The Equinox Yoga Video: Sex…or Art? My perspective. {Article in English & Spanish}

Via Jeannie Page
on Jan 8, 2012
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(Para leerlo en Español, haga clic aquí.)

The world is living through a lot of tumult at the moment: governments falling, economies teetering on the brink of failure. As if that global drama is not enough for us to deal with, it seems that this turmoil is also playing itself out, albeit in a much more minor and somewhat ridiculous way, within our yoga community.

Lately, there has been one yoga controversy after the next. This week the controversy was about the New York Times article labeling yoga as “dangerous.” That one kicked up quite a firestorm!

And most recently, the one that is currently swirling around and in which I have found myself front and center, is the controversy of the Equinox Sex.. er, I mean Yoga, video.

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I first saw this video yesterday after Waylon posted it to Elephant Journal. I was immediately captivated by its raw beauty, by the absolute grace and poise the yogini displayed as she skillfully and mindfully moved between the challenging and complicated yoga poses. For me, this was watching art in motion.

It did not phase me in the slightest that she was clad in her undies—in fact to me this made it all the more artful; to be able to see her belly moving with her breath, to see the muscles flex and move with her, to see her strength radiating out from her core. Like watching a ballerina move across the stage, this was the ultimate expression of the raw beauty and power of the human form.

Then, today, I began seeing some fellow yoga teachers and practitioners posting about how they were “disgusted” and “appalled” by this video, that they felt it was over-sexualized and exploitative to women, and that it belittled the practice of yoga.

Huh? How can two people look at the same video and see something so completely different? Within minutes a flurry of comments had exploded on one of my teacher’s Facebook pages, most of them speaking out against the video and saying that it was merely a marketing ploy to sell sex.

Hmm, perhaps. Okay, now I’m not a man or a gay woman, so it wouldn’t be my first reaction to think “sex” when looking at a video of a hot yoga lady, but to be honest I was so captivated by the pure beauty of it, that there was nothing remotely sexual in my mind.

I watched as other people (teachers and students) commented that they felt exploited by it, that they felt it “put them in a box,” a box in which they didn’t wish to be. Now, of course we are all entitled to feel what we feel and to express our opinions therein, and this article is in no way meant to disrespect the opinions of others.

My view is that we can only be put into a box if we allow ourselves to be put into a box. Isn’t it all a matter of the mindset from which we come, from which we in ourselves are viewing and interpreting the video?

I say this because not only did I not feel exploited or disgusted by the video, but I felt the exact opposite. I felt inspired, I felt empowered, I felt liberated. Here is a woman with incredible strength and control and on top of that a gorgeous yoga body, one which I would aspire to have. To be honest, this video only inspires me to want to do more yoga towards that goal. It does not give me a body-image problem or make me feel insecure in myself. In fact I say power to her for having a kick-ass bod’ and being able to rock it! If I had that body, I’d want to stand in it proudly and own it. The ability to stand confidently in one’s own body and to not feel like an object, but rather to feel in full control of yourself, mind, body and spirit…that to me is true empowerment.

As the facebook debate grew over the video, I felt like I was in a definite minority. Most of the people had felt disgusted or offended in some way by the video. So what was different about me that I was not? Why was I able to view it purely as art, while others had viewed it as “yoga porn”? Well, I think that with anything in life, we view things through the lens of our own experiences and our own emotions. I cannot speak for the experiences from which anyone else comes, I can only speak for myself.

I am a liberated woman who is secure in herself and her body, a woman who has a rooted mental, spiritual and physical yoga and meditation practice. And I am fortunate that in my life I have seldom felt that I was objectified or oppressed as a woman. Quite the opposite in fact. Lucky to have been raised by a long line of empowered women, I like to consider myself among them. Coming from that frame of reference, I was able to view this video as inspiring and empowering and as nothing more (or less) than art.

But as I watched the critical comments grow and grow, I realized there had to be something more. Perhaps it was something societal? Another hypothesis was beginning to form in my mind. You see, I had lived in Spain for a year during college and it was an extremely regular occurrence to see television commercials (for shampoo, etc) with bare-breasted and half nude women, as well as men. My impression is that in Spain, as well as the rest of Europe and Latin America, this is nothing lewd or pornographic, but instead is simply part of the cultural landscape. Themes related to the human body, nudity and human sexuality in general are not nearly as taboo in Europe or Latin America as they are here and because of that the average person is not remotely phased by seeing even a nude person, never mind one that is wearing underwear. This would be so uninteresting in Europe and in the Latin world.

I began thinking about the Janet Jackson “wardrobe malfunction” during the Super Bowl all those years ago and how it became a national scandal. That insignificant incident was taken so out of control that the FCC began an investigation, spending countless amounts of taxpayer dollars, to investigate the “halftime flash.” Seriously? I could not believe this at the time it occurred. It’s a breast for God’s sake. Most of us have seen them and mothers have to breastfeed their babies all the time. But here even that can be taboo, and in less progressive areas mothers feel that they have to shield themselves and find a private place just to feed their babies.

