It's a new website that streams nine different yoga workouts, refreshed weekly, to keep your practice moving. Yoga joins the 21st Century in this ‘virtual studio’ -a concept literally dreamed into being by two Brooklynities, advertiser and author Susi Rajah, and Jess Gronholm, director of Crunch’s Northeastern Yoga program and current star of Dirty Yoga.
If you are looking for spirituality or community, look elsewhere. Dirty Yoga is straight-up exercise. This service is designed to move your body, whenever and wherever there is Internet connection. This is “yoga for people who make sh*t happen.” YogaCity NYC's Sara Hubbs went to check it out.
Sara Hubbs:The name Dirty Yoga makes me think of many, many things.
Susi Rajah: We brainstormed a lot and this was the one we kept coming back to because of the juxtaposition of the two words. You never see them together, not in a good way. When the site was first up we started getting visitors from Japan, Norway, and Russia and then we realized they were searching for porn! They were actually searching for dirty yoga.
SH:What is non-porn Dirty Yoga?
Jess Gronholm: Dirty Yoga is about convenience. The website was created for people who don't have time to do yoga, or do not have access to a local studio or gym, but also for people that have had a bad or weird experience with yoga.
SR: We looked at all the reasons people aren't doing yoga - they work 12-hours a day, they wouldn't be comfortable at a yoga studio, or they don’t think yoga is exercise. We tried to answer them with Dirty. For most busy people the goals of yoga are too intangible, they might just want to work out.
SH:I did a session while my daughter was napping.
SR: When we designed this we looked at new moms because they basically have naptime and that’s it. We also looked at entrepreneurs and people with very demanding jobs. The worst group was entrepreneurs with new babies! These women had no time at all.
SH:Who sequences the classes? Are the sessions all levels?
JG: I do, and yes, they are all levels. We work for months to plan and storyboard everything. Every program we have whether it’s Heavy, which is yoga with weights or Fast and Loose, which is a cardio based class, or Stretch are pretty much all levels. Strong Hold, is the most challenging class that we offer.
SH: In the class I did there were few modifications. Are you worried about people injuring themselves?
JG: The poses I’ve selected are the most approachable postures in yoga that most people can do. There aren’t any pretzel poses. Flexibility is really an issue especially for guys, so I try to offer modifications when I really feel there is a place for it, at the same time I want to keep people going. SR: We are adding short videos on how to use blocks for flexibility issues, as well as a whole basics range. We are also breaking down every Dirty Yoga pose into a short video.
SH: The website design is great. I love the Dirty Yoga Pledge, especially #004. “(We will) Never try to ruin your appreciation of good food, nice wine, vodka drinks, and bacon...”
SR: I felt I could never be a true yogi because I ate meat.
JG: What other form of exercise can you think of where you can't eat meat, or where there are actual lifestyle judgments put on you?
SH: So what about the “eight limbs” of yoga?
JG: The other stuff is good and I love it, I trained at Jivamukti, but I've been teaching a long time and have gravitated to this approach. Making people feel comfortable, challenging them, and letting the other stuff unfold for them. People really need to move their bodies rather than hear me talk for 15 minutes and try to impart some nugget of wisdom.
SH:From your site, there is this quote: "The chances of discovering the secrets to life and the universe in a regular yoga class are slim to none and the chances of doing it online are slightly less."
SR: It's not that we reject the spiritual, it’s just not effectively taught online. It's something you have to find for yourself.
JG: There are a lot of studios and gyms and videos-we are just another choice. Our customers appreciate the straight-forwardness; there is no preaching or yoga music.
SH:You really have stripped away all of the ‘yoga’ signifiers. You present this approachable guy in regular shorts, no yoga wear, no teacher voice, and no props, just a white background.
SR: It’s amazing how what he is wearing really affects the guys. It is something they have in their closet. We wanted to change the way yoga looks, the aesthetics and design are not great and that turns a lot of people off.
JG: Yoga was set-up a certain way and it has stayed that way for forty years. In a studio you have the curtains, the altar, the deity, the lotus flower and if you look at a yoga video from 1978 and a yoga DVD from 2008 it is amazing how similar they are.
SR: Because it has been set-up a certain way people think classes have to be 90 minutes, but the Internet is a brand new medium. We also talked about having multiple teachers straight away, but if a studio could get their best teachers to teach all of the classes they would.
SH: Is there going to be an online Dirty Yoga teacher training?
SR & JG: Oh NO, NO, NO…
You can sign up for a free 24-hour trial period or get ‘The Fix’ for $10 a week. ‘The Program’ will cost you $25 for 28 days, or commit to an ongoing subscription, ‘The Habit’, for just $20 per month. Click here for more info.