Yoga is big business and is overflowing with colorful personalities and considerable intrigue. Case in point: The new web series, Namaste, Bitches, which follows the adventures of Sabine, a transplanted NYC yoga teacher finding her way in the cutthroat LA yoga scene. Critics are buzzing and it's winning over yoga devotees far and wide, present company included. The show's provocative blend of 'downdog eats downdog' meets Hollywood sizzle and social media chatter has struck a chord with a yoga community that likes to poke fun at itself.
Namaste, Bitches' creator, Summer Chasant, a professional yoga instructor and writer, creates colorful, engaging storylines overflowing with truth but embellished for comedic effect. For example, while Sabine (played by Chasant) initially harbors a strong aversion to social media, she must learn how to master Instagram, where the who's who of LA yoga teachers build their brands and engage potential students.
For Namaste Bitches, the show's knowledge of LA's real-world yoga scene flows out of Chasant's unique relationship with Mary Gillen Blythe, the show's director and a fellow yoga instructor (the two women formerly knew each other from the Bend and Bloom studio in Brooklyn, and fatefully reconnected one day at Jitlada, a Hollywood Thai restaurant). They both moved to LA at the same time from New York to explore their film careers.
"Mary and I had both been in the entertainment industry before becoming yoga teachers," Chasant says. "We shared a deep reverence for the practice of yoga, but had similar qualms about the spiritual side being compromised when turned into a business."
The casting of the show is as realistic as it gets. Chasant wrote for actors Caitlin Talbot, Kierin Brown, Alex Dawson and Henry McMillan, who are all certified yoga instructors teaching in LA. The script capitalizes on 'New Age' clichés, like using the oft-used word 'gratitude', in a tongue-in-cheek manner.
Check out their trailer.
"Gratitude seemed like a perfectly pretentious word on its own," says Chasant. "In the series, it functions as an implied 'thank you' that serves the person saying it more than the person on the receiving end -- exemplifying the facade of spirituality."
The music you hear in the series is not the typical harmonium and sitar sounds of a yoga studio. The Namaste, Bitches' original soundtrack was also designed by Chasant and curated and written mainly by music producer Briskoner. It also features tracks by legendary drum and bass producer DJ Dara and includes music by hip-hop artists, Cig Burna, Concise Kilgore, and Marcus the Barron. Available on iTunes and Amazon.
Chasant's passion for the arts extends to the environment. While filming the series, she had a strict green policy, banning plastic and water bottles and serving vegan fare on the set.
In real life, punk rock artist turned yogi Raghunath Cappo serves as Chasant's mentor. Her daily practice includes meditation before her workday, asana and pranayama varies depending on her schedule. Currently, Chasant is brimming with gratitude because she is working on moving the web series to television.