Fight the Power! A plea to Yoga Journal.

Via on Feb 12, 2011
YouTube Preview Image

Okay folks, it’s time for me to rant and rave.

I got the latest Yoga Journal in the mail and while I was happy to see a man on the cover, those folks at the magazine made me angry.  The first thing I did after acknowledging the coolness of a guy chillin’ in Padmasana was look to see if they had published a letter from my pal Anna Guest-Jelley.

You see Anna is a curvy yogini, she wrote a brilliant and beautiful letter to Yoga Journal about a recent article they published on diet and body.  Her letter connected with a slew of people (she got 42 comments on her blog alone and a shout out at our pal YogaDork’s site as well).

[She’s been featured on elephant, too, and now has her own column here. We love her. ~ ed]

Her letter was a rallying cry about the lack of “real” yogis in Yoga Journal, and a sign that it was time for the magazine to start making some changes. I figured after the blogosphere hubbub that for sure Yoga Journal would post this letter in their “Letters to the Editor” section, but alas saw that instead they hadn’t.

I was mad.

Photo Courtesy Anna Guest-Jelley

My frustration with Yoga Journal got bigger last night when Anna posted that she might just enter their talent search for a new cover model.  After all she’s got tons of great pictures (see her Vira I, above) doing yoga—and she suggested that I apply as well since I also have a slew of such images. At first I thought, why the hell not, maybe Yoga Journal is moving forward and will pick a “normal” person for their cover.  Was I smoking something when I thought that?  I looked again at the “guidelines” of the contest and I saw that it said:

“Make sure we can see your whole body in the frame. Show us your face, if possible. Wear something form-fitting and bright, so that you stand out from the background.”

I was like, hells no I’m not entering.  Yoga Journal purports to promote yoga for the masses, after all anyone can buy an issue.  But asking people to wear something form-fitting and bright is truly insulting and instantly told me that they are looking for one model-type yogi for the pictures.  I know, some of you right now are saying “duh” to me, but readers I have faith that what I think isn’t always correct.  I wanted to believe that Yoga Journal would be willing to put someone like Anna or me on the cover.  I am not particularly curvy (well in places), nor am I 100% thin, but I think most people would say that my body is pretty okay.  I have had two children, cut out of my body no less, and at 41 I can rock some of the shazam pants and poses that the models can.  But other than some yoga pants with thick waistbands to cover my mom belly, I would never wear anything form-fitting.  No one save those with perfect, flawless bodies can wear really bright clothing, and how many of us like the way our faces look in pictures? Really Yoga Journal, you thought you were fooling me but I see right through you:  you only want perfection, and it stinks!

I once asked my teacher Sadie Nardini, who as you know looks like a model, if she was on the cover of Yoga Journal what pose she’d be doing.  She said she’d be in her traditional black (strike one) in Sukasana with her back to the audience (strike two). My homage photo is to the left (and taken by my favorite yogini in the world, my friend Ashley).  I loved Sadie’s response because despite her beauty, her shazam-pose abilities and her model-like figure she wanted to promote the quite and repose of yoga.  Even Sadie would be breaking the guidelines of this contest and that’s saying something!

Yoga to me is for every body, whether you are perfect and look like Christy Turlington or you look like the girl next door.  When I teach my 6-8 classes a week I rarely have someone who could be a model for Vogue in my class, I almost always have the average everyman/woman.  It is a shame that Yoga Journal can’t seem to get a grip on this reality and promote some yoga that can rock the local yokels and not just those of us who want to go to study with the teachers on the cover.  It’s horrid that they publish articles about body and weight and yet ignore the folks like Anna who intelligently point this out.  I’m tired of it, and I’m ready to fight.  I’m not famous, nor a Yoga Journal cover model, but I am a yoga teacher and person.  I want to see them publish Anna’s letter and I’m giving them two months (because who knows if there is a time lag, right?) to do it.  If by May they don’t pony up and show the weakness in their message I’m going to unsubscribe and no longer link to their website in my posts here on Elephant Journal or on my blog.

It’s not a big step, or a national protest, but it’s my way of saying: let’s fight the powers that be.  The next move is theirs.

About Nancy Alder

Nancy Alder is a 200H Registered Yoga Teacher in Connecticut. She teaches her students to connect with space and breath from a place of safety and humor. She writes for many yoga blogs and chronicles her daily practice to find the beginners mind on and off the mat at her own blog, She is co-founder of Teachasana,, a site by yoga teachers for yoga teachers. When not writing or doing yoga she is in awe of her elves, busting asanas in crazy places and counting the days until the next snowfall.


95 Responses to “Fight the Power! A plea to Yoga Journal.”

  1. Carol Horton CarolHorton says:

    Preach it, sista! Thanks for this.

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by nancy , Cherie Lathey, cafeterrablog, Jenny , kenching mom and others. kenching mom said: RT @yoga_mydrishti: <- my post from today is up at @elephantjournal w/ new pics of me and @CurvyYoga @yoga … […]

  3. Rock My Soles says:

    Great Nancy well don't expect to see me on their cover….

