This week I saw an advert you may be interested in on a yoga forum:
Male and female advanced asana practitioners wanted for London advertising photo shoot. Must be able to perform asana such as one-arm handstand (male), mayurasana in lotus (female), tittibhasana, strong backbends (touching feet in urdhva dhanurasana, scorpion, dragonfly, standing splits and a couple of two person balances – final list of asana available later this week.
Okay. I have huge respect for people with an excellent āsana practice. It takes years of daily dedication, and if someone is paying you to demonstrate your posture, I say go for it! Embrace it. Spread the joy of yoga and your work. Talk to people. If you are happy to share your story, I for one am happy to hear it. I am interested in peoples’ practices and how they’ve gotten to where they are. They inspire me. They show me what the human body is capable of and it is magical.
Oh, by the way, there is more to the post. It continues as such:
– x1 Male and x1 female, a masculine male and feminine female.
– Ages to be late twenties, early thirties.
– Athletic, not too muscular.
– Hands and feet will be closely cropped in some executions, so they should be well maintained.
– Short hair for the man, and mid length to long for the woman, able to be put-up.
– Able to communicate focus and be attractive – have gravity and not be too rounded in features.
– Make-up should be a minimum and so a good natural feel to the skin and complexion
– Men to be clean shaven and should not be too hairy – preferably smooth.
– Positions must create strict lines.
This Is Not Okay
It seems clear to me that we still have a long way to go in getting a real representation of all bodies in advertising. I’m tired of seeing the same ideals of beauty and fitness wherever I look. What are we teaching our children? What are we teaching ourselves?
But there is hope. Everywhere, people are standing up against these crazy standards (did you catch these improvements that were being made to the beach body campaign last year?). Here’s mine:
Dear Mr Advertiser,
Please, if you are looking to promote and represent the yoga community, I urge you to look beyond these ideals and embrace all: shapes, sizes, ages, gender, ethnicity and so on.
Remember; Yoga is not just posture practice – it is so much more.
I would like to note that I am not putting anyone down that falls into the category described. We are bombarded with advertising: Shops, billboards, TV, magazines and about 90% of the men and women I see would fit perfectly into the requirements above. Where is the diversity? Who is representing the rest of us? And please explain what you mean by “masculine male” and “feminine female”?
Please don’t turn yoga into an elite sport.
Advertisers set impossible standards. From these, seeds of self-doubt are sown. “I’m too fat, my features are too round, I’m too masculine, I’m not good enough.
Please, Mr Advertiser, how about trying something new rather than sticking with what has always been? It would be refreshing to see a broader mix of yogis represented. I for one would thank you whole-heartedly.
The Million Pound Secret
Do you want a perfect yoga body? Well, I know the secret. It’s easier than you think. Here are the steps you need to take to get the perfect yoga body:
- Do you have a body? (“Yes” I hear you cry!)
Then you already have the perfect yoga body. Yoga is for EVERYBODY. Whatever age, ability, strength, flexibility, size.
My Journey To Loving My Body
While I was training and working as a performer, it was hard not to be obsessed about appearances. I spent hours a day dancing in front of mirrors working with beautiful people with amazing bodies. I felt constant pressure to look perfect, which was only reinforced by the billboards I saw on my daily route, the magazines I read, the performers I saw.
I found yoga while living as a broke artist in New York City looking for a cheap workout. I was feeling low about my body, I was used to dancing everyday and now my only exercise was walking to the subway. My friend told me about this free class I could go to called Yoga To The People.
To tell you a little about them, they run by donation. The classes normally have about 70 students in a room. Every age and every background with mats spaced four inches apart. On any given day you will find students that have practised for years and students who are having their first class. These guys welcome every body, and this poster sits at the entrance to their studio:
There will be no correct clothes
There will be no proper payment
There will be no right answers
No glorified teachers
No ego, no script, no pedestals
No you’re not good enough or rich enough
This yoga is for everyone
This sweating and breathing and becoming
This knowing glowing feeling
Is for the big, small, weak and strong
Able and crazy
Brothers, sisters, grandmothers
The mighty and meek
Bones that creak
Those who seek
This yoga is for everyone
Yoga To The People
All Bodies Rise
In that first class I fell in love. I fell in love with yoga, I fell in love with this room crammed with people breathing and moving in unison. I fell in love with my body. For all that it does for me every day. I was finally listening to my body and it sang. I was celebrating my body for that hour and it thanked me with a warm glow that has stayed with me ever since.
All Bodies Rise
Whatever you may think of how you look, yoga is a way of paying respect to your body. Your mat is the perfect place to start appreciating it, loving it and learning all about it. You are enough today. Not when you are thinner. Not when you can hold plank for two minutes. Not when you get into the splits. If you are looking for some really awesome inspiration – check out these amazing stories.
Yoga is not about self-improvement. It’s about self acceptance.
This is a struggle everyone has to live with at some point in their lives. I would love to hear about your journey, your thoughts, and your ideas — so please share them!