It’s Not What They’re Selling. It’s What Yre Buying. /// Also, Male Business Models

A few things we’ve been thinking about in response to Tuesday’s John Friend article and the comments that followed:

1. Are hierarchical business models (yoga-inspired or otherwise) specifically male models of organization, and should women know as much going into them?
This may sound insane, but we’re just thinking aloud here, so don’t be such a jerk farmer: There’s an assumption that hierarchical business structures (pick any as an example) are gender-neutral, and the reason women have remained on the lower rungs of the ladder is because men have somehow co-opted the highest positions, and that everything social under the sun helps to reinforce their position. But, what if hierarchical business models are not neutral at all, but are set up entirely for male dominance? What if the rules of this game “women” (to retain the gendered roles defined in the JF Scandal) want to play is rigged ahead of time? What if there’s no way for women to win at the hierarchical business model game, where perhaps they are, as French theorist, Luce Irigary, has said, “two things at once: utilitarian objects and bearers of value.” Is there another, more interesting, means for organization that people can engage in?

2. Other models might allow for actual choice
If other models of organization were normalized, people with a penchant for the dog-eat-dog of things could choose to participate in hierarchical models, much in the same way a person chooses to engage in sexual acts that engage a tiered dynamic of power. (Think D/s, etc.)

3. Non-consensual power-over is a shitty awful cancer that infects whatever it touches
I promise you that the desire (latent or otherwise) to achieve non-consensual power-over another person can manifest in all humans “cis-gendered,” “trans-gendered,” “boy,” “girl,” whomever. Power-over is a corrupter. It’s a good idea to find out where it resides in you.

4. Don’t Buy (Into) Stupid Shit
Newsflash: You don’t have to buy that thing in your hand. You also don’t have to buy that thing in your head. However, let’s be real. Sometimes “retail therapy” is the only workable solution.

5. Wai Lana will outlast everyone
We can’t be sure, but we think it’s very possible that Wai Lana will outlive all that commercial yoga culture has to offer. Is it because of her dancing? Her smile?

6. Bikram Yoga. Gateway drug?


  1. Crusty critter

    No 6: definitely the thin end of the wedge

  2. Linda-Sama

    Modern yoga can all be dumbed down to #4.

  3. Garuda

    Well, I have seen the role reversal in the Not For Profit where I work. Predominately female leadership with the exact same dog eat dog dynamic. The unseemly side of this scenario is that there are so many platitudes floating through the halls that the whole Darwinian circus comes off as schizophrenic..

  4. I still want to latch some twin babies onto John Friends she-wolf tits.

  5. Greenpoint

    Have you ever personally met that Wai Lana person? I mean, is it a sitch where one just wants to run away screaming, or is it just extremely awkward, deeply perplexing and agonizing? Or is it she’s not real at all as you have worked some kind of magic video/internet thingie to create her?

    just wondering…

    • I think in the case of Wai Lana, though the interpretation probably does not do justice to the actual reality (again, quoting S.I. Hayakawa/Korzybski General Semantics, “The map is not the territory”, Wai Lana seems less disingenuous than most. She also seems to have staying power. In addition, she also seems to peddle her own nutritional products and yoga accessories. Her being Hawaii-based also doesn’t hurt. She is kind of more the Dr. Phil of yoga (all the way out there in Texas – even if John Friend came from Texas, too); whereas so many of the others are more like the Dr. Mehmet Oz or the Dr. Deepak Chopra of yoga …Si, she is commercial but still, some kind of outre legacy/lineage, etc.; She may not meet her public on so many levels, but she seems like a person more than an image, insofar as mass media will portray the image to the detriment of the actual person …Just my analysis.

      • Yoga Whelp

        Yes, I totally agree, AY. The fact is, she’s ethnic native Hawaiian, and that has resonance. And I find her unguarded self-expression appealing. She seems like a happy person. How come so many American yoga teachers seem like stressed out posers with a Pandora’s box of neuroses? You walk into class perfectly happy and then this preening bimbo tries to unload her shit on you, claiming it’s actually ours?

      • Greenpoint

        I see, interesting analysis…

  6. \Yoga Whelp

    If Wai-Lana’s not married, I’m going to propose to her and she can be my guru. It’s very Hawaiian, moving to the simple rhythms of Nature, or suggesting that we should. Michaelle Edwards of Yoga Align in Kauai has designed an entire posture practice – kind of an anti-yoga — with the same premise, really. Wailana thin ks she’s surfing, and being a bird, a porpoise.

