ShareThis Page

Youngwood native's Web series pokes fun at yoga

| Friday, March 4, 2016, 8:57 p.m.
Summer Chastant
Summer Chastant leads a yoga class in her new comedic web series about life in a Los Angeles yoga studio.
Summer Chastant
Summer Chastant (front) and Keirin Brown in the comedic web series created by Chastant about the behind the scenes life at a Los Angeles yoga studio.
Summer Chastant
Youngwood native Summer Chastant (front) created a web series about the politics in a yoga studio. It also stars Edi Gathegi (center) and Keirin Brown.

If you've ever taken a yoga class, or know someone who has, you've probably noticed that yoga is sort of its own little world, with its own language, customs and goals.

Summer Chastant, 36, from Youngwood in Westmoreland County, moved to New York City to become an actress.

“I came out during the writers' strike in 2007,” Chastant says. “It was not a good time to find work in New York City. I had already been practicing yoga and went to teacher training, because I didn't want to wait tables. I surprised myself, because I loved teaching and tended to be pretty good at it.”

After seven years of teaching, she noticed how rapidly the practice was expanding and changing.

“There's such a duality that's happening,” Chastant says. “It's supposed to be this spiritual venture. When you turn it into this business, it's about making money and surviving. That breeds competition. Marketing. I kind of missed, in my own teaching, the whole Instagram phenomenon — the ‘yoga selfie Instagram.' When I was teaching yoga, I communicated with newsletters and writing.”

However, “there was so much fodder for comedic material,” she says. “I also wanted to go back to writing and acting.”

So Chastant quit her popular New York yoga practice, moved to Los Angeles and wrote a very funny, satirical Web series called “Namaste, Bitches.” At last check, it had 659,347 views across all platforms but is most easily found on namastebitchestheseries.com. All episodes are free to view and are five to seven minutes long.

Those page-view numbers have gotten the attention of television producers, of course. Although some of her characters are pretty familiar L.A. types — like the tanned, toned blonde who can't hold a pose without putting it on Instagram — they also develop some personalities. Chastant plays Sabine, the lead, trying to start over in L.A. with no clients and little else but her integrity.

“I think when I write something, there's a part of me in every single character,” Chastant says. “Sabine is definitely a less grounded, more impetuous version of myself, making decisions without thinking about the consequences at all. I like to think I'm a little more mature than that.

“Now teachers are hired based on how many followers they have. It's completely counter to what the practice is supposed to be about. (It's) so image-based. That's great territory for social commentary. I wanted to try to hold a mirror up to society in some way, to laugh at it, but also be like, ‘Oh, crap, is this what we're valuing!' Even in my reverence toward yoga practice, to put that out there.”

Lots of familiar faces from television and film appear on “Namaste, Bitches”: Edi Gathegi (“The Blacklist,” “Twilight”), Parvesh Cheena (“Outsourced”), Sujata Day (“Awkward Black Girl”), and Aly Maywji (“Silicon Valley”), among others.

“We're in talks with television right now,” Chastant says. “I'm very thrilled with that possibility.”

Chastant no longer teaches yoga, but she practices it often. Her sister teaches yoga in Greensburg.

Michael Machosky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at mmachosky@tribweb.com or 412-320-7901.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.