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Selling Out: Yoga Talent Agency Seeks A-list Yoga Teachers Seeking Fame

in Business of Yoga, Celebriyogis, MUST READS, Recession Yoga, YD News, Yoga Pop

spotlight_shootingstarOh we may like to gossip about our Hollywood Celebriyogis, but come hither team YD, lend your ear as we impart to you the ushering in of a new era. Indeed, a new breed of yoga superstars is afoot; welcome to Yog-Idol where not all teachers have the right amount of razzle dazzle. Well not enough to be hired by the Yoga Artist Management Agency (YAMA), that is.

OK, rewind<< Remember when we spied a little note at the bottom of the Gap press release last week, something about a Yoga Agency? And then wondered what in tarnation that could be, imploring y’all to call Ava and find out? Well thanks to the awesome sleuth work from the folks at elephantbeans, they have answered our call and we now have some clarity. Which, really, is all we ever we ever ask for in life, isn’t it. Clarity.

The intrepid beaners uncovered the following:

Says founder Ava Taylor, the Yoga Artist Management Agency is “a joint venture with Velour Music Group – producers of the groundbreaking Wanderlust Festival.  YAMA is the premier yoga talent agency in the world exclusively representing a diverse portfolio of distinguished instructors.”

All right, so it’s a PR company promoting yoga ‘personalities’ (our words) deemed superstars (or “distinguished instructors”, sorry). Part of us is ick! Part of us says go yogis, flaunt it if you got it. Recognition sure is nice, right? (Also, yes it is that Wanderlust Fest, the one we were lusting after and were lucky enough to nab tickets to give away to readers. Go figure!)

Of course we can’t entirely blame the enterprising yoga teachers. We may not like it, but who can knock the rock bands when they’re trying to make it big and the machine (managers, agents, labels) buys em out with a signing contract and tosses em a few bucks? Generally, some of you may have noticed a yoga teacher’s career is not a particularly lucrative one – if you’re the type to count money as a necessity in today’s world. Surely if instructors had a nickel for every student they positively influenced in their daily lives they’d be millionaires. And as of today we only know of a select few (ie. Bikram, Ramdev) who can claim that title.

Like any other athlete or Hollywood actor, big time yoga instructors’ lives are starting to require such tiresome encumbrances as frequent travel, paid endorsements, public appearances, assistants, agents, managers, drivers etc. That’s the game we’ve built for celebs these days. Yoga in North America is turning out to be no different. This may very well be yoga’s 15 minutes in pop culture stardom, should we not just let the ambitious yogs have their limelight and sell out?

–YAMA doesn’t have a roster, or website just yet, but we’re aware the fierceness of Sadie Nardini is amongst the likes of Yoga A-listers.

We just wonder if these new agencies are willing to insure the Yog-Idol butts, like Jennifer Lopez and her billion dollar booty.

PS. we talk a lot about yoga going mainstream, and in case you were on the fence, this was your shot of pop verifying serum, in the form of bright lights and dollar signs.

[Thanks again to elephantbeans]

50 comments… add one
  • that would be the amazing work of the freebean!

    😉

  • Yoga teachers don’t seek fame. This sickens me a bit. My opinion.
    🙂

  • While I’m all for yoga teachers making a buck, and god knows I’ve written plenty about how much yoga teachers DON’T make, somehow this just all ties into the dumbing down of American yoga for me. after all, yoga IS all about THE LOOK, isn’t it?

    hmmmm….let me see….what will the face look like of this new agency? Young, white, and skinny with perky boobies in the latest chakra bra, I’m sure, just like the model (i.e., Hollywood, advertising, etc.) they are modeling. I have a feeling we won’t see very many seasoned, wrinkled faces peering out from their playbook.

  • This is very sad. Yoga is being dumbed down in the America as someone mentioned. A lot of yoga teachers go the “celebrity” route because they just want to pay their bills and I understand it.

  • Hi all,

    Sadie here, one of the instructors now represented by YAMA. In reading the posts cropping up around this story [and rightfully so!] I am struck by the commenters’ sense that what we’re doing is “selling out”, “dumbing yoga down” or somehow being non-yogic. I hope I can shed some light on my motivations, at least.