    Really I would love to promote her first US tour — and announce this creative synthesis of yoga zumba and shamani’c trance rituals, with leis galore. I will call it Cray-Cray Dolphin Dance™! Bring it on Baby. I will bill her as the Oahu Yahoo!!

    Dont get any ideas about stealing these ideas by the way. Note that I have already affixed a trademark. Yes, it is possible to try to copyright the movements of mammals. Bikram told me so.

    love the dolphins she depicts dancing in the sea.

  7. novecho

    Too late….signed her last night to Novecho Dolphin Fin Enterprises. Look for the new Hilo halter tops in Pacific Blue, and “Embrace the Light” with our Lava Lamps (in lime green). See y’all at wanderlust

    • Yoga Whelp

      You did, and I was just negotiating a sweet deal with Easy Lei™ Yoga in Kona, too. Hey, if you still need help getting a permit for the live dolphin tank, Let me know. PETA’s going to have a shit fit.

  8. 1,2,3) Hierarchy, whether it’s male dominated, female, LBGT, whatever needs to go the way of the dodo bird. Whoever is at the top of the pyramid ineviably gets too much sun on their head at some point or other. Cooperative movements, “flatter” organizations based on member input and control and consensus building is the way to go. If you go to Norway, many people still have pictures of ther ex-partners in their bedrooms even if they have re-married. At Christmas time, exes, their exes and *their exes* along with all their kids often show up. When I asked about this seemingly lack of jealousy of bad feelings and ex-baggage, this is how it was explained to me: “The way we see it, is that if things don’t work out, it’s best to end things as humanely as possible but that doesn’t mean we can’t still love them in a different way given that we shared a past, children etc. together. We Scandinavians don’t look at family as a tall pine tree which grows up only, we look to family as a strawberry plant which stays flat but spreads widely.” Somehow that model resonates with me and seems more mature and progressive.

    4) I’ve said the same thing on my blog, that if more people simply withheld their dollars, many of these outfits would probably go under overnight whether it’s Bikram or Friend or any other pervy opportunist. I’m not a capitalist sympathizer by any means but if that’s the game we’re playing, we can easily use it to our advantage. There are tons of other options to buy into, if you must.

    5) Wai Lana is a single mother raising her daughter by herself. I don’t know even if her products and her show is commercialized, there’s something about her that seems a bit genuine. Wai Lana’s vegetarian recipes are actually pretty good. I’ve made her Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt cake and it’s quite good.

    • Yoga Whelp

      EER – Seriously, if most women – not all, but most — can’t “shop to it,” — whatever it is — then they don’t want it. This is something women need to own about their gender. Marketers have. Women, far more than men, are responsible for the commercialization of American yoga. Feminization, from a spiritual standpoint has meant materialism and death,. Own it dearies, and those of you who don’t buy into it need to stop pretending that your gender is exempt — just because you don’t. Some people insist that the feminization of yoga has brought all these wondberful things to yoga that weren’t there before? Really? Sculpted asses? What else?

      • Yoga Whelp

        My main point, though, which I have expressed ad nauseam here and elsewhere for 3-4 years, is that any movement this out of balance gender-wise and spiritually, cannot possibly liberate anyone, least of all the women who seem to extol their alleged leadership of it. It is one of the great ironies or paradoxes that a movement like yoga whose entire ethos is the “yoking of opposites” and the “creation of union” and all the rest of its Happy Horseshit ends up such an extremist font of pathologically neurotic females. Yoga is one one hand clapping,– for itself — and the actual sound it makes — spiritually — is akin to what Scripture calls the “clashing of cymbals.” It could not be any other way. We live in the 21st century and no movement that isn’t founded on a healthy integration of gender identities can possibly mean anything of significance. .

        • YW, I hear what you’re saying and to some extent I agree with a few of your points, that the commercial yoga culture is indeed largely dictated, defined and presented by women but in my view that should mean waking more women (and men) up and helping them see other possibilities instead of denigrating them for it.

