Witnessing the Yoga Scene Around the Country Makes Me Consider Closing my Studio. ~ Robyn Parets

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Yoga Sutra 1.8: “Misconception occurs when knowledge of something is not based upon its true form.”

As Sri Swami Satchidananda explains it, “In the twilight you see a coiled rope and mistake it for a snake. You get frightened. There is no snake there in reality; there is a false understanding. But still it created a terror in your mind. It is not only valid knowledge that creates thought waves, but erroneous impressions also.”

We all have things we think to be real or true—our relationships, our careers, whatever it may be that defines us. But what happens when our truth isn’t quite as we thought it was or should be? What, then, is the truth? What is real?

I’m going out on a limb here and I will probably piss off some yogis and yoga teachers in the process, but I don’t care. Got to speak my truth.

And I know, I’ve probably already lost about half of you already, but stick with me here. It will all make sense in a moment.

I left home in April 2012, and I have been touring the U.S. (soon Canada) ever since. Pretty much the only thing that’s kept me somewhat grounded in this tour de force is my yoga practice. Not the sweating, twist-yourself-in-knots type of practice that many Americans consider yoga, but the breathing and simplicity of the practice. Sometimes I just stand in mountain pose so that I can truly feel my feet on the ground. Other times I roll out my mat and do what feels good. And still other times I go to a yoga class. That’s where the truth starts to become fuzzy.

In every city I go to, I search for a yoga class that isn’t hot or power or rock ‘n roll or in a sling shot. I look for the studio that’s been in town the longest or has a teacher older than 19. I’ve been to studios from Los Angeles to New York City and many places in-between including, in no particular order: Wisconsin, Michigan, Tennessee, Texas, Arkansas, Indiana, Vermont, Minnesota, and Nebraska. Some of the studios have been chains, others just small spaces.

I can say this for sure: yoga isn’t what it used to be.

Everyone has a gimmick and everything is fast. Yup, that’s right, fast. In all but a couple instances, the classes have been crammed with as many poses as the teacher can think up in an hour, regardless of whether he or she knows how to safely get students from one posture to the next. Music is usually blaring (not that I have anything against loud music, but sometimes it hinders the ability to quiet the mind). The students look like they are competing in a yoga fashion contest hosted by lululemon (sorry, it’s true). Teachers talk incessantly even when they have nothing to say. Most classes have next to no warm-ups or cool-downs. They usually don’t mention the breath or the mind. One had no savasana at all.

Here’s the thing: this is what people want—or at least think—they want. This is how teachers are learning to practice and instruct.

It’s a sad but honest reflection of our culture. As a society, we don’t know how to slow down, yet we want to do things that are good for us—so we do yoga, even if we don’t know what that is. We also teach yoga even if we don’t know how or even have an inkling of an idea of the centuries old healing practice that we are passing down.

Let me back up here for a moment.

I opened my yoga studio nine years ago. At the time, I was pretty much the only Hatha studio around. Since then, there are now studios within ten minutes of mine in every direction. All but one offer strictly hot, power yoga classes. I’m not even counting the gyms and YMCAs which all also offer yoga. In order for all these studios and classes to serve all those students, there have to be enough teachers. So almost all studios now offer training courses, many of which are franchised or canned (but the students don’t know this).

I am not saying these programs are bad or that all teachers don’t know what they are doing. I am just trying to lay it all out there.

Teachers are being pumped out faster than you can say “Patanjali,” and students are coming to classes in droves regardless of whether the class is good or bad. They hang on the teacher’s every word even if the teacher has no idea what he is doing or saying. Students think that if they do enough chaturangas, they are doing yoga. Heck, they might even think that 20 chaturanga push-ups will quiet the mind. They probably don’t know that stilling the mind and yoga are one and the same.

It’s not just happening in studios. Look at yoga conferences and festivals.

Students flock to these big events where the classes are taught by those I now call “rock star” yoga teachers. These are teachers who have become famous in the yoga world and have large followings of students. Some of these teachers are actually very good at teaching yoga, but most are just overwhelmed with their own egos and the large base of students who seek them out in a convention center packed with 150 other adoring students. Most of these teachers are under 35 years old and many have been teaching this ancient healing art for less than eight years (that’s my unscientific poll but I betcha I’m right on the money here). I’ll admit, there was a time when I aspired to teach at these big conferences where people pay money to come to your classes or workshops even if the money goes to charity. It feeds the ego, no getting around it. But after witnessing what I have over the past year, I want none of this.