  4. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Fredric (aka Rick), Melanie Klein. Melanie Klein said: Fight the Power! A plea to Yoga Journal (@elephantjournal) #bodyacceptance #bodyimage […]

  5. elephantjournal says:

    Honestly, as a publisher, I see this from the other end. Yoga Journal put the well-loved, uber-popular John Friend on a cover, and it didn't sell well. The demographic apparently wants to see young, conventionally attractive women on the cover—aspirational covers.

    I do think Anna Guest-Jelley would make a fantastic cover model—the publicity and controversy and boldness of the move would likely sell magazines. But ultimately YJ has to think about that: it can, as you say, "publish articles about body and weight"—it can and does feature great normal, all-ages, male and female yoga teachers inside…I think they do a pretty damn good job. But covers are tough. The fact that they ever put a man on the cover is a bold move–yoga men apparently do not sell magazines.

    Yoga Journal has a tough task, here: to be sustainable, please its owners, be accessible and get the good word out to many (which it can't do if the magazine doesn't sell or YJ weren't profitable)…and yet your passionate letter, above, points to something greater: the thought leaders in yoga in the US, of which you are one, need to be loyal, passionate fans. YJ, as does elephant, needs to keep it real, or it loses that loyalty.

    And that's bad business, too.



    • Jen says:

      It is so upsetting to me that YJ has succumb to the pressure to become a "mainstream" magazine and sell tons of issues. It is absurd that they put the number of issues sold over actual content. This is Yoga Journal not effing Vice Magazine. I disagree with you that they frequently put "normal" people in the pages of the magazine. In the two years I have subscribed to YJ, I have seen many tall, thin, pretty models and only one (barely) plus size yogini, but it was in an article about weight loss. Not to mention they fail time and time again to challenge conventional standards of beauty (I NEVER see a woman with short hair, a man with long hair or people with tattoos in the pages of YJ, and God knows there are plenty of people like this in the yoga community!) Part 2 of my comment is below.

      • jen says:

        Another huge problem is the constant use of advertising for diet pills in their publication. I completely understand they have to pay their bills, but I am sure they could find more mindful sources of advertising! I think the message that YJ sends is that you have to be very lithe to do yoga, and this is simply NOT true. I see people of all shapes and sizes in my yoga classes. I am not in the curvy category, but I feel very strongly about this issue because I completely agree with the article Tias Little published on Ele earlier this week. This type of advertising in a publication about yoga can lead to self esteem issues and even eating disorders, which is just not acceptable. If YJ continues to use advertising for diet pills and exclude entire groups of the yoga community from their publication, I will be canceling my subscription. Waylon- please continue to feature a wide range of view points and authors on Elephant Journal; this is why people love it!

  6. TamingAuthor says:

    Nancy's picture, in the sandbox with daughter, would be a fantastic cover! That picture speaks to the heart so much more effectively than one of a photo-shopped anorexic model. It captures so much that is right about yoga. The picture of Anna Guest-Jolley may not be aspirational but sure is inspirational. Looks like many women in the classes I attend, who are not staying home in spite of models decorating the cover of YJ.

    But that said, as I am preparing for my own "lights and camera" moment, I gleaned some helpful information from the article. One of my instructors (who could grace a model cover) is being taped in class next week. (Obviously a stellar background moment for me.) So I thought maybe my usual black-on-black yoga wear but now I'm considering the form-fitting bright colors. Wise advice. Need to show off the cool physique. Every yoga video needs a slightly overweight old guy looking every bit as coordinated and attractive as Adam Sandler or Mike Myers. Right?

    • Nancy A says:

      Aw thanks! We were at the beach and I had my friend (actually the one who took my pic here) capture the moment. My daughter was saying "how are you doing that??" Strength and flight for the 5 year old audience ;-). I always take pictures doing yoga outside because it reminds me that yoga is life: fun, and not serious all the time.

      good luck with the taping! how exciting for you and your teacher.. be yourself and you'll shine!

      • That's one of my very favorite Yoga pictures of all time, Nancy. When I put it in your profile I made extra sure that it was big enough to see what's really going on! Usually I crop to headshots for profile pictures, but this one is so wonderful I couldn't resist.

        I'm just starting to enjoy the delight of my 3 and 2 year old grandkids when I twist into Eagle pose, and they, of course, innocent of any accumulated inhibitions, try to emulate it, falling down in a mass of giggles.

        Bob W. Yoga Editor
        (Join Elephant Yoga on Facebook)

  7. CDrishti says:

    Yoga in the west has become a multimillion dollar business. And business will use any tool to sell. Beauty/sex sells best. A vicious cycle of lowering people's self-esteem in order to make (more) money. That is why studios and teachers are everywhere, some of the mats and gear are ridiculously expensive and pseudo-spiritualism flourishes, all under the guise of yoga. Unfortunately, very few are doing real yoga, rather an aerobic exercise at best. Go to any of David Williams workshops and you'll understand why. One of the few great yoginis that never capitalized on his knowledge and remains true to the great spirit of yoga.