          Setting aside for a moment exceptional cases and marginal cases as to why so many women do yoga (i.e physical therapy because of an accident or illness, getting over an eating disorder, increasing positive body image, actual spiritual work, becoming physically stronger, lowering stress) and setting aside expectations of people who are not heterosexual, those who do yoga for specific religious and cultural reasons, let’s speculate as to why the large majority of ladies in the more popular studios say in the 18-30 age group are there and for what reason?
          To get a bangin’ bod.
          To be perceived as beautiful and healthy and desirable according to criteria set by marketers, the fashion industry and other players in the beauty myth. In short that means, being fairly lean, looking taller and molding themselves to look a particular way.
          To either feel liked, desirable and eventually attract a boyfriend or husband and get self-validation that way.
          (I know I’m grossly stereotyping but to those who have objections to what I just wrote, bear with me a second, I’ve got a point).
          So who is the guilty party here? Women, because they feel they need to look a certain way in order to adhere to societal standards of beauty and health and attractiveness? Or is it the society, the marketers, the businesses, the plastic community and the more shady yoga gurus, the studios, the fembot instructors like Kelly Morris who perpetuate these standards and then prey on the insecurities of women in order to profit off of them?
          By no means am I saying that women here are all poor victims. In some ways I think the onus of responsibility falls on women to wise up, re-adjust their vision, purge the vision they’ve internalized over years, get rid of the smoke and mirrors and demolish these standards and expectations and re-define “beauty”, “health” and “attractiveness” on their own terms and that includes calling *ANYONE* out who wants to maintain the status quo, either because it’s profitable to do so or because they personally have the most to gain by doing so.

    • amphibi1yogini

      @Earth Energy, this post should be a start, anyway:

      Personally … commercial yoga classes (not necessarily old-school, but they have to be mild) have much more for me now that I have illness and weakness going on. Strong, young people, even young people of means, can and should know better .. and not fall for the con. Or at least, get the circus clowns for free online and then move on.

      • Yoga Whelp

        You guys are missing the point: women are getting what they want. They don’t feel conned and they find your sanctimony irrelevant. They want their goods, and their bodies, and they hope to keep them as long as they can. When Carol Horton, the Queen Bee of Irrelevant Yoga Sanctimony, tried to get a discussion started about Lulu on her blog a couple of years ago, most of the women were outraged that anyone would take their dynamite pants away. The real point of my posting — if there was any, since I am basically just verbally jerking off anyway — is that men in yoga are bystanders. We’ve been watching a narrow strata of middle class white women use yoga to act out their collective fantasies, pathologies and obsessions flr more than a decade now. And after ten + years, you guys have pretty much ruined yoga as a potentially emancipatory movement.on a collective scale. I’ve been in some serious social movements in my day, starting in the late 1960s. Yoga is basically a Tupperware party hosted at a strip joint. That’s not realy “denigration,” just description? Anyway, Happy Hother’s Day! MUAH. Hopefully you’ll find a stronger legacy to pass on to your children,. I don’t want my kids anywhere near you guys…….Peace

        • amphibi1yogini

          The Occupy Wall Streeters and young people with student loans, and the disabled don’t even know there is this party going on in the yoga studios. Get real, life is not just 1%-ers.

      • Yoga Whelp

        I liked the Word press article you referenced, and of course, agree. It’s not just true of Budig, whom i wrote about myself for the Guardian three years ago, it’s also true of Tara Stiles and Shiva Rea and others — wash outs from modeling ballet and dance who brought those bodies with them, then pretend to sell them as “yoga bodies.”.

        At root, the problem here is spiritual materialism, which 90% of the yoga world has bought into, and then the way it’s become fused with the myth of empowerment and enlightenment through the yoga marketplace. Once you go that route, there’s no escape from the vortex, the matrix, whatever you want to call it, the inescapable logic of the Spectacle and the Big Sell.

        God or market. In the end, you really have to choose. Apparently, it’;s too stark a choice for most women in yoga — and not just the Budig’s.. You’ll write blog articles here and there, but you won’t go after your “sisters.” You’re too implicated yourselves

        Another good example: I don’t know a single female studio owner who doesn’t think that teacher training is an asana mill designed to fund the studios, not make great teachers. Very very few are willing to say it publicly, much less do anything about it. And then the collective ass-covering is blessed with some ritual reference to detach and love, don’t judge, ahimsa or some other situational ethics for which yoga is now famous.

        I suppose “sisterhood” is only as powerful — for the world — as the principles it’s actually founded on. There are plenty of new female “firehouses” in the world now — and yoga has become one of them. Ah, what price, glory, eh?

