Tag Archives: sadie nardini

Yoga Businesses and the Unpaid Internship

In the business of yoga, it is not uncommon for people to do ridiculously low-paid work.  Perhaps even more prevalent is the work-study or “karma yoga” student who works for free.  As yoga businesses strive to get more competitive (some actually writing business plans gasp!), we’re seeing an emergence of some new trends such as the yoga talent management agency and the unpaid intern.

With the economy as it is and the job outlook abysmal, many job seekers and employers are engaging in unpaid internship arrangements.

A great way to keep the overhead low, right?
A great way to gain real-world experience, right?

Tipped off by a recent NY Times article on the subject, we followed a link to the United States Department of Labor where we found a very interesting article on what constitutes a legal unpaid internship.

From the Wage and Hour Division Fact Sheet #71:

The Test For Unpaid Interns
There are some circumstances under which individuals who participate in “for-profit” private sector internships or training programs may do so without compensation.  The Supreme Court has held that the term “suffer or permit to work” cannot be interpreted so as to make a person whose work serves only his or her own interest an employee of another who provides aid or instruction.  This may apply to interns who receive training for their own educational benefit if the training meets certain criteria.  The determination of whether an internship or training program meets this exclusion depends upon all of the facts and circumstances of each such program.

The following six criteria must be applied when making this determination:
1.  The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment;
2.  The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;
3.  The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;
4.  The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded;
5.  The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and
6.  The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.

If all of the factors listed above are met, an employment relationship does not exist under the FLSA, and the Act’s minimum wage and overtime provisions do not apply to the intern.  This exclusion from the definition of employment is necessarily quite narrow because the FLSA’s definition of “employ” is very broad.  Some of the most commonly discussed factors for “for-profit” private sector internship programs are considered below.

To sum it up, unpaid internships are meant to be learning experience for the intern.  So much so, that sometimes their presence actually impedes work at times.  It is an educational experience where the intern is the primary beneficiary with loads of supervision.

Why is all that important to point out?  Because unrealistic yoga business plans are about as abundant as unpaid interns and downward facing dogs.  Case in point?  The Greenpoint, Brooklyn / Albany, California-based YAMA (Yoga Artists Talent Agency) Talent agency co-owned by Ava Taylor and Chris Cuevas strives to make yoga teachers a living.  Well+Good NYC writes:  “Like others who teach for a living, yoga instructors should have good health insurance and should be able to send their kids to college.”  Through a combined force of strategy development, touring, media, social marketing, public relations, legal help, sponsorships, and creative styling for teachers such as Sadie Nardini, Duncan Wong, Annie Carpenter, and Schuyler Grant, YAMA aims to do just that.  The problem?  When YAMA plans to utilize the talents of an unpaid intern to do the work.

Posted on Craigslist.org 4/9/2010 (we’ve noted the questionable stuff):

Who we’re looking for:
Knowledge of Microsoft Office Suite, Google documents, and the Internet (FB, Twitter, You Tube) required.

-The chosen intern will be innovative, committed and will be part of the creation of a company that is revolutionizing the yoga, health and wellness industry.

-You’ll work a minimum of 15 hours, commit to a 3 month contract starting May 12th, and, of course, join us for complimentary yoga twice a week.

What you’ll be doing:
-Client Relations: Day to day liason and interface with YAMA clients. Maintaining and ensuring current client files (schedules, assessments, development tracks).

-Public Relations:
Approaching traditional print media publications/outlets gaining press coverage for YAMA clients and YAMA. Assist in the creation of media pitches, press releases, story lines, media plans, media lists.

-Social Media:
Researching social media opportunities for YAMA clients and YAMA.
Maintaining YAMA Clients/YAMA online presence on Facebook, Twitter, You Tube and various blogs. Creative use of the internet to promote our clients.

-Brand Integration:
Approaching various brand alignment opportunities seeking sponsorships, endorsements and advertisement related opportunities for YAMA clients. Day to day liason with top brands in the wellness and lifestyle industry.

-Booking/Touring services:
Creating individualized travel itineraries, negotiating and booking appearances for YAMA clients. Cultivating relationships with venues (studios, retreat facilities, etc.). Maintaining booking checklist.