Would you believe me if I told you my Spanish sister (of my Spanish host family) would sit on the couch, both breasts completely exposed as she nursed her baby? There was no attempt to conceal, nor was there anything awkward or unusual about it. The conversation continued as normal, guests would come and go and her father and brother just went about their business playing their video games. The human body, even in its nude form, is simply part of normal, every-day society in many other parts of the world. So was it my experience living in Spain and seeing their own relaxed attitudes towards the human body, that allowed me to view this video through a different lens?

That was my theory. So I decided to test it. You see I am a writer and in addition to writing in English, I also write in Spanish and my Spanish-speaking audience is actually my largest. Having been a Spanish major in college and having lived, worked and traveled in both Spain and Latin America, I’ve become pretty immersed in their culture and understand it well. So I had a suspicion that the Latinos might view the video through a very different lens.

I posted it to my 13,000 fans across Spain and Latin America, and this is exactly what I said to them (in Spanish of course):

This video is receiving all sorts of controversy in the yoga world here in the US. Many believe the video to be too sexual. I, on the other hand, see nothing more than raw beauty. I see art in the perfection of the human body and in the strength and grace with which the woman moves through her poses. What do you see?

Though I was not at all surprised by the reaction, I was surprised by the speed of the response and the fervor of the reaction. It was nothing short of a fascinating cultural study. Within 20 minutes I had over 50 comments, from all over Latin America and Spain and I have just looked back at them now to see the latest and I am speaking with 100% honesty when I tell you that not a single person commented that they saw anything sexual or exploitative about the video. This in fact surprised even me. I figured at least some of them would have shared the views of my fellow North Americans. Not a single one. Their responses stood out to me as even more interesting. I will share some of them with you here (translated). These comments are taken directly from my fans, from a mixture of men and women, and do not necessarily reflect my own views:

-I see yoga, grace, balance, concentration. (Yo veo Yoga, gracia, equilibrio, concentración….)

-Marvelous…a perfect union of the WHOLE…from which flows the perfection of mind, body and spirit of this young woman!!! Spectacular. (maravilloso….una union perfecta con el TODO….donde fluye a la perfeccion el cuerpo, mente y alma d esa joven!!!, espectacular!)

-I see yoga.. nothing more, nothing less.. (Yo veo Yoga… nada mas, nada menos…)

-How marvelous! What a beautiful practice this is, flowing in every movement, showing control of her mind, body, spirit. Brilliant!! (Qué maravilla !!, qué bello trabajo hay allí, fluye en cada movimiento, muestra dominio de su mente, cuerpo, espíritu. Genial!!)

-I only see a girl doing yoga. I don’t see anything remotely sexual. He who sees sex in this video also would see it looking at the clouds moving in the sky. The problem is not with the video, but rather with what is in the minds of those who think this is sexual. (Solo veo una chica haciendo Yoga. No veo por ningun lado contenido sexual. El que vea sexo en el video tambien lo vera cuando ve las nubes moviendose en el cielo. Entonces el problema no es el video,sino lo que tienen en la mente los que opinan esto.)

-Marvelous, I would love to practice yoga, I hope to one day have the flexibility that she has. Really beautiful. Blessings. (maravilloso,me encanta practicar Yoga,espero llegar a tener la flexibilidad de ella algún día.realmente hermoso.bendiciones)

-The truth is that I don’t see the basis to think this video has a sexual connotation, I see harmony, flexibility, art. Surely if she had done yoga covered in a sweatsuit, I would have seen something else. (La verdad que no sé en que se basan para dar connotación sexual a éste video, yo veo armonía, flexibilidad, arte. Seguramente si hubiese hecho yoga con su cuerpo cubierto por un equipo de gimnasia hubiesen visto otra cosa.)

-I love it. I didn’t see anything sexual…(me encanto!!! no le vi nada sexual…)

-I only see the beauty of body in movement…The harmony and control is poetry. (Sólo veo la belleza del cuerpo en movimiento… La armonia y control es una poesía.)

– I love it Jeannie, the connotation that each person gives to this video will be based on their platform. (me encantó Jeannie, la connotación que cada quien le de a este video será según su plataforma.)

Gringos Locos. (I don’t think I need to tell you what this last one means. I put this in for comic relief! ; )

These are just a cross-section of the comments. To ensure authenticity for yourselves, I invite you to view all of the comments here. I share these comments with you by no means to belittle or condemn the opinions of those who did see the video as exploitative and sexual. Their reactions were just as real and visceral as was mine, and it did open up what I think is a very important discussion for our society. And to be honest, I can certainly see how someone would have that interpretation of the video, and I 1,000% respect that opinion. It simply was not my reaction nor my interpretation and as I am forever the inquisitive person, this simply set me on the path to trying to understand why.

I have found the differences in reaction between the North American and Latin worlds to be nothing short of an illuminating study of cultures and societies, a study that has been ongoing for me as I delve deeply into writing in both worlds. Considering that the vast majority of the reactions that I saw from my North American friends was to view the video as sexual, I would say that they are probably right in accusing Equinox of trying to sell sex. But again, considering that same reaction, I can only say in reference to Equinox… kudos to them, that is clearly some damn clever marketing!