It all hit home in Austin, Texas.

Michelle, one of my closest friends, lives there. We did our yoga teacher training together at Maha Yoga Center with a gifted and wise teacher. For the past four years, Michelle has been whining about the yoga scene in Austin. I keep encouraging her to teach because, well, she’s the real deal. She has tried but can’t seem to find a studio to teach at—somewhere she can keep it real. She said all the studios are hot or power or fast or gimmicky. She said all the studio directors and teachers don’t know a thing about anatomy and sure as heck can’t teach a breathing technique.

I didn’t believe her. I mean, really, Austin? It’s a pretty progressive city with lots of yogis. Since I try to take a class in every city I visit, I was determined to hit a studio in Austin with my yogini friend Michelle. We picked a well-known studio. It looked hip and fun. Let’s just stop there.

We walked into a noontime class and had to restrain ourselves from laughing out loud. The skinny teacher in perfect yoga clothes had us rolling on the floor, literally. We rolled and then jumped up. Rolled and jumped up. Rolled and jumped up. We did a few fast poses in-between the rolling and jumping and then she bid us adieu. No rest for the weary. No savasana.

“That wasn’t even on the top five worst classes in Austin,” said Michelle as we walked out. I raced back to my hotel to roll out my yoga mat. My nervous system was completely out of whack.

I know, I know, to each their own. But really, call that what you want, but don’t call it yoga. To me yoga was and is about quieting the mind, breathing, finding stillness, feeling grounded and balanced. It’s about moving in a way that makes sense and is rooted in anatomy and yogic science. It’s about being honest with yourself and your students. It’s about knowing your limitations. It’s about slowing down so that you can listen and hear your own inner voice—the voice of intuition. It’s about finding stillness amid the activity. Try doing 20 poses on both sides in an hour; there’s simply no time for stillness.

Police give fast drivers speeding tickets. Who is going to slow us down in life? Ourselves.

Witnessing the yoga scene around the country has caused me to consider closing my studio on several occasions. I’ve become skeptical of myself. I mean, what is my purpose for being here when I’m losing the battle to hot yoga studios, fast classes, and DVDs/podcasts that promise results in 20 minutes? I have often wondered if perhaps I’ve got it all wrong, but then I come home and realize that what I am doing here is worth it. Regardless of whether I have five students or 500.

This is real.



Things Yoga Students are Dying to Tell Their Teachers (But Never Will).

Things Your Yoga Teacher is Dying to Tell You (But Probably Won’t).

What Does a Yoga Teacher Look Like?

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About Robyn Parets

Robyn Parets is a certified Hatha yoga teacher and journalist, owns Breathe Joy Yoga studio in Massachusetts and has written for the Los Angeles Times, Inc. Magazine Group, and Investor’s Business Daily. She recently got back from a 15-month-long tour around North America with her son Noah, who was playing the role of Billy Elliot in “Billy Elliot the Musical.” She is spending this year blogging, reconnecting, and trying to figure out her next career!



119 Responses to “Witnessing the Yoga Scene Around the Country Makes Me Consider Closing my Studio. ~ Robyn Parets”

  1. How true! Its sad. Yoga is an age old system for holistic wellbeing of mankind. The fundamental thesis in Yoga is that of the unity of Body-Mind-Spirit. The practice of Ha-tha Yoga by people in today’s world however is primarily done for the physical body. The attention is thereby limited to the outer container rather than the inner content of personality.

  2. Shannon miller says:


    I can relate to your words. My first introduction was bikram yoga almost 8 years ago. It wasn’t until I landed at Yoga East in Louisville KY that I was able to fully grasp the meaning and scope of what yoga is, does, means. Next time your passing through pay 1 of our 3 studios a visit. I can safely say you will be welcomed by knowledgable, friendly, compassionate instructors. We were taught by the best. Our studio will turn 40 next year. We would love to see you.

  3. Behold. There exists such a thing as a Yoga Scene, and humans are revelling mindlessly in it in the spirit of Bacchus.

  4. Diana says:

    I've taught yoga with meditation and savasana for over a decade. It is important to recognize that asana is only a Part of yoga, not its entirety. Asana is considered the "outer" practices that have the capacity to open one up to the deeper "inner" practices of meditation. It's likely true that more people are interested in the outer practices. It's not a necessity to align with the masses, many of whom are using yoga a more of a gymnastics class. The subtle practices were never as popular or as accessible as the deeper sublime practices. Nonetheless we can keep on keeping on- continuing to teach authentically from where we're at is our best suit, allowing for all other interpretations. Keep up the good work, Robyn.

