Yoga, While Exploding in Popularity, is Nearly Dead. #walkthetalk

Amy Ipolliti

Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis.

What is yoga? “Yoga is alignment, it’s breath, it’s studying—getting into the immensity and the vastness of yoga but also looking inside and inquiring. It’s the ability to take feedback about our stuff and apologize. It’s about relationship and engaging. That’s something we have to do in the real world. It’s got to be real.” ~ Amy Ippoliti

On Social Media + Yoga: “That’s what’s lacking in perfection. Perfection isn’t perfect, because it leaves behind a sense of humor—and humor is openness and delight and enjoying life and perfection is kind of fake, usually, and not actually perfect.” ~ Waylon Lewis

Yoga is huge, yoga is booming! There’s more and more students—and teachers—than ever before. But is the quality of teaching diminishing, as everyone and their sister gets a certification? Is breath and alignment and meditation being lost in hip tunes and the cult of personality?

Waylon chats with Amy Ippoliti about professional education for yoga teachers, the Instagram yoga phenomenon, keeping yoga legit and the evolution of modern yoga.

Elephant is psyched to be working in partnership with Google+ on our new live video series, which features three live videos a week (that can be watched later, too).

Amy Ipolliti

Amy Ippoliti

Amy is a yoga teacher, writer and philanthropist. She is known for her innovative methods to bridge the gap between ancient yoga wisdom and modern day life. Amy is a pioneer for advanced yoga education serving both students as well as fellow yoga teachers.

She co-founded 90Monkeys.com, an online professional development school that has enhanced the skills of yoga teachers and studios in 43 countries around the globe. She has graced the covers of Yoga Journal and Fit Yoga Magazine and has been featured in Yoga International, Self, Origin Magazine, New York Magazine, Yogini Magazine (Japan), Allure (Korea), Elephant Journal, intent.com and many more.

Amy is a faculty member at the Omega Institute, Esalen and Kripalu. She is a regular presenter at the Yoga Journal Conferences, Omega Institute Conference, Wanderlust Festivals, and The Hanuman Festival. Since the age of 14 Amy has been a champion of all forms of eco-consciousness, animal conservation and more recent forays into marine conservation.

Find Amy on her website, Hang with Amy on Facebook, Talk to Amy on TwitterPin with Amy on Pinterest and share your pics with her on Instagram.

Amy Ipolliti

A few of Amy’s favorite books:

amy ippoliti's books

Questions from the Live Google+ Hangout for Amy & Waylon (Amy’s answers are in the comments section below):

1. Amy, I love (!) your classes on Yoga Glo, but am having a hard time staying a subscriber after hearing about all the lawsuits they’re handing out to try and gain control of the online yoga class platform. Any thoughts? ~ Jessica Roth

2. Yoga is a science. IMHO ‘true’ to yoga means study must be rooted in the yoga sutras, the Bhagavad Gita. Do you find yourself teaching from this, or do you think you allow the present time, the common attitudes, to be a greater influence? ~ Chelsea Rideout

3. Amy, How do you balance the business side of things with the ethical yogic side of teaching. I feel there is a lot of pressure from the studios I teach at to link with businesses and organizations I don’t necessarily agree with ethically. Any thoughts? ~ Erinn Hughes

4. Amy and Waylon, greetings from Denver! My question is: what advice would you give new teachers who are trying to get their foot in the door? I’ve found so many studios who want you to have X amount of experience which makes it difficult to start out. Thx! ~ Mariel Reardon

5. Good morning from New Zealand. Hi there, Waylon. Amy, in a busy world, how would you incorporate into a physical yoga class more from the four paths of yoga; (jñāna yoga) self-inquiry study without coming across too spiritual? What about longer classes? ~ Stella Pierson

6. Hello from Louisiana Amy. Yes, what does yoga need? Where can we go from here? ~ John Broussard


Relephant Reads:

Bringing My Life Into Perspective: What Matters Most.

Teaching Yoga: Keeping It Real.

How to Get the Most Out of Your Yoga Teacher.



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Editor: Rachel Nussbaum

Photos: Amy Ippoliti


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Nirodha Feb 19, 2014 9:49am

Great convo! Only thing is you guys need to stop being so conciliatory. Capitalism is a monstrous force of oppression and imperialism and yoga practitioners, who have a unique opportunity to see through the bull, need to be on the front lines of the struggle to abolish capitalism and restore human dignity.

Feb 17, 2014 5:41pm

Thanks for a look into your conversation. I've been party to many similar conversations over the years. The one where people personally reflect where yoga is going wrong

Melissa Elstein Feb 16, 2014 10:02am

Thank you for this conversation. I believe it is very relevant in this age of social media. There are some wonderful books and studios that do go beyond the shallow aspect of modern yoga – of which you discuss. Two in NYC are Integral Yoga Institute (where I teach Gentle Yoga) and The Breathing Project – where Leslie Kaminoff teaches yoga anatomy and breath-centered yoga. In both of these studios there is an emphasis on alignment, yoga safety and at Integral Yoga (founded by Swami Satchidanada in 1966), there is a strong emphasis on the ancient spiritual texts. At Integral (which has centers all over the world) they offer teacher trainings on Raja Yoga, Gentle and Chair, Yoga Therapeutics, Yoga for Arthritis, Cancer, etc. – to name a few. The majority of our classes are 1.5 hours and we don't generally play music. We emphasize that yoga is the stilling of the fluctuations of the mind chatter, and that the asana portion of the class (we also do eye movements, chanting, yoga nidra, meditation in every class) is a moving meditation, rather than a competitive athletic gym-like class. Yes, IYI is on social media (as am I), but that doesn't necessarily preclude the ability to teach in the way that feels authentic to oneself, or to the ancient teachings. So I do believe there are venues and classes that go beyond the "yoga star" style yoga you discuss, and base their teachings on the classical foundations of ancient yoga. Also, I highly recommend Kripalu yoga teacher, therapist and author Stephen Cope's excellent books on yoga, as well as Georg Feurstein who wrote many books on the deeper dimensions of yoga. So I hope to dispel the notion that the open yoga class in modern times is only being taught in the way described in this pertinent interview. Thank you for the opportunity to share.

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Walk the Talk Show

Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis is fun, yet fundamentally serious. We aim to be “The Daily Show of mindfulness,” spreading the good news beyond the choir to those who weren’t sure they gave a care. Find us on our new podcast, The Mindful Life with Waylon Lewis, on YouTube, Instagram, & Facebook.