Slim Sexy Savvy and Yoga-sex

Via on Sep 6, 2010

Slim Calm Sexy Yoga

Tara Stiles’ new book Slim Calm Sexy Yoga speaks to the pressures of our times, offers compassionate help, and sends mixed messages—including a message of hope for a big change in how we think.

Slim Calm Sexy Yoga offers some helpful thoughts—like focusing on the breath in yoga, but its emphasis on sex and skinniness has nothing to do with traditional yoga. But, (guess what?) this book is not about the tradition of yoga. It is about the modern form as many Americans are currently using and teaching it all over this country. We can only process yoga at a level we can understand (is what I’m telling myself about this). It might sound kind of patronizing for me to say it that way, but I’m really talking about my own journey in yoga when I say that.

When I first started going to a yoga studio, here in Chicago, I told my friends that I was going to yoga to “get a hot body”—with a laugh, like maybe I meant it but not totally seriously… And the classes at Priya Yoga kicked my ass! (Which was just what I needed after a few years of post-college office jobs.) My body and mind were depressed! These classes offered this and more: it’s not an exaggeration to say that a spiritual awakening happened to me there.
Slimmer Calmer Sexier
On the other hand: When I started going to the yoga studio regularly, I also lost a few pants-sizes = Slim. According to friends, I was less reactive = Calm. And I became much more aware of my exploding sexuality = Sexy. It’s just true…

So for me it becomes a matter of what we are focusing on: Is the spiritual aspect of yoga most important, or is it really about the sex?
Orgasm
Tara Stiles makes some interesting observations about yoga and sex:

“Yoga not only makes you feel like a vixen, it also physically changes your body from the inside out so that you experience pleasure in a whole new way. Whether you’re into bedroom gymnastics or more traditional lovemaking, all the added strength, flexibility, and endurance you gain with yoga practice will lead to amazing times between the sheets. And if you’re lucky enough to have a partner who practices yoga with you, you might want to brace yourself for the orgasm jackpot. Need a better reason to drag your date to yoga? (Be careful, you might not make it to dinner.)”

Wow! That’s sexy yogatainment!
Modern Pains Assuaged by Yoga
Yoga has used freedom from pain as a selling point at least as far back as the Bhagavad Gita. Doesn’t this book describe pains existing today (real or perceived) like fat, anxiety and not having great sex? So in this sense this is a very traditional yoga book: It defines certain kinds of suffering and offers yogic remedies to assuage these pains.

This “Fry Fat on the Mat Routine” on MSN Health and Fitness is almost identical to one found in the book (The Online version is missing an “Up Dog”.). The “fat frying” metaphor makes my skin crawl, when others might like it or find it funny. I just think it’s so odd that the sequence ends with the “Rotated Triangle”. That one as a last pose is likely to leave someone’s nervous system stirred up and out-of-whack in my opinion (But maybe it is very “fat-frying” to end it that way).
Rotated Triangle
Maybe it’s for other books to talk about how to embrace and love myself during dark times… This might be a great title:

Fat Frantic Frigid—Yoga for those Dark Times (Is it okay to not want to have sex sometimes?)

I guess I’m ready to lighten up and enjoy yoga while my body can do it! Maybe our spiritual evolution isn’t really up to us anyway… In my experience those moments of unspeakable wonder— where I’ve been paralyzed to my ordinary sense of myself and seemingly expanded beyond ordinary comprehension—have had absolutely nothing to do with me (or so it seemed). Even as a say that, a small voice seems to say something about love and discipline. It might have something to do with what we do and how we express our love.
Do no evil, cool.
There was an ad that for the book that misfired among us yoga bloggers, but honestly, this bubblegum covered book isn’t for us (The cover color-scheme reminds me of Bubblicious bubble gum wrappers of my youth.). Us yoga bloggers tend to be already wrapped up in our own practices, and committed enough to the subject to write about it regularly just because we care. This book, the way I see it, has a different target audience.

Take it from TaraThe ad mentioned above is problematic, but the book is less bad—maybe even a good introduction to yoga for those it appeals to. Let’s face it: eating disorders already exist. The pressure for women and girls to be thin is huge. And we could say that this book is part of the media machine that sends a harmful message, but I don’t think it’s true. It’s not that simple. Because we have been so heavily educated to loose weight already, at this point I think there is room for the message of a sheep to come in the clothing of a wolf. The book sells the notion of being a slim sexy yoga kitten, but along the way offers some helpful messages about awareness and intuition. I don’t think that slim sexy yoga kittens = yoga adepts, but maybe I should reconsider this notion.

I think that yoga may have the power to radically change our society and how we think because yoga has radically changed the way I think. Many of us are under the spell of current media pressures. Using the language that so many people already understand to deliver a yogic message might just be a great step towards a communication that permeates the people more broadly.

