This Yoga Website Will Help Brand You /// We Are Not Making This Up

[Honestly, something this delicious really needs a dissertation to unpack. Seeing as I get antsy with long projects, I’m just gonna tap the sweet spots.]

There is a website catering to yoga instructors ready to take that next step and become a yoga brand. It is called BrandThyself.com and is the brainchild of “Jess.” From the about page:

“With her unconventional branding approach and contagious passion for guiding you to the heart of your offering, [Jess] extracts the essence of your true purpose, igniting big-mission ideas that foster influence beyond the mat. Jess’ wisdom-driven workshops, online courses, and 1-on-1 sessions help you awaken to your authentic voice and put your heart at the heart of your message.”

And, what’s a “1-on-1” session look like?

“The 1-on-1 clarity session is a journey into the internal terrain of who you are, what you have to offer, and why it’s uniquely different. The exploratory work we’ll do together is both defining and meaningful. By connecting to what drives you on a core level, we’ll bring true understanding to your unique offering so it’s a reflection of your deepest intentions and integrity.”

In all honesty, I was unaware of the idea that making a brand—that is, a commodity—of yourself was an aspect of getting to know who you are? To me, self-branding has always been about shaving down the irreducible complexity of who you are always already becoming in order to create a slug line as to who you’d like people to think you already are. Jess’ take is somewhat new to me.

"Leslie," by Chuck Close

“Leslie,” by Chuck Close

But, before you all go nuts like a pack of wild ravenous dogs, let me say this: Anything is possible. Figuring out “who you are” is, I am sure, possible. And, I’m sure it’s possible over the phone in a one-hour session with a person who knows you even less than you do. Like I said, anything is possible, and I have to give Brand Thyself that.

However, it should also come as no surprise—what with it’s well-organized, well-thought-out, chock full of kinda sorta maybe “grounded” spirituality, and femi-Zen austerity—that “Brand Thyself” is at least partially linked to the (post-)Anusara community. Jess has been a student/co-facilitator of a number of now-ex-Anusara teachers, and the “look” (desert sand), “feel” (mature), and “sound” (words like “gratitude” [those on the inside get me]) of it bares the holy marks.

"Mark," by Chuck Close

“Mark,” by Chuck Close

But, I’ll tell you what. If you’re gonna go brand, this at least sounds like a bangin’ way to get at a brand that is both “you” and “hyper-you.” Personally, I just happen to find brands and commodified humans to be rather unfortunate. But, for those who don’t mind flirting with a shelf-life, and love convincing themselves that self-objectification is integral to the actualizing of inner wisdom, than this may just be for you.

But, before you leave and run off to the nearest personality outlet store, you should familiarize yourself with these two words: essentialism and reductionism. Essentialism is basically a belief that “things” possess an “essence” or static set of characteristics that allow them to be recognizable beyond doubt. Reductionism is often the means by which this belief system is employed. According to the infallible Wikipedia, reductionism is “a philosophical position that a complex system is nothing but the sum of its parts.”

Make of all that what you will.

____________________

Thanks to one of our readers for passing this along.

22 comments

  1. Yoga_Dude

    If you couple brandingthyself with a really solid well put together 200 hour teacher training….the possibilities…I can hardly imagine how far you can go.

    I love this country!

  2. Last year, I went to one of Jess’s workshops, in an effort to (yes, I can admit it) find my “authentic” voice. The thing that struck me the hardest was how Jess threw the f-bomb all over the place in what I am sure was an attempt to…I don’t really know what, actually. There was a lot of “It’s gonna get fucking scary!” and “Before I found yoga, I was a fucking mess!” One lady started crying, and another guy shared his vision for gay yoga. Seriously.

    It’s almost a year later and I recently got a form email from Jess asking me how I’ve been, and if I’ve thought anymore about a 1:1 session. Now, I do not hate the idea of having someone help me get clear on what I’m trying to say–I don’t actually think there is anything wrong with that, nor do I hate on yoga teachers who are making a living off of this thing (I think). What I am realizing more and more, though, is that I am pretty sure good teaching and good intention will stand on its own. Some of the best teachers out there have the jenkiest websites around.

    Anyway, I go to therapy to get clear on who I am and that’s good enough for me.

    • Chai Fan

      That workshop sounds awful. What’s funny is I’ve heard a lot of yoga teachers talk about what a mess they were before yoga. Not realizing they still come off as a mess who just does yoga now, and now bringing others into their vortex. I think I was a mess before yoga, and I’m still kind of a mess now. Maybe with just a touch more awareness about it though, and acceptance of who I am. But that can simply come with maturity and getting older. This whole idea of yoga as THE fix all just doesn’t hold it for me anymore. And yes, the best teachers just simply are that-strong, clear, mature teachers. And don’t someone else to help them figure out how to express it.

      • wondering

        I’ve even heard some mention of being such a” mess” before yoga that they had to survive by waiting tables, working retail,office jobs etc! But thanks be that yoga helped them uncover their true calling and desires…if only they could get more students to support their need to express this to the masses, hence the importance of Jess’ work..

      • Yoga Whelp

        There’s an old saying in Alcoholics Anonymous: “What happens when you take a drunken horse thief and sober him up?” “You get a SOBER horse thief.”

        Actually, i think yoga tends to put MIRACLE GROW on your “defects of character.” If you were self-centered but shy before you drank the Kool-aid, you’ll end up pathologically narcissistic after.

        That’s the “magic” of the Kundalini. What do you expect from a Serpent?

  3. Dyspeptic Skeptic

    Perfect for the yoga world. She went from designing business cards to a branding “expert”, likely by simply changing the title on her business card. Lesson 1, to become an accomplished yoga teacher in one Hanuman leap; just say so on your business card or website.