That said, given that 100% of the Latinos that commented shared my view that the video was nothing but beauty and art in motion, and that it also inspired them to want to practice yoga, I would say that the ad could potentially be equally as effective in Latin America…but for entirely different reasons. If we can say that “Sex Sells” in the United States, it seems the equivalent statement for Latin America would be that “Art Sells.”  And assuming once again (and I think we can all agree) that sex does in fact sell in our society and considering that the Latinos didn’t view this video as remotely sexual, then I would say it’s not Equinox that we should be condemning…but perhaps we ought to take a closer look at our society.

To hear directly from Briohny herself, click here to read her full interview.


About Jeannie Page

Jeannie Page is a reformed .com management professional who has made a dramatic shift in her life, a shift to follow her bliss and to get into alignment in order to be a force for good in the world. Martha Stewart’s Blogger of the Month in Whole Living Magazine, Jeannie is also the founder of The Yoga Diaries and also maintains her own blog The Awakened Life. Jeannie, and details about her current book project, can be found on Facebook here and on Twitter at @jeannienpage. Jeannie's Spanish Facebook page can be found here. Jeannie also previously served as the Spanish Language Editor for Elephant Journal. Click here for the Elephant Journal en Español Facebook page. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________ Jeannie Page es una profesional de gestión reformada quien ha hecho un gran cambio en su vida, un cambio para seguir a su felicidad, para entrar en la alineación y ser una fuerza del bien en el mundo. Ella mantiene un Blog a Despertando a la Vida. Jeannie, y detalles sobre su proyecto de libro actual, se pueden encontrar en Facebook aquí y en Twitter a @JeanniePageES. Jeannie también fue la Editora del Idioma Española para Elephant Journal. Haga clic aquí para la página de Facebook de Elephant Journal en Español.


139 Responses to “The Equinox Yoga Video: Sex…or Art? My perspective. {Article in English & Spanish}”

  1. Tanya Lee Markul says:

    GREAT article, Jeannie!! Thank you for such a thoughtful perspective!! I feel sometimes it's essential for all of us to try and perhaps understand a bit more 'why' certain things inflict such strong emotions within us….perhaps after a few breaths and some self-reflection, we can again look at an image and see something totally different. xoxo

    Just posted to "Featured Today" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Tanya Lee Markul, Yoga Editor
    Like Elephant Yoga on Facebook
    Follow on Twitter

  2. Katie says:

    Well written. When I watched this video, I also assumed she was in her underwear so we could see the fine movements of her practice, and I also assumed someone was in bed behind her in order to demonstrate that you can do yoga anytime, anywhere…even early in the morning, at home, before you've made your bed. The video and setting revealed a muscular, confident woman, dedicated to her practice.

    Jeannie, in the past you've also shared videos of "scantily clad" men doing yoga. I wonder if there is a double standard or are you aware of equal uproar around these videos of men in their briefs?

  3. laura h says:

    Besides the beauty and strength, I thought, boy, someone must be wealthy.

    • So funny – I thought the same thing. If you're a New Yorker, like me, a gorgeous loft with a view is about as exciting as anything! I kept mentally flipping back & forth between her gorgeous practice & her gorgeous loft…

      • Vision_Quest2 says:

        Points up to the fact that Equinox is truly an upscale gym … or at least the start of upscale on that continuum. This ad is not targeted to anybody else unless they have incredibly beyond-their-means tastes … maybe the guy in bed is her Sugar Daddy in the mini-drama that is this ad …

    • Dya says:

      Haha same here! I thought maaaan what a nice place!

  4. Céline Lavoie says:

    "a site largely populated by young men. And most of the comments? Wow. Mind blown."
    I found that comment was quite funny and thought, of course, there mind weren't blown away because she's practicing wearing her underwear or beacuse of the close shots of her toned buttocks in upward dog….
    Circus artists show the same kind of concentration, grace and strenght, but they call it what it is, a show, and they wear costumes, even if they are revealing. And it is beautiful.

    • elephantjournal says:

      Mind=Blown is a reddit sorta term for anything that is awesome. They followed up the above video with another titled "I see your mind blowing 'yoga girl arm balance' and raise you… well… an even more talented female equilibrist" …linking to this awesome video:

  5. Amber says:

    I love that you have the bilingual skills to have been able to bring this difference in perspective to light! Thank you for your thoughtful contribution to this subject.

    • Hi Amber, thank you so much for reading. I feel very fortunate to have the ability to engage with another culture. It has taught me so much and I continue to learn everyday. 🙂

  6. Robin Turner says:

    My main thought was "Jesus, I wish I could do that stuff!"

  7. yogijulian says:

    beautiful video of very sensually appealing acrobatics.

