Do you ever find yourself strolling around the internet looking for nothing in particular when all of sudden you realize you’ve entered a black hole of BS that you just keep looking at even though with every passing minute it feels as if your soul is quickly slipping into an atrophied death?
Welcome to my nightmare:
Wait. These are the cream of the yoga crop? This is the best NYC yoga has to offer? What the hell was that? Let’s see if we can’t figure it out together….
The question posed seemed simple enough: “What is yoga in New York?” Of course you’d expect NYC’s finest to be able to impart something—anything—that spoke to why it is we’re each shelling out tens of thousands of dollars a year to these balloons.
But, that ain’t gonna happen. Not in this city! Cha-frickin’-ching!
First, we (respectfully) have Dharma Mittra, who I’m guessing was put first to establish some sort of yogic credibility to our little city of commercialized haze. What’s amazing is that whatever legitimacy Dharma was about to impart was actually clipped like the tails of puppy mill Pincers. Dharma begins to talk about why practicing yoga in the city is so beneficial. He says, “We have all the comforts. All the temptations.” And then, in a perfect display of contemporary yoga culture’s ADHD, the clip cuts to Dharma demonstrating an asana. I mean, you just can’t make this stuff up! So, just as Dharma is about to go into why practicing in an environment filled with social distractions is so beneficial to the practice itself, which would no doubt lead us to a greater understanding of yoga as a holistic system that extends beyond asana, the camera shuts the old man up and shows him performing an asana. Because really, isn’t it amazing that he still does asanas??? I mean, God. I hope I’m as devoted as him some day. He just lives his practice. You know what I mean??? I do. But, you ain’t there yet, sister.
Next, we have The Babarazzi’s ab-so-frickin-lutely FAVORITE spectacle in the NYC yoga scene, Sadie Nardini, who answers the question “What is yoga in New York” with a short but sweet bit on staying sane in the chaos, which, in case you didn’t know, is the stock answer when talking about doing anything “yogic” in the city. Nardini finishes with a declaration of love for the town that never sleeps.
Then, there’s Elena Brower who seems to teach or be a part of every yoga workshop the world has to offer. Seriously. Like, can I not take a yoga class that doubles as a self-empowerment workshop teaching me to own my own “truth?” Anyway, when asked what yoga is in the city, Brower says that yoga is making food for friends, which if you say in a seven-year-old girl voice seems to make a lot more sense. Seriously. Do it. Yoga is about making food for friends. There you go. Yoga!
Next, we get a chaotic glimpse of Laughing Lotus‘ Dana Flynn who in characteristic fashion screams a bunch of unintelligible jibber-jabber interspersed with the words “love,” “peace,” “family,” “spirit,” “bring it,” “dance,” “boogie,” and “shakti.” She then pulls Elena Brower on screen (See! She’s everywhere!) and gives her a big juicy yoga hug. (Can we call giving a hug a legit form of “yoga” yet? I mean, if it makes you feel good, than it’s obviously yoga, right? ‘Cause, like, yoga makes you feel good too.)
Then we catch up with NYC’s very own homegrown (vegan, did you know they’re vegan? They’re vegan you know. Did I mention they’re vegan?) “gurus,” Sharon Gannon and David Life. Sharon manages to quip, “Yoga in New York is another opportunity for enlightenment,” which, aside from the segment that cuts off Dharma Mittra, is the first statement that might actually have something to do with yoga. Mr. Life follows up with the words “fresh,” “happy,” “wonderful,” “amazing,” and “the BEST!” which I think are supposed to describe yoga in New York, but I can’t quite tell, ’cause they kinda don’t have anything really to do with the yoga per se. (I’m going to assume he’s taking the piss).
Here the video takes a warm-hearted turn. Perhaps feeling like so far the video was depicting what could only be described as the most vapid yoga scene in the world, the footage cuts to David Rominelli, who, let’s face it, everyone skips ’cause he’s talking about helping kids in Newark, NJ (not New York) who apparently “need the yoga the most.” Wait…. New- what? Ark? New Jersey? Oh, I get it. New York is New Jersey. Wait. What? I thought….
Phew…. Back to the heavy hitters. Next we find Cindy Lee of the soon–to–be–closed Om Yoga studio doing “savasana”—on a couch—while checking her iPhone. She calls this “yoga in New York,” and then let’s us know that this is totally cool ’cause of all her years of practice.
Then we’ve got Shambhala Buddhist, David Nichtern, who elucidates Nardini’s original point about “calm in chaos,” but adds in a touch of energy talk, which I might add, is a good thing.
