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YOGANONYMOUS: Serving Up Yoga, Just the Way You Like It
Start with a passionate entrepreneurial spirit, stir in a summer semester in Tibet, add a few years of rock music event promotion in Philly, and marinate it all in a 200-hour yoga teacher-training. What’s cookin’? Our new favorite yoga webzine, YOGANONYMOUS. And after simmering for two years, the feast is relaunching, better than ever.
The “recipe” is actually the life of Dan Wilf, founder of YOGANONYMOUS. At 28, Dan has combined passions and interests to cook up an online yoga community that is 50 percent event promotion and 50 percent top-notch content. But, “It’s not about me or my staff,” Dan insists. “It’s an open platform for teachers and students in the community.”
Hence the name. YOGANONYMOUS is about the very population it serves. It’s about bringing these teachers and students together, and thereby filling a deficit Dan sees in the growing yoga world. It’s all about community, and you can’t talk about YOGANONYMOUS for long without that word dominating the conversation. But it didn’t start out that way.
As an aspiring yogi interested in the yoga-related events in his area, Dan realized that, like performing artists, yoga teachers need help promoting their events. So he had “a brilliant, terrible idea.” He decided to be a yoga manager, managing event promotions for select teachers. A great idea, indeed, “until I started doing it and realized it was a nightmare: too much work, no money.” So he took a step back, identified a need for event marketing in general, and decided to build something that everyone — teachers, students, studios, event promoters — could benefit from: an online portal to connect it all.
He launched YOGANONYMOUS as a blog in 2010 as a way to get the word out about all things yoga in the Philadelphia area. Over the next two years it expanded to cover the national yoga scene, in what Dan describes as “hyper-localized promotion.” A centralized platform for listings, it's not intended to replace existing event marketing, but to exist as a supplement to the promotion teachers and studios are already doing.
YOGANONYMOUS quickly left the simple blog format and relaunched as, in Dan’s words, “a truly integrated website that is a meeting place for practitioners, teachers and anyone else interested in yoga.”
On the site you’ll find broad categories, such as Events, Teachers and Studios, that give you the ability to narrow by Style, Region and City, allowing you to customize searches based on specific desires.
The new functionality Dan is most excited about? A robust ranking system of teachers, studios and events. Sort by Most Popular and you’ll see the items listed based on number of views. “Even this ranking system is anonymous,” he adds.
“But an event-promotion service isn’t really the vibe,” says Dan. “Our goal is just to create an online community.” And to this end, the blog remains a key draw for visitors, searchable by Lifestyle, Practice and Music, all sortable by popularity, and all generated by the community. “And that’s what sets us apart,” says Dan. “We are from the community, very much in the nitty-gritty, on the street. That’s what allows us to build a quality community, and our success is going to be about getting the community involved.”
How it works
YOGANONYMOUS’ revenue comes from advertising, teacher and studio memberships, and event listings. “I’m glad we’re addressing this publicly," Dan says. "Oftentimes in yoga everyone has great intentions, but when money comes up it tends to be the hush-hush topic no one wants to talk about.” Not a topic Dan is afraid of, he states plainly. “We’re all working 10-12 hours a day and need to eat.
“The yoga world is such a fun atmosphere to be creating community in,” Dan adds. And this just might be the best reason for doing it. Whatever the recipe, it seems to be working. YOGANONYMOUS is stacking up to be the primary portal into the active yoga world.
There’s no apparent end to the work, either. After only two years, YOGANONYMOUS has an impressive reach into the yoga community, but Dan sees it as just the beginning of “a giant snowball effect” of growth. And that works for Dan, who wants YOGANONYMOUS to be “as big as possible, as soon as possible.” But this is not growth for growth’s sake. Again, it’s about the community. “The more people we have, the more we’re going to reach.”
Stay tuned to YOGANONYMOUS for more updates scheduled to launch later this year, including a community-controlled event and profile listing service, and more opportunities for teachers, studios and yoga practitioners of all shapes and sizes to get involved with this online yoga portal.