    • Nancy A says:

      Thanks for your reply and I think there are many people who echo your sentiments. I love that Yoga Journal shares the message of yoga to the masses, I just wish it was less of a polished, perfect and pretty way.

    • Katie says:

      I totally agree. It's the reason I've become totally disenchanted with the Western yoga scene.

    • SriDTMc says:

      Very true. Perhaps the flourishing of pseudo-spirituality is a necessary growing pain in the global spread of yoga. Perhaps an aerobic exercise teacher/class could be a gateway for a person to discover the true all-encompassing life-science that is yoga. I completely agree with you, just probing for the positives.

      Also, wouldn't David Williams be a yogi? Whereas Anna Guest-Jelley is a yogini?

      • CDrishti says:

        Yes, HE is a yogi, and SHE is a yogini :) Sorry, got carried away while passionately observation the sad state of the affairs…

  8. Jen says:

    You rock, Nancy! I have seriously been considering canceling my subscription to YJ because of the lack of racial, gender, weight, height and age diversity. I think since the YJ "talent search" is something readers vote for, we should all go to the YJ website during the voting period and get Ms.Anna Guest on the cover!

    • elephantjournal says:

      By gender…you mean not enough men? There's many female models, in keeping with the overall yoga community. Not sure of the criticism there?

      By age…I've seen at least a few older practitioners this year, and at least a few who are curvy, and I'm pretty sure I've seen practitioners of color and various ethnicities. I'm not trying to defend YJ–this is my honest experience. I feel like they do do a thoughtful job.

      That said, a talent search cover is an amazing idea and would generate a ton of publicity and public press for YJ, cheers to that!



  9. Karen says:

    Canceled my subscription to YJ several years ago for these and other reasons. They probably haven't noticed, and seemed pretty clueless in their responses to others who have written letters like the one your friend wrote.

  10. Tamara says:

    Sometimes “real yogis” are slender. Let’s not backlash against those yogis. Makes me nervous when I see that term thrown around. When I started practicing yoga on a regular basis I dropped a lot of weight and was not dieting.
    As far as form fitting clothes, its easier to do yoga when you’re not fighting bunched up fabric and well, bright colors make for interesting covers.
    I agree yogis come in all sizes but let’s not demean yogis of all shapes by calling some real and some not.

  11. 32000days says:

    I don't think they're ready for this Anna Guest-Jelley. Sad but true.

    • Nancy A says:

      thanks for the comment and you may be right. More of a sad commentary on today's world in the US than on Yoga Journal itself I guess.

      • 32000days says:

        My comment was brief and I've thought about it some more so I'll elaborate…

        People can be pretty shallow and instant in their visual thinking. It takes place at a level below conscious processing and below language.

        I know that the "automatic" thought that I get when I see a woman that I find attractive on a YJ cover is "the more I practice yoga the more I'll date women like that cover model". I further suspect that the automatic thought that some women experience upon seeing a super-thin cover model on YJ is "the more I practice yoga, the more likely I am to look like that cover model".

        The "conscious" reasons why I do yoga are of course far more spiritual and "noble" but I definitely like the positive effects it's had on my physical body.

        Now my kind, supportive conscious mind would love to see yoginis (and even yogis) of all shapes and sizes represented on the cover of YJ and other magazines. But my unconscious monkey mind is going to respond to a "Hollywood starlet" cover model far more. I suspect the same unconscious mind effect is true for the women and men who buy the print magazine; multiplying this effect over their subscriber and purchaser base, YJ recognizes where their budget is coming from and makes "practical" decisions in order to stay in business.

  12. Kim says:

    We should all submit photos (like the one above) in a quiet seat, with backs to the camera, for the cover model talent search. Include an explanation of why and a reference to what's going on the the yoga blogging world right now. Maybe if they received a couple hundred of those, they'd start listening.

  13. […] experience of ourselves makes us more vulnerable to manipulation by sex in advertising. Maybe if we want less sexy ads we need to embrace our sexy […]

