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Meet Your Next Big Yoga Star Ready to ‘Take Over the Whole Yoga World’

in YD News
Jared McCann

Jared McCann winning the Mens Division of the 2012 USA Yoga National Asana Championship. | photo: Andy Jacobsohn/Getty Images North America)

Ready to meet ‘Yoga’s new Messiah’? Aw man, really NY Observer? That’s the headline for the latest article on gurus (sparing us the worn out word ‘guru’ at least.) It’s safe to say we’ll make like Tina Turner and tell you, hell, we’ll sing it – we don’t neeeeed anotherrr heee-roooo...

This profile of Jared McCann, a wayward addict turned yoga asana champion is a not just a feel good story about a do-badder done good with yoga. It’s about a man rising to yoga stardom and taking over the world. It’s an article that serves both as a reminder of our shadows (personal and in yoga culture) and a forewarning of which yoga stars the spotlight will shine on next.

Meet Jared McCann,”handsome, with penetrating green eyes and a boyish grin” Jared McCann. He a young thirty-something U.S. National Yoga Champion (video) for the second consecutive year who’s about to compete again in the international yoga championship this summer. He’s been practicing yoga for eight years having stepped into Bikram LES in NYC  a broken 20-something only to emerge a chiseled asana champion and ambitious yogapreneur with plans to open his own yoga studio to be called, simply, The New York Asana Center, coming soon thanks to a generous investment from a venture capitalist friend.

McCann has lots of friends: Tricia Donegan of Bikram LES, Mary Jarvis, Bikram’s top asana coach and Greg Gumucio owner of Yoga to the People and adversary in one of Bikram’s recent lawsuits. His unorthodox approach and clout in the yoga asana world has him poised for greatness! Or, you know, at least the big stage at Wanderlust.

Here are quotes from the article and McCann himself, as well as friends, to get you more familiar with your next “messiah.”

On his ambitions:

Sitting on a bench in the lobby after the class has ended, almost naked save for mini-shorts and two white towels draped over his impeccably sculpted torso, Mr. McCann elaborates on his plans to liberate yoga from the autocrats and the scolds. “I want to take over the whole yoga world,” he says.

On the incompetence of yoga teachers:

While Mr. McCann advocates for a less cliquish and more democratic yoga environment—one that replaces the dictatorial demands of a healthy lifestyle with the directive of listening to your body—he is also passionate about improving the quality of teaching in a system that he feels has become ragged with incompetence. In this way, Mr. McCann could be the poster child for a more enlightened yoga practice. “I just want the quality to be better,” he says.

On his wayward twenties:

 “I was doing cocaine and I was doing heroin,” says Mr. McCann, “I had no purpose.”

On his privileged upbringing and obsessive perfectionism:

Raised in Texas and Hawaii, one of four sons of wealthy, emotionally aloof parents, he remembers being an unusually disciplined and self-motivated child, who would practice the piano for five hours a day. “I’m obsessive,” he says. “I’m an obsessive perfectionist.” But after finishing a degree in Japanese at the University of Texas, Mr. McCann decided to follow some friends to New York, where his musical ambitions were quickly subsumed by the pleasures of Manhattan nightlife.

Tricia Donegan on immediately sensing his potential:

“I felt the person he was as soon as he walked in, and that person was someone who was working under his potential,” says Ms. Donegan, who would ultimately urge Mr. McCann to compete in his first yoga championship. “I could immediately sense that he was ready to do something he didn’t think he could.”

On his initial lonely path from parting to yoga:

“I got really into meditation at this time too because I basically had nothing else to do,” he explains. “So I stayed home and I meditated and I played the piano and I wrote music. It was a very lonely three years.”

His friend on how Jared IS the party:

“Does he go out to crazy parties anymore? No,” says Julia Zirinsky, another close friend and fellow yoga instructor. “But Jared’s a lot of fun when you’re hanging out with him. He’s kind of like a party himself.”

On his open and and less than stringent approach to living and yoga:

“I want a place where there’s no judgment,” he says. “You can eat or do whatever you want to do as long as that thing feels good to you. As long as that thing vibes with your spirit.”

“I would like to take this spiritual passiveness out of yoga culture,” he says. “Because I am a body. I’m Jared. Maybe that would be nice to go back to God and forget about everything, but actually, no, I like it here. I’m having fun.”

On developing his own style:

“I’m not reinventing the wheel, I’m just creating my own style of yoga based on a lot of lineages that are already out there,” he says. While Mr. McCann currently teaches these hybrid classes to his friends, he plans to offer them widely at the upcoming studio. “We’re going to bring the best together in one place,” says Mr. McCann, who is in the process of shopping around for a location.

On yogaphobes:

“Stop thinking about it and just go!” he says, grinning. “Actually, I wouldn’t say just go. I’d say: come to my studio.”

He wants you to have fun, too, but not just any fun, his brand of fun at his studio which we eagerly await. We wish him well.

All we want is life beyond Thunderdome.



32 comments… add one
  • Marjorie

    I’m having a hard time understanding him as there are some contradictions in what he says.
    Saying you want to rid the Yoga world of “autocrats” and then saying “I want to take over the whole Yoga world” seems contradictory…unless he just wants to boot out the other autocrats so he can be the only autocrat.
    And when he says “I want to take the spiritual passiveness out of Yoga” the rest of his statement makes it sound more like he wants to take spirituality out, not the spiritual passiveness and yet he talks about things vibing with his spirit.

    • Kseniya

      I got the same feeling :/

      Although he is really good ( saw the video), yoga competitions don’t make any sense to me.. it’s one place, I thought, one comes in not expecting to be judged.. and here we have an entire judging competition.. another game of egos..

