Adam Levine Does Yoga! Should We Care?

Via on Dec 1, 2011

Celebrities doing yoga: the good, the bad & the ugly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Photo: Socialite Life)

The Good:

When pictures of hot celebrities (male or female) hit the newsstands accompanied by their testimonials to the glories of yoga, it gives yoga a certain cachet. When I first read a quote from Adam Levine saying that once he tried yoga he decided would never pick up weights again, I thought it was fantastic. What a great example to encourage more men to try yoga! And to his credit, Levine has also mentioned how yoga affects him internally, rather than solely focusing on how it has sculpted his body.

The perception of yoga in the West has changed dramatically from when it was seen as mainly a hippie hobby, something counter-culture folks do. Now, every time a young actress is snapped by paparazzi, face aglow, toting her Manduka home from Vinnie’s class, some teen in Kansas thinks, “Wow, yoga is cool! I want to try it!” Which is good. Right? Yoga as a mainstream proposition means growth for the yoga community, abundance for yoga studios and teachers, a more peaceful society. Or does it?

 

The Bad:

We’ve come a long way since Sting first started talking about Tantra. Or have we? Stand near the tabloids in the grocery store for a minute and you’ll count several stories about how some celebutante lost all her baby weight in two weeks – thanks to yoga! Or another is reviving her career and has added yoga as her latest spiritual accessory, right between Kabbalah and Eckhart Tolle. Even Lady Gaga is doing yoga!

 

Another side effect of  the celebrity endorsement of yoga is the proliferation of classes and teacher trainings. This could be a good thing if it means growth for the yoga community. It’s a bad thing if more classes and more teachers means inconsistent quality. Anyone can become a yoga teacher. Even if they don’t practice yoga. Walk into any gym or health club and they will certainly have at least one yoga class in the rotation between Zumba and Cardio Kickboxing. It may be a fantastic class. More likely (at least in what I have experienced) it will be a workout class taught by a fitness instructor who did a yoga teacher training over the course of a few weekends to add to her resume. Is this a bad thing? Maybe not. Maybe for some, it is exactly what they want. Maybe it will pique the curiosity of someone who has no experience with yoga and be the beginning of a wonderful journey. But maybe not.

The Ugly:

 

 

The gentrification of a spiritual path is a disturbing thing. It’s one thing to pursue yoga for the sake of improving your body composition or your physical health. Many practitioners begin this way, only to find that yoga’s internal transformation is much larger than they expected. I know that was my experience. But when it becomes the lastest trend in lifestyle accessories, and spirituality is something you can throw in your Whole Foods bag next to your Kombucha, what then? Where are we headed when the perception of yoga shifts towards a pastime for celebrities and the wealthy? What is going on when yoga classes become a fashion show and whoever has the best toys must be the most enlightened? When one of the most well-recognized brands of yoga apparel embraces ultra-conservative, elitist rhetoric, where will we end up?

 

 

 

There are many amazing things going on within the yoga community. Yoga outreach is happening  in prisons, to emergency and rescue workers, to our veterans, to children. Many leaders within the community are getting real about politics, about true seva as part of their practices. I’m sure there are many people whose yoga journeys started because they read Gwyneth Paltow was a fan, and ended up on a wonderful, life-enriching path.

We are not just our bodies, and we are not just spirit. We are both. Yoga is a wonderful celebration of that union. Let’s be cautious in our celebration of “celebrity yoga.” There is good to be found, but it’s a short trip to the bad and the ugly. Is there a right answer here? Does celebrity interest in yoga hurt, or help? Do we celebrate it or ignore it? To ignore it or vilify it is just as elitist as what we might hope to avoid. To overtly celebrate it as a triumph for the yoga community could lead to continued dilution of something many of us value deeply. Perhaps this, as in all things, is another area where we need to walk the middle way.