And there you have it, folks. Yoga. In. New. York!!!!!! What is it? Well, it’s:
- ignoring your elders
- being in love with the rapidly gentrifying city you live in
- making a salad
- jumping around and screaming at a video camera
- searching for enlightenment
- being “fresh” and “the best”
- actually leaving the city to hang out with a bunch of kids in Newark, NJ
- catching a few winks on the couch and reminding people that you’ve been practicing forever
- being stationary in movement
So…basically…what you’re saying is…that according to the most mainstream and popular teachers in NYC, yoga is whatever your twisted baggage tells you it is in order to keep the boogie man away.
Thanks. Got it.
I say this to you, fair readers of The Babarazzi. Aim high when looking for a person to teach you the life transforming traditions that comprise yoga. You do not have to settle! Find the good stuff! Find a very good teacher. They’re out there. They probably don’t advertise too much, you may have to travel in the rain to find them, they may not teach at a studio, and they may not teach the exact “form” of yoga you so dearly “want” to learn. But fear not. When you find a good one, hang on for dear life!
If that Kasey person says “namaste” one more time, I mean one more time, I will not be responsible for my actions…
I was just going to write, hey its that Casey person from the Tadasana festival video, and she sure loves to say namaste (but you beat me to it). And make her stop. Please
Also, my favorite is Cindy Lee saying she’ll be in savasana all day. Not being snarky, I really like that. And she does deserve a break. However SN, EB, DF, hurt my eyeballs…
Preaching to the choir.
New York City has more yoga studios than Starbucks.
Starbucks seems to have more integrity these days …
“Aim high when looking for a person to teach you the life transforming traditions that compromise yoga! You do not have to settle! Find the good stuff!”
HEAR, HEAR from the UK.
At last some people that are willing to cut through the ever increasing illusion (avidyā) around the yoga scene. Thanks for sharing, keep up the good work.
Dana Flynn. Holy Shit.
Yes, there is something definitely wrong with that Kasey and I remember the one time I took a class with Dana Flynn, she was really an ass hat to me (my first experience of a yoga teacher that was less then welcoming).
I was so hoping the Vespa would have clipped the parked car. Is that a bad thing?
I seriously can’t stand that kasey chick. She is like the plague and totally unnecessary. Someone put the lid on her.
It was a fun experiment to say, “making food for friends” like a 7yr old. I’ve known for a long time EBs classes are a waste of time. She is actually the least present teacher I’ve ever taken a class w/. This “art of attention’ thing she has cornered the market on is totally fraudulent. I remember taking her class years ago as she stayed in the back and folded blankets to close the studio while she was “teaching”. And being at wanderlust in miami where she had an entire conversation w/ her bff who was NOT taking the class, as she was “teaching the class”. She also drew our attention to several things outside of the yoga class….like the loud people at the pool having their engagement party, the boats in the bay, etc. She was so distracted I thought she had just downed like 8 shots of espresso. It was bizarre.
What a freak show. No wonder Bikram calls American yoga a circus. And I concur with everyone else about that Kasey chick. If she is supposed to be the voice of yoga, God help us all.
Just one thing to add. It’s not so much the teachers as it is a really, really stupid question. Magic happens in the editing room. We know that. Frustrating the machine is turning great teachers into infomercial chumps.
Echoing Babs’ (how fun is it you share a nickname with the greatest female singer of our time) point that there are many excellent teachers doing totally boring lamo things, like teaching yoga.
Thanks for the response, yogadork. The question itself was indeed a bit of a lemon. In fact, the video as a whole—the question, the responses, the cheap “I [heart] NY-ness of all it—is really the entire message: Yoga in NY, through its own bloated nothing-to-say image, is a sham. Of course, we know this to not be true if you seek out the good substance. But, as far as the celebs go…so much hot air.
another great post. great final paragraph.
And these are the people that are teaching “Master classes” all over town?. Could no-one give an answer that was actually based in wisdom or deep knowledge. And the little bumbling host Kasey, why is she in charge of the interview? It’s like a high school video interviewing “popular kinds” …
“Could no-one give an answer that was actually based in wisdom or deep knowledge.”- it seemed like Dharma Mittra was about to perhaps, but they cut him off . Yes, it seems Kasey didn’t get something she needed out of high school…
Isn’t Kacey, Waylon of Elephant’s, girlfriend? I think there is some connection between the two.
I greatly value the YJ conferences. By advertising the names of the various “teachers” they provide us with a list of people to avoid. I appreciate them for providing this service so I do not waste my time and money on baffons.