    My main desire is, and always has been [ask my momma!] to share yoga and its healing, empowering message with as many people as I can. I would like to pay my bills, yes, but I don’t give a damn about recognition, or becoming rich. Anyone who knows me knows that.

    What I DO care about, deeply, is being free to do what I was born to do: teach yoga, whether it’s my 100+ free videos on YOUTube, or traveling to teach large and small groups around the world. BOTTOM LINE: I can’t do that if I am working a 9-5 job to pay the bills. I have always offered more than I receive monetarily, and I probably always will.

    Yoga HAS to pay my bills because it’s what I trained to do for 15 years, and it’s where my creative and spiritual talent is.

    For me, money is an energy exchange for something offered that others value. There is absolutely no reason that teachers who are in-demand, not because of their boobs or fashion, as speculated, but because they can really reach people on a large scale, and inspire them to shift towards their fitness and happiness–something that is needed in today’s world, and is a precious gift.

    In fact, some of the highest-paid teachers are the most knowledgeable, and no longer the 20-something yoga model. That is not what I, or the instructors at YAMA, or any instructor who I take seriously, are all about. We’re talking being paid to teach 24-hours in a 3-day period, like my upcoming Vancouver Yoga Conference workshops–not as glamorous as perhaps you think. But we work hard, study hard and teach from our hearts and souls. To be compensated for the work we do is not often our strong suits, so we leave the outreach and negotiations to YAMA so that we can focus on making our teaching the best it possibly can wherever we go.

    And because of the compensation…we are actually able to be there.

    This is our dharma…and our careers. To think negatively of this is to widely miss the point.

    Hope this clarifies some of it for you!
    Namaste,
    Sadie

    • Sadie,

      I do concur! Thank you for your generosity and intelligence of answering with such grace!! I support your like-minded thought. as a professional in the health and wellness field it is our service like any other service that is being offered to help others.

      Like any other health professional out there to have presentation/marketing is extremely important. Most importantly to lessen the responsibility on the practitioner and allow them to give their full dedication to their craft. KEEPING OUR DRISHTI!!! (focus).

      So keep standing strong like an oak and flexible like a willow!!!

      Satnam!

      Stephanie

    • Madelain Burgoyne

      With you here sadie.

      I suck at doing the rate race thing… It’s a world I just don’t fit into… I was born to share my life’s experience as an artist and yoga teacher that I’ve just been certified to be. I am struggling to earn doing yoga, because it is a tough business out there.
      But I’d rather fight to earn money doing something I’m good at & love than selling my soul out to earning money (and not much) pushing an admin job. How is that my Dharma?
      I will never make it in that world because it’s not who I am. Yoga and reaching other people is how I can make a living… Generously that is.

      I wish there was an agent for me here in SA so that it would leave open more time for me to really dive deeper into my yoga studies. Does Ava work internationally LOL?

    • Sadie, good for you! I’ve been a long time admirer of yours and this solidifies it! You’re awesome. Good for you for speaking out. <3 Ellie

  • in that case, where do I sign up? because it’s about time I start getting paid a living wage for my creative and spiritual talents.

  • It’s great to have Sadie weigh in on this, because this is a complicated and convoluted issue. I get the fact that yoga instructors who have dedicated years to practicing, studying and teaching deserve financial compensation for their work. And I also get the fact that yoga in North America is a business and not some holy, spiritual thing for all practitioners.

    But to have some kind of agency who seeks out and (I’m assuming) creates the next big yoga “stars,” I have a hard time believing that it’s a good thing. Perhaps it allows a certain calibre of yoga instructor to focus on spreading the positive benefits of yoga without having to deal with the pesky details of booking conference appearances, plane tickets and photo shoots for Nike ~ but ultimately, something is being lost, some spark of integrity.

    Yoga instructors are *not* entertainers or people who should need to be managed. And “talent” as a yoga instructor is not about about being able to fill a conference room, or being photogenic and hyper-flexible. As I read this, I have to wonder, why is it necessary to reach people on a large scale? Why can’t teachers be content with being in their communities, being local, having sincere connections with their students in their immediate area? And why can’t practitioners be content with what’s happening in their community (and themselves), without seeking experiences externally, from people with “authority” and “knowledge”?