Yoga to the people—including the beauty and sex obsessed among us!

* This has been a message from Yogic Muse *

About Brooks Hall

Brooks Hall is a Yogic Muse from Chicago, Illinois. In this capacity she teaches Yoga, writes about Yoga, and generally enjoys it. You can find her at: brookshall.blogspot.com.

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44 Responses to “Slim Sexy Savvy and Yoga-sex”

  1. carrie says:

    yoga is universal with a different meaning for each one of us

    • Brooks_Hall says:

      Thanks for the reminder, Carrie! It’s so true that even people who are totally committed to a particular system of yoga, within that system everyone will have their own personal distillation of the teaching.

  2. Padma Kadag says:

    Brooks….you are a gifted writer. I am not a student of "indian" style yoga but I am involved in another type of yoga. I read elephant quite often. I find the arguments regarding diet and yoga both interesting and amusing. I cannot comment on the yoga which is prevalent in elephant until it enters the realm of buddhism which I have some experience on an introductory level. But what I find interesting is the "FRee Pass" which seems to be given to Tara Stiles. From an outsider's viewpoint she exemplifies everything which has been at the center of every controversial yoga discussion on elephant. Commercial sex skinny selfish without any kind of altruism. Is she a "mafia queen"? where she can call out a hit on any "yogis" which ridicule her? Or is she someone's girlfriend who is high up in the media of the yoga world? Of course this is tongue in cheek….however she is doing everything, from my outsider view, which is against the original intent of yoga. Why does she…get a free pass?

    • Brooks_Hall says:

      Hi Padma! I’m glad you enjoyed the article. I can’t speak to your concept of “free pass”—it seems like you have a larger issue with Elephant (?). I wrote this from my personal impression and experience.

      • Padma Kadag says:

        maybe I am making something out of nothing. My comments are based on the previous article regarding Tara Stiles, who I do not know nor have I read anything by her by the way, and the way in which excuses seemed to prevail in the comments. Not just your article. I am too lazy to go back and copy direct quotes but my impression was that even though she was sexualizing or commercilaizing and even slimmisizing yoga there was a free pass given to her because people like her or the publisher victimized her. With all of the back and forth between Bob and Ramesh and all of the usual suspects chiming in to comment on every little issue from authenticity to diet…I just thought that this person Tara Stiles was given a very obvious Free Pass.

  3. Hi, Brooks.

    This blog is a wonder. I'm still a little baffled at how you could write a blog that appeals to both sides of this debate without compromising the deeply held principles of either side.

    I guess it's because of the personal story you tell about how this type of Yoga might have been good for you at one point in your life, but you find it quite disturbing in many ways now.

    And you make a sharp distinction between the misleading marketing and the sometimes very helpful content of the book itself.

    And you are willing to deal with the sometimes good, sometimes bad contradictions of the book's contents.

    Maybe that's how you've written a blog that has some appeal for all sides. I don't know. I'm still startled at how good this blog is.

    I'm not sure anyone else in the Yoga blogosphere could have written this so well.

    Bob Weisenberg
    ElephantJournal

  4. Hey! What a piece of writing skills we have on this post fantastic post.

  5. Peter Kampa says:

    Hi! awesome post. I will make sure to send this to all my friends

  6. Amanda says:

    A get fit quick book that joins the nrver ending American dream of the quick fix. Give me 15 minutes and will transform you into the image of the advertised ideal. This is but one more book littering the ‘feel good fast’ market place that always promises to make a quick buck for the author. Save some money by purchasing in a few months when you can find it for a couple of bucks sitting in the closeout bins between the Jazzercize and Jane Fonda workout videos.

    • Linda-Sama says:

      Bravo…..

    • Brooks_Hall says:

      Perhaps you’re right, Amanda. And I’d like to offer that I also think that it would be a wonderful change if more people were to take even *just 15 minutes* to focus on their breath and cultivating awareness, every day. I think that it would make such a great difference! Yoga is not a “quick fix”. The book speaks to this.

      • Amanda says:

        You are wonderfully naive (in a

        really good way) Brooks. I really

        hope you stay this way. Wish I

        believed just 15 minutes

        ”would make such a great

        difference”. If only it was that

        easy. In any event, I’m enjoying

        your comments to the

        comments.

        • ARCreated says:

          15 minutes is better than none…we start by building the habit and grow from there. 15 minutes can make a HUGE difference if currently someone isn't doing anything to focus…as a personal trainer I like to ask people to commit to 5 minutes of at home exercise per day for 2 weeks and then move up to 10 and then up… small sure steps are better than large leaps that you don't continue. 15 minutes maybe isn't the cure all presented here but it is a gateway.