Compiling a database of opportunities related to yoga, health and wellness around the world. Daily upkeep of all yoga, health and wellness related publications.

Whew!  That is one busy intern.

We at Elephantbeans are all for creative business ideas and promoting a living wage for yoga teachers and yoga-related employees.  We also stand for walking the talk.  Enough of people getting used and abused.  Enough with sleazy studio owners and unjust business practices.  Enough with lousy teacher pay and no job stability.  Enough with staying silent with being unpaid, underpaid, underemployed or overused.  Enough with yoga businesses staying under the radar with issues like this.  At the risk of being unpopular, here it is:  this is NOT okay.



Back in August we leaked the news about the Great Debate between the meat-eating Sadie Nardini and the veggie-loving Sharon Gannon. After a delay in plans, our sources now tell us that theses yoginis will take their corners on October 8th at 12 noon (EDT) via The Huffington Post. More details to follow soon…


THE GREAT DEBATE – Are Yoga and Meat-Eating Mutually Exclusive?

Back in June, Sadie Nardini, the edgy NYC core strength yogini, served up some food for thought on yoga and what’s on your plate in her Huffington Post flesh-eating confessional, in which many shared their ops.  Among the comments, there were some lovers and some haters, and now word on the street has it that Nardini and Gannon (of the animal-loving Jivamukti school) are laying down their mats for a duke ’em out debate  (in that peaceful yoga way, of course) via live video on the Huffington Post this Wednesday, 8/19.   Stay tuned for the official time to watch it live…


Yoga Agents? Yoga Goes Hollywood

Yoga is now going beyond just clothes, props and trademarked styles, now there appears to be a new chapter where yoga and business are uniting to bring the often flighty community of free-loving do-gooders who just want to share yoga bliss with their students with a paycheck. Some may think this is a way that yogis are selling out, but if yoga is your career and you are not so business-savvy, it really is in your best interest to find someone who can network and market your talents for you – because hey, let’s be realistic, everyone has to eat and in order to eat you need to make some mullah.

After a recent press release about the Gap’s attempt to gain market share with its new line of pure body layering apparel that targets yogis, we did some investigating to find out a little bit more about YAMA, the PR rep for A-list instructors like Sadie Nardini and Ashley Turner.

Straight from Ava Taylor, one of the founders of YAMA, the Yoga Artist Management Agency, the company is  “a joint venture with Velour Music Group – producers of the groundbreaking Wanderlust Festival.  YAMA is the premier yoga talent agency in the world exclusively representing a diverse portfolio of distinguished instructors.”

YAMA seems to be the forerunner of yogic agencies,  hooking up athletes with legitimate endorsements, sponsorships and advertising gigs.  So be on the lookout for more brand integration of yoga instructors in unconventional placements like corporate events and festivals.  As a firm believer that everyone could use a little yoga in their world, I am interested to see how this new type of agency will pan out.

For more info on YAMA, try emailing yoga.artist.management@gmail.com (no website as of yet, that I know of, which I do encourage them to launch sooner than later if they are looking to gain momentum and keep ahead as other players enter ‘the game.’)

Harmony mats are fierce


Kino touts mat in the sunshine state

posted by ebean

In her latest youtube video, Sadie Nardini (just opened the Fierce Club in Manhattan) endorses Jade Yoga’s eco-friendly Harmony mat.

Did Sadie get a free mat out of it?  Maybe.  Does she secretly want to grace the back cover of Yoga Journal while touting a mat on a busy Manhattan sidewalk?  Perhaps.  Whatever.  Anyone who makes sustainable hip is fierce, especially if their hair is inhumanly red.

New Yoga Studio in NYC

posted by ebean

If you haven’t heard, Sadie Nardini is opening a new yoga studio called The Fierce Club.  In her latest youtube vid, looks like she’s christening the new space…

Yoga is hard!

posted by ebean

Youtube video confession:  “Yoga is hard!!!”

Really? Bon Jovi Yoga Chant?

posted by ebeans

I used to work at a studio in Manhattan and can remember one of our instructors singing Bon Jovi through the wall.  Now, this was a while back and it seems to be gaining momentum.  After reading a recent NY Times article and now this blog post, I can’t help but wonder WTF?  Well anyway, it does make me laugh.  🙂

Sadie Nardini singing the Bon Jovi Chant