 

About Kate Bartolotta

Kate Bartolotta is the strongest girl in the world. She is the love child of a pirate and a roller derby queen. She hails from the second star to the right. Her love of words is boundless, but she knows that many of life’s best moments are completely untranslatable. When she is not writing, you may find her practicing yoga, devouring a book, playing with her children, planting dandelions, or dancing barefoot with her heart on her sleeve. She is madly in love with life and does not know how this story ends; she’s making it up as she goes. Kate is the owner and editor-in-chief of Be You Media Group. She also writes for The Huffington Post, elephant journal, The Good Men Project, The Green Divas, Yoganonymous, The Body Project, Project Eve, Thought Catalog and Soulseeds. She facilitates writing workshops and retreats throughout North America. Heart Medicine, Kate's book on writing, is now available on Amazon.com You can follow Kate on Facebook and Twitter

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19 Responses to “Adam Levine Does Yoga! Should We Care?”

  1. Andrea Balt Andréa Balt says:

    When it comes to whatever falls in the hands of celebrities (food, yoga, spirituality), the bad and the ugly are sadly more frequent than the good. There should be a pre-celebrity mandatory course that teaches them how to behave in front of the millions they influence.

    Marking this post as a favorite. There's nothing to add, except, thank you for your insight and wit on this issue. It was hard to read with my dark sunglasses on (in december), hard to type this comment with my super-expensive yoga mat under my arm (and fake nails) and hard to even think it through, since I'm late for my OM tattoo appointment, you know, spiritually speaking. #sarcasmyoga

  2. Tanya Lee Markul Tanya Lee Markul says:

    <3<3

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  3. missbernklau says:

    I think Patañjali says it best, when it comes to worrying about other (that may seem to be unlikely candidates) people getting into yoga or “the gentrification of yoga”:

    ” In relationships, the mind becomes purified by cultivating feelings of friendliness towards those who are happy, compassion for those who are suffering, goodwill towards those who are virtuous, and indifference or neutrality towards those we perceive as wicked or evil”

    “Disregard” is so important. Nothing is going to change your personal practice or experience of yoga no matter how popular or “gentrified” the yoga industry gets. All you need is your body and your mind, you don’t even need a mat or a studio to take classes. No matter how many people get certified to teach, whether “qualified” or “yogic” enough, it is up to us as individuals to seek the truth, if someone enters their yoga practice on a superficial level, it is not impossible for them to discover the depths of the true benefits of practicing.

    I think it’s important not to judge others on their path, let people find their way on their own, it’s not up to us to ensure that everyone’s path is paved by people with good hearts and open minds. As long as yoga has it’s own industry, which is not going to change, there will always be some questionable interpretations of what yoga is to some people. But industry or not, nothing is going to change yoga or cheapen it or take it away from us.

    I think it’s great that it is so popular, if people are made happy by “throwing spirituality in their whole foods cart next to the kombucha” that’s their perogative, and good for them. But instead oof judging we can just hope one day people like that are truly fulfilled through their yoga practice. Until then we need to focus only on our path and practice and be authentic and loving compassionate people.

    Namastè :)

  4. Satyavira says:

    Adam Levine and the entire Maroon 5 crew have had a "band yoga teacher for years". Hame is Chad Dennis. He's a great teacher and committed practicioner (based in NYC) and has told me he even brings a harmonium into sessions.

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  9. Yeah, Madonna was who I was referring to in terms of revamping her career & diving into the spiritual flavor of the week. Judgmental on my part…maybe she is sincere.

    Thanks for commenting, Valerie!

  10. I agree, Maureen. What worries me is the possibility of the celebrity/lululemon/trustafarian trendy yoga image having the opposite effect on some. I would hate to see people miss out because they think yoga is something that's just for celebrities or the rich.

  11. excellent point, Kate. I didn't think of it the other way around.

  12. Vision_Quest2 says:

    I would love to hear about the trendy yogi doing yoga at home sans private yoga teacher … http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BohvUY3B6yw

    On the other hand, does this guy keep his weight down by swilling Kombucha or what?

    Love celebrities' diet porn sometimes …

  13. Haha! I would guess it's all those "Moves Like Jagger" onstage that keep him lean! Seems like a cool guy, not really a fan of his music though.

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