Gigantic Yoga Events in a Park are Pretty Weak /// Other Gigantic Events You Could Attend

You know how one spoonful of medicine is super healing, but twenty spoonfuls of the same medicine is super gonna kill you? Exactly. That’s how I view these over-the-top yoga events. They just sound all kinds of lame.

Here’s a question: to any of you reading this who are involved in or are planning on holding a yoga event that boasts being really huge, why do you really do it? In all seriousness and in plain hanging-out-with-the-fazellas-on-the-couch-watchin-YouTube-“Epic-Fails“-videos, why do you care about creating such a thing? What’s the purpose? Is it a “Bigger is Better” thing? Is it a guy thing? Is it a money thing? Really. What is it that keeps you up at night smiling when you think about creating such an event. I know you ain’t laying in bed getting all excited about “building community!”

Chelsea Roff’s Piece, “The World’s Largest Yoga Class Only Costs $675,000. What Else Could You Do With That Money?” pretty much sums up the other obvious question: What the hell else could you do with $675,000?

Turns out, you can:

  • Build 6,750 water wells in Somalia, where a widespread drought and diseases like cholera are killing hundreds of thousands of people every year
  • Supply 337,500 books to children in low-income neighborhoods in NYC through First Book
  • Provide eye glasses to 27,000 vision-impaired children in Indonesia, Vietnam, and the United States through Helen Keller International
  • Protect 135,000 families from malaria, one of the planet’s most deadly diseases. Every penny donated to Against Malaria goes toward purchasing mosquito nets
  • Buy 22,500 flocks of chickens to help families in Pakistan feed themselves (eggs are used over the long term for meals).
  • Empower 9,782 female entrepreneurs to start their own sewing businesses through Mercy Corps
  • Build 2,700 shower stations in Haiti,  so women and their families can get clean safely and with dignity.

In some sense though, it’s really not about the money. I mean, can you imagine being around 50,000 other people doing yoga??? That’s like the answer to one of those “What’s Hell gonna be like?” questions. Personally, I’d much rather be at any one of these other gatherings which seem like way more fun, and I bet, oddly enough, probably create more “community” than some huge gathering of “yogis” doing “yoga” on “grass” in a “field” while some not-worth-all-the-hype “teacher” “talks” about “your” heart.”

Seriously.

I’d defs rather be at the largest gathering of clowns…

Or, the largest gathering of zombies…

Or, the largest gathering of Smurfs…

Or, the largest gathering of Gorillas waiting to run a race…

Or, the largest gathering of Leprechauns holding up Leprechaun hats…

Or, the largest gathering of Where’s Waldo nerds dressed like they do on any other given day…

Or, the largest gathering of locusts surrounding a dancing farmer…

Or, the largest gathering of one dude telling a bunch of Chinese tanks to F’ off….

All pretty decent times in my book.

46 comments

  1. Yoga Dude

    The last picture is still humbling after all of these years.

  2. Greenpoint

    wtf, how is it you get seemingly intelligent, well meaning, knowledgable humans together and as soon as you start video taping them and asking them to speak on a topic that they SHOULD be able to say something of worth that instead they come across as charlatans. There is not one reason why the video above should not be thrown away into the dustbin of history…

    oh and btw, the locust picture freaks me out a bit…

  3. That Smurf or Where’s Waldo jamboree look like rockin’ parties, I’d go.
    This stupid biggest yoga gathering event, is one of those things that shows up everything that’s wrong with yoga these days….

  4. Dyspeptic Skeptic

    Elena Brower relates in the video that “The power of Yoga when done en masse is magnified”. Christy Turlington Burns, “You know, just that potential to really impact the universe, because you’re doing something like that together”. Naomi Watts, “So the forces of many committed to the same thing would be very powerful”.
    What power? This is the same magickal thinking that pervades the yoga community. The only impact any of this has on the universe is the promotion of those involved.

    • yogaweed

      we are not a very humble species are we?

    • Agreed.

      But really, what’s bugging me is the cost involved in putting together the event. Why not a mess of local yoga events, (inexpensive), and then donate the money raised to something worthy? Want togetherness? Do them at the same time, all around the country. ’nuff.

      • amphibi1yogini

        Nooooo, to do that would be too spiritual, too Age-of-Aquarius, too sociable, too decentralized/community-minded, and NOT COMMERCIAL ENOUGH ….

  5. gross

    PRAY FOR RAIN.