  8. __MikeG__ says:

    Maybe the firestorm was due partially to the fact that this video is an advertisement. This advert contained many messages. It was just not about pure beauty or the models mastery of gymnastics. I wonder if the firestorm would have been so large if the video was made as an art project and not as a way to sell gym memberships. I wonder what would people think if we kept the acrobatics but changed the genders of both the models in the video.

    Personally, I do not think every video with peeps in their undies is about sex. And I also do not necessarily believe using sex to sell is always a bad thing. IMO, this video was a pretty good mixture of commercialization and beauty.

  9. Alexandra says:

    Great article, Jeannie. It’s very thought provoking and it actually got me to work out how I felt about the video a few other related things. Before I get into my commenting, I will say that I am not a yoga teacher or a spiritual expert. I cannot comment on whether the poses are correctly executed or whether or not this could be considered spiritual or not.
    My first reaction was also that this was a stunning video featuring an incredibly beautiful and skilled yogini. The precision of her movements, her breathing and concentration is nothing but stunning. Then the other side of things/feelings kicked in… If I’m completely honest with myself, I would admit that there where some feelings of “I wish I could do that or looked like that”. Then I also realized that that feeling mainly came from the fear of how society may see this (me). Having spent the last years of my life working in a very male dominated (“ugg” means yes, “grunt” means no type) environment, I have become more sensitive to not putting yourself out there too much as a woman. I was afraid that people would drag this down and regard it as something sexual. Even if I don’t see it that way, I was worried that others would and I find that very disappointing. I suppose it made me feel a little vulnerable also on behalf of that lovely girl as I could only imagine the reactions she was about to receive. I think this demonstrates not that there is something wrong with the video but that this is more a case of something being wrong with society. It’s very interesting also, that so many people are having such strong reactions and emotions about this. It’s an advert for a gym and we should see it as such. Let’s face it – why do 90% of people in the West go to a gym or do yoga? To stay curvy? Or to find spirituality? If this video makes people feel uncomfortable, it’s most like because they have to deal with themselves and the fact that they may never look like that or achieve the perfect Asana (I include myself very much on both counts). Isn’t that where the ultimate yoga practice comes in? Acceptance. Of yourself and for what is. Maybe if we all came to terms with what we can change and what we cannot, we wouldn’t be so critical. At the end of the day it really is just a girl doing yoga – whether it’s perfect or not is irrelevant. Everything else is projected on to this from the individual and what they bring with them in their background and culture. What you can argue is whether or not advertising is a good thing and whether it should dominate our culture so much or how far it should go. But that is a whole different discussion.

    This also got me thinking about being a European living in the USA and reminded me of a funny anecdote. I say “European” as I am a funky mix of German, English, Swedish, Austrian and a spot of Italian and Scottish). There are definitely major cultural differences here. I would say that not only Latin cultures are more open to anything concerning the body or physicality in general, but most of central Europe with the exception of maybe the UK. I will never forget the first time I went to the gym here in the US and got changed into my bathing suit. I walked in, picked a locker, took my clothes off and then put my bikini on. I felt some awkwardness around me. Then I went for a swim, came back, showered and blow-dried my hair… and here it comes… naked! That’s when I realized that I was making the ladies a little uncomfortable and was getting a lot of funny sideways looks. Suddenly I felt like a bit of an exhibitionist. Question is… how do you take your clothes off at the gym? Do you use a towel to cover yourself up and fiddle around awkwardly until the deed is done? Or even put your swimsuit on at home before coming to the gym? We are all girls with all the same equipment aren’t we? Do we really have to hide from each other? Initially it was kind of funny to watch all the squirming around underneath towels. At the same time I didn’t want to make people uncomfortable so I amended my ways slightly.

    • Fantastic Alexandra. Thanks so much for taking all of the time and energy it took to churn out that very insightful post!! If you notice, I did also include Europe in my statement about differences in culture, but as my fan base is largely Latin American, that was the audience that I had access to to survey. I agree with you, and having lived and worked in Europe and with many European friends, I definitely see that the European culture is more accepting and desensitized to images of sexuality, than the American culture.

      That said, this line of yours pretty much hit the nail on the head for me: "Everything else is projected on to this from the individual and what they bring with them in their background and culture." As far as I'm concerned, that says it all.

      Thanks so much for taking the time to read and share your thoughts so honestly.

  10. Michelle says:

    I thought it was beautiful, inspiring and awesome. A celebration of power and strength and yes, beauty. God forbid we appreciate a beautiful woman showing a mastery and skill with her body, so much so that I feel what she is doing is elevated to an art form.

    I’ve seen Pilobolus performances that were more overtly sensual and explicit – yet that is considered art.

    It’s all in one’s perspective, apparently.

  11. Nobody puts a beautiful woman in black lace undies in her bedroom with a man in the bed in a promotional video unless they want it to appear sexually desirable. Sure it's beautiful, but it doesn't represent yoga on a whole. Does any yoga related campaign? So far as I know- nope. At least Equinox is being honest about what most yoga pushers are already selling. As for the art part, sex and art need not be separated. The real question is whether it represents yoga. What it certainly does represent is our current perspective and expectations of yoga. It does not upset me, but I wouldn't tell someone who doesn't know about yoga to watch it because there's nothing to learn from it. It's just nice to watch. And hey, your post has a lot of people thinking about that!