  14. Adam says:

    Hi, I am male, not in great shape, 37 years old, 6 feet tall and 200 lbs with a bit of a belly. I buy yoga journal. I am not a yoga teacher and my practice sucks right now. I was a fairly dedicated yogi a couple of years ago though. Lets not mice words here, were talking about fat people not being well enough represented. When I was taking classes regularly, I can say the only fat people I saw, and the most out of shape people I saw by far were those that were brand new or only showed up once a week or less. I can say I personally went from 220 lbs to 180 ish in about 18 months when I finally got off my lazy butt and began a daily practice (3 times a day). So in my experience, the people that have a good daily practice are in good shape, or getting there. Those who don't put in the time or effort are not. This played out everywhere I've been. I have never seen a fat person at a workshop, these people are there because they are dedicated to their practice and it shows. Last year I even went to wanderlust in Lake Tahoe, California. I feel like that was a good sample of the type of people that are dedicated to yoga. I'd find it pretty unlikely that someone doing yoga as a hobby or because its trendy or just on and off would be willing to spend $1000 or more to go to wanderlust. And I can tell you that more than 99% of the people there were anything but fat. Those were the most beautiful people I've ever been around. I have never seen so many athletic looking bodies in one place anywhere, ever, in my entire life. There were thousands of people there and I felt like I was no longer in America. There were maybe three fat people there, and I was one of them. If you don't believe that, I've got pictures, I bet I have pictures of over a thousand people, and I've looked thought them for a fat person, and I didn't find one…not one. So, in my opinion and experience saying fat people can be real yogi's is a bit disingenuous. For me, there is no way that fat girl in the purple shirt is dedicated to yoga, I'm not buying it. I don't care if she's a teacher, if she looks like that she's not doing the work, hands down. For example, don't tell me she's good at what she does, because her back heel isn't on the ground and her front knee is not over her ankle, so that warrior is NOT good form. Which of course is what I expected to see an undedicated fat yogi pull off. I may sound harsh, but the truth is independent of how it makes someone feel.

    • Yogini says:

      With respect to the photo:

      1. She teaches a style of yoga where modifications are encouraged. Probably Iyengar. And is demonstrating a modification in perfect alignment.
      2. Dedication to yoga as a lifestyle for the householder in this modern culture, is not the same thing as dedication to yoga as a grueling, self-mortifying workout and cleansing/fasting program.
      3. Obviously, people at Wanderlust and major workshops have discretionary income and time; they are not a representative sample of yoga students.

      • Adam says:

        1. Prove it, show me a reference to a credible source that perfect alignment in Virabhadrasana I or some variation allows not stacking the front knee over the ankle, or lifting the back heel. Like these instruct:

        Hell, If the back heel is up its not even Virabhadrasana I, its a high lunge variation:

        and even if she were doing a perfect pose, she's still obese, and therefore unhealthy and in no way represents the achievement of fitness, which is what I want to see on the cover of my fitness magazines.

        2. No, but being dedicated to your practice still means doing it all the time. Also, I have never cleansed/fasted for any reason ever. Nor am I claiming anyone needs to engange in a grueling, self-mortifying workout. I'm saying that if you are a dedicated yogi you do asana regularly and put effort into it. If you don't you aren't dedicated, you are dabbling.

        3. I think you are dead wrong. I have been to many studios. Most of the people there were wearing Lulu Lemon, or Prana, Shakti Activewear, Be Present, etc. Most of them walk in wearing $300 or more in yoga clothes carrying a $80+ mat, pulling up in BMW's, and Mercedes, and Acura SUV's etc. The people that didn't fit that mold were greatly outnumbered. Not to mention, if you are dedicated to something and can't come up with $1000 to do it, even just once, you just suck at finances. My brother makes $12,000 a year and can afford to go. If $1000 is to much to spend on something you claim you are so dedicated to that its a lifestyle for you, then your lying to someone, and it might be yourself.

        • CDrishti says:

          Your observation #3 is painfully correct, but that's where yoga and business got mixed up and people fell for the hype. Here's a tip – if you're really devoted to your yoga practice, try to go to a yoga studio at least once a week for several months if you're a beginner. It doesn't cost much, probably $40-50/mo. Meanwhile, go to youtube and watch abundance of excellent video clips for any asana you can imagine. Personally, I love the videos by David Swenson, but there are many good ones. You can also buy or borrow a couple of good DVD's. There are several excellent webb sites with detailed instructions. All of these will help you gain better understanding of the asanas as well as yoga in general, which in conjunction with live teaching and a couple of good books should help you deepen your practice quite a bit. After you reach a certain level, you really don't need a yoga studio. Once in a while you can go there if you really feel like it, but it is far from essential. Practice daily at home or with your friends and be very patient. Yoga is a life long practice, don't expect instant results. The key lies in regular practice, even if it's only 15-20'/day, especially on the days you're busy or tired. Catch one of David Williams workshops if you can. Or David Swenson. They will profoundly change the way you see and practice yoga. Or get a little book by one of his students Danny Living "Yoga: The Secret". Great stuff.

          Using the approach I described, I learned more about yoga than after months and months of practice in a studio (which is supposedly one of the best in town). Very few teachers will dedicate enough time to teach you about nauli or bandhas. Very few studios can afford to let you stay in savasana for more than a few minutes. I see many issues with the commercial aspects of yoga and teaching, but you gotta start somewhere.

          Good luck & stay positive.

    • Janice says:

      I think Adam has a hard on for yoga journal cover models.

    • …really, dude? REALLY? Okay, so yours is the most obvious post of it's sort that got me to reply to all this, I want that known straight up, this isn't an attack against you, just the comments I see you as being an example of.

