McYoga: Is it Killing Real Yoga?

 

I recently became an employee of one of the largest McYoga companies in the U.S., Corepower Yoga. Before that, I showed up, taught for an hour, and then disappeared. Now, it may seem a lot more complicated, but in fact, I still show up, teach for an hour, and disappear.

What makes a studio a McYoga studio? Well for one thing, there are lots of them. In some states, there are almost as many McYoga’s as there are Starbucks. For another, the average McYoga studio might offer 30 classes a day in three or more rooms, which in 60-plus studios is about 50,274 classes per month. Almost a billion served!

McYoga is controversial like McDonald’s because they are said to be driving out the independent studios and quality yoga. So why would a yogi teach and practice at a McYoga studio? Here are some reasons why.

Pros:

It’s your ‘Om studio. My local yoga studio was a neighborhood place before it was sold to McYoga. But here’s the thing, “corporate” only exists in the marketing on the walls and the unread emails in my inbox. We are friends who share birthdays and girls night out and we’ve done so for years and years, even before any of us were famous.

Getting paid on time. Right? At the McYoga, I have a contract (which is honored by both sides), I’m paid on time and the check never bounces. That is three more things than I can say about my experiences at some independent studios.

The students. McYoga has introduced yoga to more people than the invention of Lycra or Luon. New students, equals more mats, equals more yoga for everyone. There is no greater opportunity to transform lives than when 60 people show up for your class.

Cons:

The yoga is homogenized. You will not learn as much in the way of philosophy or physical alignment or advanced postures, but you will have a yogi workout. The yoga is often better at independent studios, but it could also be inconsistent. Sometimes the teacher talks for 30 minutes and then offers meditation. On the days when I have no time to screw around, I take McYoga because a workout is better than potentially nothing.

The low-pricing and market saturation is killing good yoga. Really? Is McDonald’s killing fine dining? In my opinion, what is killing quality yoga is the inconsistent offering from independent studios. I also teach at local independent studios where I can give more alignment, expertise and attention to my students and they love it. However if a new student shows up just once to an independent studio which is dirty it will turn them off of independent yoga everywhere. There are good independent studios, and there are bad ones, but the McYogas are always the same.

It’s easy to get hurt at a McYoga. Yes, especially if you don’t know what you are doing. When classes average 30 people the instructor can only put out the “fires” of misalignment. However, there are also outstanding instructors at McYoga studios who teach for many of the same reasons that I do, such as getting paid. Students will find those instructors if they want to get better, and then I hope and pray they take care of themselves in a large class.

There’s an abundance of intermediate yoga students. While beginner and advanced yoga students know they know nothing, intermediates know it all. The McYogas are filled with intermediate students who call corporate with complaints about not enough core work or a class they did not like. Om Namah Shivaya. I try to remember that not too long ago I was also one of those intermediate students. Now, I’m just a beginner and I know it.

Reprinted from Origin Magazine, 2012.

Michelle Berman Marchildon is the Yogi Muse. She is the author of “Finding More on the Mat: How I Grew Better, Wiser and Stronger through Yoga,” and a Columnist for Elephant Journal and Origin Magazine, and a contributor to Teachasana and My Yoga Online. She is an E-500 RYT with Yoga Alliance and teaches Aligned Vinyasa in Denver, Co. She is an Ambassador for Kiragrace, yoga clothes from a company with a heart. You can take Michelle with you on your computer or I-thing by downloading her classes from www.yogadownload.com.

3 Comments

  1. Kyczy Hawk on December 4, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    We have a phenomenal Independent Yoga Studio – Willow Glen Yoga and we are able to meet all students where they are. We also teach YOGA and do promote the concept so aplty phrased here ” There’s an abundance of intermediate yoga students. While beginner and advanced yoga students know they know nothing, intermediates know it all. … I try to remember that not too long ago I was also one of those intermediate students. Now, I’m just a beginner and I know it.”
    I try to retain compassion for Big Box Yoga – but it still isn’t the yoga that I love. To each his or her own…

  2. Michelle on March 9, 2013 at 8:50 am

    here I am again reading your whole site..and i love so many of the things you say.

    i worked at an independent studio prior to my own mcyoga studio wher i trained and started. That independent studio opened as a copy to another mcyoga studio and was owned by people who had never done yoga in their lives and it showed. I tried to work at a gym for a lot less than the mcyoga studio offered, not only did they try to lower my rate behind my back but it took them 8 months, YUP 8 months to put me on the schedule. Another independent studio claimed, without meeting me, interviewing me or taking my class that I was not what they were looking for because I had trained at a mcyoga studio..way to judge fellow yogi!

    there are great independent studios!!! and there are great teachers at mcyoga!

    anyway thank you again!!

    • Michelle Marchildon on March 9, 2013 at 9:19 am

      Yes, I agree. There is so much judgment about McYogas and about independent yoga studios. I have had good and bad experiences at each. What can you say? It is much easier to point the figure away, than it is to point it within.

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