The yoga stars

Published on June 29, 2011 by      Print
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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

 

 


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47 Comments !

  1. Matthew says:


    Just like so many counselors and therapists, a lot of yoga teachers get into it to ‘fix’ something within themselves. Sounds like your yoga star was no different, and you unfortunately got mixed in with it. A lot of yoga teachers I know of refuse to admit they may be wrong, and hate to be questioned in any case.
    Nice writing.

    • Swami Param says:


      The missing link in modern “yoga” is Yoga. Real Yoga is Hinduism; taught by Hindus and not for a fee. The Sanskrit/Hindu word “yoga” means “yuj Atman Brahman ca” (“to yoke to the Soul and Soul Source”). The various real Yogas are the means by which Hindus achieve this Soul/Self-Realization.

      Swami Param
      Classical Yoga Hindu Academy

  2. Danielle Stimpson says:


    YOUCH! Sorry for your experience, and thank you for sharing it with us. Your piece is so wonderfully written, it strikes me that I should feel more angry than I do right now. I’m impressed by your candor and humility…in short, good on you for taking the high road. It also strikes me that, given this situation and your handling of it, you would make a wonderful Yoga teacher. Should you continue on that path, may you find a teacher that reflects the same honesty and balance that you already do. Thanks for the great read!

  3. Chrissy says:


    Good for you for rising against the craziness! Difficult student!? Puleeze…look, there will always be gurus and zealots as long as there are minions…bravo for speaking from your heart!
    Loved this!

    • Lisa Rivera says:


      Thanks Chrissy! I loved your post as well Mean Girls.

      http://recoveringyogi.com/mean-girls/

      I can relate, especially here in La La.

      • Chrissy says:


        Anytime Lisa!
        This was a great post, and good for you brave girl! It is hard to walk into a situation where you KNOW that you will be treated with indifference ….that is why I can’t stand so many of the yoga stars, gurus, etc. They don’t have the stones to walk into any place that they aren’t revered and adored..that and they all seem to have eerily similar pedigrees that “led them to their enlightenment”….

  4. JT says:


    Ditto to what Crissy wrote: There’s a seeker born every minute. Thanks for your blithely composed rendering of your experience/movie, Lisa…which, of course, you were the main co-creator of. Undoubtedly everything would have unfolded far more easily if you would simply have honored and surrendered to his inflated ego and sexual needs. ;)

    • Chrissy says:


      Sexual needs is right…ever have an overly aggressive adjustment? One that made you ask the teacher if we were going for drinks after class since we almost made it to 3 Rd base? I know that I have had a few( BTW…he didn’t think that my annoyed inquiry was funny …shocker ;) the particular teacher in my case was full of ego…you have to be to put your drama and your hands ( or other parts) on a student…so creepy, unbalanced and unprofessional…yikes!

  5. paddy says:


    Darling there are assholes in every walk of life . i’m proud of you and how you came through the garbage this one put you through. as for myself if someone dignifies them selves as a teacher than they better dam well walk the talk , it is for them to prove to me who they are not for me , i am the student and they need to earn my trust and respect if they are going to have the privilege to teach me ( and yes it is a privilege to teach and have someone want to learn what you have to offer not the other way around). unfortunately the assholes pray on the imbeciles out there with little to no self esteem and the great need to be part of a group because they themselves are not enough. very sad and LA is a city filled with very lonely soul

    • Yogini5 says:


      Agreed. It is at LEAST as much a privilege to be taught as to teach. These arrogant teachers have it the other way around! Particularly for what they charge! Warping the ancient tradition of having to have ME prove that I am worthy to be THEIR student.

      If I pay them list price, in particular, that should be proof enough, since I can yoga at 11 pm in my pajamas for free at home. All I want. And I have some pretty decent reference material to provide much of my instruction …

      This is not just in LA, but it seems on the “seemingly” enlightened East Coast, too.

  6. Lisa Rivera says:


    Thank you for all your feedback. When this occurred 2 years ago it really rocked my world. I was disappointed on a lot of levels. But now it seems to have been transformed into divine comedy! Funny how that happens if we are lucky or we choose to see it that way! :)

  7. Jennifer says:


    WOW, I am so sorry you went through this, considering how yoga is supposed to be something which brings peace to the individual…

    Doesn’t surprise me though; since the whole concept of a yoga “class” is an American one that didn’t exist till Yoga was brought here in the 60′s.

    Prior to that,it was traditionally done guru to student. A little harder to have a yoga “star” that way ;)

    Blessings in finding a new teacher who has more integrity.

