September 10, 2013

Who Gets to Define Yoga? (Hint: It’s Not MuMumelon.)

I heard an interesting comment today from a colleague in the yoga world.

He said, and I  quote ” There are a lot of the stereotypes that exist in the yoga world. It probably isn’t helped by the fashion world pushing a certain image because it sells $50 yoga tops!”

It’s more like $100 yoga tops—but the message is the same—and unfortunately people can’t wait to buy them. It really is too bad. Wear a second hand retro tee shirt and give the money to your broke-ass yoga teacher or donate to a family in need.

What Lululemon, media and marketing want you to believe is that size 12 is an extra large in yoga. Really?

Media at large is trying to define yoga based on selling clothing. The largest size the number one yoga clothing retailer makes is size 12 according to their website. Lululemon openly admits that making clothing over the size 12 is not their focus—they exclude a large market of yogis (no pun intended).

Not all people who practice yoga are defined by a size or a Lulu label.

Which brings me to my point…who gets to define yoga? I hope to hell not the media, and especially not Lululemon. I think each and every one of us gets to define yoga on our terms, day to day, and pose to pose.

Unfortunately, the image of yoga has been hijacked and has become  young, straight, thin, flexible, fashionable and, dare I say it, sexy. Let’s face it, sex sells! The images we see are just that: tiny, flexible and sometimes naked bodies selling yoga stuff.

Why does the media get to define yoga? Why is selling $100 yoga pants the cost of enlightenment? Why do we support this culture and think it’s cool and ok? I don’t get it!

Anyone who doesn’t fit this yoga stereotype can take heart. Dig a little deeper and you’ll find an incredibly diverse array of yoga students and teachers. Just take the time to look—they’re out there if you search. Go out and support them!

Make yoga and diversity your cause—include everyone because inclusion is cool.

I am excited to say that there are a lot of us out there that are changing the face of yoga and how it’s perceived.

We don’t have to study with a world-travelling celebrity yoga guru to benefit from the teachings of yoga—there are many great yoga teachers in communities all across North America (and other parts of the world).

These teachers come in all ages, shapes, sizes, skin tones and genders. These teachers are changing the face of yoga.

Go to their classes. Learn about yourself by stepping outside the box!

If you are a yoga teacher that breaks the yoga stereotype and is driven to create more diversity within yoga, please be more visible; as yoga teachers, it is a responsibility to make yoga available to everyone who wishes to practice.

We need to think bigger than just the studio—we need to define yoga.

(While we’re at it, can we make some yoga clothes for bigger bodies please?)



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Ed: Bryonie Wise

Photo: Erika Reid Photography



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