Cigarettes. Sex in the studio. Getting high. Sound like yoga?
It would if you were talking about the new web series Namaste Bitches, which parodies the Los Angeles yoga culture as a catty, exclusive, and anything-but-zen space. The series, created by highly successful yogi Summer Chastant, chronicles an up-and-coming instructor named Sabine, who moved from New York City to LA to get in on the Hollywood Vinyasa scene. Rather than feel welcomed by her new studio family, she's confronted by a strict "behavior contract," catty co-workers, a greedy studio owner, and more focus on a social media following than following the practice of yoga itself.
It's not uncommon these days for the number of yoga social media stars you follow on Instagram to outnumber the number of classes you've actually been to, and the series is all about putting the spotlight on this changing—and some would argue corrupted—world of yoga.
For example, when Sabine finds out that one of her fellow teachers isn't even certified yet, but is up for a senior teaching position, her colleague retorts: "Yeah, nobody cares about that anymore. She has like a gazillion Instagram followers and that's what counts." To a certain extent, it rings true. (See: The Rise of the Personal Trainer Slash Celebrity.)
But that isn't saying all studios or instructors are fueled by greed, competition, or viral posts. (And the social media trend isn't necessarily a bad thing! If there's anything to motivate you to get back into the studio, it's a beachside shot of dancer's pose or an uplifting quote.) And there are plenty of down-to-Earth studios dedicated to providing an authentic yoga practice, and instructors that teach to spread the love and light of yoga. (Meet the women who are out to prove The Yoga Body Stereotype Is BS.)
These bite-sized, five-minute episodes are just quick enough to enjoy while you're waiting for your next class to start. But take it as a reminder of the real reasons for practicing—not just because you want to take a handstand selfie or to break in your new Lululemon leggings. Namaste to that.