    • Mo Undies says:

      "because there's nothing to learn from it"

      The woman in the video is very skilled (and maybe tastes of vanilla. Maybe a hint of cinnamon…). Her technique is excellent. In a strict yoga sense one could learn much from this video. More women should have the courage to dress this way in yoga class. Panties are good. That is all.

    • anna says:

      my thoughts, too, JenniferBYoga….thank you for saying it far more eloquent than i…..Sat Nam

  12. spunkidonna says:

    I thought is was so beautiful. I've been in bikram classes where people dont actually wear much more than she was. It was so graceful and inspiring. In fact I'm getting my mat now!

  13. dude says:

    um… not to be blunt or anything, but… why is sex bad? i personally have no problem with admitting that it is a powerful testament to the exquisite art of mindfulness, but um… social hangups aside, it is also really obviously sexy. i kind of suspect that anyone who says they don't see that is… kind of lying… to make themselves seem really pious or something?… we're mammals.

    • Kait says:

      Typical American man. You see sex in everything and think the rest of us are liars.

    • opensecret says:

      It's not that sex is bad but when it's pretending to be something else it's not being honest. For example: this vid is supposed to be about yoga – but her form is really bad and if she continues doing it this way I could point to all the areas of her body where she is going to have problems. So for me it wasn't sexy at all because I was distracted by the poor alignment. I liked the lighting and some of the other choices in the vid but just didn't cut it. No absolutely nothing wrong with sexuality and actually I don't even see that as something separate from what we are. Yeah even talking about it in separatist terms is annoying.

  14. Mary says:

    This is just beauty in motion. And a beautiful body is nice to look at, a strong beautiful body is even nicer to look at. Yoga and strength in motion. Nothing wrong with any of it. Underwear or no underwear. Get over it people.

  15. The video was clearly sensual, but asana IS sensual & the video is more sensual to me than it is sexual. Equinox made a conscious decision about what to include & exclude visually & how to edit it. Their inclusion of an implied narrative – the glimpse of someone in a disheveled bed hints at sex, sex sells, and it is an ad, after all. That is all scripted & deliberate, as with any video. But the sensuality of it is not at all problematic to me. We can acknowledge that it is sensual but also assert that sensuality is not a problem.

    As a female yoga teacher, I identified with it more than anything else – I can't tell you how many times I've rolled out of bed & onto the mat naked or in my underwear & had a beautiful tranquil, and yes, sensual morning practice. Although that loft is bigger & has a better view than mine…sigh…

  16. Samantha says:

    Great article, i loved this video, w/ the exception of a few camera shots, i saw it as beautiful art, Here's another "study", how differently would this video be perceived if the same girl did the same sequence on the beach in a bikini?

  17. John Joseph says:

    The viewpoint of this video's detractors reminds me of the Bill Clinton sex scandal. While in puritanical and sexually repressed America people were glued to their TV's to excoriate Clinton for his behavior, Europeans, who are accustomed to their politicians having mistresses, laughed at us. I had no sexual response to this video. To me, it showed a ballet-like mastery of yoga. It was surely sensual, but i saw nothing sexual about it. I was expecting the guy in bed might get up with bed head and a stiffy in his undies, only to get into some form of tantric yoga pose, but alas, it was just her, in the sanctity of her own bedroom in her gorgeous urban loft. Really quite pure and beautiful.

  18. kat says:

    Oh uptight, puritanical Americans….there is NOTHING sexual about this video. It is an amazing display of Yoga. That's it.
    As Samantha asked -" how differently would this video be perceived if the same girl did the same sequence on the beach in a bikini?" what difference does it make?

    • Completely agree about the bikini point. Loads of yoga teachers take promotional photos/videos in skimpy bathing suits and nobody says a word about that. It's the same thing in my opinion. Not a big deal either way!

  19. MexicanDude says:

    I definitely agree with you. And the moment I saw the video was only in awe of her physical abilities to perform this sequence. It is truly beautiful!
    Just as a cultural thought… Have you considered of how Indian people would react to this video? In my experience India, the mother-land of Yoga, has A LOT of issues with the naked body, particularly the female body. Whether that is a pre or post-colonial attitude developed in response to cultural attack by Brits or Muslims is debatable… but the reality is that for traditional Indians a naked body belongs to the private sphere. No bikinis (or swimming suits) in the beach, up to a few years back not even jeans or other "sexy" clothes were seen around.
    So yes, the way we perceive the body is culturally determined and socially conditioned. In Mexico I know of a lot of very Catholic people who would rather think like your "gringos", than be open-minded about a semi-naked body. Latinos (including Spanish and Italians) can be very uptight regarding the female body, particularly when it comes to family members (mother, sister, daughter etc.) Your experience in Spain contrasts heavily with many of my own experiences in Latin American and Iberic countries. So, I am writing this just to nuance your thoughts about stereotypes on Latinos and Gringos.
    Peace 🙂

    • Hi there, those are all great points!! Thanks so much for sharing your perspectives. And I was by no means trying to stereotype, but rather ask a question and open a dialogue. I know I can only speak from my experiences and my experiences of not only Latin countries, but most of Western Europe have been to experience very liberal attitudes towards sexuality in the human body… of course it depends on the generation which you are speaking about. This is not so true of the older generations, but of the generations my age or younger, that has been largely my experience.