    Anyway, it’s interesting, and I’m curious to see how it all develops. Lots of good discussion and questioning being generated here!

  • roseanne’s third paragraph says it all for me.

    The reality is that yoga teachers’ pay totally sucks. that’s why I stopped teaching in yoga studios. I’ve been teaching 8 years and know I have spent close to $20,000 in my trainings, both here and in India, and no way am I going to teach in a studio and make $8 or $10 if 2 people show up. not anymore. I don’t know anyone in any line of work who’s going to work 90 minutes to earn $8.

    obviously I’m not a yoga teacher for the dough (I gave up working for lawyers and making the $$$), yoga is much more to me than that, BUT I still pay the same amount for a gallon of gas as the next guy. AND I’m supposed to know how not to injure you, I’m supposed to know all about your anatomy, etc. etc. etc., and I’m not supposed to be compensated for that JUST BECAUSE I teach yoga? I can tell you stories about how people have told me, well, you teach yoga, you don’t need the money, you should do it for free. uh, yeah, I do, it’s called seva at a domestic violence shelter.

    in my area outside of Chicago, people will pay someone more to clean their toilets than they are willing to pay for a private yoga class.

    It seems like it’s only in America where there is such a schizophrenic thing about money. This is also a culture that is obsessed with celebrities whether it’s a movie star or a yoga celeb like John Friend, Rodney Yee, or whoever. Whoever is going to get their face out there the most is the “winner” and is looked upon as being more “knowledgeable.” uh, no, that just means they have a better PR machine. We as a culture are always running after the next big thing.

    The only thing I see this yoga “talent agency” creating are the haves and the have nots among yoga teachers. Who does the “little guy” yoga teacher have representing them?

    As I told my students the other day, sometimes our teachers are right in front of us, we only have to open our eyes, instead of being blinded by the yoga bling.

  • This is such a good conversation!

    I can only add:

    If students ask, or someone like GAP wants to make a space one Saturday for 45 yogis to come to the mat and practice together with me, I’ll say yes. No restrictions on my teaching, no compromise. I didn’t have to sell anything, I didn’t have to do anything but teach. That’s what YAMA helped me to ensure.

    So, it’s a tricky question, but for me, I need help, and I will go where the demand is. Why quiet oneself down and locate only in one place, when the more people I connect with, the more I help, support and inspire, as they do me? It’s not about the renown–it’s about the students, always, and forever, at least for me.

    Why do we care if yogis make money or are in demand, or have managers to help them do what they do best? When it gets to be all about the bling, or the superficial bullsh*it, and not about the yoga– that’s when.

    Yet we should remember–yoga management doesn’t do that to people–they are that way already…and as for me, I’ve got students to worry about! Now I’m even more free to do that, full integrity intact.

    xoSadie

  • I just have to say I love Sadie’s videos and I hate that we are going back and forth about this. I did see this as negative at first but she gave a perspective I did not think about. Sadie and every yoga teacher on the planet deserves to be able to pay their bills. Just because a teacher is on the front of Yoga Journal or has videos doesn’t mean they are shallow and only about the money.

    I do understand that American’s are caught up on image and that they are looking for the next best thing but that is not the teacher’s problem.

    Yes nobody will want to represent the little yoga teacher but I wont’ get in the way of Sadie and others who have managed to reach a wider audience.

    I recently went back to working 9-5 because yoga wasn’t paying the bills and I know that if an agent would have called me, I would have jumped on it too.

  • admin

    Thanks to everyone for commenting so far…definitely not a clear cut issue!

    Another element of the conversation that hasn’t quite been addressed yet has to do with the middle man, and not just the teachers catching the profits. As in the music industry example, the label, managers, etc all get a cut of the creative arts and the bands hardly make a percentage after all is paid out. So a big question is who’s making the money and should a PR company (or non-yoga corporation like Gap) be profiting off of yoga? Well if you count yoga in with other pro sports then it’s basically a non-issue–that game’s been going on for decades: agents, endorsements, wheaties boxes. (then again there are already lululemon ambassadors and we’ve seen the power of the YogaWorks PR team)

    As Linda and Roseanne touched on, it does have to do with how we view celebs these days, hence the Yog-Idol title. Whether it ‘dumbs down’ yoga or A-listers (the haves) are ‘selling out’ it sure is an interesting comment on how yoga in America (or the business of) is worth the keen eye and money of non-yoga teacher investors. There are other parties profiting from this. Is it wrong? or is it just capitalism and free enterprise? and a side effect of yoga boomtown.

