≡ Menu

Behold, This is Your Yoga Journal October ‘The Body Issue’ Cover Featuring Kathryn Budig…

in YD News

…though I’m really starting to wonder if we should even care anymore.


Is this thing on? After last month’s kerfluffle over Yoga Journal’s body image problem, who knew they were already priming for their very own “The Body Issue”? While we only have the cover image so far, previewed via YJ’s and cover model Kathryn Budig’s social media outlets, I have to wonder what, exactly makes this “the body issue” and every other issue not about the body? Ohh. There is that one little part about self-acceptance, and yoga’s “hidden health danger”? Let me guess, does it have anything to do with depression and anxiety because we can’t live up to the standards of what type of food we should be eating, clothing we should be wearing and yoga lives we’re supposed to be living based on what our media tells us?

Dramatics aside…

We’re given only a glimpse of what this new issue could possibly entail, but what can we glean from the cover of this glossy:

— There’s nothing too very new looking on the cover besides the words “self-acceptance” and Kathryn Budig’s less than super slender body. Spirit fingers for belly bulges.

— We’re still treated to listicles on getting flexible and articles that some may find interesting, but to many seem recycled, like in the stale, broken record kind of way, not in the commendable, save the planet kind of way.

— The overall look of the magazine feels way too women’s fitness mag, which we already have plenty (too many?) of. This is part of the “refreshing” redesign we were promised. The only thing that seems very refreshing is the fact that the word “yoga” has grown so large there’s little room left for anything else. Something tells me they should just write it even larger so it takes up the entire front cover.

— It seems like another half-assed attempt at something the community has been asking for, nay, demanding for a while now: the acknowledgement and embracing of diversity in yoga.

— Body acceptance is trendy and good enough for a cover story.

— I’m starting to care less and less about this as I’m typing it. And it’s not because I don’t care, it’s because this discussion over YJ feels stale, too.

(Note: Due to the slow process of print media, it would be tough for this issue to be an actual response to the discussion over last month’s “Love Your Curves” body image article fail. Still, we do know they’re making attempts to join the conversation with the YJ conference Practice of Leadership panels that began way back in April, even if they were Lululemon’s idea and YJ just came along for the ride.)

(Note #2: It shall be noted (see note #2) that magazines should be judged by their covers. That’s the reason they put so much time and effort into creating/designing/photoshopping them. They want us to react to them, ideally in a positive, I want to pick that up and read it way.)

So far the cover has been well-received by diehard YJ fans and thousands of Kathryn Budig followers who have been singing her praises as the new face of body love, one even commenting “bye, Tara!” which one could only assume means Tara Stiles. By the way, do people really believe this is going to last? YJ hasn’t all of a sudden become this beacon of body image positivity. Believe me.

But let’s see what the cover model has to say. Kathryn Budig posted this along with the cover image on her public facebook page.

One of my favorite activities is jumping. I jokingly started busting out airborne yoga poses and behold—-it became a cover shot. Honored to be the feature for Yoga Journal new re-brand issue focusing on loving our bodies, an issue near and dear to me. I say less judgements on how we look and more jumping Love and acceptance for all. Hope you enjoy the feature! #aimtrue — withUnder Armour Women.

Yes, more jumping in general is what I say. Unfortunately, YJ seems to be jumping over anything that’s real and full of substance. Are they doing it because it’s trendy or because they genuinely wish to make a difference? It’s not like they have to become the magazine of body image, but they ought to be a magazine with consciousness. After all, they are still a yoga magazine, aren’t they?

I’m thinking brace yourselves for when the issue actually comes out. But what do I know? What do you think?

If you want to support positive body image, inclusivity and diversity in yoga, check out the Yoga and Body Image Coalition.

Read another critique of the new October cover by Roseanne over at It’s All Yoga, Baby.


hollypenny is a writer, yoga practitioner and dimply-butted gal living in New York City. Her interests include taking long walks, meeting smart people and trying to make sense of the world. Yoga Journal magazines mysteriously started showing up in her mailbox for free. She thinks it has something to do with the liability insurance she signed up for, or the universe reminding her to find 7 ways to recycle magazines.



23 comments… add one
  • Rachael

    What shocked me about this cover was the fact the B.K.S. Iyengar wasn’t on it. I haven’t looked inside, but is there any tribute to him at all? If I remember correctly, I had the same WTF moment when Pattabhi Jois died in 2009 and when Georg Feuerstein died in 2012. I’m sure there are many others that deserve recognition on the cover of YJ for their contribution to yoga, but they don’t look as pretty in spandex. At least when Patthabi Jois died, the magazine had a few pages dedicated to him. I assumed that Yoga Journal would play it smart this time around and dedicate an issue to Iyengar…I was wrong. Subscription canceled.

