy yoga stuff i like…..but Sadie…your big bling bling workshops are a money grab!

  25. C’mon, Sadie, let the Babarazzi interview you! I am genuinely interested in the tension between how our practice asks us to conduct ourselves in the world, and the need to make a living. As teachers, we see every day how people benefit from practicing yoga. So there is a genuine desire to “put it out there” so more people can receive the gifts. Plus we do need to pay our rent and at least occasionally buy (cute yoga) clothes. But our shamelessly commercial culture seems to put a price tag on everything and that is just yucky. So I say “bravo, Babarazzi” for naming the pathology that is yoga plus capitalism. I think it’s hilarious and a few snarky comments won’t hurt anyone.

  26. looking up

    Hey… can’t seem to get a reply link for the comment I want to reply to. So:

    Chrispy says above:

    “folks, it’s here, it’s physical, it’s an industry and it’s never going back to one teacher to one student. Given that, do you continue to moan for the past and exhibit fundamentalist traits, or engage with what it is in the desire to help shape the evolution? What would you like to see?we know what you don’t like already!”

    Now I duuuunnnnoooo seems a bit… arrogant? disempowering? colonial? to say that the yoga “industry” is here to stay and it’s pointless to long for the past so give up the critique and start finding… what? The strengths of the yoga industry to embrace and encourage? Now, believe you me, I am ALL ABOUT a strengths-based perspective, but I think lots of us would agree that it is an important, productive, and radical act to publicly reflect what we see as… uh… areas for improvement.

  27. Yoga Dude

    Sacred cows make the tastiest hamburgers. –A. Hoffman

    Sorry, I don’t know a vegan version….

  28. JJ Love

    The really funny thing here- which is something that is really rife in the yoga world- is the lack of a sense of humor in conversations about all this. I love that Babarazzi is doing all this with satire. Can you imagine this if it were serious?

    In sadhana, one of the greatest things you can attain is the ability to laugh at your own ego’s antics. Hopefully we can laugh at our collective ego’s antics.

    Let’s see where we all are in 15-20 years.

  29. henry

    Sadie is to yoga as you are to satire, not. You two are made for each other as examples of lameness.

  30. Leigh

    I wonder if any of the holier-than-thou disdainers posting here have actually had the privilege of studying with the likes of Leslie Kaminoff? I have, and did so a long way from NYC – at a workshop that was no doubt facilitated by his representation. It was an enriching, rewarding educational experience that I would likely have never had the opportunity to attend were it to be offered solely in New York. I am the better person for it, the greater world of yoga is better for having such conscientous and capable teachers, and I’m hopeful that Mr. Kaminoff is better off financially for having shared his knowledge. The fact that he was promoted and assisted in presenting his teachings in no way disvalues the worth of those teachings.

    As has been noted several times, yoga will survive. Should not the focus be, then, on the quality of the experience for the students, rather than on the promotional activities in which teachers choose to engage to connect with those students? If Mr. Kaminoff restricted himself to teaching 1 to 1 in his studio to the exclusion of traveling to workshops, who, exactly, would that gesture to some arbitrary abstraction of purity benefit? As a student, I can attest without question that such a decision would not enrich my practice.

    There is much to be said about other peripheral issues, primarily in this instance, the practice of equating a teacher with the practice (Friend~Anusara), and the dangers inherent in the concept of guru-student relationships. These ideas could even overlap with a careful consideration of the role of publicity practices, but by attacking such practices with no appreciation for the value they present, or acknowledgment of the gradations of benefits and potential detriments, you ill-serve your argument, and miss an opportunity for initiating a productive conversation.

    Thank you for your post; I wish you well, and hope your future postings come from a more reasoned place.

  31. Marlee McIntry

    Your anonymity is unfortunate.

  32. Greenpoint

    what difference does it make who The Babarazzi “is”?

    we need to just address the issues/ideas/thoughts that are brought to light…

    perhaps it’s the lack of opportunity to personally attack someone when you don’t know who it is…which is the first option used by the “mainstream” when someone goes around pointing out that the “emperor has no clothes”….

