MEDIA PROFILE: Yoga Journal stays focused on happy, fulfilled, illuminated living

Stories about reincarnation and psychic powers won't work for Yoga Journal, but if you focus on mental and emotional well-being, and have a little imagination, you can't go wrong.

Stories about reincarnation and psychic powers won't work for Yoga Journal, but if you focus on mental and emotional well-being, and have a little imagination, you can't go wrong.

Twenty-five years ago, Yoga Journal, then a 10-page photocopied document, was born. Its founders, an intrepid band of yogis who belonged to the California Yoga Teachers Association, sought to create a publication that would bring the community together and convey to yoga practitioners the most medically sound and up-to-date information there is. As yoga began its steady climb from the fringes of American life to the mainstream, Yoga Journal, now a glossy, has remained focused on combining the essence of the 5,000-year tradition with practical information on modern science. "We just want to hear about yoga," says senior editor Phil Catalfo. "Our readers look to Yoga Journal as a way of living, and we are only interested in serving our readers. When people pitch us, they should take the long view and look at the big picture. Look at how our readers are finding ways to achieve mental and emotional well-being. Look at how they're developing happy, fulfilled and illuminated lives. If you've got something that supports that idea, then Yoga Journal wants to know about it." With 15 million Americans now practicing yoga, a number that's tripled over the past five years, Yoga Journal remains the only large yoga publication exploring yoga in all its meanings. When John Abbott, a former investment banker and avid practitioner of yoga, bought the magazine in 1998, he worked closely with a new editorial team to narrow the scope of the magazine. Yoga Journal was relaunched in 2000 with a new design, and has since tripled its circulation to 300,000. With 74% of its readership between ages 25 and 54, and an 83% female following, Yoga Journal is targeting the educated, affluent yoga practitioner who embraces yoga as a way of life right down to their day-to-day philosophy, the food they eat, and their human interactions. Published seven times a year, Yoga Journal does claim to have a wide-ranging editorial appetite, though the editors are quick to warn against new-age-type pitches. "If the subject has something to do with reincarnation or psychic powers, that's not going to work for us," says Catalfo. "But if someone has a book on back problems and restorative yoga, then we're interested. We encourage publicists to have some imagination and, if they're intimately familiar with the magazine, they'll know the kind of unexpected turns we can make." An example of this is Yoga Journal's March/April issue, which ran a story on "The Yoga of Money," and the ethical principles of getting rich. The article was prompted by a query from a writer and, as it developed, the editors drew from a range of pitches they had received from publicists. Other recent examples of successful pitches include stories on chronic fatigue syndrome and medical research in India. "People should know we also publish travel features," says Dayna Macy, communications director for the magazine. "It's just a matter of being smart and looking at the magazine to see what we write about. If someone looks at our food columns, they'll see we run articles about the spiritual aspect of cooking and eating. Be interesting, be smart." Yoga Journal claims to be very open to pitches across the board and, except for a few columns such as Dharma Wisdom and Asana, every section welcomes ideas. Stories the magazine looks for involve meditation, nutrition and diet, yoga practice, and media products. A list of editorial guidelines is posted on the website, and pitches should be sent by email to the editor of the relevant section, or can be sent to the editorial fax. Yoga Journal works on a minimum four- to six-month lead-time, and its editor notes that advance warning of any pitch is very welcome to ensure the timeliness of the story in the magazine. While Yoga Journal is focused on the practice of yoga and its influence on health and happiness, the magazine has been known to partake in the glamorous image yoga has taken on in the last few years. Yoga Journal recently contributed a voucher to the Academy Awards gift basket, and is proud to note the number of celebrities who redeemed theirs included Jennifer Lopez, Barbra Streisand, Steve Martin, and Hilary Swank. "The name of the magazine is Yoga Journal," says Catalfo. "So we're exploring the path of yoga in all its connotations as long as it means we can all live healthier and happier lives." ----- Contact list Yoga Journal Address 2054 University Avenue, Suite 600, Berkeley, CA 94704 Tel/Fax (510) 841-9200; 644-3101 Website Editorial director Kathryn Arnold Editor-in-chief Hillari Dowdle Managing editor Nora Isaacs Medical Editor Timothy B. McCall, MD Senior editors Phil Catalfo, Todd Jones, Matthew Solan, Colleen Morton Busch Web content editor Andrea Ferretti

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