    • Judy

      The issue probably hit the printers before Guruji passed.

  • Another nail in the Yoga Journal coffin. Iyengar should have been the obvious cover story. It is clear that the YJ editorial staff is clueless about the yoga community and is just reactionary to criticism about putting Hilaria on the cover. It is now clear that YJ isn’t serious about yoga and just panders to social trends. There are plenty of alternative sources like blogs and other media available for those who are serious about practicing yoga.

  • Certainly doesn’t change my mind about canceling my subscription. I keep going back to their business model with their new partner Lululemon. I don’t want to support that model, their products or their “new focus” on the female body. Haven’t seen the issue yet, but I am not holding out hope for being dazzled. Will stick with Yoga International.

  • Denise Fortin

    I love Kathryn Budig, but resent the all star Hollywood vibe American Yoga has taken on. For one, Yoga is not just another fixation or trend..but yet it is constantly treated as such. I guess I view Yoga as my spiritual expression, and as such it is sacred to me, so perhaps I am biased a bit in this regard 😉

    I feel self love is just a natural byproduct of doing Yoga, though I still struggle with body issues, I don’t think reading a magazine will fix that one lol, it will take years to get rid of that negative programming to be sure. I guess the question we should be asking ourselves is: How serious are you taking a magazine that is funded by a company who has told women that their pants are not really designed for plus sized ladies? It would seem that they are the very people we ought to avoid.

    One final note, Kathryn is another corporately funded Yoga beauty, toe sox and Under armour for women her hashtag says as much lol, to me it’s yet another form of selling out (though I do understand how easy it is to do so, as we are living in a Capitalist society, and so we need money to live, but where do we draw the line??).

    Sooo many issues to disect..yet part of me just wants to say: “forget about it and enjoy your practice!” Who cares about what they are doing? As long as you are happy, that is what counts, if you really want to dig deep into your Yoga, read B.K.S Iyengar’s light on life! You won’t find any odd nonsense about sponsorship and branding..just the truth, Yoga is Light, Yoga is Life!

    Namaste <3

    • Judy

      Yes, I’m as torn as you! I’m wondering if the issue had gone to press by the time Guruji died. As for body issues, it would be so easy to say – Just practice! – but it can be tough. I usually feel fine but, just today, I got an invite to an upcoming yoga event. I had a conflict on the date, but still flipped through the pictures of the last event. My first reaction was that they’d never let me through the door. Every single woman there was svelte, wearing skin-tight/revealing yoga wear. If I didn’t know better, I’d have thought a PR firm had hired models for the shot. I hate to say it, but I would not have felt comfortable.

    • Liz

      It’s refreshing to hear someone else thinks K.B. is a sell out. And only recently have I become disapointed in her. She is a huge fashionista, and has great taste in clothing, but then posted a Levi’s plug on her instagram page. Levi’s? Really?

  • Guruji passed away about two weeks ago. I think they had plenty of time. They sure blasted it on the social media feeds. Even if Iyengar’s photo isn’t on the cover, there is not even a mention his passing in the fine print. Ironically, there is a story called “why failing is the best thing that could ever happen to you.” Maybe YJ will rethink that one too.

  • WOW! You guys are already judging and hating and the book hasn’t even hit the stands. I thought that judging and hating were things that yoga practitioners try not to do.

    • Just because you feel negatively about something or you have an opinion that is seemingly negative, does not mean you are judging. Sometimes the truth is ugly.

  • Yoga_Dude

    A thinspirational pretty white woman on the cover. Meet the new boss….same as the old boss.


    For those complaining as to why B.K.S. Iyengar isn’t on the cover. Magazines such as YJ aren’t structured like Time, Newsweek or the tabloids. They can’t turn their publishing processes on a dime.

    • Okay, how come Pattabhi Jois was never on the cover? They have had oh 5 years to turn out a publication. Also, after Pattabhi Jois died, the very next issue had a a short one page write up about him. So I don’t believe that they can’t turn around a magazine if they need too.

      • Yoga_Dude

        “Okay, how come Pattabhi Jois was never on the cover? They have had oh 5 years to turn out a publication.”


        Simple, YJ isn’t about yoga, it is about the commerce associated with yoga.

      • Sam Louise

        You are mistaken Shanna. The short 1 pg write up demonstrates how they did their best to include something at the last minute. Publishing deadlines for monthly/semi-monthly/quarterly magazines are several months in advance. They aren’t newspapers. They aren’t weekly news-magazines. They would have had to make some last second changes to include at least a 1 pg acknowledgement.