    • Anonymity makes a HUGE difference. Elephant Journal took this article down because The Babarazzi would not come forward and own his/her words. This article points fingers at people who are not afraid to hide behind a cloak of anonymity. Sadie Nardini walks the talk. Ava Taylor believes in what she’s doing. Leslie Kaminoff is one of the most respected teachers out there right now. Personally, I think that if you believe in what you’re saying, you should stand behind your message instead of hiding in the shadows. This article is snarky and accusatory, and if you were the one being accused of something, wouldn’t you want to know who was attacking you? Remaining anonymous is a cowardly act. It’s easy to throw sticks and stones when you know you can’t be hit yourself.

  33. Greenpoint

    sigh…

  34. Pingback: Celebrity Yogis & Anonymity. ~ Derek Beres | elephant journal

  35. Mark

    Babarazzi…Appreciate all of it…keep on keepin on! Funny and sad to see those who use Yoga as a tool for wealth and fame actually believe they are “protecting” the sanctity of Yoga tradition and all the while taking the time to heal the community…my head is spinning

    • Thank you, Mark for you kind words. There is indeed quite a bit baffling when it comes to the celebrification of yoga culture.

    • Warriors and Goddesses

      yep, what Mark said. If you wanna be a yoga teacher, be one. Be great. Inspire people. Do your thing. Make a living from it. You do all these things with the guidance of your own heart and intuition and not the aid of an agent. I honestly vommed in my mouth a bit when I read about this.

  36. Yoga Dude

    “Remaining anonymous is a cowardly act. It’s easy to throw sticks and stones when you know you can’t be hit yourself.”

    -seagullmedia

    ==

    You can’t make that shit up if you tried.

  37. Pingback: Yoga Soundtrack

  38. Great article again! Thank God for some intelligence, insight and reality when looking at the western world of yoga over here. I hope these angry commenters defending consumerist false yoga understand that there’s no winning here. Their argument is empty and i wish they too were mad enough about this obvious exploitation of an ancient science, to creatively find a way to express their observations, as you have done here with this website.
    I have to say that your level of intelligent and meaningful sarcasm goes along way me, I really enjoy that my own feelings of infuriation toward this meaningless and destructive yuppy way of living and talking, has been delivered with such great comic insight…what a relief. I have more than once been looked down upon, criticized and called “fluff” by alignment teachers only because I teach YOGA not just asana. To them, it’s fluff and weird and ‘religion’…if it’s not asana. This has been going on and on for years and keeps getting worse, so Im thankful that the awareness is here and that others are clearly seeing through the veil of this smoke and mirrors game and calling it OUT for what it is. It’s amazing to me that we all don’t despise YJ and boycott companies like Lululemon, but oh no, all the teachers around here can’t wait to be invited as an “ambassador”. I actually saw a girl cry tears of joy when she was asked, she was so overwhelmed with the honor….? They all ignore me as if I don’t exist because I don’t represent what they are slinging. I just wish it didn’t create such a divide and it confuses people as to what yoga really is. Anyway, thanks for the bravery to put yourselves out here, I appreciate it, and enjoy your responses, especially to your detractors. Genius!

  39. …and people will keep calling you out for being anonymous, not because they really want to know who you are, what does that matter, but to perpetuate the old smoke and mirrors trick again. They will focus on the only thing they can think of that you aren’t doing and jump on it like it even matters. What matters are the issues facing our world and Yoga can either help us or continue to reveal our selfishness. People don’t want to talk about that because they want to focus on EGO and you not revealing yours is something they don’t know how to handle. I could care less if I ever know your name or face, Im grateful for your Spirit.
    They want to see your face, look you up, tear you down and exploit you if they could…instead of just LISTENING and being OPEN to deeper and ever evolving insight.

    • Thank you, Erinn, for your very very supportive comments!

      We do what we can around here, and try to be funny while doing it.

      Thanks so much for checking us out.

