Yoga Journal

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Yoga Journal
Yoga Journal sample cover March 2008.jpg
Cover of the March 2008 issue
The model is in Vasishtasana, Side Plank Pose
EditorLindsay Tucker
Managing Director of DigitalTasha Eichenseher
Former editorsTasha Eichenseher, Carin Gorrell, Kaitlin Quistgaard
Frequency6xs a year + 5 SIPs
PublisherSharon Houghton
Total circulation
(December 2014)
375,618 [1]
First issueMay 1975
Company Outside
Based in Boulder, Colorado [2]
ISSN 0191-0965

Yoga Journal is a website and digital journal, formerly a print magazine, [3] on yoga as exercise founded in California in 1975 with the goal of combining the essence of traditional yoga with scientific understanding. It has produced live events and materials such as DVDs on yoga and related subjects.


The magazine grew from the California Yoga Teachers Association's newsletter, which was called The Word. Yoga Journal has repeatedly won Western Publications Association's Maggie Awards for "Best Health and Fitness Magazine". It has however been criticized for representing yoga as being intended for affluent white women; in 2019 it attempted to remedy this by choosing a wider variety of yoga models. The magazine was acquired by Outside in 2020. [4]


Yoga Journal was started in May 1975 by the California Yoga Teachers Association (CYTA), with Rama Jyoti Vernon as President, William Staniger as the founding editor, and Judith Lasater on the board and serving as copy editor. Their goal was to combine "the essence of classical yoga with the latest understandings of modern science." The journal grew from the CYTA's newsletter, which had been called The Word. Initially, the journal was staffed by volunteers, and contributors were unpaid. The first issue's 300 copies were personally distributed by the founders. [5] [6]


By the mid-1990s, as yoga's popularity in America grew, circulation for Yoga Journal reached 66,000. In 1998 the former banker John Abbott bought the magazine and hired Kathryn Arnold as editor-in-chief. The magazine was relaunched with a new design in 2000. Since their arrival, the paid circulation grew from 90,000 to 350,000 by 2010; the readership reached over 1,300,000. [7]

Yoga Journal has won major media awards including eight Western Publications Association's Maggie Awards for "Best Health and Fitness Magazine," and the Award's top honor for "Best Overall Consumer Publication." [8]

Forbes has called the Yoga Journal website "the Web's most expansive and impressive Yoga site." [9]


A display of Koundinyasana at the Yoga Journal Conference, 2011 Yoga Journal Conference 1.jpg
A display of Koundinyasana at the Yoga Journal Conference, 2011

Yoga Journal runs features on the themes of yoga, food and nutrition, fitness, wellness, and fashion and beauty. Its website offers definitions and advice on yoga styles and equipment, with directions for how to practise over a hundred asanas or yoga poses. Readers can select asanas by their name, their type, such as forward bends or hip-opening poses; by anatomical area, such as knees or lower back; or by claimed benefit, such as for anxiety or digestion. [9]

The journalist Stefanie Syman calls the magazine's language that "of science and physiology, of diet and blood pressure". [10] In her view, the journal uses "highly clinical-sounding language" [10] even when covering "more mystical topics"; [10] it stresses the use of yoga as therapy. [11] Syman notes that the journal's coverage was "eclectic", especially noticeable in its calendar and classified advertisements. [12] The magazine covers topics beyond exercise; early in the journal's history, in 1976, it published the guru Ram Dass's confession. [13] Yoga Journal's 2012 survey, Yoga in America found the yoga market to be worth more than $10 billion per year. The data, collected by the Harris Interactive Service Bureau (HISB), showed that 20.4 million people practiced yoga in America at that time. [14] There are 12 international editions, published in Australia, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Thailand and Turkey. [15]

The magazine is accompanied by a program of live events, led by well-known yoga teachers and gurus such as Cyndi Lee, Judith Hanson Lasater, Kino MacGregor and Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa. [16] [17] The events have included an annual yoga conference, held in venues around the United States, which combined practical sessions and talks. [18] [17]


The social historian Sarah Schrank records that co-founder Judith Lasater "made waves" [19] with her public criticism of the magazine in 2010; in Lasater's view, "photos of naked or half-naked women ... do not teach the viewer about yoga practice or themselves. They aren't even about the celebration of the beauty of the human body or the beauty of the poses [ asanas], which I support. These ads are just about selling a product." [19]

The journalist Rosalie Murphy, writing in The Atlantic in 2014, stated that Yoga Journal and similar yoga magazines are illustrated in "nearly every spread" with a thin woman, nearly always white; the image of yoga that is conveyed is, she argues, that yoga is intended for affluent white women. Murphy notes that the apparent stereotype is grounded in reality: in a 2012 study by Yoga Journal itself, over 80% of American practitioners of yoga were white. [20] The scholars Agi Wittich and Patrick McCartney wrote in 2020 that the image of contemporary yoga is the idealized, fit, young, slim, white, female yoga body, commercialized on the covers of glossy magazines such as Yoga Journal, and that non-lineage yoga evolved in reaction against that image. [21]