  7. Brooks_Hall says:

    Absolutely, Yogini#! I agree: there are many paths to yoga.

  8. Brooks_Hall says:

    Thanks for sharing, Christine. You very well may be right on this. And I am always very glad and honored to hear from you on these things.

    Over the course of reviewing this book, I found myself questioning this interpretation of media that you offer, and that I have also told myself this ever since I learned about feminism in college. The person viewing makes the meaning, is what I’m thinking—so we can certainly call it “self hate”. But when are we going to wake up! I’m not a victim, just because I’m a woman in this culture—even if you say I am, or even if I have told myself that I am.

    This idea came in as I was considering the book that perhaps we are now so fully inundated with this kind of communication that it might be able mask and hold a good teaching about yoga (I understand that my view is not held by everybody.). So some people are going to the book and some will start their yoga journey there. So many of us (including me) have gone to yoga to help their bodies. From there the path will unfold the way it needs to for individuals.

    • Yes, we extrapolate meaning, but that doesn't mean that there isn't manipulation inherent in the message.

      Telling us that going from an 8 to a double ZERO…I cannot find anyway to justify that as a primary message ever. And it is primary in placement in her advertising. And I say "her" because she signed off on this in one way or another.

      Eating disorders do NOT come from media, for example, but they are certainly reinforced there. (Most studies indicate that eating disorders come from childhood sexual abuse…)

      And as I have said before, when you are graced with this large of a platform, it only INCREASES your accountability and responsibility to the community at large.

  9. AMO says:

    "Yoga" – the problem is the word.

    If Tara wrote a book that said she would use "yoga like physical movements" to give you a skinny body no one would care. The thing is, she's not going to write that book, and no one owns the word "yoga" so no one can tell her, or any of us, what that word means. Words are funny that way.

    I tell my boyfriend I "love" him. He tells me he "loves" me too, but the truth is we are both saying something different. My boyfriend has an emotion, a feeling, a thought, a creative intention, a desire, a commitment, an internal experience that he calls "loving Annie" and he expresses all of that by saying, "I love you" – I have an internal experience which because I am a unique individual human with my own thoughts, feelings, experiences, is unique to me in the world and I express that by saying the words "I love you" to him.

    We argue about words as a way of trying to create a mutual understanding. If we all call a wood covered column of graphite a pencil then when we ask for a pencil everyone knows what to hand us. Still, you can't tell anyone how to use the word yoga. Tara has as much a right to say the word and mean what she means as you have. She and her students/followers/practitioners have as much right to have an internal experience and call it yoga as you do….

    • Brooks_Hall says:

      AMO: I might get what you mean, but I would say that there is nuthin’ really wrong with a sweet lil’ word like ‘yoga’… But our mental attachments associated with it may be suspect…

      Thank you for commenting!

  10. Carol Horton says:

    I believe that yoga has to in some sense be an integrated mind-body-spirit practice in order to be yoga. Viewed generously, SCSY may offer some readers a mind-body practice that will help them lose weight, eat more mindfully, become more fit, center and de-stress, etc. (It may also have the opposite effect on others, causing them to stress about becoming as thin as Tara Stiles, not being a size 00, not becoming calm and sexy in 15 minutes, etc.) But Ms. Stiles seems pretty aggressive about jettisoning the spiritual dimension of yoga. So, to me, even if there are some health benefits, it's not the sort of yoga teaching that I value. Trading a path toward spiritual liberation for a quick-fix plan to becoming slim, calm, and sexy is like tossing people a pretty plastic ball when you could be offering them a brilliant diamond.

  11. Dylan says:

    Healthy = Sexy. Open = Sexy. Loving = Sexy. Kind = Sexy. Deep = Sexy.

    So, yes, Yoga is Sexy.

    Word.

    -The Mad Yogi Poet
    http://www.elephantjournal.com/author/dylan-barmm

    • Brooks Hall says:

      Dear Mad Yogi Poet, Dylan:

      I get that yoga is “sexy” to you. It sounds like you appreciate the sensuality of a healthy, open body, kind attention, and depth in some sense… This is definitely the popularized appeal. The contrarian in me is pointing out that some yogis are sick, and that’s okay. Some yogis are tight-as-shit and that’s okay. There are yogis who are lonely and having difficulty expressing love in this world, and that’s okay. Some yogis catch themselves being mean sometimes, and that’s okay—they are still yogis. And some yogis marvel at their own shallowness at certain points on the path, and that’s okay, too…

  12. Dylan says:

    Brooks…

    Word.

    Peace.

    Dylan

  13. [...] a book: Richard Hittleman’s 28-day Exercise Plan (recently seen on the bookstore shelf right near Tara Stiles’ new book). From where I am now in my yoga path, the book that helped me 20 years ago no longer seems [...]

