"I am a star. I’m a star, I’m a star, I’m a star. I am a big, bright, shining star. That’s right." --Dirk Diggler, Boogie Nights
The crowds are swelling against the velvet ropes, which section off the red carpet from the screaming crowds. Burly bodyguards are using their muscle to restrain the eager fans as the first few yoga teachers come gliding down the red carpet. Fashion correspondents are critiquing the yoga teacher's fashions, using phrases like "She is working that Lululemon!" and "His yoga buns are showcased just perfectly in those Be Present Movement Pants -- definitely a fashion high five for that yogi!" Flash bulbs are brightening the surrounding area, sounding like soft gunfire.
Sounds a little bizarre, doesn't it? Yet I can't help but wonder if we're headed in that direction.
A friend of mine has a saying that I just love -- "I don't know how to think about it." I'd say that fits my reaction to this new trend of yoga teacher meets Madison Avenue Marketing.
I've known about YAMA Talent for a while now. Yama's founder Ava Taylor is one smart cookie -- she took her marketing skills across the pond, if you will -- she went from promoting Lululemon clothing to promoting the folks wearing Lululemon clothing. She saw a need and she used her talents to fill it. And she finally got a mention in the NY Times. I'm sure her marketing heart is all aglow. Yet another clip to go in the publicity file.
Then there are the folks over at YogaDownload.com -- they are currently promoting the "next YogaDownload star" contest over on their Web site. After all, who the heck would be satisfied with 10 students in your class when you could gain exposure to over 40,000 students? Why settle for yoga teacher when you could be a "yoga star?"
Here's the thing...I have no problem with yoga teachers making money. I understand that yogis in India would teach for free because it was their calling. I think that's lovely. However, the fact is that we don't live in India and last I checked, the cost of living was mighty pricey here in America. Also, I don't think there's anything wrong or not spiritual about being paid for what you offer to others. I've seen a lot of people earn a heck of a lot more for providing a heck of a lot less (ummmm...the cast of The Jersey Shore come to mind). There's no shame in being good at what you do, touching people, and making money because of it.
Yet, there's something about all of this yoga teacher as star hype that just doesn't sit right with me. Maybe it's that yoga teachers are going the way of the professional athlete and the Hollywood actor. Now I'm a bit biased here, because I don't care one whit about actors and I think that our society is freakishly preoccupied with people who aren't anywhere near as gifted or cool as they think they are. I also happen to think that many professional athletes are overpaid (as well as not all that well behaved). I'm not saying I'm right -- it's just my personal opinion. I wouldn't care if there weren't any movies and/or sports teams but I realize that the majority of folks out there are crying blasphemy over the mere thought. After all, what would guys do with all of their spare time if there were no ESPN and what would women do if they couldn't read People Magazine and gossip about which starlet was sleeping with which model, who was cheating on who, and which hot young thing was checking into rehab? Okay, so I'm being a bit sarcastic -- and probably a lot outrageous -- today. Still, you get the idea.
What strikes me is this -- I've taken more yoga workshops and classes over the years than I can count. Some of those classes and workshops have been given by who would be considered big name, very popular yoga teachers while others have been given by local teachers. I've seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. Interestingly enough, some of my best experiences weren't with the big names. Sometimes the more obscure, the better.
A few years ago, I had a very disappointing experience with a yoga teacher. I saw qualifications and experience and certifications and I mistakenly took those things for quality. Finding out that this particular teacher didn't walk her talk was disappointing, to say the least. Hmmmm...perhaps she just needed a good agent to put the right spin on it?
I'm just going to echo my friend's sentiments -- I don't know how to think about it. Actually, I think I'll take it a step further -- I don't even want to think about it.