Tag Archives: yelp

Fictional negative Yelp reviews of yesterday’s yoga masters (humor)

Probably one of the most simultaneously amusing and irritating things for me are when people Yelp yoga studios and trash teachers who have been teaching for decades. People who walk in off the street with no prior yoga experience are suddenly an “expert” on what yoga should provide them. These social media parasites aren’t looking for classical teaching, enlightenment, or any type of discipline. They are just looking for a glorified workout. For lampoon purposes here are some “reviews” from the lens of fictional popular elite yelpers who went back and time and attended a class with the great masters of yesterday. (Disclaimer: these do not reflect the author’s views).

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Ramanashram (Arunanchala, India)

Screen Shot 2016-08-05 at 1.42.43 PM Becky “good hair” S.

OMG! I HAD THE MOST NEGATIVE EXPERIENCE OF MY YOGINI LIFE HERE! Just a little about me. I am an advanced yogini who just completed her 200 hour training at Core Fitness Powered Yoga™. Well I get to this ashram and give my donation, and the teacher, this creepy old man (Ramana Maharshi) is just sitting there in a loin cloth staring at me not saying a word…ewwww! Finally I ask him if we are going to do a vinyasa flow and he just keeps asking me “who am I?” I mean WTF!? Can’t you read? My name tag says “Becky.” They wouldn’t even refund my donation!

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Nisargadatta Maharaj (Mumbai, India)

Screen Shot 2016-08-05 at 1.56.50 PM Biff B.

As I braved through the crowded streets of Mumbai, I finally made it to this teacher’s class. There are a bunch of people sitting in this guy’s apartment where he teaches and nobody is doing yoga postures. He didn’t even speak English! Good thing he had a translator. He saw I was new and made me come to the front of the room and introduce myself to him and asked me about my yoga practice. I told him I am an advanced teacher at Broga Flow© and I am here to get CE’s for my Yoga Alliance registry. He then blasted me on how my practice only supports my ego and that I am not really my body and if I want to make any progress, I have to imagine myself outside of my body to be greater than the universe. Talk about a total jerk! He didn’t even notice my chiseled six pack abs. Then he did the most unyogic thing I have ever seen in my life: he started smoking cigarettes! Definitely not for the fitness minded. After I told him this, he threw me out! This didn’t even count towards my Yoga Alliance CE hours 😦

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Papaji Satsang (Lucknow, India)

Screen Shot 2016-08-05 at 1.47.17 PM Ashleigh F.

 I would give this place zero stars if Yelp would let me. First of all they don’t accept payment through mindbodyonline.com, so I had to pay in cash. The teacher is some fat old man who just keeps telling people to “keep quiet.” Then he takes people up one by one and tells them that they are “special” or something and then they start cracking up. I mean who can take this guy seriously?! But the real thing that made this a sub par experience is everyone was chanting to Shiva. I mean, talk about being insensitive to people with non-Hindu beliefs!

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Sadhu Yoga (Ujjain, India)

Screen Shot 2016-08-05 at 2.29.23 PM Anne “RYT” T.

These guys don’t know anything about yoga. All they do is stand around for 20 years with their arm in the air saying “Ram, Ram, Ram…” Talk about boring! One guy just sits on a bed of nails. In my yoga teacher training, my teacher said never sit on anything that could hurt you, and here these guys are just waiting to be injured. Not to mention these guys aren’t wearing any clothes. I have been to a few coed naked yoga classes in NYC, but at least those students had the decency to get dressed before they went out again in public. Plus they were filthy all covered in ashes or something. My YTT told me you always have to be clean when teaching. One more note about this style, is it is only in Sanskrit. I mean c’mon! Don’t they realize all the paying customers speak English! No wonder they can’t afford a studio and have to practice outside…

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Disclaimer (again) these are not actual reviews and not actual people.

Help! Help! I’ve been one starred on Yelp!

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I have to admit that I am a Yelp fiend. Because I enjoy writing, I often write reviews on places I frequent. I rarely one star businesses unless I feel they are preying on unsuspecting customers. Also, it is lousy to be on the receiving end of a one star review. And that is exactly what happened to me this week.

I was perusing yoga studios on my Yelp app and came across my own studio and noticed the stars have gone down. Much to my dismay, I came across this:

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Because I am classy, I left out the reviewers name. But I noticed his name didn’t match any of my students, so I complimented him. I said, “Funny I didn’t recall telling anyone who was male not to drink water in my all female attended class.” He later added the last part of his review stating he wrote it for his daughter.

As it turns out, the daughter had attended another teacher’s class and he wrote the review without even verifying which teacher his daughter was upset with. The good people at Yelp removed the post quickly as it violated their terms of service for reviewing a place you haven’t even patronized.

In a way I wished the review was accurate, because my mentoring teachers used to say I had a monotone presentation. Being compared to a basketball coach would make them proud!

As for the water complaint, my studio has a policy not to put water bottles on the new hardwood floor and another teacher probably asked the guy’s daughter to put her water on the shelf. In Iyengar Yoga, students don’t need to stay an arms length away from water just to stay alive like other styles. The teacher in question probably relayed that to her and all she heard was “you can’t drink water.”