  8. suzy coyle says:


    I have had similar experiences. Especially with a prominent Yoga GOD! He was simply an ***hole. I became a happy skeptic of the whole scene.

  9. Yoga Playlist Egoist says:


    I am so sorry about your experience. That is traumatizing! I hope I don’t get mixed up with the crowd – I don’t want to get jaded and divorce my yoga practice.
    I knew exactly which yoga studio you are talking about… These articles always bring out my curiosity in the gossipy way, because I am so eager to know the identity of LaLaLand ‘Super Star Yoga Teacher’ I am ashamed of myself.

  10. Smells fishy says:


    I’m highly suspicious that the writer is not telling the whole story and that’s pretty sad. Another opportunity to be challenged to think for yourself. Pretty pathetic, actually. But, I guess sometimes we need sympathy to heal our wounds. I’m would bet all my money that writer brought a good chunk of issues to the mix that added and created chaos. I say this with nothing to gain and nothing to lose — just someone who suspects a bunch of bullshit.

    • Chrissy says:


      Oh …my…God….cut the crap….Lisa was relaying her story. Fact is many of the self professed gurus are ego driven, angst filled, unbalanced crack pots who lack the ability to see beyond their own stratosphere…yes there are many kind, wonderful yoga teachers out there…they are the ones who happily live and teach their yoga without the need for fanfare, gross marketing BS, and the wish to be adored. I am all for yoga teachers thriving financially because we all need to live, however there is a handful who make sure that there face is everywhere, and that their hand is in EVERY pot. That greed and narcissism is exactly what yoga isn’t ….We all have issues ( thank god because my job as a hairstylist/nursing student would be so effing boring without human nature), but sometimes even with said issues people just suck, and here int nothing fishy about that!

      • Yogini5 says:


        I couldn’t agree with you more!

        And they do their seva in the name of enhanced public relations, too …

  11. Lisa Rivera says:


    Hi Smells Fishy, Thanks for adding your feelings to the mix. I wanted to reiterate this happened pretty much 2 years ago to the month. Although I would never claim to have no issues at all-sympathy at this juncture is not what I am looking for. Especially from anyone other then myself. I know it may be hard to believe, especially if you have figured out who the Yoga Star is (as many have indicated they have-not hard to here in LaLa/Venice) and you are a follower.

    • MADUMANGALA says:


      LET ME GUESS !!! IS THIS THE SAME YOGA STAR = FAUXGA STAR….YOGI =FAUXGI…WHO HAS THE MIDDLE AGED WOMEN SWOONING IN HIS CLASSES WHEN HE SPEAKS WITH HIS “CHOCOLATEY ” SPEAKING VOICE {AS ONE YOGINI DESCRIBED IT } AND DANCES IN HIS CLASSES WITH ISELF STYLED PELVIC THRUST GYRATION ASANA ??? IS HIS THE FAUXGA STAR WHO IS SOMETIMES REFERRED TO AS ‘ THE ELVIS OF YOGA’ ??? IS THIS THE FAUXA STAR WHO HAS AN ENTOURAGE OF PEEPS AND LEMMINGS WHO WILL FOLLOW HIM, NO MATTER WHAT DISTANCE TO MEET AND GREET AND SUPPORT THE NEW GURU OR POLITICAL CANDIDATE FLAVOR OF THE MOMENT ??? IS THIS THE SAME FAUXGI WHO VOLUNTEERS THESE PEEPS AND LEMMINGS TO DO SEVA FOR HIM AND THEN SHOWS UP FOR THE FOTO OP??? IS THIS THE SAME FAUXGI THAT THAT PROMOTES HIS CHARLATAN BUDDIES AS FANTASTIC AND NECESARY HEALERS WITH EMPERORS EMPTY RESULTS ??? IS THIS THE SAME FAUGI THAT PLAYED THE MANAGER OF THE GLORIFIED OR EXALTED YOGA STUDIO LIKE A FIDDLE , BASICALLY GIVING HIM FREE ACCESS TO ANYTHING HE DESIRED SUCH AS FREE YOGA TO MANY OF HIS MOMENTARY PEEPS TO PAD THE ALREADY LARGE CLASSES /// IS THIS THE SAME FAUXGI WHO SO LOVINGLY COMMUNICATED TO EXALTED STUDIO MANAGER THAT HE NEVER WANTED TO GET MARRIED OR HAVE ANY MORE KIDS THEN ON HIS RETREAT TO INDIA IMPREGNATED YET ANOTHER ONE OF HIS STUDENTS ??? IS THIS THE SAME FAUXGA STAR THAT WAS OBSERVED AT GOLDEN BRIDGE YOGA UPON MEETING HIS GURU VISHWANANDA FOR THE FIRST TIME FELL TO HIS KNEES WITH HIS EYEBALLS GOING BACK IN HIS HEAD.??? SHORTLY THEREAFTER GURU VISHAM WAS BANISHED TO THE HIMALAYAS FOR MOLESTING YOUNG BOYS.IS THIS THE SAME FAUXGA STAR WHOSE NEXT GURU WAS THE INFAMOUS PREACHER OF “CELIBACY ACHIEVES ENLIGHTENMENT ” NITHYANANDA COUSIN OF VISHWANANDA. NITHYANANDA WAS BLASTED ALL OVER THE INTERNET FOR BEING VIDEOTAPED HAVING SEX WITH AYOUNG ACTRESS (NO SACRED UNION BY ANYMEANS) ??? IS THIS THE SAME FAUXGA THAT ATTEMPTED TO COMBINE YOGA AND POLITICS BY CAMPAIGNING FOR PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE BARRY SOETORO (PORK EATING CIG SMOKER) WHO WAS RUNNING ON A PEACE PLATFORM. LOL DOES IT REALLY MATTER WHO IS A DEMOCRIT OR REPUBLICON IN YOGA CLASS ??? ALOT MORE BUT NUFF SAID FOR NOW I FOR ONE AM DONE DONE W THE BULLSHIT YOGA STARS AND THE PHONY YOGA SNOB COMMUNITY WITH WHICH WAS CREATED …IT HAS GIVEN THE TRUE BEAUTIFUL YOGA A BAD NAME. WAY TOO MUCH YOGOSSIP GOING DOWN. PEOPLE LIKE LOVELY YOGINI RIVERA BEING OSTRACIZED FOR SPEAKING AND SEEKING TRUTH. SHAMEFUL….AND SMELLY FISH ,GET YOURSLF A NETI POT TO CLEAN OUT YOUR CONSTIPATED NOSTRILS. YOU CAN PROBABLY PURCHASE ONE FROM YOGA STAR OUT OF THE BACK OF HIS PRIUUS NEXT TIME HE”S IN FROM THE PACIFIC ISLAND HE BASES HIMSLF OUT OF NOW, I KNOW FROM THE DEEPEST PART OF MY BEING THAT LOVELY YOGINI HAS COURAGEOUSLY COME FORWARD WITH SOME SERIOS TRUTH . I APPLAUD YOU. AND BY THE WAY DOES HIS FIRST NAME AND FIRST LETTER OF HIS MIDDLE NAME RHYME WITH BALD??? FEELS GOOD TO VENT…BETTER THAN HAVING IT PENT……GOD BLESS US ALL…RHYMES W ….

      • Yogini5 says:


        So, it ISN’T Vinnie Marino?

        But he couldn’t be far behind, huh?

        I nearly live under a rock, and I’ve heard of HIM!

        • Yogini5 says:


          Oh, wait. I figured it out … saw mention of this guy on two of the blogs I like … and picture.

          Reminds me too much of a couple lot lesser lights here in New York, and what they could become (though the woman doesn’t do massage or much in the way of healing arts) in a decade or so ….

          Suppose Vinnie Marino is more the real thing … anyway with his being a native New Yorker, probably could go easier on him anyway …

        • Lisa Rivera says:


          No it isn’t Vinnie, I actually really like Vinnie. The people that get attracted to his class are an “interesting” bunch tho. Kind of intense, body conscious folks. But Vinnie is kind of a mellow dude if you speak to him. And, having not gone to his class in about a year-he remembered me and went out of his way to say “Hello”. So no, def not VInnie.

      • Lisa Rivera says:


        By the way his first name and middle initial does rhyme with BALD-Like him! Hee Hee!

  12. Lisa Rivera says:


    MADUMANGALA, thank you for championing me and the many others out there duped by Yoga Star. It is obvious you know who this is. The funniest part of your post to me was was the subject of his “Charlatan Buddies”. I guess I had to block out of my mind much of my Yoga Teacher Training as, indeed, paraded across the field were a host of bodyworkers, astrologers, healers, musicians et et. And, we were encouraged, dare I say pushed, to use them all! The funniest ones were the “Deep, Emotional Release Bodywork” dude. He was just creepy. And the Jyotish person. The reason she was so funny was her talk was preceded by Yoga Star explaining that his real Astrological sign was Cancer and not Leo-his birth sign. He felt he was way too humble to be a LEO! :0

  13. paddy says:


    Mandumangala who ever you are I LOVE YOU hahaha , thanks to all this tech stuff the garbage of the world has nowhere to hide it’s great . truth is truth and it always wins . i don’t know who this shit bag is but i do yoga and i will know if i see him and will if the moment presents itself slam him . i also have a reputation the one of saying to someone’s face what i think without holding back.

