We all know that yoga has been in the East for centuries, where students study their whole lives before daring to call themselves “teacher” at which time they humbly impart their wisdom onto others. In the East, yoga is a way of life and something sacred.
In the West, that doesn’t matter because we know everything.
That’s right. Here in the West, where we have mastered the art of exploitation and cashing in, it’s a sure bet that sacred won’t sell. As the Gospel of Broadway’s Gypsy proclaims, “Kid, you gotta have a gimmick, if you wanna get ahead!”
I can hear some of you taking deep belly breaths already. Rest assured, it’ll sell in a church basement, a community centre or someone’s backyard, but when we’re talking high overhead – we’re talking go big or go home yoga and it better be something you can’t get around the corner.
There’s “Laughing Yoga” for those looking to cultivate joy. “Yoga for Athletes” since a regular class won’t do. “Groove Yoga” for the musically inclined. “Hip Hop Yoga” to celebrate your inner urban dancer. And, of course, there’s DOGA.
I’d first heard about DOGA in 2004 when I lived in Los Angeles. At the time, I lived in an affordable mixed bag pocket right between David Schwimmer’s neighbourhood and a Sketchy Gang Neighbourhood. 4 times a week I’d walk to a well known and highly respected yoga studio that happened to offer DOGA on Tuesdays. At first I thought it was a joke, but after seeing the human treatment dogs got in LA – doggie spa, anyone? – I realized this was very real and very lucrative.
I didn’t have a dog, because I’m allergic (and by allergic, I mean, not a dog lover), but I excitedly wrote home about it nonetheless, sharing the concept with my friends for entertainment’s sake.
Cut to 2011.
My friend and colleague contacts me about a new show she’s producing for the pet channel. It’s a show about things you can do with your dogs. You know where this is going, right?
“I’m not going to lie,” I tell her, “I’m not a huge dog person.”
“Don’t worry,” she assures me, “It’ll be fun.” “Most important,” she asks, “Does your studio offer DOGA?”
Does my studio offer DOGA on a national lifestyle television series that lots of people will see with advertising for our studio and therefore potential revenue?
Of course we offer DOGA.
And…ACTION. 8 dogs with their owners bonding through yoga. We laughed a lot. This was more about community and good old fashioned entertainment than anything, but ultimately it was also a potential new revenue stream.
I focused on the idea of community building since I felt dirty thinking about how this hybrid might be angering the Yoga Gods. Ultimately, post tv show, I stopped advertising it since I didn’t feel I was being authentic offering it. Let’s face it, dogs aren’t really my passion and sweeping up dog fur and disinfecting floors is time consuming. I really do think that being able to fully stand behind and endorse what you’re selling is key to the success of any business, since passion and enthusiasm will take you for miles before real revenue kicks in. Before you do something, ask yourself “Is what I’m about to do in response to my passion or my panic?” and you’ll never go wrong. I panicked many times, which bit me in my asana on more than one occasion.
I’m not against yoga hybrids, but there are many yoga purists who are. I can’t blame them really. It cheapens and degrades a tradition that’s been around for centuries. It’s arrogant and proves that Eastern yoga hasn’t entirely made it to the West.
But it sells and it makes your studio cool. Two things that are of the utmost importance to keeping your studio in business.
So, for those of you looking to take your yoga studio to the next level, I’ve come up with some new hybrids. Please feel free to use these. Consider them my gift to the yoga community:
This fantastic flow will take you straight to Bombay and back with sizzling colours and hand gestures to match.
Fencing meets yoga!
This fun hybrid will knock your non-existent socks off. Take your warrior series to the next level. Sun salutations will be interspersed will sword work. Must have your own sword to participate.
Embrace one of the four elements and create buoyancy in your practice. Must bring your own oxygen tank. We highly suggest investing in organic oxygen, which can be purchased at our studio for one million dollars.
Yoga at the zoo!
Let the sight, sounds and smells of the animals inspire your practice – a great way to expand your idea of community to include all of the animal kingdom. Weather permitting.