  4. Yoga_Dude

    My favorite snippet from her website is, “Your mission is far more than a statement. It’s a treasure chest of information that keeps you anchored and aligned on your path.”

    Forgive my ignorance in the ways of the world, but being anchored to a path seems so un-yogic to me. Maybe I just don’t get it….yet…but I am trying.

  5. Garuda

    I took a walk in Encinitas, the Mecca for Yoga on the left coast. There are so many yoga studios huckstering and marketing on Hwy 101 that I though I was on the midway at the Del Mar Fair. Like a veritable God Flea Market. Luckily they are staffed by 25 year old teachers with tight asses and herbal names like “Hanuman” and “Durga”… “Cuz?…like?…it looks so much better?…on my business card?…than my real name?…”
    It seems kind of essential to find a niche and create mystery about it. Like my pseudonym. Or maybe even a funnier sounding Persona like “The Babarazzi”.

  6. fascinated

    Again, hungry-for-profit-and-fame teachers teaching others to be like them. Blind to the sick discourse they’re feeding.

    The symptom of needing to ‘carve out a name for yourself’, here called ‘branding’ needs to be really recognized for what it is. A lack of practice. And I don’t mean lack of asana practice (or Pilates, which in some other sectors of Baba discussion, can lead to spiritual awakening and more spontaneous places of responding rightly to life, as well)

    Practices of meditation, which when done regularly, clear up the confusion of not ‘knowing who you are’ and what your earthly mission may be, and then getting clear on how to express it.

    Therapy helps too, for sure.

    Unless Jess is a trained therapist and not just another yoga TT grad, who also graduated from the Handel group or some other life-coaching thingie, this program seems Lite and not deep.

  7. What I am finding particularly interesting about this, and the other recent posts with Ippiliiti, is that they seem to feel that what they have to offer people is the skills to “brand” themselves and achieve greater abundance off of their teaching. Yet, it seems like these are folks who managed to find whatever bit of yogi-celeb on the coat tails of the Friendster and his Anusara brand. Shouldn’t teachers be looking to JF for advice on how to brand themselves and create an empire (and how not to fuck it up.) Where would these folks have been without Anusara? Would we even be talking about them?

    • Either that, or go deeply into being better teachers and rather than brand … take the unique techniques they learned … and just become better teachers. Is that so HARD??!!??

      They will attract the students who will create a brand FOR them. Reluctantly, I gotta admit it, but that approach worked for Dharma Mittra, you know. His yoga didn’t start out as any kind of brand. He’s disavowed branding for the longest time… he’s just taught his heart out … his disciples have become brandsters (new word?) … which gets me a little mad …

      Evolving to brandship that way, takes time, though.

      These “teachers” believe in the fast buck and the quick fix … so sad …

  8. wondering

    I hope she uses a clean needle for the branding, I’ve seen alot of branded teachers over the past few years…Om, Ganesha, Siva, Sanskrit words of wisdom etc. Maybe she has a binder for brandthyselfers to look thru n choose their brand and where to put it …..location, location, location.

    • amphibi1yogini

      Underneath your short-shorts, stickin’ out your ass as on the finest of cattle … (for that next yogalebrity cattle-call, perhaps?)

    • wondering

      now that I think about it, I believe ear tagging has replaced branding for those in the know….gotta stay current Jess, if you wanna give your clients that edge..

  9. This actually makes me sad.
    What makes us human is that we’re all ongoing juicy mysteries to ourselves and each other. To somehow deconstruct that with a “1 on 1” session with some marketing/branding shyster who, at the end of the day, really doesn’t give a shit about you but wants your ca$h, who can then reduce you into a catchy moniker, flashy business card or glossy website, and doing all this under the guise of faux-wisdom and faux-compassion just…sucks.

    Why don’t they just offer the UPC code tattoo on their shoulders instead of the usual OM ones and get it over and done with? Or maybe create a new OM tattoo which incorporates a UPC code?

  10. voxygen

    love your well chosen Chucks

  11. I don’t think Jess is a shyster. Her website doesn’t ‘t read that way to me – I’d say she is sincere in what she’s trying to do.

    Thing is this.

    Branding is based around finding small, superficial differences between your product and the next guy’s, and then exaggerating the heck out of them.

    Take cars and cigarettes – two of the most highly branded products in existence. In reality, the differences between one make of cigarette and another are tiny. Yet branding makes the difference between a Dunhill and a Marlboro seem seismic.

    Sometimes, there are no truly discernible differences at all – in which case, we’d invent them (I confess, former ad man). And we could justify that particular dishonesty by telling ourselves that our fairy tales were heightening the consumer’s enjoyment.

    Yoga is the antithesis of branding. It’s about going deeper to find the truth in all its forms, not dwelling on the superficial. The more you focus on the teacher and their perceived image, the further away you’re getting from real yoga.

  12. Yoga Whelp

    Feeling brand-challenged? Well……ANTHROPOMORPHIZE!

    Just obtain one of those software system that allows you to put a photo of your face on the body of for example, a cat?

    I suspect this could do far more for your yoga image than finding a handy new tag line, or snappy personal slogan, or slapping a cute Sanskrit nickname or slogan (I love Mom?) on your stomach next to your
    Shakti-inspired belly-button ring.

    Better still: Your photo on the body of ELENA BROWER.

    You know, I might actually pay top dollar for that.

  13. I salute Jess for what she’s doing. Many might agree or even disagree with her approach. I think it’s great. In a commodity market (yoga teaching), the teachers do indeed need to brand themselves if they are going to stand out and survive.

    Ultimately, the end result of Jess’ efforts its more yoga in the world. So I’m into it.

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