      In terms of Latin America, Brazil jumps to mind. I have never been to a country that was so comfortable with the human body, in all shapes and sizes. I really admired their openness and security in themselves.

      I did, however, have the same thought about India and other more traditional countries. This would certainly be the case that showing skin would be much, much more taboo. Absolutely true. But the purposes of this article, I was showing what I see as more liberal attitudes in other parts of the world.

      Thanks so much for sharing your perspective. All excellent points.

  20. […] is a gigantic blog site with a lot of interesting articles. I would like to refer to Jeannie Page’s article on this video. I would also like to share this that elephantjournal’s creator Waylon Lewis […]

  21. Alejandro says:

    Here's an edit of the original. What do you think?

  22. Way to go! Like you I’ve lived out of the US for many years (Italy) and if Americans view the Equinox video as a sex ploy,,,I wonder what they would do viewing some of the commercials, newspaper article, etc that tout sex in a major way. They would probably faint and not regain consciousness. Poor dears,,,I was so inspired by the video! Grace, balance and form in motion! Such a wonderful gift—somthing for all of us to learn from,no? Thank you for the well written article and your devotion to truth within!

  23. Rachel says:

    You are wrong in your kudos for Equinox.
    The video is an Equinox promotion yet the video's background is a bedroom! …not an Equinox gym… Like most mainstream media, zero social responsibility and no logic– just big business in the USA and the world as usual— and everyone's drinking the kool aide.

    • Vision_Quest2 says:

      And that kool aid tastes worse than Kombucha …

    • Rachel, I think the scene of the bedroom depends on one's interpretation, and that interpretation varies greatly. My interpretation was that they purposely showed the messy bed with the guy still sleeping, to show that this was her roll-out-of-bed morning practice. It's clearly a kick-ass practice and much more advanced than most people will do for their morning practice, but that's where I thought they were trying to be both ironic and inspiring- like, if this girl can roll out of bed and do this, what can she do if she's really awake and refreshed?! There are also loads of yogis that roll out of bed and practice in their underwear, and many in the nude, so my take on this was that they were simply trying to represent a day in the life of a yogi… a very advanced yogi. And for that I am inspired.

  24. jblakley70 says:

    Great article. When I watched the video, I found it captivating. Artistic, inspiring and yes, sexy. I'm not gay, but I can certainly appreciate when another woman is sexy. My question is, how is being sexy offensive?
    I think the videos intention was definitely to arouse the viewer. The bra and panties vs bikram style yoga clothes, the un made bed Vs a studio, the open leg and close up ass shots. But so what? As a woman, I like to feel sexy and beautiful. Watching her did not make me feel objectified or exploited. It inspired me to take care of my aging body As an older mother. I will never look like her. But doing yoga, having control over my body mind and spirit makes me feel beautiful and yes, sexy.
    There is a difference between art that is highly sexually charged and porn that is objectifying and demeaning. I am honestly shocked that any one could feel objectified by that video. I saw feminine strength, control, flexibility, beauty, grace and sexuality. Everything I enjoy about being a woman in a beautiful presentation.
    I don't see how this ad is that much more sexual than a Nike ad. Nike ads promote athletics as a means of personal power.The ads often pan lean muscles in action. Health, focus, fitness, strength, agility… These things are sexy. Sex is meant to be powerful and beautiful. Sexualized art or performances are meant to reveal the beauty of being a sexual being on this earth. Porn objectifies. Nothing about this felt like porn. As for the cultural differences, I think the puritanical energy of our counties roots is alive and well. Too bad.

  25. jblakley70 says:

    There was a man in the bed? I didn't even notice that! hahaha!

    • elephantjournal says:

      Was there? I didn't notice one. ~ Way

      • It's so funny, lots of people didn't notice him. I noticed him the first time around, when they shot a quick shot of the tattoo on his back. My take on it was that it was meant to portray "a day in the life" of a yogini. He was sleeping in and she was up doing her kick-ass practice. 🙂

  26. joytrip says:

    Thanks a lot for help me get this conversation into the proper context Jeannie. Hard to believe that something so beautiful could inspire this kind of controversy.

  27. lauren says:

    Im do not see how anyone can call the advertisement sexual… If I was as strong and graceful as my fellow yoga lover in the video, I too would proudly conduct my practice in undies (as would many others, Im sure:)

  28. […] Sex or yoga? Either way an amazing practice and body! A great reply by the amazing Jeannie Page! […]

  29. JJ Parra says:

    the porn view it´s on observer mind….