  6. That Guy

    It’s like a who’s who of yogalebrity scandal!

  7. gross

    am i the only one who started to suspect, right around the naomi watts part, that they had asked the interviewees a secret question totally not related to 1000s of people doing yoga together in some pathetic scene?

    i can just picture those two dudes, rob & sascha, sitting around with their smug asses at Marlow & Sons drinking coffee’s and “dreaming up” ways to get everyone else to pay for them to succeed, while tucked into their back pocket a paperback version of “the way of the superior man”.

    i hope their next event is a GREAT ORGY on the GREAT LAWN.
    random survey:… has anyone out there ever taken a class w/ seane corne they even liked?

    • Chai Fan

      Well said Gross. I for one will be nowhere near Central Park on August 16th. In fact I may leave the city. I will say of all the people in the video, the guy who says “i prefer steak” is hilarious.

  8. Sorta liked. They were both dvds. Like as with Shiva Rea, it’s mostly about the music they pick, however ….

  9. Em

    This whole thing is a freaking joke… marketing courses in college should show this video as proof of what NOT to do for their students. My public relations exec husband laughed his ass off about this!

  10. Chai Fan

    Also, that zombie event looks awesome. Anyone know anything about that?

  11. Thanks for the shout-out. Love this site. The yoga community needs a little more unapologetic irreverence.

    Last name is actually Roff, but I’ll take Roth. Gives the impression I might be a contemporary of Mr. Philip Roth.

  12. Specificalia

    What will they do with all of the trash from these hoards of yogis? Maybe they address this in the video? I stopped watching after mere seconds.

  13. The hoards of yogis doesn’t appeal to me either – and I really appreciate you listing the positive options for the FUND$ as well as gatherings. What are we yogis really here to do and to be? And small events for collective donations is an awesome plan. Count me in – small numbers of mats at a time for a powerful change.

  14. Yogically speaking

    These two guys remind me of the dudes running the European-based Tantric yoga porno cult (Misa) that’s just made it over to the States. Rest assured, Misa is coming to a major metropolitan area near you! If you’re female, hot and out of work – and who isn’t – and and you don’t mind turning the occasional trick as a pole dancer, and getting peed on by a strapping Slavic dude you’re in luck! This festival would be a great recruiting opportunity — kind of a like yoga porn job-fair? Maybe the two groups could cross-promote? I bet I could get a handsome fee for closing this deal.

  15. Worcestershire Sauce

    What the yoga community DOESN’T need is sanctimony and hypocrisy. Roff is a regular attendee at Wanderlust, Hanuman, and Tadasana. In fact, she’s one of the ‘crooners’ butchering “My Girl” in the Tadasana Fest promo video The Babarazzi (thanks, Baba!) posted/discussed recently:

    https://thebabarazzi.com/2012/05/01/this-tadasana-yoga-festival-video-am-i-just-a-jerk/

    Those festivals are not just one day in an NYC park, they’re three to four day parades of excess and materialism. The site she’s editor for, Intent.com, was a sponsor of Tadasana Festival. You can also hire her to write copy for your latest yoga bleaching project: http://www.chelsearoff.com/editing-services/.

    Tell us, Chelsea, what could you do with the roughly 4 x $675,000 it takes to put on just one of the festivals you happily frequent, support, and perpetuate?

    More sanctimony and hypocrisy.

    • Yogically speaking

      That’s priceless. Of course, her official thanks to Baba for the “shout out” was a warning sign of sorts. In this commercial orgy known as American yoga, the “lube” really flows freely!

    • SukasanaSioux

      Thank heavens WS you had the cajones to reply as you did! I was wondering when someone would call out the irony of it all. Ms. Roff is happy to dance with the big names at Hanuman and hob nob with them at Wanderlust later this summer and yet she disses this event? My guess is that if someone from the great lawn event hired her to “cover the event” (as her website says) she’d be there faster than a Baptiste vinyasa sequence. From where I stand, those running the great lawn yoga event have a Navasana-load more integrity than either Bab or Chelsea, or even those running Hanuman or Wanderlust. At least they are open about the cost of their event, which seems 100% reasonable to me considering the size and the location. The other events just charge people a shit-load to come without letting anyone know what the true costs are to the organization. One can thus presume they are bringing in the Benjamins like Bikram.

      Are you really calling out the integrity of people who tell you the truth up front, with their names on it? Wow!

