Yoga Journal Talent Search—by the Numbers.

get elephant's newsletter

Update:  Yoga Journal Model Competition Talent Search Finalists have been announced!

On February 1st, Yoga Journal kicked off a nationwide online “talent search contest” to find its next model.

©2011 Yoga Journal

To enter, applicants were asked to provide the following: their name, style (presumably referring to the type of yoga practiced), teacher, the number of years spent practicing, what they’re inspired by, and a photo “show[ing] off a pose you’ve mastered.”

Until April 15th, readers are able to cast votes for their favorite contestants.  Five finalists with the most votes will win Athleta gear, and one will be featured in the September 2011 issue of Yoga Journal.

The following index includes actual data submitted by applicants of the 2011 Yoga Journal Talent Search (YJTS), and various other Internet sources, where noted.

Number of unique YJTS applicants:  2470

Percentage of respondents in a May 2006 Yoga Journal poll who answered that they “disagree with the concept of yoga competitions”: 92

Number of applicants who appear to be born without a surname: 375 (But seriously, one really was)

Number of applicants who submitted multiple profiles:  70

Greatest number of profiles created by a single person:  9

Percentage of Americans ages 18-25 and 26-40 who want to be famous: 51, 29

Minimum number of applicants who have already appeared in the pages of Yoga Journal: 3

Percentage of applicants who listed “the inner teacher,” “the Universe,” or “the present moment” as their teacher: 1

Position of New Age in the ranking of the world’s Top 10 religions0

Number of applicants who couldn’t or didn’t choose a teacher:  171

Number of registered yoga teachers in the US, according to Yoga Alliance’s directory: 25,566

Minimum number of YJTS contestants who misspelled their yoga teacher’s name: 85

Number of teachers cited by applicants who are either dead or a Hindu saint: 27

Number of applicants who listed “my students” as their teachers: 12

Number of students who would be confused by this role change the next time they walked in to take a class: At least 1

Number of applicants who cited “Guru in Rishikesh – not sure his name, the label wasn’t important” or “I forget her name – Grad School 2006” as their teachers:  2

Number of gurus in Rishikesh who might think labels are important:  Probably 1

Rank of “Shiva Rea,” “my dog” amongst those most frequently listed by applicants as their teacher:  1, 59

Most commonly practiced style of yoga:  Vinyasa (41%)

Number of times a specific posture was cited as an applicant’s style of yoga: 35

Number of times a fashion choice was listed as a style of yoga practiced:  5

Occurrences of “Naked Doga” amongst styles practiced: 1

Number of Recovering Yogi co-founders who prayed that peanut butter was not involved in any kind of “Naked Doga”:  3

Mean, mode number of years practiced: 9.5, 10

Longest number of years practiced:  49

Total number of poses demonstrated in Iyengar’s Light on Yoga: 602

Posture most frequently represented in applicant photos (from a sampling of 500):  King pigeon (including variations)

From the sampling of 500 photos, number of those containing crotch shots:  2

Number of words listed in Recovering Yogi’s Words We Loathe & Abhor: 28

Number of words appearing in applicant profiles which are on RY’s list of Words We Loathe & Abhor : 16*

Number of times “food” or eating disorders are mentioned by contestants:  71

Rank of “yoga,” “life,” “practice,” “inspired” appeared as words most commonly used within applicants’ profiles:  1, 2, 3, 4

Percentage of applicants for whom yoga has had a positive effect on their life:  100

(*By the way, those 16 words appeared 384 times)

is a new feature on Elephant Journal—enabling you to instantly share your mindful ideas, photos, art, YouTube videos/Instagram links & writings with our 5 million readers. Try it Now.

Write Now

About Vanessa Fiola (Recovering Yogi)

Vanessa Fiola is a business consultant, artist, writer, and—after years spent teaching yoga—a co-founder of You can find her micro-blogging at @vanessafiola or through her personal website, wants to hear your 5 things.