      Firstly, in general response to all this, at my fittest I was a US size 12. And even at my skinniest, a US 10 that I worked out 4 hours a day to achieve and maintain, thank goodness I didn't have a job at the time! (and which included Yoga, thanks much), I still had double D breasts and had Yoga teachers giving me grief about my weight (during teacher trainings mostly, and confusingly enough). I was the heavy and plus size student practicing with intention and vigor, and then training and then teaching. And I came into more contact with body-image issues in the yoga community than I did cosmetics for heaven's sake! Yoga does not in and of itself equal the sexy, uber fit and attractive ideal that the media would tell us, and the Yoga community in the West, being a product of as much as a creator of the cultural visual media, has got to get over that if we're going to ever move beyond asana=yoga. Where exactly are we drawing the lines between skinny, normal, and fat anyway?

      Secondly, as regards alignment issues with Anna's Virabhadrasana I – I suggest people go spend some time with Paul Grilley and get a basis in individual skeletal variation, applied anatomy, and the approach to postures that place function before aesthetics before they state unequivocally that she's got bad form. Try taking the movements and actions of a pose as the work, not the outer look of the pose; in other words, it's the process of practice (journey) not the biggest, baddest version of a pose (destination) that matters. Or maybe I'm smoking some ganga here… Either way, as Aadil Palkhivala once said, 'if you practice a pose today the way you did yesterday you are practicing a dead pose.' I don't want fascist yoga and I don't want necromantic yoga either…

      Thirdly, and this is just in response to Adam, but I'm afraid the sarcasm won't read well so be warned: I wasn't aware that it was mandatory to go to conferences and events like Wanderlust to be a dedicated yoga practitioner. Funny, I thought it was practice on the mat and in life applying what's been learned on the mat that marked one as a dedication yoga student, not fairs, festivals, the right label on my pant bottoms, and hype. Guess I'll never get my card-carrying yogini status since I have no interest in party events (and wouldn't waste the airfare and natural resources to fly to them from NZ anyway).

      PS – I get bored of pretty women in major poses on the cover, I'd like more men for sure, they could break out some of those fantastic poses that my arms just aren't safely going to perform. I appreciate the range of skin colours that has been shown. But really, what I want, is an interesting photo. Not just a good pose, I want a engaging picture. When YJ has stepped outside for a cover shoot I've been delighted, so I know they can go outside a studio. But put an artistic image on the front? I sadly doubt that.

  15. Adam says:

    AS for yoga journal covers not being diverse, that's a load of crap. I'm sitting here looking through a stack of them from the past two years and I see people from their 20's (Kathryn Budig) to almost 60 (Trudie Styler) in age. I see asians (Bebe Chianni Lin, Minhee Cha, and more), indian's (Hemalayaa), italian? (Maria Villella), a freakin musician (Sarah McLachlan), hispanic? (Autumn Alvarez), black (Faith Hunter, Terri Kennedy), and the totally hot and 5 foot tall Giselle Mari. Where are you even getting the idea that this isn't diverse?

    As for putting fat people on the cover or what sells yoga journal. I can tell you, I buy yoga journal BECAUSE it has beautiful people doing great poses with near perfect form. If I wanted to see crap yoga, or "real, normal, or average people" doing yoga, I'd go take a class somewhere. I spend my money to be inspired, and I'm inspired by beautiful people with perfect very athletic bodies doing difficult poses with great form. Some of you here may spout a bunch of crap about canceling your subscriptions because of some misconception you have about what kind of people make the cover, or out of some kind of white knight syndrome you have with fat people but I can tell you, as for me and most of the people I know, if you put fatties on the cover I'm outta here. If you think I'm mean or unusual you go ahead and try to find successful magazines catering to fitness related topics that put fat people on the cover. Go ahead, name some.

    • Yogini says:

      That's just it: yoga is not just fitness. There are 8 limbs involved and it is a discipline, not this century's answer to aerobics.

      You probably read Oxygen even though it is for women …

      • Yogini says:

        And there had been one in the 1990's during a period of just such a backlash–against aerobics!–it had come out of the venerable publishing house of Rodale Press, and it was going strong for a while: It's Me Magazine.

        It was not pro-fat-acceptance, but more Health At Every Size-lite.

        • Adam says:

          yeah, try not to feed me crap. If you expect me to give anything you say any credence you could at least check your facts.

          According to these covers, the magazine was a fashion and lifestyle magazine for fat women, not fitness. In their own words:

          "If you've been waiting until you reach your "ideal weight" before you can dress and look and live the way you want…relax and start enjoyin life! Now, there's a magazine called IT'S ME, created exclusively for you — not for little women! Ands it's filled with helpful advice on how to dress, atc and feel better about yourself.

          IT'S Me shows you about the fabulous fashions you've always wanted to wear for work and play — in your sizes, 16 and over — and tells you where to buy them in your area…

          IT'S ME brings you fascinating make-up tips and flattering hair styles for the fuller face that make you look good and and feel more confident about your appearance."

          If that's fitness then I have a bridge to sell you. So try again.

      • Adam says:

        Sexist much? So what if I do read Oxygen? I'm unimpressed with Ad Hominem attacks. Try addressing the topic not my character. I say, if someone is a dedicated yogi they MUST address asana, otherwise they are ignoring one of the 8 limbs, often because it's inconvenient, or physically hard. Look around you, humans generally do the thing that take the least amount of physical effort. That's why we invented machines. I'm not saying its right or wrong, I'm just saying that's how it is. Lets see, as for the 8 limbs of yoga, and its a discipline blah blah blah.

