For Yoga Journal‘s 35th anniversary issue, the cover girl and feature subject is singer Sarah McLachlan. I’m not surprised: McLachlan perfectly suits the magazine’s image of yoga. She is attractive, health-conscious, white, and “West Coast”; she supports progressive causes; she’s famous but, like many readers and the editor in chief herself, she’s also a single, working mom who practices yoga.
Reading McLachlan’s interview, I found nothing blatantly off-putting (the woo woo design concept wasn’t her fault). That said, I also found nothing compelling about her thoughts on Lilith Fair or surfing or motherhood or yoga. Without the celebrity hook, would that story have been published?
Before reading the cover story, I’d glanced at the letters to the editor. One was by senior teacher Judith Hanson Lasater, who criticized the magazine’s inclusion of ads featuring scantily clad women. My initial reaction was less about her letter and more about her role in the magazine: 35 years ago, she founded Yoga Journal; now she appeared only in a blurb.
Imagine if Lasater was featured as cover model and interviewee. Considering the brouhaha she spurred by her mere letter (click to it’s all yoga, baby, for the gist), she surely would’ve shared opinions worth reading.
Assuming that journalism is about big scoops, edgy ideas, and real debate—and that Yoga Journal is real journalism—wouldn’t a Lasater feature have topped the McLachlan homage? (Click to 360 Days of Adho Mukha Svanasana for an analysis of Yoga Journal covers.)
Don’t get me wrong: I actually consider Yoga Journal to be today’s best mainstream yoga magazine. Despite its glossiness, it does have some substance (such as Sally Kempton’s writings on meditation). And, while I’ve never been a Sarah McLachlan fan, I hold nothing against her.
But, seriously, what was she doing in Yoga Journal?