  • VQ2

    I first realize that most of these (about Yoga Journal) are first world problems.

    And that’s what makes it all the more depressing.
    Practice or don’t practice.
    Your own practice or that which is spoon fed you by another.
    Above all, release what does not serve you.

  • Big Om Shanti

    I really don’t see the big deal over the Yoga Journal issue. They are a business and are trying to make money. If they put a heavy set person or old person on the cover the truth is that most people wouldn’t buy it. How about this. Stop complaining about YJ and just don’t subscribe. If enough people do that YJ will cease to exist. Likewise, if the community wants an overly dogmatic YJ where every author must be a 20 year+ practicing yogi with a Sanskrit name, it will happen.

    Most students I know of that go to the popular yoga studios in LA have no clue who Iyengar was or someone like Krishnamacharya. I am not surprised that Iyengar is not on the cover. The majority of folks that go to yoga these days are interested in the physical benefits not the spiritual. A lot of self described true yogis will look at these folks as being fakes and not real. Ironically, B.K.S. Iyengar himself stated in an interview that he primarily started practicing yoga in order to improve his health. He said that he couldn’t even comprehend the other limbs of yoga.

    I think the body image movement really needs to get rooted in reality and stop trying to find solutions outside and trying to force people and businesses to change the way they conduct their business in order to remedy insecurities. Instead, they should look inward and deal with their insecurities. As a guy, I really don’t get bent out of shape when I don’t have 6 pack abs like the picture of the dude on the box of underwear.

    So lets say one day Yoga Journal starts putting in people with larger bodies. Great. What will the folks with body image problems do when they go to a yoga class filled with fit people? Try to change the class? Complain to management that they aren’t doing enough to bring in heavy people?

    I was a fat guy myself once and I practiced yoga at a studio that had a large number of fit young women. Sure they never talked to me and gave me some strange looks, I still continued because I really did give a sh** what they thought. Their thoughts are not mine. As far as I am concerned they were nothing more than distractions. The practice of Yoga helped me tune out these distractions.

    As far as Miss Budig is concerned, I have taken her classes before. In my opinion, she is just a normal person who happens to be attractive and fun spirited. Sell out? May be. I am just not sure what she sold out? Yoga? If you think that then a lot of the so called classic gurus have sold out even Iyengar.

    • Dwayne

      Excellent post! It isn’t easy to make money in the magazine business (let’s recall that “Yoga International” folded their mag and went strictly online). Maybe it’s a gender thing, but I can’t comprehend the “body image” issue. If you want to practice, practice; who gives a f**k about the rest…my experience is that in a class context, if one is concentrating and “correctly” focusing the breath and gaze, one doesn’t even notice the other students!

  • Sarah

    Thank you thank you thank you for being articulate, smart, snarky, and saying the damn truth. I have started my own campaign in little ol’ Denver called #thisiswhatyogalookslike, in response to the traditional yoga selfie. I am thrilled there are vocal people such as ourselves who won’t be quiet, who won’t bow to shame, and who will keep up the fight, while at the same time allowing ourselves to vent about the utter bullshit that is YJ.
    My free copies mysteriously stopped coming in the mail when I renewed my insurance last time. At first I thought, what the heck? Then I realized what a blessing it was! I don’t want it, I don’t need it, and I am much healthier without it.

    • VQ2

      No! Not such a mystery. Denver is their next big territory for invasion. John Friend/Roots Country. Various commercialized yoga big shots in the Mile High City. With the added advantage of rarefied air due to high elevation (so great for that yoga “look”) and the Front Range backdrop. You upset the apple cart, there, Sarah.

  • paul
  • S.

    Thanks for the link Paul. There is quote from Tara Stiles saying she is “protecting” her students from eating disorders. How noble. I’m sure that is hard to do in high heels promoting the W.

    • VQ2

      Wow, for a short time (due to a wasting disease) I, too, would have not been “protected” from certain physical teachings in your studio, were I to attend!

      I’d weighed between 90 – 120 pounds. Just like the size 8 to a size 0 who helped promote Slim, Calm, Sexy yoga. Choose your battles wisely, Tara …!

  • Noelle Gillies

    I did find the article in this issue “Yoga’s Shadow Side” was good. If this yoga/fashion magazine gets people to go deeper into the more traditional teachings of yoga, I’m willing to put up with ads for yoga cookie cutters and other annoying images. I’m all for reading all these critical posts in the meantime.

Leave a Comment