Very Hot Yoga

I really wonder about Yoga marketing. A while back I saw a blog post (I think I found the link on Formosa Neijia, but I don’t remember) that posited a very relevant question, asking why Yoga, instead of Taiji, was more popular as a marketable, new-age, meditation, health and fitness practice. The gist of the article was: Taiji is not sexy.

Yoga is sexy. You can do it in skimpy outfits, it requires sweaty endurance training, it creates obscene flexibility, it tones and shapes the body (or the booty? Haha! No seriously, there are nutty fake Yoga videos about developing the buttocks). On a purely empirical and physical level, it’s such an obvious cash crop for an adult female demographic! And of course I can see why more dudes are more attracted to martial arts or whatever here. Same supposed/promised results (inner peace, toned body, flexibility, athleticism, and of course booty) but it’s tough! Grrr!

Thing is, whenever I go to Yoga sites, they’re chock full of instructors in totally scanty outfits, sometimes in the most extreme asanas/poses! Yowza! Just who is their intended audience? I mentioned this to a friend, saying that some of those poses would be uncomfortable to witness a woman performing up close! That is, either a really attractive or unattractive woman… hahaha! Anyway, my friend is really politically correct so he didn’t think that was funny. He seemed to insinuate that I was a blasphemer for even conceiving of the idea (even though I didn’t – it floated by my psyche and I decided to attach to it, but I digress) Unfortunately, I was pseudo-serious: what male is going to a Yoga shala and isn’t completely blasted, completely awed by the sheer massive amount of female energy around them? In fact, maybe it’s dangerous, now that I think about it. Although going to one of these places could make a male less nervous around females in a social context, if a male consciously has that in mind when thinking of these places, they’re a slimeball. So, in other words, don’t let me near any shalas, haha!

But honestly, the real reason I don’t get involved in Yoga is because I’m naturally flexible. In a way that’s actually almost unhealthy. Over-flexibility is not that great if it hasn’t come from gradual strengthening. So, I don’t think yoga would be of huge benefit to me. And I’m pretty set into my own MA practices, which incidentally, take a lot of time out of the week.

Still, I’ve noticed a number of martial arts hombres who have taken up Yoga alongside their longtime martial arts practice. There have been a number of blog posts about it over on big Taiji-related blogs like Formosa Neijia and Weakness With A Twist. It seems like most of these guys do the martial arts first, though. I don’t really get it, since to my knowledge, it isn’t necessarily helpful or good from a fighting/combat perspective to be yoga flexible. Of course, some Shaolin-type training will do similar stretching, but whatever. We’re talking entirely different fundamentals for that kind of training. And I feel like that’s mostly athleticism (which is still awesome and useful). But straightforward martial technique generally calls for opened hips and good fluid dynamics (springing from the root, moving from the waist, moving and rooting, yielding and neutralizing, etc.), not limbs stretched beyond the socket or torso. (Remember, I don’t do Yoga or Shaolin, so don’t rage at my posts)

But! I’m very interested to see how yoga classes are set up. I just would not have any long-term commitment right from the get-go. So… I must stick to my guns and not check it out. And yet I do think if many more girls did martial arts it would be interesting. I wonder how the male demographic would react to that one?

Martial arts often lose out to Yoga in ethical reasoning these days. Why learn how to maim someone? Although martial arts might seem dangerous or unhealthy from a mental perspective, one should remember that like all technological progress, the techniques and teachings are only available because they’re no longer new or even openly useful. Whenever something is open to the public like that, it means it’s such old news it practically belongs in a museum. Nowadays, the only real culture is technology, and that’s obsolete as soon as it comes out. It’s like what that lesbian hitchhiker in Five Easy Pieces kept frothing at the mouth about, that everything is just a bunch of crap. Crap, crap and more crap. These days you can’t escape all the crap. She was nuts, but somehow also right!

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6 Responses to “Very Hot Yoga”

  1. parallelsidewalk Says:

    I’m not a hardcore yogi or anything but I like yoga. When I do it regularly for a couple months (which hasn’t been the case in a while) I feel like I’m in a certain balanced but relaxed state. It could be psychosomatic I suppose, but it seems real. I’ve done it at the same time as Capoeira, but never really associated the two; I wouldn’t be surprised though since when you play Capoeira, especially Capoeira Angola, you spend a lot of time in difficult positions and close to the ground.

    The sexiness of yoga does kinda put me off. Not because I’m a prude or anything, just because I don’t think everything can/should be sexy all the time. I’ve been to yoga classes with female students/teachers that were basically wearing bras and panties to class and doing some pretty extreme postures, and I always kinda figured a t-shirt and shorts would work just as well (incidentally, I feel the same way about $5 sweatpants vs. $25+ ‘yoga pants’).

  2. wizardsmoke Says:

    Yeah, I hoped no one would find this post sexist. I’m not really a slimeball and I think Yoga’s great, but I’m not suited for it physically. Contrary to popular belief, Yoga is actually more suited for people who are NOT naturally flexible.

    But yes, re: bra and panties. My friend is of the attitude that women should be able to walk down the street naked without any problems. I don’t disagree from a moral perspective, but I don’t think it’s very realistic. Most males have strong desires they can’t simply give up once they’re activated. Not all, but the majority. Most people have the good moral judgment not to act on them, but a lot of them become repressed issues which create aggression or depression. My friend is a good example. He’s a very repressed aggressive person.

    I always wanted to try Capoeira when I was younger, but I never knew anyone or anywhere nearby to learn it from. Does it require inherent upper body strength? I mean, is it geared towards a typically male body structure as opposed to a classical female form?

  3. parallelsidewalk Says:

    Well, I don’t want to hold women responsible for mens’ behavior. That being said, it would be pretty dumb for a woman to walk through some neighborhoods I’ve lived in scantily clad. While feminists often point out (and this is valid), that a rapist etc might attack a woman who is modestly dressed and/or unattractive, it’s also true that women projecting anything sexual get bugged by men more.

    Capoeira in my experience is probably the most girl-heavy martial art there is, as well as the most racially mixed. You need enough upper body strength to do a handstand, and that’s about it. I left over the fueds, macho headgames, and cultural aspects I disliked, but I’m sure these aren’t universal.

  4. Hey, thanks for the link Wizard Smoke!
    My view is that if your downward dog can’t scamper across the floor and scratch its ear, you’re wasting your time. I like having more flexibility than a person actually needs for martial arts because I occasionally like to perform (also known as showing off) and since I teach kids–they love twisting up into funny shaped animals.
    I’m planning to blog at some point about the new evidence that Yoga sun salutations come from wrestling and most of the inversions and standing postures come from, shock, western gymnastics. That’s the real reason why it is such a hit with the ladies.
    By the way, good insights about the repression/aggression/depression cycle, man I know that one by heart. (Glad I’ve hooked a keeper!) Perhaps gender separate Yoga is not a bad idea. Also, remember, the word gymnastics means “naked art” in Greek and it was originally all about man-boy love.

  5. wizardsmoke Says:

    Ha, thanks for stopping by Scott. You always propose the craziest connective cultural theories (which are sometimes heartbreaking for those of us suffering from MAFS).

    I don’t understand why women would like western gymnastics though… And I assume you’re referring to some kind of British imperial fitness regimen that was set up when they were in India?

  6. Yoga, as we know it from Iyengar and Pratabi Joyis, came out of the Mysore palace. Their teacher held classes in the gym. The palace had a gym because the last two generations of princes had been gymnastics enthusiasts. They brought over teachers from Europe to train the princes in gymnastics.

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