        "Today the very popular asana system of Sri K Pattabhi Jois (Guruji) – is also called "Ashtanga Yoga".
        Sri K. Pattabhi Jois says, "Ashtanga Yoga is 8 limbs yoga".
        Guruji's focus and emphasis on the study of Ashtanga Yoga starts with the 3rd limb or asana. We must purify our bodies in order to move to deeper aspects of the mind and spirit."

        "The practice of asanas will help us open our bodies and our minds and allow us to understand reality as it is, not as we would like it to be. — Sri K Pattabhi Jois"

        According to many gurus you must have the physical fitness gained from asana to properly practice the other 8 limbs. Or do they not know what they are talking about, so I should listen to you?

    • Jen says:

      Adam, do you even practice yoga? Clearly, you do not understand that yoga is not about getting a hot ass. Yoga is a LIFESTYLE which should include kindness and compassion (ever heard of ahimsa?) The asana practice itself is not about gaining perfect form. Yes, many people DO loose weight doing yoga, but that just is not the point! The bottom line is that yoga is not a fitness regimine like running or weightlifting is. I think many people are so upset because this community is supposed to be inclusive, loving and accepting. When YJ only features super hotties (whether they be black, white, asian, short or tall, young or old….) it sends a message that you have to be a certain way to do yoga. I have what most people would consider a petite body, and there is nothing wrong with being thin if that you are healthy. I think that when YJ never uses "fat" (as you so rudely put it) people on the cover and wen they use ads for diet pills, they are contributing to eating disorders and self estem issues for certain people. Please see the article writtened by Tias Little entitled "Anorexea and yoga on the runways" which was posted on ele earlier this week. Namaste!

  16. NotSoSure says:

    I understand the frustration. As a man, I do not subscribe to YJ because it is totally female oriented. No (or very little) content for me
    But still, I find the YJ bashing self serving. Let’s remember that it costs nothing to complain. But it costs YJ a lot of money to have issues that do not sell. YJ is a business and if they do not sell magazines they will be a business no more (See Waylons comments above).
    Would YJ sell if they put me, a 43 year old balding uptight white guy, on the cover? If you think there is a market for an “ordinary yogi” magazine, then it is time put your money where your mouth is. Get a marketing plan together and start your own magazine. I’ll be happy to be your first cover model and I work cheap.

  17. Suzanne Jones yogahopesue says:

    perhaps we should all practice our yoga and refrain from judging anyone or anything…including Yoga Journal?

  18. Please see Sadie Nardini's comments in her sensitive and insightful blog response:

    Yoga Journal Covers: Who Really Calls the Shots?

    Bob W.
    Yoga Editor

  19. joqatana says:

    Beautiful. So sharing this.

  20. monkeywithglasses says:

    I'm with you! I appreciate party tricks as much as the next person, but seriously – of all the yoga classes I've taken in the past 10 years, there was only ONE person who looked like a YJ model and could do the super-bendy stuff. It was bordering on freakish when in the midst of a class of "regular folk". YJ has been too pristine for me for years.

  21. Tony says:

    How about we all stop buying the fucking thing?

  22. Valerie says:

    Let's talk about what YJ does offer. In every issue you'll find "Basic" and "Master Class" in which a venerable, experienced yogi(ni) breaks down an asana into the building blocks necessary to achieve the pose. Basic poses are explained to make them accessible to absolute beginners and to allow the more experienced among us to refine and explore poses we've rocked out hundreds of times. How many times have you made the tiniest tweak to a common pose to discover sudden limitless energy and freedom in the pose? In master class simpler poses are used to build up to an advanced pose (one you might expect to see on the cover). Exploring the building block poses teaches the movements and energy necessary to do it. We're all capable (barring any true physical impediment) of learning any of the "impossible" poses featured on YJ covers. The magazine introduces simple yogic philosophy and how it can be applied to everyday life in a section called "Wisdom." It's not an in depth discussion, but I don't expect to find theological/philosophical discourse in the pages of a glossy magazine (maybe a scholarly journal, but nothing I can buy off a newsstand in the airport). I may never have the opportunity to take a class with Cindi Lee, but I can learn from her each month in YJ, and to me, that is invaluable. The pictures are not nearly as important as the content.

    None of the cover models walked into their 1st yoga class and flawlessly demonstrated that pose. The people featured on the covers are not models, but working yoga teachers who have spent years studying and practicing yoga with true dedication. From all this work they created a strong, grounded base from which they arose with grace, peace and freedom. Look on their faces – you can see it in the smiles. I don't believe the covers are meant to be aspirational or perfect, but rather, inspirational. I for one find the cover models extremely inspirational. Maybe the only backbend you'll ever muster is bridge, but you can always experience the same freedom and beauty you can see in Amy Ippoliti in Ardha Chandra Chapasana on the cover of last months issue.

