If you have not already seen the incredible video shot by Equinox, featuring Briohny Smyth, then stop reading this post right now and check it out. Assuming you have, you have also heard about the uproar this has caused about exploiting sexuality in yoga. This isn’t the first time we have heard this song… last year when renowned yoga teacher Kathyn Budig was featured in tastefully shot ads for the brand ToeSox, which showed her in yoga poses wearing nothing but the socks, she was criticized for sexualizing yoga as well and bringing a stigma to the practice. My question is, who are the people making these claims? In my opinion, anyone with sound judgement would find the ToeSox ads and Equinox’s video nothing but inspiring.
Both Briohny Smyth and Kathryn Budig demonstrate incredible, enviable control of their bodies, and as a result of their dedicated practice they both have great figures to show for it. I think both of these ads aim to show what doing yoga regularly can do for your physique, and anyone who thinks they are meant to instill sexual desires is probably the one who has the biggest issue.
I recently wrote an article for the wonderful website MindBodyGreen.com about how Europeans have a much more lax view on nudity than Americans. (You can read the article here.) This is a perfect example of my point about how they view things… why are we making such a big deal of something that quite frankly doesn’t need to be hidden? There is nothing vulgar or shocking about either ad, and the fact that people would respond to it as such is just silly. What is next? Yoga pants are too tight and should be outlawed? Maybe we’ll go back to wearing bathing suits from the 1920s while we are at it.
I understand that many people view yoga as a sacred practice, but how is this video harming them? Those same people would probably be appalled at the fact that I practice yoga and am not a strict vegan, but that is why yoga is your own practice. There are no “rules” in yoga- it is a highly individual practice. What happened to Ahimsa (the Sanskrit word that means “the avoidance of violence,” – to do no harm), one of the five Yamas that makes up Yoga’s code of conduct? In my opinion, criticizing and ostracizing the people in these ads is a lot more harmful than the ads themselves.
It is truly admirable that both these women have the confidence to pose as they do, the bodies to pull it off, and the control to bring themselves into these near-impossible poses. Both the ads and the video are a true inspiration, and all they do for me is fuel my desire to be as awesome as possible in yoga.
Briohny & Kathryn – keep on rocking it!