  • I believe they are many people and company cashing in on yoga. But if someone has the desire to become famous or make heaps of money then let them. If they believe that will make them happy then go for it.

  • Hello Yoga Artist Management Agency (if you are reading this):

    I want to be a yoga star and wondered if you could help me become one. But not a small one like Sadie but a big, big, big one like Bikram and Rodney Yee. Do you think you could help me accomplish this?
    You see, I have been languishing in the backwaters of the internet and even though everyone seems to know about Guru YogaDawg, I am nonetheless distraught to see that I have not been pulling in the bucks that I feel I so deserve. You know those crummy $100 checks from Google ads every few months is just not cutting it.

    As you can see from my bio http://www.yogadawg.com/bio.htm , I have been around the yoga block more than a few times. Even though I have spend many years training as a yogi (including those 30 years spent in that cave in India pursuing the transcendental truth within myself) , I have been unable to spread my method of yoga, SuperDuperBlissInducer Super Bok Choy Yoga tm, due to the crowded celebrity yoga scene here in America.

    So I am hoping you can help make me a yoga star because I am getting tired of this blogging stuff and selling those damn YogaDawg t-shirts.

    Yours in yoga,
    Sri Sri Swami Baba Guru YogaDawg

  • I’ll see if they want to take an old broad like me on and I’ll report back, how’s that? 😉

  • That is funny YogaDawg. I am sure they will need a picture of your 6 pack abs and long lean limbs. Wear those little yoga shorts that barely cover your butt if you are a girl or go shirtless if a man. Make sure you have your leg behind your head or something in the pic as well. Hair needs to be on point too. Must look like you never sweat.

  • LOL, thanks for the comic intervention, YogaDawg!

    I love these kinds of discussions, and I love that YogaDork provides a space to talk about the pros/cons of the culture and business around yoga. Yay!

  • admin

    <3 yogadawg
    will you marry me? YD in harmony

  • hey, I saw him first…..

  • Les

    Ok – so the money is not mine or yours or anyone else’s anyway. It just passes through our hands to give to other people so they can play in their lives to do some of the things that bring them boatloads of joy or in some cases to provide a simple meal or hey how about some healthcare. But with the idea of limiting us in our lives without knowing who we are, where we come from or thinking that our lifestyle should differ in some way from the rest of the world is just a change that some folks will need to get used to more and more. I’ve worked really really hard in this life, mostly to give and provide for others and I’d love to make more so I can continue giving to others. I pour all of profits into traveling to share the yoga and into my videos to share the yoga. I am ridiculously excited to have spent time with YAMA at Wanderlust this weekend and am very excited to work with them to blow the roof (fake wood of course – no trees harmed in the making of this message) off this party……..celebrate life y’all. Namaste. Les (yogawithles.com – advertisment approved by YAMA)

  • AshD

    im thinking that YogaDork and YogaDawg do need some sponsorship here. there are several amazing teachers that are over looked because the are no “Rodney Yee’ or whoever is cool at the moment.

    My Swami has an long list of A-lister studying as well and doesn’t wish to be as high profile as some other teachers.

    I think its about personal preference and where you want to go in your practice. Don’t want to be a superstar don’t. Don’t talk badly about someone else because that is what they want.

    There are plenty of ‘Guru Groupies’ to go around don’t get so jealous

    xoxo
    AshD

  • Lindsey Clennell

    Greetings,

    I thought you might be interested in my 85-minute feature documentary Addiction, Recovery and Yoga. It is a not-for-profit, free information, public service venture and can be viewed for free on http://www.adyo.org YouTube and Google Video.

    I am a senior Iyengar Yoga teacher at the New York Iyengar Institute, yoga therapist, and a filmmaker. The film is about the value of yoga in recovery programs and contains high quality and innovative content. To help spread this valuable information, I thought you might like to add a link for the film to your site or newsletter. I would be happy to add yours to mine: http://www.adyo.org

    I think the film is useful for yoga teachers and care providers, who might need this information; recovery organizations, and people with addiction problems. I think the film will help people.