  14. [...] elephant journal: Slim Sexy Savvy and Yoga-sex ~ The Toesoxnudegate conversation led into another heated discussion on a similar theme, only this time focused on Tara Stiles’ Slim Calm Sexy Yoga book, and in particular, the marketing of it. However, Brooks Hall actually read the book! And wrote about it! While I have to question how this book could have a “message of hope,” I did appreciate her balanced view. [...]

  15. [...] elephant journal: Slim Sexy Savvy and Yoga-sex ~ The Toesoxnudegate conversation led into another heated discussion on a similar theme, only this [...]

  16. Billy says:

    Ok, so you do some yoga…you can stand on your hands and put your head up your own ass. You’re sexy, calm and slim. Then what? Maybe you stay sexually desirable through menopause. Maybe you’re the sexiest 90 year old in your sweaty vinyasa class. If you have a partner who stays healthy and sexual as long, what fun!

    At some point the body ain’t gonna cut it. I don’t care how calm, slim or sexy you are, sex with a 150 year old is gross.

    So you decide to die. If only I hadn’t eschewed the spiritual aspect of yoga, I might not be in crisis as I approach what I always knew was coming, the release of my physical form. Whatever…I wouldn’t trade one of those thousands of orgasms for some of that knowledge/wisdom/understanding bullshit.

  17. Billy says:

    That said, I think if you stretch and breathe and relax enough wisdom sneaks in there.

  18. [...] still include me and my experiences with yoga. I’ve written about the sex of yoga, suicide, sexy yoga, vaginas, mulabandha, slutwalking, pain, feeling like doo-doo, and everything from eating to [...]

  19. Brooks_Hall says:

    Linda-Sama: Yoga has grown so much in the last 10 years! Why are you asking about that? The popular landscape—or should I say the “silhouette”—of yoga has changed! You can see that—I know—but it also seems like you are angry about that and you seem to want things to be exactly like they were when you were learning yoga.

    I agree that yoga is about more than the body—that is what has hooked me about the practice. And I think that yoga is great for people of all sizes, as well as admire the courage of everybody that spreads out their mat in my classes. (I think I also honor my own courage for practicing—it’s not always easy.)

    And, yes, as I mentioned in the article the ad is “problematic” (perhaps horrible). I stayed out of the earlier debates because it bothered me so much. Then, a friend suggested that I might review the book, and I took on the challenge—opening myself up to seeing both things I might resonate with as well as things I may not jive with.

  20. Brooks_Hall says:

    Yep. Thanks, Candice! I just agree that we all need to be free to find our own way in this. And I appreciate that I can read some of your thoughts.

  21. kathrynbudig says:

    well put!!

  22. Brooks_Hall says:

    Thanks, girlwarrior! I know: sometimes “Fat Frantic Frigid” fits!

  23. Brooks_Hall says:

    Yes, I hear you regarding “acknowledging the cross-currents”. I’m not sure that I’m clear on what you’re referring to after that, but if a teacher snags our attention by shedding light on an unsavory current maybe that’s just a learning for us, and we can go on from there to find a teaching that resonates better with our values.

  24. Brooks_Hall says:

    The thing about yoga 10 years ago is that it was a lot less popular. Now it has entered the mainstream where “high tight butts” rule the marketplace. Yoga marketing uses this language and now 10 years later there are a lot more people doing yoga. So your question is not relevant when it comes to numbers. But I also think it’s really relevant because in your process it sounds like there are things about yoga that are very important to you. There might be aspects of the teachings that you don’t see being passed on in this new “anti-bra fat” yoga. I’m guessing that’s why you are a yoga blogger and teacher Linda-Sama! Because you care and have things you want to teach. Just sayin… Keep going. Best wishes to you.

  25. Martin says:

    Hi Kathryn. I would love to get your thoughts on this issue in your own words. You and Tara are two of the most enlightened yoginis that I know of. Much love and peace.

  26. ARCreated says:

    I agree, as I have heard said" yoga will find a way…so we get people where they are and let the practice take over from there…HOWEVER, I do agree that the advertising is still a bit disturbing…I think we can market to the masses without dumbing it down to "I went from this size to a 00" because sometimes we have a responsibility to help change perceptions. Its not the message or the yoga I question but how it is portrayed and how that plays into the already pervasive obsession with weight and thinness. Why can't it be "sold" without pandering to paranoia? Just a thought.

  27. Brooks_Hall says:

    Aron: I’m glad that you enjoyed this article. And I’m grateful for the honoring of my effort to open myself to a new ordering of this type of material. It did require some effort on my part. And I had fun. Thanks.

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