56 Responses to “Yoga Journal Talent Search—by the Numbers.”

  1. Thank you for this impervious investigation. I am sure it was not easy to stomach this process.
    But you did so with flying colors. I love your version of Harper's Index.
    I must embarrassingly admit that I entered. I did it on a whim. Then when I realized you had to solicit votes,
    I realized the last thing I wanted to be doing was tweeting daily telling people to check out my picture.
    Plus I did not even choose a pose I especially excel at. My post-partum belly rolls are showing.
    Then when I entered and saw what was going on, I sheepishly lost my nerve to continue.

    • vanessafiola says:

      Kimberly, I happen to love your picture. (And also that your teacher is dead.) (I don't love that he's dead.) (Errr, you know what I mean.)

      • I'll have to think on that. I have to say that I listed many teachers, and whoever organized the whole thing put only one. I was a bit embarrassed they listed Erich Schiffman- I did spell it right and I do love him, but I do not think he would even remember me. I listed him as an influence. Whatever.

        • vanessafiola says:

          Got it — I saw Krishnamacharya and for a second there – well, long enough to type my first reply – thought you were in w/ the list of people who had dead teachers. Then I re-checked my little database and see that I counted Krishnamacharya as your style, appropriately.

          I happen to like your picture — I seriously appreciate the use of blocks. Mostly b/c I can't do that pose w/out one.

          • Yeah they listed Krishnamcharya as a style of yoga. i guess that's better than Hot Hatha. my two star rating is disappointing :). The inspired by part is just embarrassing, for everyone. Looking at it just now, did you see the peson who submitted a headless pose?

            • vanessafiola says:

              For your records: Hot Hatha = 2; Hot yoga of any kind = 52 (excluding the two I just listed for Hot Hatha); Most emphatic expression of hot yoga listed: "HOT!"

              I don't remember the headless pose – send me the profile number? (You can find it in the URL.) For the images, I tracked the first 500 profiles (since that was a really manual, arduous process where I would literally look at a photo and write down the pose in the photo), plus a random sampling here and there where I thought the answers were either funny, weird, interesting, or if it was one of my friends. For everything else, I had someone write a script to screen-scrape the site and pull the data out of it. Then I normalized the f*ck out of the data. So there you go.

  2. Angela says:

    Amazing job compiling these stats. Naked Doga? For real?? It's too bad that you missed the most important stat which is the average and the highest Facebook shares. Since this is a popularity contest, it would be a rough predictor of who would make the initial cut (and the breakdown of the number of people who got 1 to 5 stars). Nice work nonetheless.

  3. Colleen says:

    I laughed so hard when I read a profile and someone wrote about their yoga clothes style when asked about Style (of yoga). I mean, is that the epitome of what's wrong with all this, or what.

  4. matthew says:

    I used to read Harper's all the time, and the index was so fun. This, is super-fun, right here.

  5. I'm going to have nightmares about Naked Doga.

  6. Shawn says:

    This was awesome. I particularly loved the "fashion choice" as a style of yoga. That makes me want to rethink my yoga teaching…screw vinyasa, I'm going to teach Dr. Marten yoga.

  7. […] spied this list over at Elephant Journal. Readers will note that I have a vested interest in the outcome, as I have a friend in the running. […]

  8. I have to admit when I first saw this blog I said to myself, "What it the world is Vanessa up to? What makes her think a list of dry statistics will be interesting to Elephant readers?"

    WRONG. Not so dry statistics. And very entertaining indeed. Now I must eat my hat for ever having doubted you, Vanessa, even for a moment.

    Oh, and please welcome new regular contributor Vanessa Fiola to Elephant, along with her innovative blogging concepts!

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Bob W.
    Yoga Editor

  9. Just posted to "Featured Today" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

  10. lissa says:

    this was fantastic! really interesting & thorough. thank you for the effort this must have taken.

  11. Andrea says:

    An abundance of badass tribe members! 😉 Thanks for this HIGHLY entertaining list!

  12. Jennifer says:

    This is great! Not sure whether to laugh or cry at "Number of times a specific posture was cited as an applicant’s style of yoga: 35 and Number of times a fashion choice was listed as a style of yoga practiced: 5"
    All the stats you listed are the reasons I didn't enter or vote.