        • Yoga Whelp

          And there’s poor Sadie, struggling to keep up with the “Mean Girls”!! The perennial class tomboy, the boys all want to do her in the bathroom but they won’t invite her to the prom — or even home to Mom! She WILL lose that weight, dammit!!!. Just give her another two weeks…PLEASE!

          Everything I learned about life, I learned in kindergarten. Everything I learned about yoga, I learned in high school. Back to the cave…..

        • gross

          can someone just admit that tara stiles body is actually not that awesome? she is a lanky skin and bones chica who doesn’t look like she ever eats and looks completely unhealthy to me, esp when she’s trying to pose in the shiva natarajasana and all of her body mass looks like a watery liquid broth…

      • amphibi1yogini

        I became so ill – stricken with diabetes – that I now have Sadie’s chicken legs. Did I want them? No. Do they look good? Well, on ME they fit. My arms match. Not quite toothpicks, though, but close. I am trying to be healthy, not to prove I am as strong as a man.

        My fear is not falling out of an inversion. I do not have to manufacture any fears. I’ve got real and serious fears. They are staring me in the face.

        • gross

          i am not against anyone’s personal body and embrace and LOVE all types in all their beauty and quirks.. just wondering if tara is really selling a “YOGA BODY”… BTW, everyone’s fears are real.

      • amphibi1yogini

        Not only that about Tara Stiles. But I am sure she trades on the popular misperception that she is related in some way to movie star Julia Stiles. (She isn’t) …

        From models to posers, though. It seems to make sense.

        But that stick-figure body isn’t exactly what would be known as statuesque. Not even in this pro-ana worshipping era … Nope!

  9. novecho

    Whelp, I’ll give up the ETL lava Lamp if I can have the rights to the easy lei

    • Yoga Whelp

      Actually, no one in the yoga world respects the “Easy Lei” trademark. They think the “merchandise” shouldn’t just be “easy” — it should circulate freely, too. You are welcome to it.

  10. amphibi1yogini

    Bottom line is, ignore the media, ignore peer pressure. Commercialized yoga is not going away any time soon. But you take only what you want, when you want it, in quantities/types that you need and can use.

    You are a consumer. You have the right to say “No.”

    To know what to look for, what’s going on, you can read the Yelp.

    But before I’d discovered Yelp, I’d read YogaDawg as if he were Consumer Reports for yoga (obvs. not its intended purpose.)

    Worked for ME!

  11. Yoga Whelp

    American history is littered with spiritual wannabes trolling for souls to make a buck. To me, yoga is just a clever New Age gloss on our nation’s age-old tradition of religious revivalism. All such movements promise ecstatic enchantment and personal revelation but actually produce a loss of social awareness, critical inquiry, and personal autonomy. They also feed right into the mainstream power structure and the pursuit of wealth, status and power. They always have, and always will. They’re a spiritual bridge to nowhere.

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  13. Yoga Whelp

    AY –

    Too passive. Besides, consumers boycotts only really work if they are collectively organized, I think.

    Why not picket the classes of the yoga beauty fascists, and pass out leaflets saying these women – and their sponsors — are responsible for promoting the misery and death of their sisters? Too harsh, eh?

    Ask the Yoga Alliance not to certify yoga teachers unless they agree not to accept corporate sponsorship from clothing, auto, and food companies, among others. And those that do accept it will have their teaching licenses stripped from them.

    Stop pretending that “regulating” yoga is a threat to yoga’s freedom, or women’s ovaries, and instead see it as a way to treat yoga as a “public good” subject to public monitoring and oversight, consumer protection, and legal liability – just like everything else that involves large numbers of purchasing customers.

    Do not, under any circumstances, let yoga into the public schools during regular school hours on school property using public money unless public oversight is established and all other mind-body disciplines and religious and spiritual practices are accorded the same privilege.

    They can all bid on the service – including the Christian yogis…WHEEEEE!

    Or don’t do any of this and give yoga back to the men, who know what real warrior work is and have the stomach — and the balls – for it.

    Sigh…’s all too much work. I know, you’d rather shop than practice spiritual self-care at a level beyond your own person. An get into public arguments and define yourselves — you know, practice politics.

    One yoga mom told me last year: “I’m trying to do yoga to get away from all that worldly stuff.”

    That’s funny, I thought a woman’s work is never done.

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