@Ryan, I went a few times to Cyndi Lee’s studio. But that’s mostly because they’re Buddhists over there. Buddhists are not into spiritual self-mortification and the hypocrisy and bullying-by-the-teacher that self-mortification breeds …
15 years ago I practiced ashtanga in NY with a few non-famous teachers. Not too much talking– just practice. From there I studied Iyengar where all the talking was about the POSES which helped me with my personal ashtanga practice. Love, peace, groovy hippy shakti stuff– when did that start happening?
I gotta give props to Dharma Mittra though–
Amphibi1yogini taught me a new word the other day. I think it explains where all this love, peace, groovy hippy shakti stuff came from. Trendoids. When the Trendoids leached on to yoga they spewed forth their own buzz words which fit nice into small video clips. And mean absolutely nothing. Doubtful any of them actually study Shastra for more than a few minutes a year. That whole distracted mind issue which some guy named Patanjali wrote about.
Side note…I too like learning from senior Iyengar teachers to help my personal Ashtanga practice.
I’d bang Kacey any day in a NYC yoga studio. She’s hot!
Thank you Babarazzi. Your articles address people using yoga to benefit themselves materially whether it is for a better body or a happier state. As a yoga teacher I am reminded of my own tendencies to get sucked into the allure of the yoga/spiritual market. Here are some yoga teachers not seeking fame and fortune. None of them live in NYC fortunately for me. They teach early, locally and in small groups. Nobody knows Shadow Yoga and these teachers want it that way.
Yoga consumer you are spot on– Shadow yoga is a serious practice taught by serious teachers. I briefly studied with Mark Horner and he is the real deal. What I like about Shadow yoga and the better ashtanga teachers is that you are expected to BUILD a foundation first and self practice, and to practice daily. No fancy arm balances taught sporadically to a room of 60 people.
Scott Blossom said recently (it is somewhere online) that he does not participate in current official teacher training programs anymore for teacher training is something that should be a serious mentorship between student and teacher. Anyway finally someone is stating that the yoga scene is kinda ridiculous–thank you Babarazzi.
wow. I couldn’t make it past 2 minutes….
Real teachers and real teaching – no fancy marketing, clothing, unicorns or rainbows: Iyengar Yoga Institue of New York.
First some shameless sychophantry – Been lurking here for over a month and your unerring aim has pierced my belly and unleashed many a laugh – i.love.this.blog
Next – this video – I just couldn’t stop laughing…. “Peeps” Elena? Did you really say that? Really?
Full disclosure – have to confess to a bit of a crush on Sharon G…
oh, this all just made me sick to my stomach. esp the DF thing. it was fun to see how she almost took kasey’s leg off driving that disgusting vespa. what a barf fest. does that romanelli guy practice yoga? he looks so jacked up in the shoulders. there are tons of people teaching solid yoga classes. not just a special elite group of hidden people. i also think that some of the people teaching yoga should make themselves known. why hide? there is a big difference between staying hidden and being a bag of hot salad making for friends air. serving and accepting gifts, food or otherwise, is an age old bhakti tradition. no big discovery there elena wide-eye. i hope that very soon the image of DF embarrassing herself gets deleted from my mind. blah.
thank you. this article speaks volumes to (and for) the people out there looking for the substance beyond the hype but have yet to find a teacher or community. thank you. and thank you for sharing the opportunity to hear and see Dharma. He’s the real deal! Even though the they cut him off at the pass, he’s all light. Yeah. right on babarazzi.
It was seriously difficult to finish watching the entire video and all that lotus and namaste stuff… Yoga to me is about keeping it real, and that whole video was just too unreal!!!!! Might have to go gag now…
The YJ girl is SO annoying. Someone please ask her to stop saying namaste all the time!!!
‘Aim high when looking for a person to teach you the life transforming traditions that compromise yoga.’ Ha ha ha. But in the context of the real message in your final paragraph:
Did you really mean ‘compromise’ or was that an error of judgment or a grammatical mistake? ‘Comprise’ makes more sense.
Ha. Awesome find, pelt. We’re on it.
There she is! Were you drunk texting us?
That’d be wonderful!
What’s most boring about this article is the cinicism, nothing yogic or original in that. I can open the newspaper or turn on any channel to get find the same kind of complaining and wining. So I’ll end my own complaining there.
This video was light, fun and doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s clear to me that both Kasey and the teachers are having a good time and, in certain moments, making fun of themselves. Kasey rocks, so does yoga journal. NAMASTE!!!
Sorry to bore you, Martha. We will try and rock as hard as YJ in the future.
I wish I was drunk texting you. Thanks to all for the views on the videos! Keep rocking!
We help out where we can!
Drunk text us!
Funny article – sadly mostly true. If you hear if a good teacher in London let us know.