    • On a similar tack, as a perennial beginner (not of "beginner's mind", but an actual beginner/advanced beginner/barely intermediate of years' standing) at asana … I knew there were hatha classes that were not afraid to teach in a "beginners"-only class, the more intense/more repetitive pranayama and breath-retention work without the beginners having to pass through asana-"hoops". Even pranayama, (which is actually a limb, separate and apart, from the third limb, asana) could be approached … before the so-called beginners'-class instructor gets all hot-and-heavy about teaching headstand … Now that there are both blowback and backlash, more of them are reserving teaching anything like headstand until further classes … A beginner, sure, can rely on the support of the neck if their arms are not strong enough. But certain anatomical uniquenesses, that a teacher may not know about, may preclude EVER being able to not rely on the neck much more than ideal …

      Ditto for the neck-intensive setthu bandhasana transition from the floor into wheel pose . Although I've learned to use my legs; now that transition becomes a strain on my knees.

      Simply put, some bodies just won't go there (or not easily) … and it's not just a matter of the "mind transcending the body" …

      So, it is a boon to know that there are other, more physically available centering, and even higher-order practices that can and should be encouraged … not everyone is too hyperactive for them … in fact, it would do well for the teacher of yoga to "read" the actual energy level of people in the room, rather than teaching to promote their cross-promotion agendas or to teach to a pre-scripted syllabus or to the most advanced people (or their spouses thereof … I've witnessed that, too) in the beginner's class …

  5. debradeangelo says:

    I really appreciate this column. You have perfectly described why I don't go to yoga classes much anymore. The exception is the classes at Harbin Hot Springs, in Middletown, California. The beginner's class is heavenly and I keep returning to it, because the focus is on connecting breath and body and mind… feeling the pose, slowly.
    The teacher may only do a handful of poses, and variations on them, but you learn the muscle memory of that pose. S/he will take the time to walk around and offer gentle corrections, and ask the group before s/he begins if there are any limitations. It's often a mixed group, with some older, less limber/flexible folks (like myself) who are there in plain old comfy clothes and don't even know where to find the lululemons in the produce department.
    I have also grown to appreciate Kate Potter's "Namaste" series… interesting side note to your column – she is Canadian. Yes, there are pretty girls in the videos, but if you really listen to her voice…. it's all about the breath, finding the pose, being still, not criticizing. Better yet – you can find Kate on Facebook and she is very humble and approachable. In the privacy of my home, where there is no judgement, I can learn her various sequences and alter them to my own body.
    Like you, when I do attend a yoga class here and there, it's a shock to my system. And… like you… I start each day with mountain pose. 🙂

  6. Troy A says:

    Thank you, Robyn. Thank you. I’ve been. feeling this in Seattle for years. I hace found that the only sense of true yoga I can find is in my home practice. There are very few who I have found here who really understand the source texts and practices that comprise yoga. I think these newer asana-derived styles have their own merits, but I feel that calling them yoga is completely misguided. Thank you, again.

  7. HJCOTTON says:

    I learned my yoga asanas in Austin with some superb Iyengar teachers who founded their studio back in 1990. The two teachers who taught me were among the best that I have ever had. Their studios are still in business, and the claim that Austin lacks good yoga studios is not true, and apparently the writer of this article was recommended the wrong studios in Austin. Texas has a long tradition of old school yoga whether it is Austin, Dallas or Houston.

    • Robyn Parets says:

      Hi there — thanks for your response. I wasn't trying to put down yoga in Austin. My friend has yet to find a studio to call home and we randomly picked a studio to try a class at. There are wonderful teachers and studios everywhere. Feel free to contact me with the name of the studio you practice at. I am sure my friend would love to try out a class there! http://www.awayfromom.net

  8. EverPresent says:

    It's not yoga without the breath. That has been a though that arises after a class where the teacher never once brings in the breath as focal point….throughout an entire class. Shocking really. Even as well intentioned as the young teachers I've seen it doesn't take away from the fact that you can't teach someone something you yourself have not experienced. So if they have not practiced long enough to delve into the DISCOVERY of yoga (which can't be taught) then they are teaching from an intellectual or physical understanding of the practice without really having walked through to the experience of what yoga is to pass on to others. It's that simple really. That is why there is so much "crazy" yoga out there. It is just people who have been taught how to teach poses but never have walked the long path to discover their own inner stillness so they can lead others to it. Hari Om.

