Originally posted October 1, 2013 on AskYogaNerd blog.
The top headline on my Google News Yoga feed just now: Adam Levine’s Yoga Instructor blah blah blah. I suddenly noticed, however, that the URL listed a new name: Alanna Zabel.
The article itself is fluff on a site called Hollywood Life. The deep secret to the yoga magic? That your body is heavy, so using yourself to hold it up is good for you. (I guess it’s ironic that weight training is the only gold in an article that required no heavy lifting on the part of it’s writer, HL Intern.) Let’s face it, any blog piece about a celebrity yoga instructor is probably fluff. (Even this one, although it’s fluff if edited and footnoted by T.S. Eliot. It’s like working out before you eat candy.) It is essentially designed to promote her new “modern lifestyle brand inspired by the ancient practice of Yoga” and has little to do with yoga practice itself or with the celebrity named. Based on what little is offered in the aforementioned article, Zabel may have merely subbed for Chad Dennis when he was out sick a day. Maybe Levine was that one person who read my original article and immediately decided to can his instructor. (Highly. Unlikely.) In fact, I bet those recent Gaga tweets were actually directed at me. Wow, this beef has really gotten out of hand!!!
The article did however trigger a follow up to my original note. I feel compelled to follow this story, not because I care about an individual’s practice or progress, but because an individual’s practice is being used to characterize, represent, and publicize the practices of an entire community. As I read this article, I thought about the unknown number of people whose first exposure to yoga is this one. Just as these instructors are essentially exploiting the celebrity’s name to borrow some of the cultural capital associated with it to promote their agenda, I feel I should toss some counterpoints out using the same SEOs.
Perhaps by tagging, labeling, tweeting, and responding, I can leech away a small amount of celebrity to promote a yoga lifestyle that promotes reflection, reason, and studying the things you practice and teach. Or at the very least Googling them.
I want to promote yoga as a practice that is more complicated than the one presented by, and I don’t mean to call anyone out but, Mr. or Ms. H. L. Intern, if that is your real name!
Well Adam definitely has that beautiful body! We don’t know if he has ‘moves like jagger,’ but he MUST have those yoga moves down pat, because his body is fantastic!
[. . .]
The best part about yoga is that you don’t need a ton of space to workout. Maybe that’s why so many celebs love yoga — it’s easy to do in hotel rooms and when traveling!
Based on yoga articles like this, no wonder Levine “[doesn’t] like how people bullshit about how yoga is not about vanity.” So, while I admit to also exploiting a name, I do so in the hopes that for each person who pursues an understanding of yoga based on articles like the one “written” for Hollywood Life, there is a person who expands that understanding of yoga based on… well, anything else. At all.
I’ve been meditating on compassion, forgiveness, and lovingkindness a lot lately, so in honor of metta, or maitri depending on your preference, I call off my long-standing [9/23/13] public beef with Chad Dennis, yoga instructor to the stars!