      Hard to call a sheep a wolf if you really are still wearing the wool yourself Bab and Chelsea. Perhaps owning up to using festivals to further yourself (Chelsea) and dissing others as a way to elevate your blog (Babs) might be a first step in your shearing process. Until then I’ll take a big fat step onto the great lawn and bust my asana with the promoters of that event. At least I’ll know whom and what I am supporting unlike the wizards behind the scrim over here.

      • Hi SukasanaSioux,

        Thanks for your comment. Please see my response to Worcestershire above, which I think addresses most of the points you bring up here.

        As to whether I use yoga festivals to “further myself”…. Yes, I think that’s a fair statement. As editor of Intent, I get asked to go to these conferences and festivals to seek out new writers and sometimes find like-minded organizations to partner with. Going to these events has been incredibly valuable to me professionally, just like going to scientific conferences was when I used to work in a neuroscience lab. I honestly haven’t found that going to festivals has brought any additional traffic our blog, but if that happens in the future I certainly would be happy to have it.

      • gross

        hey sukasana, you seem a little confused w/ who you should be hatin on. this life coaching word “integrity” has gotten about as used up as “Bhav” and has basically been rendered USELESS… what are you even talking about. you must be friends w/ one of those smug dudes… free for 675 paid for by you! makes way less sense than, come to my festival, here is costs. but you are free to your opinion.

    • Of course, there is going to be infighting. It’s a journalistic career we’re talking about.

      She probably gets the admission to Tadasana, Wanderlust, Hanuman gratis or at a deep discount in order to promote those events.

      As someone who can’t afford to do nearly anything in commercialized yoga, I see no problem with that. Way to get free yoga … just like carrying a press pass to a concert or sporting event!

      Except possible co-optation. But even that’s in the early stages.

      Still doesn’t mean I support this mutation of community yoga events …

    • Hi Worcestershire,

      Thanks for your comment, and I can definitely hear how it might seem hypocritical that I criticize GLBL Yoga while suggesting that yoga festivals are permissible. I tried to make clear how I see the distinction between the two ventures — yoga festivals are clearly an entrepreneurial venture (even if they are excessive and materialistic) and GLBL Yoga appears to me to be claiming itself as some type of charitable event when in fact it’s nothing of the sort.

      I agree with you that yoga festivals can be excessive and materialistic, to a varying extent depending on the business model and strategies used by the organizers. But they’re certainly not the only thing in our world that is excessive and materialistic — take for example rock concerts, Christmas parades, The Olympics, and (on a much smaller scale) birthday parties. They’re all unnecessary, wasteful, and materialistic, but I don’t see anyone suggesting that we do away with those events. I think your criticism (while making an important and valid point) glosses over the fact that there is still value in these types of gatherings for those privileged enough to participate. At a very simple level, they create jobs. They introduce people to one another, help create friendships and collaborations among people who may have never met one another. They provide a few days of relaxation and fun for those privileged enough to have the resources to attend. There’s nothing wrong or shameful about that. Are they necessary? Probably not. But are they valuable? I think the people who pay for them every year would without a doubt say yes.

      I have indeed attended Wanderlust, Hanuman, and Tadasana as a member of the media (which means my pass, but not travel or room/board, was free in exchange for coverage of their event). My interviews and reviews have always been first and foremost honest, and I’m clear with the organizers beforehand that I will not sacrifice integrity or hold back criticism in my coverage of the event. That’s a risk they take in bringing me there. I have to make a living just like anyone else, and as a writer and editor of a site that caters to the yoga community… attending these festivals is part of my job. I don’t feel like I should have to defend my attending a festival or offering editing services to people in this industry. And I certainly don’t think I should have to hold back criticism of other large-scale yoga events simply because I’ve attended others in the past.

      Lastly, if I had 675K x 4, I certainly wouldn’t be spending it on any type of yoga festival. Since you asked, I would probably build a community center where people who struggle with food and body image issues could come to get free access to mentoring services, nutritional counseling, and yoga.

    • peter dash

      nice try glblyoga

  16. You can leave comments on the website they are using to raise the ridiculous amount of money. I just left a couple of comments for them. NICE photo line-up today. Sweet Dreams.
    http://www.indiegogo.com/glblyoga?c=comments&a=689752

  17. Martha

    They only raised about $8k so far. I think most people see this abomination for what it is.

    • gross

      i really hope they come NO WHERE near the goal, and the big-wigs get stuck footing the bill. of course it will just end up a tax write-off anyway.