  9. Mina says:

    Wow. Then perhaps she should close her studio. I’ve been practicing for 15 years and have kept my practice my own personal journey and not really worried about how others are practicing. I must say The author comes across as condescending and snobby. At least people are practicing yoga. Who cares if it’s not your type of yoga. Perhaps closing your studio and foregoing the negative comments about others practice is best.

  10. Lorraine says:

    I was glad to read this. I too have felt like this for a long time. My grandfather talk me yoga when I was a very young girl. Now this was about 40 years ago. He would teach me how to breathe properly. Eventhough my grandfather lived in England these short visits instilled in me the concept of yoga of which you speak. It IS about the stillness, it doesn't have to be done in classes it can be done in the stillness of your room at home. I liken it to meditation (anapana breathing).
    Thanks for your words and don't think you are going to annoy people, keep calm and breathe.

  11. Kelli says:

    I so understand this feeling and agree with all of your thoughts here. My hubby and I own two yoga studios and have the discussion daily about the yoga scene out there and how disgusted we are. We often wonder what it would be like if the “rock star” studios disappeared and real yoga emerged and wish that would happen. We lose students to the studios that are gimmicky and it’s frustrating because their practice is not of high quality nor true to Yoga’s nature. It’s unfortunately the world if marketing and the crap companies like Lululemon that pump out the image that most have night into. Yoga is sacred and I wish people would understand that. As veteran teachers and studio owners we need to ban together and stand up. Organizations like the YA aren’t helpful either. We need a good veteran yoga teacher movement; those that know what they are doing and NOT the ones that do it as a fashion statement.

  12. Stephanie Herrin says:

    Thank you for this. It needed to be said.

  13. Stand and face the sun. says:

    My sentiment, exactly! I have been biting my tongue and biding my time hoping if I hang with it I will see it cycle back around to what it once was. I do believe yoga is going to implode, there will be a shift. Whether it's from lawsuits from the numerous inexperienced teachers or supply and demand, it's going to happen. I'm an ashtangi and will be to the very end. there's no gimmicks, no get out of jail free card for skipping over asanas and It's practice, practice, practice. I feel blessed to have found ashtanga years ago with one of the best teachers I know, Tim Miller has been my teacher for 14 years this february. I couldn't imagine studying with anyone else. Thanks for speaking the truth and it is the truth.

  14. jamieshane says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. I have had my studio for ten years and sometimes just want to cry over the shuffle and jive that comes with having to compete with a gimmick on every corner. It gets harder to stand firm and true to what I believe yoga is amidst all the noise and the children out there "teaching" yoga. This needed to be said. So thank you for being braqve enough to speak out.

  15. Jeremy says:

    Thanks for the thought provoking article. Just to offer a different perspective; I have been averaging 3 classes a week in Austin for the past 2 years and have never experienced the kind of shenanigans you speak of. With dozens of studios around town and all the creative people in Austin, of course there's going to be teachers out there on the fringe. There's Acro yoga, paddleboard yoga and anything else you can think of. There are also some truly gifted teachers here with 10, 20, 30+ years of experience leading incredible classes in alignment with the lineage they came from. My point is this: If you're truly seeking evidence of yoga reaching a wider audience while remaining true to it's roots, there's lots of it in Austin. My sense is that you were seeking evidence to the contrary, so that is what you found.

    • Robyn Parets says:

      Hi Jeremy,
      Thanks for reading and writing. Interesting thing was that I wasn't looking for anything in particular and it wasn't until I had hit studios in about 30 cities around the US and Canada that I decided to write. You are right in that there are gifted teachers everywhere. If I hadn't had the experience of trying out yoga everywhere, I would not have noticed this trend. Every industry changes and yoga is no different. With a glut of new teachers out there, changes like I saw were bound to happen as the industry becomes more commercial. I love this practice and teaching. And, I also like to have fun (and I don't live in a cave!) I am just a journalist/yogini telling it like it is (or at least as I saw it). Thanks again!

  16. nunh says:

    Live and let live. But, don't give up your passion. Your way is not the only way.

