A danger of being a celebrity yoga teacher?

Every now and again, my Google “yoga” news alert will become overwhelmed for a few days with one story: Russell Brand, naked yoga, etc.

Usually, but not always, I let them pass. But one this weekend seems to have a lesson behind it, I’m guessing:

Alex Baldwin’s wife, Hilaria Thomas, has been sued by a student who claims he suffered “serious” and “severe” physical injuries and “emotional upset” after a class with her.

Newspapers like the New York Post and web sites like Gawker are treating it pretty much as entertainment. Gawker did post a comment from someone claiming to be a friend of the plaintiff’s, though. The claim is that the guy, Spencer Wolff, was forced due to crowded conditions to perform a “dangerous” activity by a wall — or, really, a window. According to this friend, it sounds like while doing handstands he fell through that window, cutting his leg.

So why pass this on? Well, I’m not the only one who thinks that Thomas’ celebrity status may have made her a target of this suit. (It sounds like her husband does, too, as do most of the stories I’ve read.) While I’m sure this isn’t the first time this has happened, it seems to be the first big time it’s happening (at least while I’ve been paying attention).

And we’ve been talking about celebrity and Ashtanga lately, right? This may be a lesson in being careful what you wish for. Being famous (and sometimes, at least, righ) can have its downsides.

I think there also is the perhaps more legitimate discussion about how popular yoga teachers should handle classes that are, perhaps, overfilled. I’m not sure I’ve ever been to a class — back in the dark flow class days — that turned away students; they just squeezed more in. Are there popular teachers who have to say, “Sorry, we’re full”? Anyone experience that in New York, LA or elsewhere?

And is it a teacher’s responsibility — there I go bringing that up again — to figure out when there are too many students in a class for either the students’ safety or just the teachers’ ability to teach effectively? How might that work in a yoga chain business?

In other news, we are now headed, as a last-second decision, down to Tim Miller’s. Maybe there will be something to report back on from our trip.

Posted by Steve