What we can learn from the naked yoga Kardashian tale. Seriously

OK, readers. Sit back. I’m going to go as “bloggy” as I can here. When you reach the point you can no longer bear with it, realize that chances are I quit reading, myself, even sooner.

Due to serious and significant work-related travel, I was unable, in a timely manner, to respond to the wonderfully provocative challenge on Thursday from Rose at YogaRose.net to talk about the Kim Kardashian naked Ashtanga teacher story. Bobbie, instead, felt obliged to do the heavy lifting in my absence.

Naked yoga scene, via the Hollywood Reporter

Well, as I traveled today, and watched the coverage (more at Claudia’s terrific virtual home, too) unfold, I actually discovered substantive in the tale.

Yes. Substantive. I just connected substance and Kim Kardashian. Don’t tell me I don’t know how to “yoga” things together.

But first off, a correction. Some people seem to think KK’s first foray into celebrity-hood was via her sex tape with rapper Ray J. While that may have been when she busted on through, she already had a leg up as the daughter of attorney Robert Kardashian.

Robert Kardashian, you’re thinking. Robert Kardashian. I know I know that name.

Indeed you do. He was OJ Simpson’s defense attorney during… well, if you don’t know when, knowing KK may be the least of your worries.

Let’s fly from there, as if through an airport, to the substance of the KK story. If you missed it, this weekend, on her reality show, KK and her sister, also KK if I’m not mistaken, had a “naked yogi” teach them yoga. Skip a few key details (not by me, but via the editing of the reality show) and you have the end of KK’s marriage to an NBA player. Which already happened, and the show aired this weekend. Ah, the future in which we live!

But here is the substance, from the Hollywood Reporter’s coverage of the sordid tale and its central “playa”, yogi Ralph Craig:

As to future TV appearances, Craig would not be averse to doing a yoga reality show. “That was how yoga became popular in the United States. There are many older adults who remember that yoga show in the 60s. And there are so many random shows about fitness. But fitness is much more than just being fit.”

That stopped me. Does yoga — and even more specifically, Ashtanga — need a reality show to boost interest, take it to whatever the “next level” is given that yoga is something like a $6 billion industry in America these days? Maybe, I thought. Maybe this is something that could work.

Of course, it maybe couldn’t. I am aware of the Kino MacGregor pilot that had many abuzz this past spring. And I do think it is a lesson for us as we consider this point.

Back in the 1960s, TV — media in general — was vastly different from today. You could have some vaguely counter culture person appear on TV, demonstrate a few yoga poses, gently urge viewers to calm their breath and seek inner peace and, if all went well, build a whole PBS pledge drive around it.

Today, “reality TV” is actually less real. It is what we see the Kardashians putting on. It is “Survivor” and, amazingly, may have its most “real” example in American Idol. It also is, I think, why the editing of the Kino pilot rubbed some people the wrong way. Viewer expectations are that the “real” lives of people who would be on TV are a whole lot more interesting and full of drama than our own.

After all, if not, why not just live our own lives, right?

Still, I wonder if there is some middle ground, some Patanjali-approved direction that could succeed and spread the message of yoga, the way an introductory TV show to yoga might have in the 1960s. Who might star in it? Is it Kino? (Does anyone know the status of that show?)

If you don't know him, your loss

What about any of the Confluence teachers? Could a slightly more dramatic “Ashtanga New York” (as if the month after 9/11 isn’t dramatic enough) work on Fox with Eddie Stern? Why not? How about David Swenson on the Travel Channel? He couldn’t do an Anthony Bourdain-style look at his travels? Richard Freeman could put something together for OLN, bringing in rock climbing, hiking, snowboarding, etc., right? The remake of Hawaii 5-0 is still on, last I checked. What about at least a guest spot by Nancy Gligoff? Build off the Kardashian “reality” with a script that has a celebrity couple come to Maui for a combo yoga retreat / couples therapy (without going anywhere near the horrible movie of the similar themes) and then have one get murdered. In comes the 5-0 team.

Any and all of them would make compelling ambassadors for yoga and Ashtanga. They already do. So why not go to the “next logical step?”

And then there is Tim Miller’s show. Since he is the teacher I know best, and at risk of earning some kind of perpetual ban from Ashtanga Yoga Center, honestly, I can see him in the role of a less milquetoast Mr. Rogers. Maybe mix in a little of Eddie Murphy’s take from the old SNL. Tim could come in, take off his AYC pull-over, replace it with a different AYC pull-over, slide off his go-aheads, and sit down and talk to viewers about Ashtanga. Run it on Tuesday and call it “Tuesdays with Timji.” There could be a different lesson each episode, perhaps based on one of the Yoga Sutras or a bit of Vedic astrology. There could be a land of make believe behind his wall that looks suspiciously like Mysore, filled with coconuts, dangerous foods and a frightening rush of cars and scooters (in place of the train)…

Hang on a second. Forget you ever saw this post. I have to go get in line on the alley of broken dreams here in Los Angeles. I think I have come up with my ticket to fame and fortune.

Posted by Steve, with stepped-up irony

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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

8 thoughts on “What we can learn from the naked yoga Kardashian tale. Seriously”

  1. I think he is only 22. I already put my 2 cents in as well, then I remembered that I was not an effing genius at 22 and I smoked, drank and cursed like a sailor. Now I don’t smoke. This guy has a beautiful practice at 22 judging from the vimeo link Claudia posted. I have a hunch that he won’t get on that ride…

    1. I hope it doesn’t seem like I’m pointing any fingers at Craig (the “playa” description was purely fun and more a poke at the TV producers and the now broken up couple who are clearly the ones driving all this). I think he has a point: Maybe yoga could use a new round of ambassadorship — just not sure any of us would like what resulted!

  2. I am Ralph, the teacher from that episode. And that interview actually skewed what I said. I said a show about Yoga could be a good thing. I said nothing of a reality show about yoga.

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