  17. Katherine says:

    Hi Robyn! Thank you for your article. I read you were in Michigan. You might not have stopped at my studio http://www.karma-yoga.net We just celebrated 10 years and are not reflecting the type of studios you are describing. I hope you can come take class with us sometime in the future! Stay open. We need more light leaders like you in the yoga business. Sat Nam, Katherine

  18. Chelsey H says:

    Many years ago I was told by a physical therapist to try yoga do to my physcical limitations and that it’s low impact and all about listening to your limits, etc. She gave me a really great DVD that had yoga tailor designed for people like me. It was more like meditation. After a while the DVD became monotonous and I decided to try a class.

    I have found most of my attempts at finding a suitable class/studio absolutely terrible.

    I have severe flexibility issues (I can’t even touch my toes) due to a combination of genetic disorder and a serious car accident. One of the first studios I went to I tried to explain this, I even signed up for the “gentle” class. There was nothing gentle about it!! My instructor basically belittled me the whole time for being less flexible than the “old people” (I was only 22). She called me lazy. I left in tears.

    Another studio I was doing my altered version of downward dog with help of foam blocks. The instructor came over and insisted I do it “correctly” then actually pushed down on my shoulders!!! I passed out from the pain. They had to call an ambulance cause I couldn’t get up afterwards. She had basically inflamed my old spine injury from my car accident.

    I swore off yoga for years until I met a yogi through a friend. He taught yoga the way it should be. Sadly we now live far away from each other. I live in Asheville NC now, it’s a big yoga town which at least one studio every corner of town. Yet, I haven’t found one that I like yet. 🙁

  19. Radha says:

    I am afraid the same thing is happening to Ayurveda. Lets evolve Ayurveda?! There is no such thing. Ayurveda is an ancient healin science. You cannot alter it and still call it Ayurveda. Then there is no truth.

  20. Alli Gallixsee says:

    I fell in love with yoga in 1999 and have been practicing every since then. I have probably attended 500 classes since then from Vancouver to Guatemala and I have noticed this same trend. I fell in love with Hatha yoga, with the way I felt connected to the universe and to my self at the same time when coming out of Sivasana. Since then with the emergence of yogaerobics as I like to call it I have had a hard time finding studios where I can go to just be and am not expected to be an ultra skinny fashion model in $200 yoga pants. I miss the days when I showed up to a class and was welcomed because I was present.

    Being an average sized American woman I get sideways looks and sour stares from many of the yoga studios I have entered. Apparently I don't fit their demographic. Since when do I have to look a certain way to come and yoke myself to the universe?! I have literally had teachers tell me that I wasn't going to be able to handle their level 2-3 classes. They based this judgement solely on one look at me, never bothering to ask me how long I had been practicing or what kind of practice I maintain. I usually blow their minds and while I am not a trained teacher many have asked where I teach after a class…

    This all has troubled me a lot, and I started practicing mostly from home. I have found though that if you look hard enough there are studios run by yogis and yoginis like you, Robyn, who are tapped into the spirit at Yoga's core and who believe in the power of Yoga to connect with the nature of the universe. I am blessed to have found one in my small town here in Northern California. I found one in Seattle as well after wading through a LOT of snobby hot yoga and yogaerobics vinyasa classes.

    Anywho, I wanted to thank you for speaking up about this and I wanted to encourage those who are maintaining their Hatha classes and slow studios to keep it up. There are people out there searching for your long sivasanas and deep breathing instruction, so don't give up hope!

  21. Amanda says:

    This article was just what I needed! Having recently done yoga teacher training (at a very well established and reputable school, I promise!) I have been very nervous to introduce my style of yoga to my small town. I keep wondering if it will be too slow or too spiritual or not exercise focused enough for the people in the community who like to pretend they are lululemon yuppies.
    This has really given me the reality check I need to stay true to myself and the (dying?) art of traditional yoga

  22. Kelly says:

    I have to agree a bit. I think the 'newer' yoga teachers aren't getting down to what yoga is: connecting with the inside using breath (or whatever, I'm not getting technical). I attend a yoga class now and I was a regular at a Yoga Studio in London Ontario that was FABULOUS. Classes were atleast 1.5 – 2 hours, long savasana at the end, I learned SO much going there. Now that I'm attending these other classes I am completely let down. The only reason I go is because its something. I always think something is better than nothing. There is no speaking of an 'intention' and I almost feel the teacher doesn't honestly care or really know the spiritual side of it.

    It's quite sad… Something so real and pure has now become something some people may do to 'be cool', not understanding the deeper aspect to it all.