    I hope you get a chance to view it. Start with some segments on YouTube if you don’t have too much time. But the whole film delivers some in-depth themes when watched full length.

    Thanks

    Lindsey Clennell

    +1-347-563-6850
    lclennell@gmail.com

  • Dear Yoga Dork,

    I’m the founder of YAMA & I wanted to thank you for starting this dialogue — it is a great conversation for our growing community to have! At YAMA, we have one major goal, which is to spread the practice of yoga by helping teachers do what they do best: teach. Like other artists, athletes and scholars, we believe that yoga teachers should have freedom to focus on their craft, to practice, study and innovate.

    We accomplish our goal by easing the burden of the business side of being a yoga teacher, from finding teaching opportunities to getting the word out about our clients’ workshops and classes. Ultimately, we believe this is good for our teachers, good for their students, and good for the continued growth of the yoga community.

    Stay tuned for an official list of YAMA clients and our public launch!

    Look forward to meeting you.

    See you on the mat,

    Ava

  • amy

    no black people, chunky people, asians, indians, fat people, or people in sweat pants wanted. no carnivores, poor people needed either. (that’s yoga!

  • We have a new ground-swell of business opportunities for teachers who are looking for the best way to market themselves. Email anytime!

  • yada yada yada

  • Interesting multilogue. Lots of strong reactions. I wonder: do people feel it’s “OK” for a yoga teacher to have an administrative assistant to help them deal with the logistics of their work and programs? but then not feel it’s OK to hire an outside group to do similar work?

    Believe me, I’m extremely sensitive to the way America dumbs down life to make it palatable for mainstream consumption. But if a group like YAMA, or whomever, can simply streamline the logistics/admin/marketing (i.e., ‘business’) side of someone who’s work and mission in the world is teaching and sharing the blessings and gifts of yoga (bhakta, seva, whatever), how is that inherently ‘bad’? How is it different from Jane Doe, Yoga Teacher hiring an assistant or two to help her manage her studio and workshop schedule?

    A lot depends on HOW we do what we do. If YAMA, or whoever, is into it to help share the message and the practice and the healing, it’s not clear to me that it necessarily involves losing a ‘spark’ of integrity at all. Striving for success in the world does NOT always mean losing ourselves in the worst the world has to offer.

    We all have different roles, different inspirations, different karma. For some, staying local and teaching to their neighborhood is appropriate and good. For some, writing books or being on TV or flying on planes to offer their gift is appropriate and good. It’s more about each of us finding and following our own Dharma than it is judging others on a one-vibe-must-fit-all or it’s not ‘sacred’ level.

    But hey, probably a good and useful conversation anyway. Huzzah!

    Adam

  • Richard

    At least this isn’t like the cutthroat business practice of a certain hot-yoga franchise I won’t mention here, where it invalidates other forms of yoga and wants it’s style of yoga to be an olympic sport.

  • Thanks YogaDork for facilitating such an interesting conversation!

    For many years as a yoga teacher I struggled with my relationship to money – I need it to live and worked hard to make it but I had an inherent feeling that having money (especially a lot of money) was somehow bad or “unyogic”. Since yoga traditions teach non-greed, non-hoarding and the virtues of living a simple lifestlye, having money seemed off the yogic path. But, in the last few years I’m seeing that having money isn’t in itself greedy and selfish, it’s what you do with your money. The bottom line is we all need money for food, clothing, shelter and quality of life. If you have excess dollars there are millions of ways to share and give back to your community or the world at large, that is an opportunity and responsibility we as working yogis need to embrace in order to find balance.

    I recently launched my own yoga business that like YAMA is intended to facilitate the exploration of yoga while taking some of the business aspects off of the plate of the teachers. (We’re a yoga retreat company not a talent company if you’re interested). And as we evolve I am constantly reminding myself that I am following my own dharma while helping to facilitate yoga and travel – two of my passions in life that I know only broaden the perspective of all who participate. Although we want to have a positive balance sheet, my conscience is clear because my intentions are pure and my business is dedicated to being fair and enriching for everyone involved – clients, teachers, contractors and especially the communities we visit.

