We joke about America’s Next Top Yogi, but we’re starting to believe it!
Want your first class ticket to the yoga-colored spotlight? How about a prime teaching spot on the bill of one of the biggest yoga and music festivals in the country! Recently the team behind the Wanderlust Festival, the ultra hyped yogasm mashup of music+shakti, held a contest to pluck a yoga teacher out of relative obscurity, offering them the chance of a lifetime to teach on stage with other pop yogis at the mega fest this summer. (cue angelic choir of kirtan singers)
The mission, dispatched on the web and via email and facebook, invited all ambitious yogis to film a 1-2 minute video of themselves asking contestants to “show us your poses, touch your toes with your nose” and what not, in order to and win the golden ticket. Watching yoga practitioners piece together their best enterprising efforts encapsulated in a two-minute video to show just how yogatastic (and likeable) they can be, gave us the skin-crawly creepiness we usually reserve for reruns of America’s Got Talent. Hey, it’s all in good fun – we love yoga! But ‘Hey look at me!’ in yoga is something we tend to leave to Bikram. Oh, kidding!
In its third year, Wanderlust attracts yogis and lusters with its A-list lineup – John Friend, Shiva Rea, Rodney Yee and Seane Corn and musical acts like Girl Talk, Andrew Bird and Krishna Das. Essentially, it’s a dream come true for any aspiring yoga star to share the stage with such esteem, clout and prowess, not to mention perfect vertical integration for your marketing plans.
Several of the featured second tier teachers are on the roster of pioneering yoga talent agency YAMA. The PR engine behind a lot of today’s freshest faced and beautifully bod’d yogis, YAMA is also co-founded and backed by Velour Music Group, which happens to be the creative team behind Wanderlust. Talk about manifesting opportunities, divine inter-ventures and clear channeled cash-flow.
All you need is a venue, some savvy corporate sponsors and an audience of shakti hungry yogsters, and darling, you’ll be a star!
As it turns out, the winner of the contest, Katie Brauer, wasn’t exactly from yoga-obscurity, nor does she seem to be having any trouble marketing herself into a successful teaching gig with an avid following, but isn’t that the nature of this game anyway. Winners and runners-up were voted as such by the crowd, with “like”s on facebook, so the contest, like many crowd-sourced voting schemes and reality shows go, was decided by the popular vote. (well, as far as we know).
While Wanderlust wouldn’t comment on how the winner was chosen (the initial rules described a panel of “yogic elders” would make the final call. Who they are, we can’t find out.), it was clear why Katie, an established teacher and studio owner in CA, with an impressive resume boasting ambassadorship for Lululemon, Toe Sox, Ritual Cleanse, and Nika Water may have beat out her opponents. Not only is already she well-immersed in the yoga biz, Katie has the groundswell of devotees willing to elevate her to superstar status, that of which such corporate connections and grand yoga events would clamor to capitalize.
Frankly, we’re thrilled for Katie and all the other entrants who took the time and put themselves out there for the judges: you and me (and the yogic elders?). Because,yes, we agree, the prize is so very exciting! And to many, an honor bringing yoga “to the people” as ambassadors of a practice we all hold dear. Still we can’t help notice how this contest continues to paint the picture of what and who yoga is, who we are as a yoga culture. Are we destined to be known as hot, young and sveltely core-conscious eka pada koundinyasaners? Do we have to do yoga in the middle of 2-way traffic, as one contestant did, to show our devout commitment and focus in the practice?
Even our trusty elder Yoga Journal is running a talent contest, to give one special yogi a chance for glossy/brushed stardom. Though the ultimate decision will be handed to the editing team, the public will have that brief, sweet chance to vote for the finalists, which, oddly, has been presented in star-rating form.
Cheers to all the bodaciously bold yogis standing before the judges table of critique and analysis. As yoga booms and bursts, we just hope that in voting for our representative for the front of the largest yoga magazine on the planet, we give as much attention to the middle aged dude or dudette as we do to the hot young thing in stretchy pants with a tight booty and a recently whitened smile.
(photo: supermodel Miranda Kerr)