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:
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.
“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.