On missing the obvious cover story: welcome to the new Yoga Journal

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I have to admit I haven’t picked up an issue of Yoga Journal since the early 2000s. Those were the days when it was still as semi-serious publication for those interested in furthering their yogic knowledge. My how times have changed…

Yoga Journal recently switched to a new Editor-in-chief from Self magazine. And it has become what one would expect: a yoga-themed Self magazine. The first issue had Hilaria Baldwin on the cover in a corrupted variation of Eka Pada Rajakapotasna. The yoga blogs and social media took the magazine to task about everything from body issues, to over-glorification of yoga celebrities.

This is the latest issue’s cover which shows a fuller-figured practitioner in a oddly timed Vrksasana, like the photo was taken during an earthquake. So now it seems that the new YJ is pandering to its critics and showing what people are saying they would rather see. Except for one obvious misstep…the biggest news story out of the yoga world in several years went completely unnoticed. B.K.S. Iyengar’s passing is not even mentioned on the cover!

I have a background in both print and broadcast journalism. I can remember being in the newsroom and news crews were sent to cover breaking news of a fire or a scandal. The news crew would go to the site, cover something else while all the other media got the good story. That same type of disgust was my first feeling when I saw the latest issue’s cover.

I wouldn’t mind as much, except that many people’s first impression of yoga is through these types of magazines. And if all that is represented is Lululemonized models and people with body issue problems, what does that say about yoga as whole? There is a huge disconnect from the discipline and inner work of yoga in this slicker version of Yoga Journal that is desperate to gain respect in the wrong yoga circles, much like the awkward kid trying to hang out with the cool kids in middle school. Most of us who have survived middle school remember how fruitful that endeavor was. There is a story on this month’s cover entitled “why failing is the best thing that could happen to you.” YJ may want to rethink that story after this fiasco.

So now I cannot spitefully say “I am canceling my subscription” in a huff. I did that years ago. Now I can say please read other material if you want to be serious about yoga. And please don’t patronize the sponsors of these publications that do a disservice to the art, science, philosophy, and practice of yoga.

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14 thoughts on “On missing the obvious cover story: welcome to the new Yoga Journal

  1. michelle

    Is it possible that the magazine went to print before his passing? People were outraged when the issue of Runners World didn’t have any mention of the Boston Marathon Bombing. RW came back and said that it happened after the magazine was already in the printing and delivery stages so they could not rescind it and start all over. Instead, they did a special issue dedicated to the event. Perhaps this is the case here, too?

    Have you considered writing a letter to the editor?

    I subscribe to the Yoga Journal emails that come daily and have received quite a few that mention his life, quotes, and gave honor to him. I am not a regular reader of the magazine so I can’t speak for the content otherwise.

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  2. Marian

    Is the death mentioned at all in the magazine? If not, it very likely is a publication issue. They print much earlier than we see them. Short of a “stop the presses” event – which is very expensive these days, I’m told.

    That said, I have also noticed the change for the worse. I hadn’t read the magazine in a few years, and just started a new subscription. The feature with Alec Baldwin’s wife was a “wha…?” moment for me. How in the world does a lengthy interview with her deepen my understanding of yoga? I’d be okay with a page, maybe two – because sure, she’s entertaining. But 3 full-page photos of her doing yoga in high heels and talking about how hard fame is? Um… okay…

    At least they still have Sally Kempton, but not always.

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  3. swtspontaneous

    You bring some very good points up. I am curious to know now if it was deliberate. I believe it was because I have Yoga Journal on my Google+ feed and while there has been articles on remembering Iyengar, none of them made it to the cover of Yoga Journal in print. Even on the feed, it is all very much Buy Lullemon this or that.

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    1. yogibattle Post author

      Hi Toya! You cannot learn yoga properly from a magazine. The articles are too random and they just try to sell you on the skinny girl Lululemon image. Very toxic! You need a competent teacher. Until then, check out the reading material I recommended in my entry “getting started on a home practice” I will publish a beginners sequence this week. Thanks. M.

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      1. Toya

        Oh I know you really can’t learn properly from a magazine. I was wondering what ones you actually liked.

        I do agree with them selling a certain image/body type, which can be detrimental to those of us who don’t automatically fit that mold.

        I will definitely check out your entry.

        Thanks for responding. Toya

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