      • Marjorie

        That was another contradiction. He wants a place of no judgment and yet he participates in competitions.

        I wish him well. Being named the Messiah is a lot to put on a person. I think we should all find the guru/saviour/Messiah within ourselves.

  • Wow! An inspiring story! Good for Jared. He will undoubtedly be a blessing to someone else who may be facing the demons he, himself, faced.

  • Dale

    Yoga is precious.

    Why do stories like Jared’s at first inspire me, then leave a dark empty feeling of “we’re missing the mark?”

  • Kim

    I am disappointed that there are Yoga competitions-sooooo not what it’s all about!

  • Mode of Ignorance

    More delusion parading as truth.
    Hide ya kids. Hide your wife.

    As long as he feels like he’s doing right, all that counts, right?
    I’m sure heroine feels amazing…

    Moral of the story: don’t trust your feelings. But I guess the materialist “yogis” still have a ways to go before figuring that one out.

  • Steve P

    How come all people who make a comeback from an f..d up lifestyle are named Jared?

  • PattyS

    Is anyone else getting tired of the whole “rock-star yogi” thing, or is it just me?

    • Honomann

      I certainly am. How come you never hear about the teacher who is consistently on time for her students. Or the teacher who decides not to teach dangerous poses beyond his student’s level even though the RYT studio next door does. Those are the real yoga stars.

      • PattyS

        Not to mention those who follow the path of karma yoga, teaching cancer patients, prisoners, at-risk youth, the mentally ill, people in nursing homes, etc., for no pay.

        • Honomann

          Oh no, because those teachers can’t “rock the pose” or have a killer playlist featuring the XX, or have their own tent at Wanderlust.

  • Fi

    this is totally abhorrent. The true essence of YOGA as I was taught (based on the teachings of Sri K Pattabhi Jois and Krishnamacharya) is that yoga is not about feeding the ego and is certainly not about competition. This is just pure gymnastics and another egomaniac who claims to be a yoga teacher. sick sick sick

    • to Fi: go for it

      I don’t see a problem with competitions in yoga, and I’ve been doing it since before it became popular. I think he does excellent asana and humans compete in most facets of life, especially those who excel at something. People rising to great height is a good thing, whether it’s in sports, art, science or yoga. And the big time gurus such as Jois etc. are very competitive with each other. Their students are also competitive with each other, especially in ashtanga. And they have big (huge) egos. For you to pretend otherwise is hypocritical. Good job, Jared. You are demonstrating some excellent asanas.

    • Get real, Fi

      Would that be this Pattabhi Jois you’re referring to???


      • Semper Fi

        Picking up women is 99% practice, 1% theory…

      • Ramini

        You know, I’ve just never been able to wrap my head around this. There’s just nothing in Indian culture which makes it ok for a man to touch a woman in this way…under any circumstances. Every time I see this picture I’m amazed. I just read “Guruji: A Portrait of SK Pattabhi Jois” and quite a few of his senior students talk about this practice. I guess he did it a lot…

        • I wonder if he ever touched men this way…

          • Nazaar

            Yep, he did this to men as much as women. It was his way of testing whether the bandhas were on.

  • Ok so he will make some money, lulu lemon will sell some more clothes, but maybe some people will make some personal discoveries and begin to feel better about them selves and the others in their lives. Not a bad trade off. I say let him give it his best shot.

  • Seems like he shares Bikram’s talent for PR anyway.

  • Honomann

    We so badly want to worship something. Can we have a better alternative than a recovering addict?

  • LarsBoga


  • Poison

    Here’s the hook: he’s an obsessive perfectionist looking for attention. He will draw others who are looking for attention. He may do very well with that — basing his success on forming a co-dependent relationship with students seeking his approval.

    And media attention — to the extent that he can get it (and it is a very fickle mistress) — will feed that success.

    Those who are doing yoga, but not out of a desire for attention, will not be interested — beyond perhaps a brief curiosity. Their yoga will continue to be very good for them, and they are much less likely to be crestfallen by a ‘fall from grace’ by their master somewhere down the road as he enjoys the fruits of his success.

    It’s a big world. We make our choices.

    • Well said.

    • Semper Fi

      Here’s the real hook. The guy’s in his 30’s. Give him another 20 years to show us what he’s really got.

      • Poison

        Very true. It will take more than a Bikram trophy or financial backers.

        And does he really have a vision beyond parlaying his present honorific success into future success — a mixture of parroting the John Friend line about ‘bringing the best together’ and the more self-regarding ‘come to MY studio?’

        The question with a yoga teacher is not ‘what has he achieved?’ but rather ‘what does he have to offer to others?’ Inspiration is OK, but it only goes so far, especially as one’s own inspirational achievements fade into the past.

        I do wish him luck in finding something even deeper and more valuable in the path that he has just begun to walk, something more lasting than the shine from a moment in the spotlight.

  • lkjkjnkl

    “I want a place where there’s no judgment,” he says. “You can eat or do whatever you want to do as long as that thing feels good to you. As long as that thing vibes with your spirit.”

    this is embarrassing, i hate this town

  • Dude, put on a shirt and some pants. Really. You think this is Saint Tropez?

  • It is frightening to me that this is the poster child for anything other than egoism. Yoga competitions are intrinsically not possible. I do not eagerly await his brand of fun, or his “taking over the yoga world”. Nothing he says has anything to do with yoga. The only thing I appreciate is that he is aptly naming his studio an asana center as opposed to a yoga studio. He will be the next Bikram, and that means lawsuits, allegations, and a full mockery of himself and yoga. Luckily, the majority of people have had enough with the wanna-be yoga gurus in short shorts and will not so easily fall into yet another bogus rabbit hole. I am happy to see all the comments above, b/c it proves that we are way too smart for this sh$%t!

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