Reflecting on a Decade of Growth and Change at Yoga Journal
I have just finished reading the latest issue of Yoga Journal pretty much cover-to-cover, and I am inspired—inspired to commit to my practice on a daily basis, even if only for five minutes, inspired to try drinking a green smoothie for breakfast, and inspired to try to connect with an inner sense of peace to overcome the daily stress that makes me clench my jaw and hunch my shoulders.
The March issue is probably the last one to carry the name of Kaitlin Quistgaard. After ten years with the magazine, seven of them as editor in chief, Kaitlin has decided to follow her bliss onward to the next project. I had the opportunity recently to talk with Kaitlin, and she discussed many of the things she did in her time with Yoga Journal, things in which she continues to take great pride and joy.
The audience for yoga “gets larger all the time,” she says, and during her tenure, she worked to broaden the appeal of the magazine to a wider range of practitioners. “As the yoga community was exploring all kinds of new forms of practice, we started including more and more and trying to be a real inclusive voice for anyone who took the practice seriously but was improvising and innovating and making it theirs in new ways, as well as more traditional forms of practice.”
One of the things Quistgaard brought to the pages (as well as the events and online) of YJ is AcroYoga, which is, as it sounds, a blend of yoga and acrobatics and which is “steeped in a real practice of compassion, giving and trust ... that goes with the practice.” She continues: “In the old school things like that might not have made it into the pages of the magazine or been celebrated.”
Another innovation which pleases Quistgaard is video of home practice offered free on the website. There is, she says, “a lot of amazing content, great teachers and innovative sequences all available free on yoga.com.” The publication also increased its frequency from six to nine issues and added special issues on themes such as happiness, weight loss and stress reduction, all repackaged from their “huge library of content.”
Another innovation: “One of the hallmarks of the last couple of years is a digital program where a feature story in the magazine sends you to an online program,” for example a 21-day challenge “to encourage you to return to a regular practice” which included a daily inspirational email and video links. This program was very successful: “in the first month we had something like 42,000 sign-ups.”
Yoga Journal, owned by Active Interest Media, is now a sprawling entity which includes print, online, apps, events, and which harnesses star-power (the likes of Christy Turlington and Sarah McLachlan) to do good and to spread the practice.
For Quistgaard, it’s been a run that’s been “really satisfying and really fun.” After a breather (some skiing out West, a backpacking trip to Patagonia), she plans to explore some innovative and interesting new media approaches for her “next career adventure.” But YJ will always be in her heart, as will yoga itself: “I’m deeply attached to my own yoga practice and that will always be part of my life.”
We say Om to that!
Note: read more about Yoga Journal, Active Interest Media, and the publishing scene in San Francisco in the upcoming April issue of Publishing Executive.