The yoga stars
By Lisa Avebury
Editor’s note: We published this story because we believe that what this story is about is more important than who this story is about. Publishing of this story is in no way intended to imply agreement in the author’s views. We encourage our readers to avoid any inclination toward gossip.
Ah, the “Yoga Stars.” Here in LA LA-Land we have them all. And if they don’t live here, they come here to visit, to the mecca of dumbass yogis who will gladly pay to say they practiced with “so and so.” Hence, they can claim spirituality and enlightenment—and look oh so good doing it! These are the ones who will Namaste you in class and then flip you off in the parking lot. Sorry for that gag noise I just made.
I myself got swept up, dare I admit it.
I used to be a monthly member of a prominent studio we’ll call The Glorified Yoga Spa. I took from the various teachers but avoided the “stars.” Then someone suggested I take a class with one particular star who I had avoided previously — but hey, I am open minded. I took a class and I liked the dance; I liked the chant; and I liked the talk. I, in my blinded state, believed that what Yoga Star was speaking was his truth. I had no reason not to.
Boy did I get kicked in the asana!
I decided, after an intense period of work, to do something “fun”: take a teacher training with this Yoga Star. I had now been to many of his classes and felt I knew enough about his practice to get something out of it. I did not worry or question the fact that there was really no curriculum given us even after plunking down the four-figure sum. Everything would “flow,” right?
Once in the training, we found out all about Yoga Star’s personal guru.
And, we were so lucky, as he was in town from India and suddenly, now, a good part of training would be devoted to traveling to see him — almost 2 hours away —more then once. WTF? And also now, one of the required books for the training was written by said Guru and was titled: Guaranteed Solutions for Lust, Fear and Worry. Again WTF??
But when I “spoke my own truth” to the staff at The Glorified Yoga Spa regarding my discomfort with this sudden u-turn in said Yoga Teacher Training I received no joy. This is because Yoga Star and the lovely, lithe manager of the studio were an item, it turns out. And, in her eyes, he could do no wrong. And in the eyes of the corporation that owned The Glorified Yoga Spa, Yoga Star was the guru of cash flow. So, I was labeled the Durga Downer of the group.
I tried to go with it. I wore a sari to meet Guru and made the best of it, but felt dirty the whole time.
This escalated into a long “conversation” with Yoga Star who told me I was the most difficult student he had ever had. I guess “difficult student” meant someone who wanted to ask questions and have discussions rather than blindly play along with his whims. The studio offered part of my money back, with great hope I would take it and disappear from the training. Yoga Star really did not want me back. But I had started the training and really wanted to finish it, despite my reservations. I am a Virgo; we are that way sometimes.
Upon returning after the month-long break, Yoga Star and I were walking on eggshells with each other.
We were extra nice to each other in hopes that Hanuman jumping back and forth from each of our backs would not really bite us hard in the neck. But it was only a matter of time.
Yoga Star asked to meet with me. He chose a time and a spot. I arrived, but Yoga Star stood me up. I was mad, and I let him know. This led to a screaming match on the phone. He didn’t explain why he had missed our appointment; he didn’t make much sense at all. He simply demanded that I not come to that evening’s training because of my “bad attitude.” I was barred from the training. Was I in an alternate universe?
Later that night, he called again and apologized, blathering on about how the class was really bad and he felt really bad and everything had gotten so “weird.” I really did not know what to say. He was supposed to be my teacher, but he struck me as so unbalanced. However, the training was almost over and goddammit, I was determined to complete it! Without irony I tell you that I brought a host of crystals with me to class the next day, and placed them all around my mat, for whatever safety I felt they symbolized. And I made it through the class unharmed. Hallelujah.
I completed the required class observations, the volunteer work, and the other requirements to get my Yoga Alliance certificate. The very last requirement was to write an essay about what I thought about the class. Oh yes; this was my moment.
I spoke my truth. It was honest and balanced and it came from a genuine place of what I wanted to express.
Naturally, I got an email from Yoga Star’s assistant. I was now BANNED from any of his classes and workshops. They were holding my paperwork as well, which meant that I wouldn’t get my certification. The activist in me knew this just would not do. I contacted my credit card company and got ALL my money back. This obviously chapped the ass and pocketbook of Yoga Star and The Glorified Yoga Spa, who promptly offered me my paperwork after all, if I would give them back the dosh. No chance! Sorry.
BTW, Yoga Star’s Guru? Only months after the training ended, he found himself in Indian jail and being investigated here in the U.S. as well. Seems the holy man like the ladies a little too much. So much for controlling lust!
As for me, I did learn a lot in that class: to trust my gut and to run like hell next time!
About Lisa Avebury
Lisa Avebury lives in Los Angeles transplanted from NYC, is a massage therapist and globe trotter who loves hanging out in stone circles, spending quality time with her dog, Douglas Fur, and sometimes just cleaning the bathtub to a brilliant shine! You can find her at www.circleseeker.com