  30. Beautifully expressed friend. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. I agree on every point.

  31. […] The Equinox Yoga Video: Sex…or Art? My perspective. {Article in English & Spanish} […]

  32. Lins says:

    What a great article. As I live in Europe,born in Belgium I saw this video some days ago and looked to this raw diamond. In 2006 I began practicing Ashtanga Yoga and I felt this amazing feeling that I had the first time I came in a class of yoga when I saw this video. I had to laugh when I saw her man was sleeping into the bed and she is just practicing yoga. what a discipline is that. NO ONE moment I had the idea that there was to much focus on sexual energy. NO just pure being. Has it to do with being a North American or not. I don t know. this body is just nice and beautiful. wish I had it toooooo

    • Vision_Quest2 says:

      It probably takes more discipline to do the basic moves and hold them each several breaths, and do sun salutations in alignment, and keep the whole thing up for over an hour, and wash, rinse, repeat—day after day. This is a performance, not much more … it could be the result of doing the basics for most people; and for this woman, it could be the result of having excelled in gymnastics when younger …

      It's like those skiing ads that just show athletes slaloming perfectly down a black diamond slope … Now, how many avid skiiers could do that, early in the morning, like brushing their teeth … ?

      • I don't think they are trying to suggest that this is a normal, everyday practice. I think they are just trying to inspire people to do any yoga at all, morning practice or not. That's how I felt. It inspired me to want to do more yoga and practice my arm balances!

  33. Lindsay says:

    I just had another thought: what about those beautiful ads in Yoga Journal selling Yoga Sox? That woman is completely nude in forearm stand with only socks on. Are people freaking out about that too?

    • Yogi says:

      Judith Lasater wrote a long entry about the naked woman in toe sox in Yoga Journal. Not freaking out but certainly not supporting it.

  34. Rachael Arabian says:

    My impression: I need to get up earlier!

  35. Rachel F M says:

    I found the video to be inspiring to my practice, i.e., about how I might one day be able to move seamlessly between various poses. Or, that I would get up earlier than my husband so that I, too, could practice that early in the morning. That there was an unmade bed, with (presumably) a man sleeping in it, is beside the point. Awesome job, I thought. Didn't necessarily make we want to get an Equinox membership, however… 😉

  36. Dee says:

    Jeannie your article is brilliant and very thought provoking. When I first saw the video on FB, I was captivated by her beauty and talent and a little shocked by what I interpreted as her lack of modesty (which seemed wrong since it distracts us from the yoga.) But I admit that is my own projection.

    Someone mentioned a man in the bed. I didn't see any man, just an unmade bed. I wondered about the unmade bed and the lace panties. The lace panties suggest sexuality or at least flirtation.

    I liked the video but wondered if Equinox was using sex to sell yoga. Since this is the USA, I would say yes, they are.

    After reading your perspective, i am beginning to wonder why we read sex into everything. Perhaps the answer is that YES this video is sexual and that it's OK to be sensual and sexual and maybe yoga is evolving and changing and moving into a more artistic expression of whatever the practitioner wishes to express.

    To say this is not yoga is flawed. I think this is yoga and this is sexual / sensual.

    To Spanish people this type of expression of raw, passion and emotion is a very normal and regular part of their culture.

    Americans are frightened and terrified by this type of raw emotion . . . . so they label it sexual and taboo.

    • Agree on all points Dee. Thanks so much for reading and sharing your views! Something can absolutely be sensual without being sexual and I would definitely say that this video was sensual. For many Europeans and Latinos, this sensuality of the human form is simply, as I said, art. It is for me too.

      There was a man in the bed (or so it appeared), but my interpretation of that was that it was simply to show that her boyfriend/partner was sleeping in while she was up doing her morning yoga practice. I felt it was trying to show her "daily" routine, albeit a totally kick-ass one! I feel nothing but completely inspired by her video to continue moving forward with my practice.

  37. catnipkiss says:

    I am astounded at all the comments, and did not have time to read them all (so pardon me if I repeat anyone's thoughts) but I think there is a whisper of sex in the video, because they did, after all, choose to shoot it in a bedroom with a slumbering man (I think?) in the bed, not in a studio or yoga-class environment. There is an undercurrent of sexuality. However, I love sexuality! We are human, sexual beings. It's not blatant. It's not overt. She's in her black lace undies, which nicely contain her toned athletic body. i love the grace, poetry, and athleticism of these poses, and for a moment I thought, I need to drop 30 pounds and get that body and DO THAT!! But why? What treasures would magically unfold for me then? I think we can appreciate, admire, and be inspired, and take away the dedication and strength that this kind of practice requires. But also, subliminally, that "imagine what she can do – what I can also do when my practice is good – in bed." I know enough Spanish and Latino men to know they might also think that. 🙂 – Alexa M

    • Vision_Quest2 says:

      #1. I bet your health practitioner does not think you are 30 pounds overweight, and in fact you probably have a BMI in the low-normal range right now. There is no need beyond the aesthetic to be that slender unless it's natural without dieting.
      #2. There are plenty of American men who think that … and that is what is annoying …

  38. Awesome post, thanks for your excellent perspective. I referenced your article in my blog post:… Keep up the great work! J

  39. Dawn says:

    i fully fully agree with you. however, if the u.s. is too repressive – i would say on the obverse that, having danced with latin american men, that latin america bends (all puns intended) a bit to the other side of the spectrum.

