An open letter to Yoga Journal regarding booze ad

Before I have posted on the disturbing trend of combining booze with yoga, but now Yoga Journal has taken it to a new low. They are posting an ad for Ty Ku Sake (Japanese rice wine). It shows New York (Tribeca) studio owner Bethany Lyons living the fabricated “yoga dream” by doing her practice, having a vogue-style photo shoot, and then boozing it up with friends. Another ad (linked below) shows yoga studio owner Paige Held actually saying that the yoga sutras link her to drinking booze to put her in a “zen feeling throughout the evening.”

My initial reaction was pure rage. But then I realized that Yoga Journal is not about promoting yoga as any kind of spiritual practice or even health practice for that matter. It is about making money. So here is my open letter:

Dear Yoga Journal,

Bad month in revenues? Who at the board meeting said you should start selling booze to promote sales? Do they practice?  Are times so bad that you have to do whatever it takes to move more magazines?

I understand the majority of your readers are women. So why are you trying to off them by having them be lured into booze after yoga class? Did you not consult the facts? 26,000 women die annually in the US from alcohol-related causes and it is the fourth most preventable cause of death in the US. Fewer women means fewer sales.

Not to mention that a common healing modality in substance abuse treatment centers is yoga. What message is this for the recovery community who is looking for another way out of their suffering?

Yet you promote booze.

The disconnect is obvious for any rational person. Your Facebook page is screaming with comments, none good. In fact I notice your moderators are working full time to delete any “negative” comments from the beloved news feed. From my media background, I get that one strategy to gain viewership is to generate controversy. But like the proverbial shark jumping scene, it is a sign that your publication is more closer to its end than its beginning.

I think that most of your magazine’s viewership does not practice yoga with any seriousness. Because those who are serious about yoga quickly see through the veil of vapidity and commercialism. But that is what makes your marketing strategy ever more sinister. It preys on those who don’t know any better, and who lack the capacity for discernment.

I have come to realize that as long as yoga is tied to the body, it will be tied to commercialism. The yoga I practice views the body in its proper context: as a vehicle for the soul to do its real work–even well after my body’s destiny is exhausted.

Your publication just seems to be making it month to month. So I give you permission to hawk all the booze you want. Why stop there? There are plenty of other drugs big pharma wants to deal to vulnerable ladies who are unsure about themselves. Just don’t be surprised when people start leaving in droves for the next big fad publication.

All that will be remembered was how you sold out to the lowest common denominator. I am therefore imploring all of your readers to cancel their subscriptions and unlike your FB page.



video link:


Update: Yoga Journal’s FB page has an “addiction, yoga + recovery” video just a few scrolls down from the Ty Ku ad. It is like they don’t even realize that drinking also is an addiction. Live Be Yoga Tour


16 thoughts on “An open letter to Yoga Journal regarding booze ad

  1. friendship Yoga/nancy Footner

    Brilliant and right on! Thank you for writing this. Nancy Footner Certified Iyengar Yoga teacher IOwa city , IOwa

    Sent from my iPad


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Azi Ismail

    Michael, I couldn’t agree with you more. Mahalo for bringing this up. I stopped buying Yoga Journal a long time ago because the contents for the most part were frivolous and there were more ads than anything else. In this “modern, individualistic” world that we live in, it seems that things need to fit into one’s “lifestyle”…so the yoga can be “moulded”, cherry-picked for you the individual. My understanding of the yoga is…”what does the practice, the asana, the philosophy demand of you?” This creates change from within, change in one’s self. Like Kennedy once said, “Don’t ask what the country can do for you…ask what you can do for the country”. That’s my 2-cents worth!!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Lila

    I actually feel sick in my stomach watching this. You literally could not pay me enough to create, or for that matter endorse an ad like this.
    What has happened to YJ? What’s next?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. yogibattle Post author

      Right there with you Lila. Nothing is more soul bruising to a yoga practitioner to hear another teacher say the Yoga Sutras led her to drinking. More shocking is that few are fazed by this statement. People who are serious about yoga need to hold these people more accountable, otherwise this art will go the way of dinosaur in favor Big Alcohol. What’s next? Yoga and cocaine?

      Liked by 1 person

    1. yogibattle Post author

      Thank you Hannah. As Father Joe also treats substance abuse with yoga, words from him are even more salient on this topic. Many blessings to you and thank you for your readership and comments.


  4. Beth

    This article is unbearably preachy, judgmental, and obnoxious. Yes, yoga is a beautiful, ancient, spiritual practice; one that is now widely practiced in modern America and all over the world. My experience with beer/wine & yoga events is that they foster a sense of community, and expose people who wouldn’t have otherwise stepped onto a yoga mat to asana (and beyond). Through these events I’ve made friends that I wouldn’t have met, and introduced people to yoga who otherwise wouldn’t have tried yoga.
    I hope the author will allow those who don’t practice yoga with any “seriousness” (his words), to dip their toes into the practice even if they drink alcohol, eat meat, lie, or do anything else that he doesn’t consider “yogic” enough.


    1. Azi Ismail

      This is how I interpret Michael’s article. He does not agree with the association or branding of YJ (and I’m not a fan of YJ) or the Sake with the practice of yoga…it is advertising to promote the Sake through YJ or yoga, YJ through the sake. Looking at the video, I cringed that a yoga studio or practitioner would call the Sake its “official drink”. All advertisers and promoters aim to invoke a specific response in its targeted viewers (in this case, women and more specifically young women), they want the viewers to “buy” into the product so more sales for them. I’ve been practicing yoga for quite a while, am a yoga teacher but I’m not a vegetarian. But would I help a dairy farmers association promote meat through my yoga practice? No, won’t put a cow next to my yoga logo! No, I think they should find another way to promote their product, not through yoga. It makes me wonder if the practice of having a beer/wine yoga event is something that’s happening here in the US. I live in Singapore before moving to the US. In my years of living there and attending classes and hanging out with yoga friends even when I visit now, I’ve not come across any yoga events so far where there’s a promotion and association of yoga with beer/alcohol. This is the crux of the matter here—the association or promotion of yoga and alcohol. Just because a person drinks alcohol or eat meat or lie, it does not mean he or she cannot do yoga. Of course she or he can…but if you take up yoga, you may just stop lying….as for me, I may just become vegetarian one day!!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Yoga Journal’s Alcohol Ad Fuels Outrage, Frustration Over Paid Sponsorships

  6. Paul Carlos

    I have fwd your post on to our teachers & community. Not long back yoga journal was running articles on the fashion aspects of ‘pear shazpes’ vs ‘apple shapes’ and what to do. . . so seriously mis-leading and bad for the public perception of yoga. Tnx for the post. I further see this trend of adding ones credentials to posts 🙂 Paul Carlos 7000h + (teaching) 500h Y.A.I. certified (instructor & school) (B.K.S certificate as well in those days – left that school in 2000)



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