  23. Helen says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading your article and the comments that followed. I teach classical hatha yoga with it's traditional roots including pranayamas, meditation, mudras and mantras in Calgary, Alberta. I have had my own studio for 13 years. When I opened my studio I decided that I didn't want to be a manager. For example, you practice yoga, you love it, you decide to become a yoga teacher, you open you own studio and then you become a manager and lose your passion for teaching and you don't teach any more. So, I teach – my passion is to teach, not manage. I have one teacher that teaches one class for me and I teach all the other classes in my studio. When I travel, I close my studio. When it is the long weekend, there are no classes. Sure I make way less money, but is this why I got into yoga? Noper. I love to teach and help people achieve their optimum health, relieve stress and smile more. Do I feel the competition of other studios – I don't tend to think about it too much. I just figure if someone is into what I teach, they'll show up to my door.

    Yes, I have a Guru and am on a path. Many moons ago, I expressed to a well-known kirtan artist, that I was teaching mantra and couldn't get too many people interested in attending the class. And he asked me, "why do I need more people?" and that totally changed my thought pattern. Yeah, why did I need more people? I couldn't answer that question because I didn't have an answer to it. I realized it was not important – what was important that I just keep doing what I have been doing and carrying on with my life. And I have done this ever since.

    • Robyn Parets says:

      Hi Helen,
      Thanks so much for your response and kudos to you. You are so right about losing the passion for teaching when you are too focused on managing. That's what happened to me and it's why I now teach 2 classes a week at my studio and no longer manage a staff of teachers. My focus has changed, my passion for teaching has returned. For some, this isn't an option for financial reasons and I get that too. But now what yoga teachers tell me they love teaching so they want to open their own studio, I advise them not to unless running a 7-day-a-week business is more of a passion than teaching. It's not unlike being a chef. Most chefs become chefs because they love cooking and creating. But many open restaurants and end up losing their passion for cooking. I have other articles in the works about this and other topics. I hope you will follow my blog at http://www.awayfromom.net
      Thanks and all the best to you!

  24. Unconditional love says:

    Honestly what you have said in this article can be said about anything in life. Food culture, family life, education, music etc.
    I do agree with this statement though :To me yoga was and is about quieting the mind, breathing, finding stillness, feeling grounded and balanced.

    I offer you a nice quote you probably know

    "Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of these things, and still be calm in your heart"

    We all have styles of practice we prefer and I think the humble route is to not spend energy judging other people for their personal yoga, food, family etc choices.

    It is best to lead by example. Love your students, don't teach them what's "right", because right does not exist, its ego masturbation.

  25. Laara says:

    Don't close. People will eventually return to authenticity. They will need a place to practice.

  26. Nicole Weinberger says:

    Absolutely true. Especially in L.A., yoga has become a hipster work out and everyone wants to be a teacher.

  27. MichaelPlasha says:

    I hope someday you visit Erie, PA and visit my studio. I opened it on Jan. 1, 1998 and it was the first studio here. Even though I don't look it, I am much older than 19 and I opened my studio after studying and practicing yoga and meditation since 1971! I honor a traditional approach and have not diluted the teachings to be popular. Like you I am surrounded by gym and secular yoga but the good news is I am still popular. I presented at both Yoga Alliance teachers conferences and they were both refreshingly free of the "vibe" you described at the conferences you attended. My web site is http://www.plashayoga.com. Thank you for this article! I hope it will be a wake up for some. Keeping it real in Erie…

    • Robyn Parets says:

      Hi Michael,
      Thanks so much for reading and writing. I went onto your website and your studio looks wonderful. And, you ARE 19 — lol! I didn't make it to Erie but if/when I do, I will definitely come to your studio. I would love to meet you. I hope you'll consider subscribing to my blog at http://www.awayfromom.net — where I try to keep it real in Massachusetts and in cyberspace…

  28. Sobha Singh says:

    I think you should take a look at Kundalini Yoga. It's nothing like the other classes. It's all about the breathe and meditative exercises. None of that flashy stuff and pretzel poses. As for dress, they play down where sexy revealing outfits. The profered color is white and the clothes tend to be baggy so you can move.

  29. Mukhya Khalsa says:

    Look up Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan. Sets get you ready to meditate. Meditations are powerful. Clothes are always graceful.

