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September 3, 2014

In Defense of Yoga Journal. ~ Kathrine Conroy

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The other day when I turned on my tablet, it made that wonderful sound it makes when something has been updated or downloaded.

I was so excited when I checked and saw that the newest issue of my Yoga Journal digital subscription had downloaded. I read it with rapt attention.

Yoga Journal has come under some criticism lately for becoming “less yogic.”

Some might roll their eyes at the idea of an “Instagram famous” yogi being on the cover of Yoga Journal’s September 2014 issue, but I thought the Hilaria Baldwin feature was wonderful. Hilaria Baldwin is no less of a yogi because of her famous husband or 55,000 Instagram followers (I am now one of them). Ms. Baldwin is a relatively experienced teacher, having taught yoga and dance for nearly a decade now.

I do not judge her for her bikini-clad Instagram pictures or nearly-impossible poses. Meditating in a bikini (and taking a photo of it so others may be inspired) can still be meditating.

Yoga Journal also includes healthy recipes, articles that incorporate more directly some of the yoga philosophy and, yes, many, many advertisements. Most magazines have lots of advertisements, some of which are tailored to the target audience of the publication, so that they can pay their bills.

I don’t even really mind the advertisements in Yoga Journal, because they are targeted to the health-conscious, mindful readership of the magazine. Instead of advertisements for makeup and designer clothing, Yoga Journal has advertisements for yoga clothes, mats and accessories, as well as health supplements and healthy foods.

I am glad for it because I always hated the advertisements in fashion magazines.

The last few times I read a fashion magazine, it seemed like I was just flipping between advertisements for designer clothes worn by emaciated models that are not affordable and advertisements for makeup or a skincare product featuring a model with Photoshop-perfected skin, with sex tips and celebrity interviews thrown in. Reading Yoga Journal and seeing an advertisement featuring healthier-looking models doing yoga poses in exercise clothes is a welcome change.

As I kept reading, I came to another section about choosing flattering yoga clothes for different body types. I always enjoy such style advice because I am petite at barely 5 feet tall, but have my father’s broad shoulders. I am decidedly hard to fit and my body type is one that is difficult to find flattering styles for. Most women’s clothes accentuate the width of my shoulders and upper body in a very unflattering way.

While it could be said that this section on the most flattering yoga clothes for each body type is unyogic because of the vain focus on physical appearance, I tend to disagree. Like it or not, feeling our best includes not feeling self-conscious about how we look. When we feel our best, we perform our best. Instead of wasting our energy on vain, self-conscious thoughts, we can use that energy more productively. Instead of worrying about how our yoga pants make our butt look, we could use that energy to try a variation of a pose we’ve never tried before or fidget a little less in savasana. (I know I’m not the only one!)

The recent criticism of Yoga Journal is unwarranted.

It is much more mindful than any Cosmo-esque magazine. Unfortunately, magazines are a visual media and no magazine will escape some level of superficiality due to the restraints of the visual nature of what they are. I agree that there could be more philosophical or spiritual content, but I think it is overall a great publication I enjoy reading each month.

If you want 100% undiluted yoga philosophy, by all means read the Yoga Sutras or the Bhagavad Gita. They’re really pretty great.

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Editor: Renée Picard

Photo: Google Images labelled for reuse 

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Kathrine Conroy