Ah, yes, the Yoga Star Hot Scale. Leave it to Yoga Dawg to help us laugh instead of cry. It got me to thinking, with all the chatter about skinny white yoginis as the face of yoga and "spreading the word" and endorsement deals and yoga competitions--what do students want?
Kristin, of Namaste from Duluth, posted that query a few months back when we were discussing "American False Idols" and I wanted to get back to that thought. As more and more ex-models and actresses and dancers get into the teaching act, and corporations choose whippet-thin bodies to hawk their yoga wares, I get frustrated. For me, for potential students, for everyone who can't touch their foot to their head or has a non-European family history but studies yoga. Is this really what we want yoga to look like? (I'm not questioning teaching credentials--I'm talking about an image, here).
What I want, and what I suspect many practitioners want, is not a teacher to admire or be awed by (lust after? be jealous of?), but a teacher that inspires and gives you the feeling that you can attain. The yoga industry, such as it is, is missing a huge opportunity here. Why is Oprah such a phenomenon? Because she presents herself as one of the crowd--some one who has been around the block a few times and has weaknesses and enthusiasms and overdoes it once and awhile. (Obviously, most of us will never be Oprah, but you know what I mean.)
That's what I want in a teacher. Some one who has a sense of the human condition, who has had to work for what she's earned. Some one whose talents seem within reach. I want some one more experienced than me, who can guide me, but also some one who offers a vision of what--with practice--I could be some day. Strong, peaceful, dignified. I don't really care what lip gloss she uses...I want her vibe.
Kripalu has figured it out. Their ads show students of all sizes and races, peacefully engaged in Sukhasana or Tadasana, and it gives you a feeling of calm centeredness. To me, it's an honest depiction of what a yogi should look like--focused, a smile playing on the lips, a lifetime of sustainable practice evidenced in a healthy body.
Seriously, marketing to kids is a fools' game. If we really want to "spread the word," let's show who yoga has helped, who is still figuring it out, who can't do Bakasana to save his life but can nail Trikonasana. Let's talk about the mental benefits instead of just the physical. Let's honor the flexibility of the average backbone. This isn't Cirque du Soleil, people, it's real life!