On September 2nd, 10,000 yogis dressed in their uniform white, marched to Central Park’s Great Lawn, took their designated spots on their regimented yellow mats, sipped their sponsored Fiji water, and saluted the sun for the cameras. It was a glorious day, and man is it one creepy way to advertise your yoga clothing brand. Welcome to the fourth annual Lole White Tour. “Relieve the magic” indeed.
“White: a symbol of purity, elegance and peace” the Lole website implores, their “white kits” providing everything you need to “look and feel amazing all in white” and even a commemorative souvenir t-shirt for $45, or a $90 long sleeved version for the chilly late summer nights.
This is the new yoga according to Lole: bigger, better, whiter.
The event that happened on Wednesday evening is not the first time a massive yoga class has been organized in NYC (or organized and failed). But even the Times Square Solstice event, set in the most commercialized of blocks in the world, somehow doesn’t come off as creepy or cult-y as the hordes of white-wearing yogis ready to share their bliss. It’s not so much that they’re all wearing white, it’s that they’ve all bought into the marketing campaign.
Are we over thinking this? Isn’t a bunch of people practicing yoga together unifying enough without a required color-matching dress code? Why can’t you just show up as is? This is what happens when a yoga clothing company organizes a massive yoga event.
Heavily sponsored massive yoga events with branded yoga mats and swag bags seem to be the new norm. There’s a race to beat Lululemon at their own game and it’s not certain yet who’s winning, but Lole sure are trying hard. (Athleta, sponsor of the Times Square Solstice Yoga event AND yoga in Bryant Park, are feeling the heat.)
We believe we’re supposed to feel some sort of inspiration, like yoga teachers Colleen Saidman Yee and Elena Brower say they felt. Some sort of “magical” (Elena) sensation or getting “goosebumps” (Colleen) from the “epic life changing event” (Colleen, again), but we just don’t. It’s not because of the teachers or the yogi practitioners who attended. We’re sure their intentions were of purity, elegance and peace…and there is something beautiful about a bunch of people joining together in the singularity of a massive yoga practice. We’re all one, etc. But we’re also individuals, and yoga teaches us that, too. Unfortunately, some yoga clothing brands don’t.
Elena Brower, who’s led yoga classes at Burning Man and the Lole White Tours for several years, explains the mass yoga events create a “palpable energy” with “the vibration of intention to heal, the resonance of love, and the sensation of being amongst community.”
She told MindBodyGreen:
We’re part of an intentional gathering of minds and hearts dedicated in practice together, and the symbolism of wearing all white only adds to the sweetness. It’s a way to bring us together in peace and purity, and with potency — to engage with an ancient primordial call to be together, to rise together, to get strong together, to rest together, and to listen together.
We wonder if Lole has a line called “Primordial White” coming out soon.
Colleen Saidman Yee (and Rodney) bring it on par with the Beatles.
The Beatles said it best: “Come together right now.” This is exactly what practicing with thousands of yogis feels like. It is time to come together in peace. This is demonstrated by the wearing of white as a surrender of personal armor, and forming a sea of bodies breathing and moving together, as the brothers and sisters of this planet that we are.
Yes, that is sweet. Did you come together in unity to show the world you stand for…anything? Maybe we’d feel differently if the event had a purpose besides being a sea of bodies (which, if you’ve been keeping up with the news regarding Syrian refugees of war, would have been something to come together about). It’s probably near impossible to put on an event of this magnitude without corporate sponsors, but that doesn’t mean it has to be solely about corporate objectives. Try adding some real sense of purpose. Until then, we have to say it feels as empty and glaringly white as a blank piece of paper.
This year’s Lole White Tour will reach up to 30,000 yoga practicing people in six different cities.
all images via lole.com
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- Lululemon Beer Is Real And It’s Here
- ‘Lululemon Diaries’ – Employee Recounts Cult-ish Corporate Culture And Disturbing Co-Opting Of Yoga
My fav youtube yoga instructor (yoga with Adrienne) always says “Don’t be a yoga robot”. I was at the white tour stop in Toronto and that’s exactly what I felt like – a yoga robot. Mats were lined up perfectly and they kept bringing people up from the back to fill in holes at the front (during the practice which was very distracting). We had to put all of our stuff in the provided yellow bag. The event felt more about getting the perfect photo than having a fabulous yoga experience.
So, I guess it is better than a bunch of people getting altered, drinking and drugging in Central Park. It’s certainly not an event I would support.
They became quite belligerent when I refused to use Wasatch School of Yoga to advertise their event here in Utah. Black Thai fisherman pants, $14. Black underwear and t-shirt from Target, $4 each. $22 for what I wear on the mat, why would I ever suggest my students wear something more expensive than that?
Aparigraha means non-hoarding, it’s doesn’t mean be stupid with your money.
It’s so completely creepy. Thought so from first time I saw the yellow mats. All these teacher’s words conflict with how this event is organized. It’s basically a corporate event. So what they are saying of it’s purpose is a lie. That is to be frank. They are in fact lying. When you get paid or get to be on stage in front of such a big event you can say all the right things that this is supposed to be. Doesn’t make it so. How in the world could anyone go and feel good about conforming to this corporate parade. No no no.
