HuffPo donates $40K to yoga group; doesn't pay masseuses

Plus: Salon finds the volunteer applications!

Published August 29, 2012 10:35PM (EDT)

   (AP/Luca Bruno)
(AP/Luca Bruno)

Earlier today I wrote about the Huffington Post's Oasis, where convention journalists can relax and enjoy free yoga classes, massages, facials, health food and more. The yoga instructors and massage therapists are "volunteers," which is to say unpaid.

A Huffington Post rep told me that the makeup artists are paid by the makeup company Fresh. "Off the Mat," the "evangelical" yoga organization, handled the yoga instructors and masseuses, who are all volunteers.

In addition, Huffington Post donated $40,000 to Off the Mat, so not paying the masseuses wasn't a cost-saving measure. To my mind that makes it worse, frankly -- $40,000 to some group dedicated to healing the world through stretching, nothing for people doing actual work at HuffPo's Oasis.

Here's Off the Mat's mission statement:

Off the Mat, Into the World® (OTM), a program of the nonprofit, The Engage Network, is dedicated to bridging yoga and activism. Founded in 2007, OTM’s mission is to use the power of yoga to inspire conscious, sustainable activism and ignite grassroots social change.

Yoga is a powerful path of personal transformation. At its root, the word means ‘union’ – of mind, body and spirit. Yoga opens our hearts and expands our awareness of self creating space for balance and deep change in our lives.

OTM helps individuals take the path of yoga “off the mat and into the world," expanding the sphere of change outward to local and global communities. We do this by facilitating personal empowerment through leadership trainings, fostering community collaboration, and initiating local and global service projects.

The Engage Network is a nonprofit "that works to build change on a human scale through creating distributive networks and engagement pathways."

While looking up the yoga group, I actually found the letter Off the Mat sent seeking Tampa area volunteers:

Hey Rasa's,
I wanted to pass along this exciting opportunity for you to participate in the Oasis at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, FL August 27-30, 2012. *Also DNC (Charlotte, NC)*

What is the Oasis?

Off the Mat, Into the World and The Huffington Post have partnered to create the Oasis, a unique space providing yoga, meditation, spa services and a conscious marketplace to give the delegates a place to reconnect to their bodies, minds and intentions in a powerful way during the supercharged political conventions.

The reach of this event will be significant, with 16,000 delegates gathering in Tampa, FL and 500 - 1000 each day. This is a great opportunity for you to create buzz, conversation and content around the presence of yoga and mindfulness in politics.

How can I get involved?

Off The Mat, Into the World would love to have you volunteer your time and services at the Oasis!

They are looking for volunteers with the following skills:

Meditation Teacher

Licensed Esthetician

Licensed Masseuse

Certified Yoga Teacher

Enthusiastic volunteer who can serve as host/hostess, help with setup, maintain ambiance

Shifts will be 6 hours long from 7:00 am - 12 Midnight. If interested, please complete this application. OTM hopes you can join them!

For more information, contact:

Jocelyn Corbett, Off the Mat, Into the World


Feel free to pass this blog along to anyone you think might be interested in joining the Oasis.


Nathan Bangs


So it's basically exactly what I said before: These people -- the meditation teachers, "estheticians," masseuses and yoga teachers -- happily volunteered their labor because they were essentially conned into believing they were performing a public service -- spreading mindfulness and getting buzz for yoga! -- instead of working for free.

But Off the Mat should be able to facilitate so much more personal empowerment now with that huge donation.

By Alex Pareene

Alex Pareene writes about politics for Salon and is the author of "The Rude Guide to Mitt." Email him at and follow him on Twitter @pareene

MORE FROM Alex Pareene

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Arianna Huffington Huffington Post Republican National Convention Yoga