Being a yoga brand ambassador

Being a yoga brand ambassador is a trendy subject now, regarding what’s going on in the US between a huge yoga brand and a yoga teacher, and the repercussions it has on the brand ambassadors, so I’ve decided to share my own experience as a brand ambassador myself. (Not the same that is involved in the current drama, but a similar one).

A little more than 2 years ago I went shopping in a town near mine, where a store of a famous yoga brand I liked just opened. I used to shop for their outfits when I was in LA, but they were starting to conquer the European market and suddenly here they were at a reasonable distance from my place!

The staff was super nice and I immediately liked them. They asked if I was interested to give free classes sometimes in the store, and I said yes. (I liked their products and the girl I was speaking to was the sweetest).

I came back a month later to teach my free class, and that’s when they offered me to become an ambassador.

I was honored even though I didn’t really understand what being an ambassador meant for them. They didn’t ask me to post pictures on social media (although I did because I was just super grateful), I could wear other brands even when I was teaching in their stores (which I never did because, you know, it felt wrong), they said they would help me for whatever project I could have that would fit their image, and they gave me a gift card, so I can shop in their stores worldwide. (the amount was really REALLY interesting…).

When you’re an ambassador for a brand like this you are spoiled. They took us for some coaching week-ends in magical places, where we were doing yoga and personal development (I even taught a class to one of this event). They told us how much we were family, how it was more than a clothing brand, how they wanted t to spread the message of healthy living, we all shared very very personal stuff during those weekends, it was almost like a group therapy, but we felt safe because, yes they were family remember?

I’m not saying we were brainwashed, but you know, we were super spoiled and they sell us this idea of a dreamy life with them, and I started to believe that they were not only doing business, but that they had a higher purpose, that business was is just a way to serve their “higher goals”….

….Until the store that recruited me was shut down.

Just like that! In a month time, may be more, they closed the store. The staff was very sad, because they have created an amazing team, and because them too, have believed all the beautiful words they were told about being a family and stuff, and everything happened so fast. They told us that for us it will not change a thing, that we were still ambassadors.

We had another weekend scheduled, which some of us (including me) attended. But it was different, than the last one. Suddenly we had less attention, it’s like they were embarrassed we came.

After that week-end I never heard of them again. Except for one email saying they will call, it was months ago, they never did. Suddenly there were no more family, no more sharing, no more support. Only some dollars left on my gift card. And it made me realize (although deep inside I knew it all along the way) that the only thing that matters for them is money. They just try to wrap that in a beautiful healthy loving and caring package, but in the end there is no real humanity and it’s all fake.

I was suspicious during all this time, but you know, you always want to believe the good things people are selling you.

Don’t misunderstand me, I’m forever grateful for this experience, I’ve met good friends and good people (the staff from the store, some other ambassadors…), I was showered with gifts…

What I’m trying to say here is that when you get an opportunity like this one, never lose the idea that this is only pure marketing and business, a brand rarely become that big without doing pure marketing and business. And most of the times they have more than yoga pants hidden in their closets…

life in an ashram

My indian trip ended in an ashram in Rishikesh, a way too short experience that I will try again for sure.

Rishikesh is a yogi heaven, a city of pilgrimage at the gateaway of the Himalayas where hindus and yogis come, as it’s considered a holy place by them. You might have heard of it as well because that’s where the Beatles retired for a while, in the ashram of Maharishi Mahesh who founded the movement of transcendantal meditation.

Rishikesh is also a heaven place for vegetarian people. I haven’t seen a place where they serve meat in town! It’s amazing to be able to pick something on the menu not wondering if they put meat broth or other animal products in the food. (Except for milk product as they are not vegan). The food was amazing everywhere we went.

The people of the ashram was very welcoming and immediatly informed me about all the ceremonies I could join. The room was super simple, two beds with a thin mat a sheet and a wool blanket. The bathroom was very basic (but at least I had my own), a shower, a sink and a toilet (without toilet paper but with a little shower to wash myself. No heater could be found in the room (the night can be cold in the Himalayas) but I had another blanket that I use in the plane, so I was not cold at all.

Every evening they organize some chantings in their temple, it was amazing. I had my chanting mala with me and was happy to use it. The energy that emanate from this kind of event is very powerful and joyful, we ended up dancing almost in a trance

At dawn there is a Guru Puja. Guru Puja is a ceremony of gratitude honoring the lineage of spiritual Masters, it creates an invitation to the Divine. Of course I also had time for meditation. After a nice Chai massala tea, I asked for a yoga class and they sent me their teacher.

It’s the first time I was taking a class with an Indian teacher in India. I told him I was teaching as well, and that I was curious to see how they were teaching and practicing in the country of origin of Yoga. The teacher laughed and say: “you, western people, are not practicing yoga, you are doing gymnastic, and it’s very sad. I see some western teachers coming here, the rythme of the flow sometimes is more dance than yoga”. And honestly I know is right, for most of us. I’ve taken fun classes where we do a mix of asanas and dance with loud music, but I agree, it’s so far from the tradition of yoga.

His class was very interesting, we did yoga for the eyes, warmed up the body by jumping around, and finally practiced some asanas, and savasana. But it was not over after savasana, he made me practice some chest opening on the floor, such as salabhasana. We finished the class with some pranayama exercises.. And where I only teach one pranayama exercise per class, we practiced nadi shodhana, kapalabhati and Bhramari (the bee breathing)!

The adjustment were also different, way more vigorous,. Where in the west most of the teachers are cautious with their hands on assist, in India they go for it, to say the least.

The life in the ashram is simple and spiritual, a nice break from our intense life in our challenging world. I will go again for sure.

Some ashrams in Rishikesh:

Parmarth Niketan ashram

Sivananda ashram

Anand Prakash Yoga ashram

Madhuban ashram

Magical Jaipur

India stole my heart. Honestly, I had negative preconceived ideas about this trip, mostly because of all the people who tells you how much you will be sick or how many traumatizing stuff you will see. It’s also true that it was a yoga retreat pretty well organized and that we were not backpacking around. But for a first time it was exactly what I needed.

After Delhi and Agra, we went to Jaipur, the pink city, and it was the highlight of this trip. Yoga twice a day with Annie Carpenter, and many excursions. Everything was breathtaking. The city itself is incredible, we had lunches in some hidden gems where we forgot where we were, shopped in many different places from cheap bazar to high end stores, visited a local house, learned how to fly a kite (it’s a Jaipur favorite lol), and we’ve attended a private concert of Rajasthan traditional music (absolutely delightful). We also had the opportunity to watch briefly a polo game not with horses but with camels (one of the most ridiculous thing I’ve had the chance to watch lol).

The variety of vegetarian food is incredible here, and I was surprised by how they are ahead of us in terms of healthy food. You find superfood and many organic stuff super easily.

I highly recommend Jaipur modern kitchen for some healthy vegan/vegetarian indian inspired modern cuisine. And for a nice royal experience baradari inside the city palace, where you can eat or have a drink.

After a short week in Jaipur we headed to Rishikesh where I’ve spent a few days in an ashram. I’ll write about the ashram experience shortly.

If you have more questions about my trip, send me a message.

Namaste