    • "Here is the author’s slightly offensive, somewhat ignorant and completely naïve response." Ouch. You think I was offensive? My article was in no way meant to be a scientific study. I was merely expressing my views (it is a free country afterall) and was exploring the possible differences in cultural reactions, as I saw them through the lens of my own experience. I hardly think there was anything offensive, and certainly not ignorant naive about that. How can my own experiences be naive? I was simply asking people to think about why one set of people from one culture would tend to react one way, versus a very different reaction from a different culture. And clearly, given the response to the article, other people were curious to discuss this topic as well. I was simply trying to open a dialogue.

      Also, if you had actually read my own piece, I was not saying at all that I was disappointed in anyone's reactions to the video. I was very clear to state that I fully understood how someone could see it as sexual, and while that was not my reaction, I did respect that viewpoint. From there I was simply curious as to why people would have such different reactions. My article was nothing more than following that curiosity and posing questions to the audience.

      And if you read the end of my article, I agreed that in the end Equinox was very successful in trying to sell "sex" or "sensuality", whichever side of the coin you want to call it. The clear reaction of people was evidence enough to me that that is likely exactly what Equinox had intended. That still however, does not change my views that from my perspective I saw it as art in motion, not sex. Everyone views it through their own lens and that is fine. That does not make me naive or arrogant. And I'll let the readers decide, but I would say that your piece was far more offensive than mine.

  40. ValCarruthers says:

    Been bemusedly observing this from the sidelines and now I'm joining the fray. Right on everybody who agrees that it's about a strong and radiant yogini doing a beautiful powerful practice, no biggie about the undies. The whole scenario was an invitation into the intimacy of her morning practice, not in a voyeurish or vicarious way (though some could take that perspective) but a sense of right thereness, breathing and flowing along with her and. I believe this was Equinox's intention. It sure energized me. When it ended I got up from the computer, went over to a wall in my house and picked up my lagging handstand practice.

    Now about that guy in the bed, creating a backstory cuttin z's while she's yoga-ing away. Clearly he's eff'd out, hungover, etc. He should do more Yoga. Then we could ogle him in his jockstrap in the a.m.

    • Hilarious comments Val! Thanks so much for reading and comment. I personally think the guy was just sleeping while she did her yoga practice, but we're all just guessing as to the motivation of him in the bed. 🙂

  41. Anand Rudra says:

    It is really amazing that in 21st. century a woman practicing YOga in a video can create such a conmotion… Only in America can happen something like that. Yoga in ancient times was performed nude in ceremonies….Uff if these "Yoginis" that try to censor every thing where in those times. Remeber Yoga is a millenary practice and no body owns it, there is no rules, there is no schools, only methodology in the practice and the intentions and tools on that methodology brings the schools and with it ethics, procedures, religion, etc…… Nice article, what is good or bad in one YOga or any other practice depends in the intention on the eyes of the beholder….

  42. Monique says:

    I don't think this video would've received the same backlash had it been made by an independent studio or a single practitioner looking to express herself. It is the fact that it was made by a corporation that makes us analyze it and the motives behind it so critically.

  43. theheathenvegan says:

    I didn't realize that it was a new video, or that it had sparked so much controversy. I only knew about it because one of my best friends, a photographer, posted it to my wall on Facebook, as he knew I did yoga. I saw nothing sexual about it. I thought it was beautiful and inspiring, and definitely artistic. People need to lighten up. Great article.

  44. Mús says:

    I lost my "yoga virginity" on Monday just gone by. Before taking the class, I had already accumulated a deep respect for yoga, but upon viewing the video in question on my yoga teacher's facebook page, I was just in awe at the feats that the lady in the video was able to accomplish. It truly is amazing, and a true testament to what a human being is capable of, with both body and mind, when both passion and discipline are combined.

    It's actually very surprising that such a negative reaction would hail from the yoga community in particular, but you clear that one up by mentioning that they are from America (the land of consumers, complainers and lawsuits). I am from Ireland, a small, predominantly Catholic, island where condoms were illegal until 1978, and a national mindset far from that of our latin sisters and brothers. Even here I think it would be very difficult to find someone who is offended by the above video and who could not watch it without being in complete awe and admiration for the subject.

    The way I see it, it is the people who have complained about this video that not only shed a poor light on the promotion of yoga, but also on the promotion of the American people as a whole. Enlightenment may only be a moment away for an elephant, but for an ostrich it can seem an eternity.

    Peace and blessings to you – Mús

  45. Aurora says:

    Yah, it's beautiful. Let everyone who thinks it's not make their own lives harder. Who really cares. We should have bigger concerns.

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