    I hope that giving back to the community at large is part of YAMA’s mission as well, and judging from Wanderlust and the teachers that are involved, it will be.

  • Hey team YD;

    I just talked with Ava, and here’s the rundown:
    http://joyyoga.blogspot.com/2009/10/yoga-artist-management-agency-props-to.html

    Get the real scoop.

  • Why do people automatically assume that there’s been a sell out if your fave yoga instructor is now a Yoga A-lister. They were only your fave instructor because of their ability to share their yoga insight with you & many more. Having practiced with a variety of teachers, the really great ones who can truly inspire a great practice, are few and far between and deserved to be managed by the professionals so that they can get on and do what they do best and inspire others to see & feel what they do.
    Any professional service that helps spread the benefits of yoga is a necessity and driven by market forces and should not automatically be written off as a sell out…
    I’m off to breathe & leave this discussion into my Plank mat…

  • i guess YAMA should include those of us who write (ocassionally) about our challenges with our personal yoga practices, and those who write continually about their practices, showing their passion for yoga.

  • Shakti

    Amy,
    you forgot about mis-matched tie died yoga outfits, unpedicured toenails, unmineralized water or non designer mats. if you can not fill an auditorium and need to use a head set while looking super hot in your mala beads and tats….you need not apply….

  • Lindsey, you must be related to Bobby?
    Ok, this whole thing is freaking me out. I got on here to comment on the fact that Sadie Nardini whom I am just now learning of (kind of slow , huh?) well, they must be some kind of AAA type yoga personality, strong and pushing their way up to the top, and then here she is taking part in this conversation and I have to rethink it all.I am a certified Iyengar instructor and I teacho part time out of a studio called Corebody. When some of my fellow teachers heard this, they agreed they wouldn’t EVER teach out of a studio that has a name like that, as CORE is taking away from yoga and buying into all the tight but,tight ab hype. So, to develop a whole system of yoga called Core, I have to digest that one for awhile.

  • Harveer Panesar

    Hi, my name is Harveer Panesar and I am an amazing rapper and actor as told by my friends. I am 14 years old and my friends say that I sound kind of like Kayne West when I am rapping. I have been in many school plays and love to act. My family compares me to a young Will Smith as he was a great rapper and actor. My friends nickname me Harvey P. because they think it is a good name for a rapper. I really believe that I have the young talent that you are looking for. Please talk back to me panesar_harvs@hotmail.com. I am really looking forward to talking to you. Please help me show my talent to the world.

  • Todd

    The real problem is that actual yoga is not being taught and this is of no fault to the teachers in most cases as they really know no better. They are simply sincerely confused. That , or they know better but are willing to compromise,,,Bigtime. I was once told never to compromise myself, my students or actual yoga, but some people have zero problem with it. They brand a centuries old practice with their own name even, like they made it up.. Yoga is a meditation practice and the only thing that can be totally left out in the practice is Asana. You simply cannot profit by teaching how to sit still. There are no brands or styles of yoga either, all that stuff is just made up whoohaaa..We in the west love everything colourful and stimulating and true yoga is simply boring.. All the handstands and gymnastics look great but have very little to do with actual yoga..Calling a bunch of contortions spiritual means that the whole cirque de soleil should be enlightened. If yoga was working for spiritual attainment millions would be free of their mental slavery. I see more self righteousness than anything else. It has actually turned into a circus of people doing dangerous “tricks” and people thinking this is what yoga is.. We are hurting people and the classes look like a dog training workshop.. Stand up, roll over, play dead, it’s mechanical and useless, and creates more Body obsession and narcissism in a society that direly needs to stop being so “I” driven.. I understand making a living as we all need to eat, but there is a very fine line here.. What are we willing to do to get what WE want? Things like wanderlust are money making machines taking loads of your hard earned dollars and companies like LULULEMON do not give a shit about you, they care about emptying your bank account. As they say in western yoga “look at the intention”. Yoga in the west is pretty much dead animal as it has in most cases become nothing more than Asana fitness Instructors teaching the next Jane Fonda workout, it’s like eating a hamburger without the meat…Tasteless.

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