  40. Thaddeus

    I’m sorry if someone has already spoken to this…I couldn’t read all the comments due to my ADD…but hasn’t anyone told those yogis in search of “representation” that YAMA(s) are the things you DON’T do in yoga…just sayin’

  41. Pingback: Limb 1: Yama | Lila

  42. Its easy to be clever and sarcastic and witty. However your message gets buried within the witticisms. And your message is this (or at least I THINK it is this, not sure cuz I’ve been sidetracked by the negative energy emanating from your post. Yep, that’s right, negative energy…. waiting for the smarmy comments. Better yet, waiting for the ultimate of insults which would be NO response….I digress) the true meaning of yoga lies NOT in the slick advertising but in the humble message yoga represents – love, acceptance, one-ness.

  43. Since Yama is the Hindu God of Death, it seems like a very fitting name for a spiritually vapid, bogus Western New Age yoga organization to adopt. I sincerely hope that Lord Yama “blesses” them all. Namaste.

  44. MahaTroll

    Sorry for soft sciencey stuff at the stage where I am clearly flogging a horse that is not only dead but has gone way beyond putrefaction. But after years of leisurely trolling without resorting to the sort of indiscriminate expletives or much (if any) of the usual sarcasm and condescension I, ironically now feel condescending enough to admit to seeing a pattern which I think might be worth doing some more research on. I may have identified some common stereotypical arguments in blog convos about yoga, all are used interchangeably by each gender and so on but all have one thing in common – none tend to address the actual points raised in the main article and use open-ended spaces like this mainly for what appears to be something along the lines of self-motivated therapy. At the moment I see these each as separate challenges but some readily bring into service more than one type (if they are in fact a ‘type’) of challenge in one response. After a few initial comments sooner or later ‘ZenDefender’ will appear with a mostly incomprehensible quote from Dogen or some Neo-Vedantic literature whose principal motivation is to mystify, diffuse, deflect and avoid commitments to extend the conversation beyond medieval doctrine. ‘FeistyFemme911′ sees this uncomfortable, male nihilism or at the very least, fatalism and offers hope in the form of some juicier, ‘real-world’ experience. She has been and done it all and so posts her continual struggles to articulate a coherent response in group situations and generallly witters on about all the minutiae about what it was actually like to be in some cult or other. with at times, very awkward testimonial anecdotes about being personally involved with some guru or another – all quite embarrasingly open and candid so everyone get’s to feel like they might soon be treading on eggshells. ‘CryingMomma’ who is mentioned in the article thinks, it’s unfair and ‘mean-spirited’ in it being all about her in the wrong way and warns the audience that she really is a nice person, she suggests we ask anyone who knows her – so it’s beyond mean to criticise what she is about. We just don’t understand what it’s like to be her, and she is the most important thing for us all to understand. But YogaExpertBS has read the latest material on the subject online and everyone here is, according to some unsubstantiated literature – wrong – the problem is that ‘it reflects the socio-economic infastructure of the yoga community which tends to reinforce the ideological norms of a particular group, which in turn conclusively proves that formative causation is a better critique of the way we live than dialectic materialism’. To which the next reply is from ‘GentleTherapist101′ who admits to seeing a lot of this over-thinking in his studio and agrees with what the author has to say but thinks if this article was written in a kinder and more compassionate way it would actually be more effective in bringing us all together. He really wishes everyone ‘Namaste’ and the trouble here – is he really means it which is so off-putting for all the closet-haters. (includes link to letsjusthangoutandbefriends website). ‘Gatecrasher’ says: Great post, love the site, isn’t his cool? Aren’t we cool? Author responds: Yes, everything IS cool, but what about the article? And the truth is, that no one really seems to have given much thought about the way the issues in the article have been raised or their merits (or otherwise) since ZenDefender poisoned the well days ago, and so we go on? So maybe I’ll be back in a few months – maybe when I have done some more research. Fascinating and sorry for the descent into lower caliber satire but hey – sometimes you get what you pay for – right?

  45. brown person who loves yoga

    Finding Judith Butler on a yoga blog made my day. I know you’ve moved on but thanks for keeping the archive up.

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