    • Yogini3 says:

      You may be right with what you say about the covers vs. the content of YJ, but only in the fact that rank beginners may not know or care enough to either be intimidated by the cover pictures, nor to feel the cover pictures as some kind of reproach. If you are not doing any inversions in your regular practice for the first year-plus; trust me, you really do not care–you are neither inspired nor intimidated–you do not CARE. Once you move on from that, into that vast netherworld of being the advanced beginner or intermediate who is neither bendy, stupid nor self-mortifying in your grasping for what's next .. you start to really care and have nothing to identify with. Even I – and I play it safe 99% of the time (the new breed of ambitious teachers HATE this) – got injured in a class with a teacher egging me on; and I had been trying to go further (and got stupid at the time). Moreover yoga teachers on the whole think I have little or no motivation (ability is another issue to be addressed elsewhere) – and that is decidedly not true. Do you wonder that yoga studios have turnover? Do you wonder that (or why) yoga teachers find intermediate level students harder to teach than they have to?

  23. […] wanted to bring the pages of Yoga Journal to life and give people the opportunity to study with the very best yoga teachers in the world,” […]

  24. […] of you read my post a little over a month ago sending a cyber plea to Yoga Journal to publish a letter by Anna […]

  25. Liz says:

    I agree with you about the submission guidelines, but I decided to submit anyway. I chose the pose that is really the core of my personal practice and not what usually "graces the covers" of the magazine. Thanks for speaking out like this, I really felt uncomfortable after seeing all the model-like submissions. But this made me feel much better.

  26. […] artigo me levou a outros dois, «Fight the Power! A plea to Yoga Journal» e «Yoga Journal Covers: Who Really Calls the Shots?». O teor destes é praticamente o mesmo do […]

  27. You made some decent points there. I looked on the internet for the difficulty and found most individuals will associate with together with your website.

  28. […] yoga community about the “yoga body.” Body image has and will be forever recycled as a topic of interest, concern, impact, and awareness in many […]

  29. […] harkened my first Yoga Journal Conference. I must say, I’ve gained a new appreciation for the oft-criticized publication. If you ask me, Yoga Journal knows how to do it […]

  30. peter paoual says:

    Thank you for alerting us! This is really nice, You are a good blogger. I have joined your feed and look forward to seeking more of your wonderful post

  31. peter paoual says:

    I found so many interesting stuff in your blog, especially its discussion. Really appreciate able

  32. […] note: Nancy and Sadie are making a statement by showing us their peep backs and wearing black. click their […]

  33. says:

    Thank ʏou for sharing your thߋughts. I really appreciate yokur effortѕ and I will be waiting for yourr further write ups thank you once again.

  34. Nancy A says:

    Hopefully they will take it into consideration… my dream is a cover with lots of yogis of all shapes, sizes and colors. But I'm not sure that they are quite that progressive.

  35. elephantjournal says:

    Here's the article referenced. I heart Tias:
    ~ Waylon

  36. Vogue Yogini says:

    That's a beautiful dream….come to think of it, never seen a Dove ad in YJ…

  37. elephantjournal says:

    Dove isn't so good for you. It's a lot of marketing. Go Pangea, or any quality organic line!

    Dove has reformed since this amazing video, so props:

  38. Nancy A says:

    Tias is wonderful.. he's kind and smart and fantastic. I loved that post.. it was brilliant

  39. Vogue Yogini says:

    Thanks, Waylon. Agreed! Such a powerful piece.

  40. Vogue Yogini says:

    Definitely agreed re: Dove (definitely). Of course, their practices are deplorable. Despite horrific "business" practices (and there are so many cos. out there doing the same things), I appreciate any marketing endeavor to include "normal" (ha-ha) women in their advertising. Fueled by profit margins or not, it's at the least nice to see promos with "healthful"-appearing bodies [All quotations emphasized!] :)

    That said, I'm not a supporter of Dove. Go Pangea!

  41. elephantjournal says:

    Amen. But I think YJ does a good job of featuring real yoga teachers, and as far as I know they don't do the kind of photoshopping (smaller thighs, bigger breasts) that Rolling Stone did. That said, your point is clear: shift the paradigm! Too bad, and I can guarantee this, that if YJ shifted the paradigm and featured whomever they wanted (say the rabidly popular John Friend) sales would go down (as they did with that Friend issue, I was told. I could be wrong).

    So I guess as a small publisher, not a big corporate-owned one like YJ, I have the luxury of doing what I want with elephant, more. Still, we don't get clicks on "boring but important" articles, frequently—and it's the titillating ones that often, ironically and disappointingly, people click on and remember.

    As a publisher I'd put the responsibility at least partially back on the consumer. Here on elephant we talk a lot about conscious consumerism. If Nancy and others could get 1000s of new readers who don't subscribe to YJ to promise to buy an issue with Anna on the cover, and YJ got great press for doing so, they might just go for it and take the risk.

    And that would be shifting the paradigm, truly: the readers would be in charge.



