August 29, 2012

Dear Yogi Muse: to Boob or Not to Boob, Popularity Contests & Are Hula Hoopers Yogis?



“Dear Yogi Muse” features the questions and issues facing today’s yogi, expertly answered by the imperfect Yogi Muse, Michelle Marchildon.

On Boob Jobs

Dear Yogi Muse,

Would getting a boob job, face lift and sexy clothing increase my numbers in the classes I am teaching?

Somewhat Lacking


Illustration by Vanessa Fiola of Recovering Yogi.


Dear Somewhat,

Yes. Sadly, yes. If you get a boob job you will fill your room and your bra, and if you post pictures of yourself you will also increase the number of friends you have on Facebook. While this has very little to do with yoga, on the other hand — or boob — you will probably be able to pay your rent.


On Being Popular

Dear Yogi Muse,

I have been teaching yoga for more than a decade. I have studied with the best teachers, have taken and taught innumerable trainings. Many people come to my classes and sing accolades afterwards. Yet, I don’t bring in the big numbers. I worry that we have an idea that a great teacher is a popular teacher. Am I caught up in an idea of being popular equaling being good? Or should I just trust that things are happening the way they are supposed to?
Not Popular (Yet)


Dear Not Popular,

Well this is tough because you may simply need a boob job (see earlier reader). However, let’s assume that you really are a terrific teacher as I think you are.

There is no explaining this conundrum in today’s yoga world, and you are not the first person to experience it. Mr. B.K.S. Iyengar, who is perhaps the world’s greatest teacher, once came to America and was shocked down to his yoga diapers to see studios filled with crowds of people practicing to the thumping beat of rock and roll. I understand he clapped his hands together and remarked “lovely,” then went off to have a good sulk about why his classes were only five or six strong back in India.

Theoretically, we teach yoga as a service. It should not matter if we teach to one person or to 50; if someone benefits then we have done a good job and made a deposit in the karma bank. But the problem is that the moral high ground does not always pay the bills. In order to keep studios open we need mats in the room, but the most sophisticated teachings do not always appeal to the masses. I am sure your offering is amazing, but what if someone just wants something else? We cannot appeal to all people. If you made slight changes to appeal to a large herd of yogis, I am not sure you would be as happy with your offering. And if the teacher ain’t happy, ain’t nobody in that room going to be happy.

One further thought is there are courses and webinars designed to increase yoga business savvy. Being a great teacher doesn’t necessarily mean you are a great businesswoman. Also seek out studios which support smaller specialty and therapeutic classes, as well as popular types of yoga so everyone benefits and the studio stays in business. For most of us, that is as good as it gets.


On Hula Hoopers and Other Disgustingly Gorgeous Yoga Models

Dear Yogi Muse:

If the traditions of yoga honor and respect different body types, then why do the yoga magazines feature mostly young white women whose bodies are size 0 as their models? I would think that they would want to appeal to a larger audience and focus on all types of women and men in their photos, but no. The cover of a magazine sends a big message to our culture. What do you think about this?

White Woman in Thirties Who Is Tired Of Her Diverse Student Population Not Being Represented


Dear White Woman in Thirties,

You are preaching to an off-white woman in her fifties (I may look small and white, but I have the soul of a large black woman so I’ve been told.). I also raised this point regarding Lululemon Athletica not appointing any ambassadors over the age of puberty.

I feel you. When we continuously glorify a certain body image, we discourage thousands of other people from coming to practice, and then we wonder why our classes are small. Recently, a yoga publication put a hula hooper on the cover. Is this really representative of yoga?

However, I don’t believe that this is a new problem at all. I have it on good authority that 2,000 years ago when the earliest seekers found yoga, it was to get a better butt. It’s good to know that some things never change.


Michelle Marchildon is the Yogi Muse



If you have a question for the Yogi Muse, you can post it on the facebook page, Michelle Marchildon, The Yogi Muse, or email her at [email protected].

Editor: Kate Bartolotta

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