  30. Sosie Sagherian says:

    I completely agree with you. As a Kundalini pactioner ofc18 years and teacher of 6 years you are spot on. Give KY a go. Lots if it in MA. Sat Nsm Ji

  31. @laurakutney says:

    I don't have the time to read all of the comments, but you might try senior centers where they have adult education classes. Seniors don't put up with doing the hokey-pokey.

    At the senior center where I live, there are many drop in classes for $5.00. People of all ages take classes there and at other sites in the community. You might be happily surprised!

    Please tell your friend in Texas too!

    I take both Hatha Yoga and Ai Chi, which is Tai Chi but done in the heated (almost body temp) pool.

  32. lisakosf says:

    I really enjoyed reading this article, thanks for writing. I used to think it was me, when I couldn't find a studio that I enjoyed practicing Yoga at. One of my favorite studios is Yoga Shala in downtown San Jose, CA — and I've also grown fond of Iyegar Yoga and the studio I go to in SF called Bija. I've probably been to about 20 studios, and when the instructor talks about life, plays music, and asks us to do situps I know its not the place for me. I guess the positive is, its all about finding what works for you, so we can't judge or put down those that enjoy that type of "yoga"

  33. skinnyyogini says:

    I agree with everything that was said in this piece, except for one small detail. I'm not sure why you felt it was necessary to add that part about "The skinny teacher in perfect yoga clothes" (especially the skinny part…). I understand what kind of image you're trying to paint for us readers, but I see that you're making a judgment based on what she looked like. Yoga moves us beyond judgment, it doesn't matter what anybody's physical body looks like… Maybe I'm just saying this because I'm thin, and I can't gain weight no matter how hard I try.

  34. yogadivina says:

    Oh yea! I opened a small studio in Altadena not only to reach those who cant to 108 sun salutations, but to reach those who need yoga, slow yoga where the teachers see you. I love that one of my students did 6 classes in 8 days! She could afford the classes and she could do the poses, that were taught slow and with care. I didnt get into yoga for the $$. Sometimes I kick myself becaseu i wish i was more greedy, but yoga is to be shared. I was once told I am "De-valuing yoga" because I offer yoga for $10 and 10pks for $90. 3 months to use it.

    • Robyn Parets became a consultant to "the enemy" … from another post on here about Sadie Nardini … you know, a yoga arts type of talent agent …

      When you can't teach, but you want to remain in the field and make bank, you gotta do something I guess…

      • Robyn Parets says:

        Hi there — Everyone is entitled to their opinion but I believe that yogis deserve to earn a living for the good they do in this world and if I can help people achieve that, I will. This article is an opinion piece (my opinion) on the changing face of yoga. When my studio was thriving, I made a good living and I don't feel guilty about this. That video with Sadie was a parody and I also believe yogis need to lighten up a little and have fun. It doesn't mean I feel any differently about the practice I seek. We all seek different practices. But this doesn't mean things haven't changed. Also, amphib1yogini: yogis talk about being "non-judgmental" which I think is pretty impossible. However, if you had any idea what we are doing over at YAMA Talent, you might consider taking back that comment. Only a thought. I wish you the best!

        • As yoga teachers age, they do not all turn into Tao Porchon-Lynch. Some become more like J. Brown (who is far from old, having turned 42) …

          What you promote now may some day turn their back on you, and the old-timey schools would find they hardly need representation.

          Reminds me of the dueling bumper stickers:

          "I'm Born Again"


          "We Never Lost It"

          So, you will also know that this is a bubble you are riding. This too shall pass.

  35. jkx says:

    I wish teachers would become comfortable with silence. I get told what to do, what to think, how to do it all day. The last thing I want it a teacher putting their own heaviness from their day on me during a class. I stopped going to one studio because she would stop telling us what we should be focusing on and constantly talking about what she thought we needed to focus on. With my days they way they are, I come to my mat to quiet the chatter and find myself within again.

  36. Aimee says:

    Ouch. Thank goodness you’ve found what’s “real” & “true.” Perhaps it’s not a universal method for cultivating wellbeing though?

  37. elianaposada says:

    Dear Robyn,
    Thank you very much for your analysis on what ¨yoga¨ practice is becoming. As a teacher, this article reinforce my commitment to keep studying not only anatomy and asanas, but also the philosophy behind the practice.

    • Robyn Parets says:

      HI Eliana,
      Thanks for reading. I think we all need to keep in mind that yoga means something different to all of us. It's just that the lines have become blurred between yoga and fitness classes. I do both and sometimes my yoga is more "fitnessy" in nature but I was reflecting on the scene out there and that there is more of a focus on the fitness (in many studios) and less on the rest of it. So, if we are seeking philosophy, meditation and pranayama, it just takes a lot more looking around as many studios I visited do not offer this anymore (or very little of it). Best of luck to you!