    • vanessafiola says:

      Hi Jennifer,

      Oh, I totally voted for my friend(s). Not because I give a rat's ass about Yoga Journal, but because it was important to my friends and, well, I like to be supportive.

      Thanks for reading!

  13. Kris Nelson says:

    I love a girl with good stats.

  14. Don says:

    Great article Vanessa! I admire your focus as my vision started getting blurry after page 17 of the entrants.

  15. Judy says:

    I thought Naked Doga sounded familiar. From the yoga jokster, YogaDawg who has an entry in the contest. You got to love it.

  16. Liska says:

    I’d rather not be photographed doing yoga, but this post really made me want to create the perfect profile for this contest.

    Name: Liska
    Style: 2 many 2 list!!1!
    Teacher: the girl who teaches at the lulu store on my block
    Years Practicing: 312 (counting past lives)
    Inspired By: Yoga creates a safe space for me to marinate in the wonderment of juicy, heart-melting energy, cultivating a manifestation of abundance. When I funshop a pose, I peel the onion of my inner diva, exposing the badass goddess root of my zen karma. Working your edge precipitates the unfoldment of the soul as you begin to understand that, truly, everything is what it is. Also, my yoga spin class has done wonders for my buttocks flesh – both my hubby and my lover dig that yoga booty! But enough about my tribe, time for me to go sip from the fountain of my fluttery kula… $#!t, no wonder you loathe and abhor these words!

  17. Yogini5 says:

    Liska, did you enter or not?!?!?

    As a parting shot, and because I had been in a mellow mood; and because I did not have time to vote yesterday for my favorites, and I did not have time to view the entire database either, I searched for any first name that smacked:


    and tried to refrain from voting among them, for those bakasana-on-the-beach types of shots.


    From my blog (on another site) – and I did not enter the contest.

    IF I'd entered the contest …

    My picture would not be sufficiently "strong-asana look" that many of the pictures have …

    Name: Yogini5
    Style: "Soft 2 Be Strong" Slow-Flow Yoga
    Teacher: The Master Swami* and The Great M*, and [Yogini5] herself, [creator of Soft 2 Be Strong]
    Years Practicing: 3+

    My yoga works very very well. But you would not really think it … lol. The frequent, studio-led-class practitioner snobbery is evident in many of the kinds of pictures encouraged by the entry requirements; and, frankly, it is not nice. There are also some perfectly fine gyms that teach yoga, as well; and reach busier or less well-heeled yogis.

    Yoga might have gone commercial, but I applaud mass-media efforts to share the wealth of teachings (and “studio secrets”) by the likes of Sadie Nardini and even Tara Stiles (she should just unbundle “slim” and “sexy” from it, and we’d all be doing fine …)

    *I would have to give their real names. One of them is a little on in years … lol

  18. Just posted to "Popular Lately" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

  19. leah says:

    O.M. mutha bleepin G. Vanessa this is awesome!! Like Kris, I love a gal with good stats, really really good stats!!

  20. […] Yoga Journal Talent Search—by the Numbers. […]

  21. Jessie says:

    Oh my. This is wonderful.

  22. […] your mastery of the Master Cleanse or your gold medal in the yoga Olympics (or, shall we say, the Yoga Journal Talent Search?) And it’s sure as hell not about being perfect at—or even “good at”— […]

  23. […] my dog was a pup I could never imagine that his incessant search for play and attention would mature into the old man that now inhabits dog beds and spends most of […]

  24. […] my dog was a pup I could never imagine that his incessant search for play and attention would mature into the old man that now inhabits dog beds and spends most of […]

  25. cathywaveyoga says:

    well, you must have a lot of free time and a desire to 'out' many people.
    I am flustered because I want to say, appalled.

    I hope your day shines with good words from people and you see enough diverse an dpolitically green liberal inclusiveness for a few months.

  26. […] my dog was a pup I could never imagine that his incessant search for play and attention would mature into the old man that now inhabits dog beds and spends most of […]

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.