Its great to see the people in Outside India also taking interest in Yoga. I live in a country where YOGA is belong but after India i never this kind of resonance and enthusiasm towards Yoga.
Reminds me of when people started getting creepy at Lululemon. Lululemon was a flat out cult for a few years…
Sivananda has the yellow shirt white leggings thing, Iyengar tried to impose those weird blue nappies for a while. In comparison this is encouraging individuality.
The only difference between this corporation and the corporations that own many yoga studios is scale. That yoga is a business should not be news. In this case, the business provided free yoga for all on a beautiful summer evening in Central Park. Some businesses manufacture clothing, some manufacture controversy.
They provided free yoga but it wasn’t really free. Because it was plastered with corporate sponsorship not as a backdrop but as the event itself. That is different in my view. When they control the entire event even the look of it for photos and promotions it’s an advertisement with yoga as the subject not yoga with advertisement supporting it.
I was at this point event, had fun, but I do have to agree with you. I totally felt like a cooperate shill. The Times Square event on World Yoga Day was a much better event and felt much more genuine.
Mixed feelings here. As a yoga teacher with a mostly asthanga practice I rarely bother to attend such get togethers, but the lure of Ingrid was way to hard to ignore. I’ve used her music in yoga classes for at least three years and all seem to love it. Nice to see close up photographs in this article since unless your paid a lot of money you were to far back to see much of anything. It was a pleasant evening, but had little to do with real yoga – but of course, most of modern yoga, has little to do with real yoga.
Haters gonna hate. It was a beautiful event.
Am I the only one wondering what the heck “relieve the magic” is supposed to mean? Relieve it of what?
As far as I can gather, it’s a howler of a typo and “relive” was intended.
I think it’s incredibly ironic that Lole has latched on to “whiteness” as a symbol of, in their own words, “purity, elegance and peace” in the midst of one of the most tumultuous times of racial tension in America since the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. Seriously. Way to not think critically AT ALL about the message this tour is sending in the midst of the #blacklivesmatter movement and continued underrepresentation and marginalization of non-white yogis in yoga culture. This event, to me, symbolizes everything that is flawed with McMindfulness yoga culture, where yoga is offered up as a form of consumption (buy Lole!) for primarily white middle-class women without any critical thought and in a way that doesn’t hold true to the heart of the practice (in terms of the ethical guidelines inherent in yoga as more than asana). Sure, they came together to practice yoga. But the practice of yoga displayed here is ultimately a celebration of consumer culture in yoga, not yoga itself.
You are the one injecting the term “whiteness” into the conversation. They were simply wearing white clothing. The wearing of white clothing is symbolic across many of the worldwide spiritual and religious traditions. Therefore it is no surprise that a yoga apparel might choose to market a clothing line in white.
THANK YOU!!! You just said everything I thought about while reading this article. Amara you nailed it on the head!
right on Amara
I’m disgusted by the promotion of Fiji bottled water!
Back in the early 2000’s, our Founder, India Supera, tried to organize a Yoga Be-In in Central Park. Like her idea of Heath Cruises in the early 1980’s, it was an idea before its time. Not all her ahead of their time ideas fell through, the Feathered Pipe Ranch and Foundation she started in 1975 are still going 40 years later. Apparently we completely missed the boat on not starting our own line of Yoga clothes, then maybe the Be-In would have worked.
Why did I quit Zumba? Horrendous cargo pants with tags coming off the pockets. Loved the dance but everything was branded. Same thoughts here except better fashion.
It is what it is. A corporate sponsored marketing campaign that planned a massive get toghter all in the name of strategic branding for “Lole”.
Yoga is big, big international business and like it or not these sort of things are part of the landscape of western, modern yoga.
I find the commodification and commercialization of spirituality in our culture to be truly fascinating and rather disturbing.
X, I couln’t agree more with you but remember that for many nowadays, yoga is just about the Asanas. Almost everything spiritual has been evacuated of some form of westernized yoga.
wowww its amazing to see evryone on white dress. Basically its nice to have all in one dress for noble activity, me too do yoga in delhi.
This is awesome!! Love it, don’t like this Fiji bottled water though…
Anouk – http://www.zestyourlife.nl/
Why so much hate?? It was a beautiful event, amazing weather , free class with top notch teachers, free music and you didn’t have to buy their clothes, just wear white as a symbol of Peace. Fiji gave their water for free too. Yes it was for promotion but for attendees it was a spectacular evening.
Kundalini Yoga practitioners and teachers wear white to expand our aura. Wearing white also helps one to become more careful and conscious around dirt and food that can soil and stain clothing; so wearing white clothing offers opportunities for practicing mindfulness. I am in awe that no Kundalini Yoga practitioners have chimed in here. This is evidence to me that Kundalini Yoga and Meditation as taught by Yogi Bhajan maintains core richness, authenticity, and true grace that yogis work toward in their daily, hourly, moment-to-moment practice. Blessings to all who have participated in the event and in the comments here. Infinite gratitude to the Creator of All That Is for the wild wonders of human experience. Sat Nam!
En 2008 cofundó Fútbol Sites en Argentina, encargándose primordialmente del desarrollo de los sitios propios y desarrollo de las comunidades.