      • Your arts talent agency does represent Kirtan artists. Hopefully the yoga raves they now perform/instruct at would someday be replaced by more meaningful (to some of us) venues … some of us who are the far side of 30.

        • http://www.itsallyogababy.com/vancouver-reaches-p

          You could discuss this all you want. For my part, I got a little too chronically ill and preoccupied to care about if it is a bubble or not.

          "[…] 'yoga business expert' from Simon Fraser University who has closely studied and taught about Lululemon’s business plan. “There’s only so many people who want to do yoga, and we probably just have too many studios,” said David Hannah.

          "Is it more complicated than this? Has the current business model to thrive in the yoga industry (open a studio / start a teacher training to generate revenue / train more students / saturate the market) created a vicious cycle? Does this rash of closures say something about the excess of supply over demand for yoga in other North American cities? And is it possible that as the economic rewards of studio-based yoga diminish, that this phase in the cycle may actually benefit the passionate, committed teachers and students?"

          The question will then be, when and how does a yoga artist talent agent become a sort of yoga fine arts impresario … because even old school would return and go all Brahmin on ya …

  38. Amy Wenzel Martin says:

    My first experience with yoga was with the kind of class that you offer… it was upstairs above an Indian food restaurant in Dallas. I loved it for the physical and spiritual tranquility that I came away with. I have never found another class like that in the various parts of the state I have lived in since then, and have subsequently been annoyed or disappointed with each one I've tried since. Keep doing what you're doing. I don't have much expertise or experience but I know there are people looking for what you have to offer.

  39. Mgd says:

    no need to mention about "the SKINNY yoga teacher had us blah blah blah" I was enjoying your article up until that point. Would you have said "the fat yoga teacher blah blah" doesn't matter her body type if she sucked she sucked leave it at that.

    • Maybe by "skinny", she actually meant "unrelentingly stern" …
      So easy to pin a bad character trait on one's appearance.
      I do it, too.

      Except I probably would use the words "short, sneering; young and wiry" because I am referring to a man who has a plastic, transparent and dramatic face, in this case–someone so very young they couldn't even yet be called "sinewy". Not a sizeist or sexist thing alone.

      Not saying that it's a good or kind thing to do.

  40. Wendy says:

    We're so grateful for our Hatha Hoga community here in Kissimmee Fl. There's a beautiful, peaceful studio, New World Wellness, where judgement and competition are left with the shoes, where we honor our bodies and pranic intelligence . I am so thankful to be part of the first janasanga of Yoga Teachers trained there. NWW is exactly the studio you missed in those 40 cities. Come breathe with us, Namaste.

  41. Nora says:

    Come to New World Wellness in Kissimmee FL. While it's true that many modern yoga studios are as you describe, there are still studios who do yoga with a pureness of intent. Unfortunately we have not done a great job at providing participants with education about yoga and what the practice off yoga is meant to create for the participant. It makes it that much harder when you are trying to make a living and are trying to hold true to this most beautiful practice. Nicole Georgi Costello and her husband Craig Costello are the owners of New World Wellness and if you stop by, I promise you it will be a breath of fresh air. They also offer 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training so there will be many more of us to practice yoga as it was intended.

  42. yogibattle says:

    This is a beautiful post. Keep teaching yoga whether it is profitable or not. This storm will pass.

  43. heidi says:

    thank you! i just found this article after explaining to a friend that i do not want to teach yoga anymore for exactly the same reasons you are describing here. i am from austria and the yogascene is starting to explode here in the same hectic, lound and gimmicky way. thank you for speaking out! 🙂

  44. chantal says:

    To true brother, at least people are trying to find inner peace whether or not the teacher is good or not this is all part of the yoga journey, well written article made me laugh ☺

  45. amy says:

    Even though it's true that there are all these new yoga styles around it's very unyogalike and highly judgemental to consider them in the way you have. People need yoga, and anyway they come to it is fine. Its a journey remember. It might start like fitness and at some point later along the students may or may not wish to go more profound into the mindfulness of the practise. And when they do spiritual teachers will be there for them. I'm thouroughily enjoying seeing yoga become a mass market product. It means humanity is evolving albeit slowly and adopting yoga within its own way.

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