It’s not good karma to one star people who don’t deserve it on Yelp. And because I live in accordance to the Yamas and Niyamas,  good things tend to come my way. I received another review from Luci at YogaSpy which was named one of the top 100 yoga blogs. She said in her recent post commemorating her five years of blogging that Home Yoga Practice is one of her favorite blogs! Coming from Luci who is a great blogger and seasoned Iyengar practitioner, this review feels better than being Freshly Pressed. Thanks Luci and congratulations of making 5 years as a blogger. That is a feat that I cannot image.

 

 

Research: which style of yoga is most highly rated in the US?

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I was disheartened to see some Yelp reviews that were critical of some of my favorite Iyengar yoga studios. This led to a bizarre obsession to see if all Iyengar studios were getting trashy reviews on Yelp.

I set up an experiment by using a random US city generator to get a list of 70 cities. Next, I set variables. Since I was looking for Iyengar studios, I might as well look for other styles as well for comparison. I chose styles that have a standard nationwide teaching curriculum. Those styles are Iyengar, Ashtanga, Bikram, and Corepower. Then the work began.

Yelp uses an ordinal scale with 1-to-5 star ranking. If you have every taken a survey that has a “extremely dislike to extremely like” Likert-type scale, it’s the same thing.

I spent a good part of three days collecting the data on my time off. The research was conducted on May 7-9, 2014. As very few cities had all four styles it took me longer than anticipated to get all the data. Some interesting challenges presented themselves during this process. For example, Corepower is primarily a West Coast-centric practice and I had to take measures from several studios in the same community to get enough scores. Also, finding is “pure” Asthanga yoga studio is very difficult, and I only tallied the studios who reported to teach the series’ with some degree of authenticity. There were plenty of “Ashtanga/vinyasa/hot flow studios which were not suitable to my parameters. Finding a “pure” Iyengar studio was a bit easier than Asthanga because it was easy to verify credentialing via the IYNAUS website. Lastly, Bikram studios are everywhere and outnumbers the other styles roughly 2-to-1. The three days’ work yielded 30 scores of each style.

Threats to internal validity from what I can see would be whats called position set from reviewers. Usually people will write a Yelp review if they are really happy or pissed off, corresponding in a 1 star or 5 star review. There are probably plenty of “fake” reviews which Yelp itself says it takes great pains to counteract with an internal algorithm. As I mentioned about the Bikram style, many of the reviews had markedly higher counts of reviews than the other styles which indicate that it may be the most well-attended style of the styles chosen. Another threat to internal validity is the bias of people who write Yelp reviews (or can write period) versus those who don’t use the review site or cannot write. One more would be that Corepower yoga tends to be in cities along the West coast and may not reflect nationwide attitudes toward this style. I  happily invite statisticians out there to point out other threats to internal validity that I failed to mention.

With all that out of the way, here are the results:

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Iyengar = 4.61 stars

Bikram = 4.083 stars

Ashtanga=4.51 stars

Corepower=4.266 stars

Group average=4.34 stars

Out of 30 scores of each style from 70 randomly selected US cities, Iyengar had an an average mean of 4.61, Bikram had an average mean of 4.083, Asthanga had an average mean of 4.51, and Corepower had an average mean of 4.266. The mean of the whole group was 4.34.

What that “means”

My hypothesis that Iyengar yoga is favored poorly nationwide in the US was rejected in this study. That means that Iyengar was the highest rated style of the group, with Asthanga being a near statistical tie. Corepower was just below the group’s average mean. As far as Bikram, they got the lowest score of the group. Before you Bikram fans fret, Bikram yoga is easily the most practiced style in the US. So that means that their classes are best attended, but the students are more apt to complain about it.

One advantage about using Yelp as a measure is that respondents gave information on “why” they gave the rating they did. People who responded with a 5 star review of the Bikram style said that felt it was a “great workout” and stated they felt it had improved their health. For negative ratings of the Bikram style, most addressed poor sanitary conditions of certain studios, and also complaints of not honoring of Groupon discounts.

For the Iyengar style, many 5 star review respondents said they appreciated the detail of instruction and ability of instructors to work with injuries. Some respondents gave a one star rating for instructors who were perceived as “rude” and also for blankets that were not washed regularly.

For the Corepower style, reviewers who gave 5 stars remarked that they enjoyed the modern looking facilities, and the range of options for classes. A large number of one star ratings complained about the of locking doors too early. Others included complaints about Corepower being too “workout focused” and not addressing the more inward aspects of yoga.

Lastly, positive Asthanga reviewers cited “authenticity” often in 5 star reviews and often praised teachers who adhered to the Jois lineage. For criticisms, a one star rating came from a reviewer who said the instructor did not address his injury. Another reviewer gave a studio a two star rating because she said she did not know the primary series by heart and the class “left her in the dust.”

For teachers and studio owners, this research yields useful data on how to improve ratings. It appears as though sanitary conditions of the studio weigh heavily on one’s perception of the style. Also teacher friendliness and experience are major factors in a studios rating. It also appears as though Groupon users will decrease one’s studios ratings if owners have any type of perceived breach of contract (whether or not it is legitimate).

One last flaw I see in the Yelp review method is that many the reviewers do not appear to have enough experience in the style to make an informed rating of the style. As good yoga practitioners know, it takes many years of practice to truly appreciate the fruits of their particular style.

Again, if there are any statisticians out there, please feel free to hammer away at my findings. If anyone else wants to replicate the study, I can provide further data on which cities were selected. Now how do you spend your free time?