    • Chrissy says:


      And Paddy I love you….”ShitBag” has been near and dear to my heart since one of my now dearest of friends ( we met at 18 during week 3 of USCG boot camp) muttered it under his breath when our drill instructor kept calling me ‘princess’ ! Lol!

  14. charlie says:


    cool aide drinkers will always find the cool aide salesman.

  15. Jenifer says:


    no clue who this fellow is, but i’m glad you got out of it so well. i always love the ‘withholding paperwork’ thing. what a dandy little trick! such a mess!

  16. Lisa Rivera says:


    Hello Lovely People, for all of you wondering who the Yoga Star is I got the fright of my life when I turned to page 63 of Sept. Yoga Journal! If Yoga Journal isn’t bad to begin with this illustrated why it is such a joke. Just actually proved everything MADUMANGALA wrote!!! I will never, ever purchase a Jade Yoga Mat!

  17. dupedbyYogaStarandYogaStarsGuru says:


    Thank you for this post. I was duped by both Yoga Star and Yoga Star’s Guru (a.k.a. “Sex-Swami” by the mass media throughout India). I actually went as far as going to Yoga Star’s Guru’s ashram in India – a heart-breaking & costly mistake.

    Hope everyone in the yoga community reads about your experience in order to make more informed decisions when deciding whether to take Yoga Star’s yoga teacher training and/or decide to get involved with Yoga Star’s Guru’s organization/cult. The information available now was not available a few years back, when I researched both on the internet in an attempt to make informed decisions. Hope others do not fall into the same traps.

    • recoveringyogi says:


      Hi Duped,

      We’re sorry about your experience.

      Please understand that we have a policy of not explicitly naming names. For this reason, we have deleted the links in your comment.

      Thanks for your understanding,
      Recovering Yogi

      • duped says:


        Oops, sorry about that. Glad I came across this blog. I can identify and I’m enjoying what I’ve read so far.

        Namaste (jk)

  18. Lisa Rivera says:


    Hi Duped, Sorry you had to go thru that. Live and learn right, what does not kill us makes us stronger! Either way, I hope you enjoyed some part of going to India and from what I have learned “Yoga Star’s” karma is catching up to him. I heard they had 50% off special on his last teacher training! :0

  19. MADUMANGALA says:


    It’s me again. I resisted to make a comment for five months now because of the trouble I caused myself for the truths I revealed in my first and last expose on Yoga star and lemmings.
    Manager of Exalted Yoga Studio has basically exiled me from the scene there as she sent one of her henchpeople over to me to say I was not welcome there. I am reserving my freedom of speech rights to return with a MEGATON of Truth revelation of Yoga star to Yoga studio and will pull no punches next time. I come from a place where people do not like to be pushed around. Certainly not by these punk ass yogazis. I have been insulted, slandered and defamed. I have a mountain of evidence to prove it and I am going through the proper channels to sort it out as we speak. I promise to handle these affairs in a yogic manner and will reveal all in explicit detailed fact.
    I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it any more.

  20. Lisa Rivera says:


    Please check out The Yoga Stars on Elephant Journal with a new, updated prologue!

    http://www.elephantjournal.com/2012/01/prologue-to-the-yoga-stars–lisa-rivera/

    Peace Out, Love In

    Lisa

  21. Linda-Sama says:


    great story!

    BTW. I am in India right now (studying yoga!) and the latest on your Yoga Star’s Guru is that he is charging 2 lakh — 200,000 rupees — for “enlightenment.” Currently there are app. 48 rupees to the US $1.

    you do the math!

  22. leigh binder says:


    Uh…hey guys, if you read a little more closely, she does name the book said guru wrote…
    Easy enough to figure out!!!

    But but but….

    What I wanted to say was, great story and thank you for sharing your terrible experience. I am leaving for Mysore to get my 200 RYS in Sept which is pretty close to Bengaleru…I wont be dropping by or in for anything with that guy.

    Potential for harm is always prevalent when position in life is misconstrued as a means for self-aggrandizement and solipsistic treachery. Way to find your truth and share it for those who may now not suffer the same indignities…

    Personally, I dig Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj who sadly passed before I could meet him..

    Namaste

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