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Jan_2 2011

Greetings yoga and massage friends -

I just loved reading this article in New York Times by Lizette Alvarez about Tara Stile's LA yoga brand, which emphasizes the physical aspects of yoga with her promise of Slim, Calm & Sexy.

The article does a great job of showing both sides of the reaction - is this just glib advertising which betrays the promise of yoga's spiritual lineage to a western obsession with image? Or a down-to-earth way of bringing those benefits to a modern audience of working folks uncomfortable with the self-important preening of many yoga studios?

After some good chuckles, I found myself reflecting that it wasn't really the emphasis on the physical aspects of yoga I question. I like that about yoga - it is physical, just as our life is. But I do wonder about the emphasis on a certain body type: the slim, svelte image of the yogini on the front cover of magazines. I have known too many awesome practitioners of yoga - graceful, strong, beautiful - who happen to be in plus size bodies. Actually the emphasis on Calm might fall in the same category. Some I respect the most have somewhat plus-sized emotions and energy. Perhaps "intentional" would be a better word. And then how about the gender thing?  I have always appreciated the good showing of men to my classes, knowing that it can be intimidating when so often portrayed in popular culture as 'for women only'.

But back to the Slim question. Am I just being politically correct? In an era when overweight is becoming the biggest health challenge for our nation, is it actually okay to say that being slim is a goal? Or are we confusing two things - being the appropriate weight for our body type is healthy, wishing we had the teen-boy physique that floods our advertising is self-destructive. 

Or is body-weight even a relevant claim? Can Yoga help you become slim? Or does it just attract already skinny folks who feel good about their image? Here I am hopeful. I believe that yoga can be part of the solution even though it's typically not the most aerobic of work-outs. I do want to believe holistic living is about more than burning calories; that on some level connecting with our own body in a non-judgmental and loving way promotes a respect for what we really want to put in our mouth, and what options we have for self-comfort in addition to that yummy bowl of ice-cream.

What do you think? Three words for the benefits of yoga is ridiculous? Or are you ready to persuade me that you have a better slogan? I'd love to hear...

namaste - Eugene