October 4, 2013

What I’d Like to See in a Serious Yoga Magazine. ~ Michelle Marchildon

Stop the presses. This is huge. Yoga Journal has just reported on its website that there has been some inappropriate behavior in the yoga world.


The largest and longest-standing yoga media outlet has taken a break from selling its advertising space to sit up and take notice that its industry may have a little problem with teachers having sex with students.

This is, to my knowledge, the first time in Yoga Journal’s history that it reported on something more controversial than say, if you jump forward at the end of the exhale, or the beginning of the inhale. Bravo!

Now that I’ve recovered from the shock, I’d like to take this moment to describe what I’d like to see in a serious yoga magazine, since we are about to get a brand new one from the creators of Origin. This could be an opportunity for the $30 billion yoga business to get some information along with their glossy full-page ads for yoga wear.

Things I’d like to see in a serious yoga magazine:

1. Serious journalism. What is serious journalism? For starters, when yoga companies sue each other, when teachers abuse students and when yoga studios sell phony yoga trainings, I’d like to see some commentary on this. I just had a reader ask me this week what I thought of Anusara yoga. Um, I think it may not exist anymore as its founder has left the building and taken the trademarks with him.

2. Something other than skinny, affluent white women. I know this is not in my best interest, as I might be in the (somewhat) skinny white people category. However, yoga is for every ‘body.’ I find representation by those with big hearts and bodies to match to be inspiring.

3. And let’s not forget the older people. I know we are fascinated with whoever is new, but let’s remember the teachers who have been practicing since before the current crop of yoga celebrities were born. The yoga industry has the attention span of a flea, jumping from one thing to the next. “Oh, look, this one can hula hoop!” Let’s remember the titans who paved the way. There’s Beryl, Patricia, Judith, Richard, David, Rodney and hundreds more.

4. Controversy. I’d like to see us mix it up once in a while. I’d like to see Chris Courtney debate Cameron Shayne on whether it’s okay to have sex with your students. We don’t have to be afraid to disagree. In our disagreements, we will sow the seeds of progress. I know someone said that somewhere.

5. Some new views. If I read one more tired article on how we’re all love, I’m going to scream. I’d like to read about the role of social media in yoga, naked yoga, and if you need a tattoo to sell a YTT.

6. I’d like some acknowledgement of the crazy hate and haters in yoga. What are people thinking when they write anonymously that an author deserves to die? I mean, What. Are. They. Thinking?

7. An understanding of the business. I say that everyone is a yoga teacher. Well, it’s kind of true. I’d like to see more articles on the business of yoga and who is making money around here. On the website www.yogafestival.com, there are more than 75 festivals listed for 2013. There are so many free classes at the mall or in a park, it’s a wonder anyone pays for it in a studio anymore.

8. The final and most important thing I’d like to see in a Yoga magazine is REALITY.

Why? Because the perpetual talk of love and peace, the fear of disagreement, the panic over negativity and our history of brushing yoga scandals under a rug has turned a lot of people off to yoga. On the other extreme, there’s gossip, invective, emotionalism, and mob mentality. But in the middle there are still plenty of people who are intelligent, discerning, have families and responsibilities, are sexually monogamous (or just not screwing their yoga teacher) and work at a job who want to enjoy this beautiful practice, and they don’t want to feel like they are entering a cult of crap when they do.

That’s right. I just said that yoga sometimes feels like a cult of crap. You can now write in anonymously that you wish for me to die.

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