  18. Itstrue

    Thanks for the inspiration Alex, I just left my comment on their page. I love how down dog donation is a mere $25, poor pathetic down down!

  19. lydiajaneyoga

    who wants to come to my meditation flash mob in the middle of the street?

  20. my feeling is that it would be more effective to write *polite & respectful* emails to the teachers involved and ask them to withdraw from the event, explaining why it is wasteful of resources and money. let them know that as a yoga teacher/student you feel that this is not in keeping with the teachings of yoga: ahimsa, protecting the earth, striving to dis-identify with ego.
    you can write to them at:
    Elena Brower: elena@virayoga.com
    Rodney Yee & Colleen Saidman: info@yogashanti.com
    Seane Corne: seane@seanecorne.com

  21. gross

    would be awesome if they did. then they could have gotten all the attention for being specially picked for this event, THEN the props for backing out. what a PR double whammy. please EVERYONE! have “INTEGRITY”! show your true colors! woohoo! i like alex’s comments… she is hilarious.

    • @gross, I read the apologia they wrote on Elephant Journal and how and why they justify what they do (in answer, also, to Chelsea Roff’s piece – also on Elephant Journal.

      Now, I can’t see why they still think they are outreach.

      We who can’t afford yoga classes, retreats, privates, ancillary spiritual private healing services, and most workshops; we who get our intro to yoga at downmarket chain gyms, community centers, Y’s, adult education classes, libraries, and so-called “guerilla yoga” setups …

      Many of us will not be posturing in our arm stands (if we have such practices) in this venue; many of us will not be seeking photo opportunities … I don’t speak for others who have been locked out of commercial yoga’s tentacles …

      But I do think commercialized yoga has jumped the shark … living proof slept here …

  22. No doubt. Today heralded the (it seems) annual Yoga in Times Square event. While I originally intended to go with a bunch of people, I didn’t. Why? Oh yeah – BECAUSE I TEACH YOGA ON THURSDAYS AT A SHELTER. The capital letters aren’t because I’m oh-so fabulous. I’m not. But I am tired of yoga-as-stunt and yoga as performance art. I’m here to have my own experience. Mine. And I’m here to help other people have their own experience. Theirs. Which occasionally involves looking at me as if I have three heads and telling me to forget it. That’s cool – I encourage students to say such things and to acknowledge boundaries wherever and to whomever. My boundary? Playing into “I’m hot and cool and all things wonderful because I can downward dog.”

    • Isn’t the Solstice event next week? Was there something else this week? We are so behind….

    • The Solstice is next week. But there was some huge event in Times Square yesterday. (Unless I got my schedule completely messed up.) Also – I realize the tone of my previous post was a tad cranky and while I stand by my weariness with stunt yoga (as opposed to acro yoga, or anti-gravity yoga which seems like it could be cool) and performance yoga (it’s not yoga – that’s called dance and yes, it’s beautiful), celebrigis and celebriginis, I was trying for a humor that didn’t come through.

      Huh. If that event is next week, maybe I should go just to challenge my own boundaries (unless it’s on a Thursday). Maybe I should experience lululemoning with a 1000 other …. hmm, doubting it…

      • Why not?! I’m a big fan of finding something that makes you feel gross inside, and then doing it! Just to check the old brain baggage.

        • gross

          i was thinking the same thing. just try it as a form meditation or investigation. but then i gagged and decided life is too short. plenty of things life will throw my way that will make me feel gross enough, no need to bring it on.

  23. How about going to this instead? I’m not associated in any way with this organization, but I’m thinking of going.
    This sort of embodies the local spirit going global!

    Join us on Saturday, June 16th for a rooftop sunset yoga class and some treats on a Brooklyn rooftop with a view of the magnificent Manhattan skyline.

    Proceeds from this class will go to support the work of Yoga Freedom Project. Currently, we are teaching yoga to survivors of trafficking and sexual exploitation. We are also tutoring girls to prepare them take the take GEDs to get a high school diploma.

    The class will be taught by the Yoga Freedom Project team and is sponsored by Free Love Clothing http://www.freelove-clothing.com/
    5-8 pm
    231 Norman Ave, Greenpoint, Bklyn
    $25
    Sign up at http://www.yogafreedomproject.com

  24. Ele

    “so proud to be a part of this. when we gather together, we create a collective beneficent intention even greater than the sum of its parts. this is a chance to practice being present, grateful, strong, listening, together.” Elena Brower

    and I make $5,000 for just being there on the stage!

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