In January 2019, Yoga Journal exceptionally published two covers for the magazine, one showing a slim white woman, the other showing a larger black woman, both accompanied by a headline "The Leadership Issue", intended to examine the evolution of yoga and the part played by "lineage, social media, and power dynamics." [22] The pair of covers drew a strong response, [23] [24] leading the journal's brand director, Tasha Eichenseher, to respond with an apology that "we caused harm" [22] to "communities that have been disproportionately excluded from yoga", [22] and an explanation that she was "working to make Yoga Journal more representative—regarding age, race, ability, body type, yoga style, gender, and experience." [22]

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  1. "eCirc for Consumer Magazines". Alliance for Audited Media. December 31, 2012. Retrieved June 21, 2013.
  2. "Yoga Journal". Active Interest Media. Retrieved December 10, 2015.
  3. "Print Magazine FAQs: Why is my print magazine subscription ending?". Outside Inc. 2022. Retrieved 9 December 2022. Print editions have been at the heart of our business for over 75 years – a span of time only possible due to valued readers like you. It is with mixed emotions we will no longer issue the print version of some of our magazines.
  4. "Pocket Outdoor Media Acquires Three Divisions from Active Interest Media and Completes Its Series A Financing". Vegetarian Times . July 1, 2020. Retrieved 2022-02-24.
  5. Syman 2010, pp. 244–245, 262.
  6. Schneider 2003, p. 88.
  7. "Yoga Journal". Archived from the original on 24 January 2010.
  8. "Yoga Journal Wins Eighth Maggie Award for "Best Health and Fitness Magazine"". Yoga Journal. 4 May 2011. Retrieved 10 May 2019.
  9. 1 2 "Best of the Web". 2005. Archived from the original on 1 September 2005.
  10. 1 2 3 Syman 2010, p. 248.
  11. Syman 2010, p. 278.
  12. Syman 2010, pp. 350–351.
  13. Syman 2010, pp. 257–259.
  14. "Yoga Journal - Yoga Yoga in America Study - Yoga in America Study 2012". Archived from the original on March 31, 2014. Retrieved March 3, 2014.
  15. "International Editions". Yoga Journal. Retrieved 2 November 2019.
  16. McCrary, Meagan (7 August 2015). "Yoga Journal Events: 20 Years, 20 Memories". Yoga Journal. Retrieved 22 May 2022.
  17. 1 2 Kurut, Heather Freer (August 2007). "Yoga Journal Conference Review". Yoga Chicago.
  18. Rapp, Stephanie (28 August 2007). "6 Steps to Prepare for a Yoga Conference: Attending your first or 100th yoga conference? Know what you need and what to expect with these yoga conference tips". Yoga Journal. Retrieved 22 May 2022.
  19. 1 2 Schrank, Sarah (2016). "Naked Yoga and the Sexualization of Asana". In Berila, Beth; Klein, Melanie; Roberts, Chelsea Jackson (eds.). Yoga, the Body, and Embodied Social Change: An Intersectional Feminist Analysis. Lexington Books. p. 157. ISBN   978-1-4985-2803-0.
  20. Murphy, Rosalie (8 July 2014). "Why Your Yoga Class Is So White". The Atlantic . "You can look at all those journals and you'll not see one woman of color," said Raja Michelle, herself a white woman, who founded the studio. "We associate yoga with being skinny, white, and even upper class."
  21. Wittich, Agi; McCartney, Patrick (2020). "Changing Face of the Yoga Industry, Its Dharmic Roots and Its Message to Women: an Analysis of Yoga Journal Magazine Covers, 1975–2020". Journal of Dharma Studies. 3 (1): 31–44. doi: 10.1007/s42240-020-00071-1 . ISSN   2522-0926.
  22. 1 2 3 4 Eichenseher, Tasha (11 January 2019). "Yoga Journal's Response to the January 2019 Covers". Yoga Journal.
  23. For example: Bondy, Dianne. "Jessamyn Stanley and the Yoga Journal Debacle". Yoga for All. Retrieved 30 October 2019.
  24. Reported on, for example, by a female yoga teacher: Howell, Allison (13 January 2019). "Conversation Starters: Why Can't Yoga Journal Get it Right?". Bad Yogi Magazine. in 2019, and still not learning our lessons. In the latest wave of criticism of the magazine, Yoga Journal is facing heat over the cover of the January/ February 2019 issue shared by Maty Ezraty and Jessamyn Stanley.