  42. elephantjournal says:

    Thumbs up on all your points.

    I do think advanced yoga on the cover can be aspirational, inspiring…but yeah if I tried some of that stuff, I'd be wrecked or at least discouraged! ~ Waylon

  43. Jen says:

    Slender does not always equal healthy :)

  44. Nancy A says:

    Indeed, and I acknowledged that too …

  45. Katie says:

    I don't think the backlash is against the skinny yoga person so much as against the "Yoga media machine" which shuts out anyone who doesn't conform to that skinny & beautiful image.

  46. Yogini says:

    And, in turn, the attitude filters down to yoga studios. Young, new studio owners and others who do not know better feel that they can stereotype the size-6-or-larger practitioner or older-than-40 practitioner who comes to them for instruction. Yoga had made Candice Garret "Fat" in these very pages, if I recall correctly … why isn't she here protesting as well?

    Isn't she on our team?

  47. Yogini says:

    Agreed, but it encourages some people (mostly women) to be more of a bitch or a snob, just in the same way high fashion does.

    Yoga Journal is not Oxygen Magazine, and does not belong going head-to-head with fashionista-inspired fitness magazines; or at least until people like Tara Stiles take over the yoga world entirely … which could be the future if we don't fight.

  48. Yogini says:

    You know, they are trying to finally get a Wal-Mart into New York City, amid backlash from Big Labor, not the residents, some of whom are financially stretched to the breaking point and might use a Wal-Mart. When the news media want to surreptitiously undermine and influence against the news they report about the local area, they take stock photos of a Wal-Mart in some rural, middle American area with women with everything hanging out wearing size 3XL short-shorts (only some of them headless–like the "headless fatties" in the news reports against the "killer obesity"). Please let's keep size-ism and/or class-ism out of this argument.

  49. Jen says:

    Gail- I just want more than one body type to be represented. When I attend conferences and classes, I also notice that most of the people are slim. There is nothing wrong with being slender as long as that is achieved in a healthy way. There is also nothing wrong with being curvy if that is the way you are naturaly. If you are slim because you are obsessively monitorining calories in calories out or have an eating disorder, that is not healthy. Nor is it healthy to be overweight because you overeat for one reason or another. I think the best think for YJ to do is to accurately represent the yoga community. I would love to see a plus sized model in an artice that is NOT about yoga and weight loss! YJ needs to accept that the yoga commmunity is an ever expanding and diverse group.

  50. CDrishti says:

    Believe it or not, over the years I've seen yoga teachers that by your criteria had non-flattering bodies. But they were great teachers. I wish we could spread this notion of separating the body image issues so common in the western culture from what yoga truly is about. You live, you love, you practice. What happens to your body is of secondary importance. Becoming who you truly are through your practice is first and foremost.

  51. JessicaD says:

    Neither does "curvy" 😉

  52. Yogini says:

    People of all sizes can and do "real yoga" even "traditional yoga". Not just mellow and restorative, gentle or Kundalini, but all the active and vigorous styles. But, the elitism lies in the sizeism implicit in who would be featured. In what should be a spiritual and inclusive practice, not – as it is portrayed by the media: yoga as workout venue, trendy scene, or fashion shoot. Particularly if the appeal is to home yoga practitioners and primarily home practitioner, who don't generally "go to yoga" such as the well-heeled Lulus do. Calling Tara Stiles out may not have been the best move. The pervasiveness of her marketing campaign, and the short-sightedness of her handlers are just symptoms of this disease. Thanks for pointing this out.

  53. Jen says:

    No, curvy does not always mean healthy either. I am probably not what most people would consider curvy, but what I am saying is that it is ok to be curvy, skinny, or anywhere in between as long as you have a healthy relationship with food and yourself. I just think this type of advertising and cover art in YJ contributes to eating disorders or self esteem issues for certain people. It also excludes a lot of people from the yoga community. I see people of all shapes and sizes in my yoga classes, and I think that needs to be recognized by YJ. Shape and size are not the only things being ignored by YJ, either. I would LOVE to see more older yogis and different ethnicities in the pages of YJ. As a community, yogis and yoginis are supposed to be promoting ahimsa and contentment. We should be happy with ourselves, and not constantly trying to aspire to be something different. I really think as the most prominet publication in the yoga world, YJ should show the amazing diversity of the yoga community.

  54. Yogini3 says:

    "Talk that famous sadie mentor of yours into doing it."

    That's right. Because Tara Stiles WON'T…

  55. NotSoSure says:

    Maybe YJ is missing boat. You sound like you are finished with them and I personally jumped ship a long time ago. I totally get your point.

    And do yourself a favor and put Sadie on the cover of your first issue of “Everyday Yogi”. Sadie wearing black, sitting in easy pose with her back to the camera AND shooting the audience birds with both hands still has TONS more charisma than I ever will. Come to think of it, if YJ used that image for a cover I would become a lifelong subscriber.

  56. CDrishti says:

    But yoga has NOTHING to do with the way one looks… :( That IS the problem!

Leave a Reply