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Are Yoga Ads Too Sexy? Have Your Say on Judith Lasater vs Yoga Journal, ToeSox Nudegate

in Business of Yoga, YD News

Have you heard all the ruckus about sexy naked yoga ads? It’s a fracas of bodily proportions! The debate’s been raging for a week, so if you’re sick and tired of it by now we understand. Who wants to talk about body image, sexuality and yoga? Ptew! What started as a murmur was brought to howling debate after Judith Hanson Lasater wrote a letter (see below) to the editor of Yoga Journal, published in the September ’10 issue, expressing her confusion, sadness and overall disappointment with the status of YJ’s approach to selling ads that sell yoga products.

Some of you may recall the now infamous Lululemon “Camel Toe” ad plastered on the back cover of the magazine a few months ago, invoking a response of outrage alongside giggles and complacency. Funny, even Yoga Journal itself used nudity for their Florida Conference ad you can see in the same Sept. issue Ms. Lasater’s letter ran in.

We were awaiting the official response from Yoga Journal brass, well because they’re the major focus in this discussion, even if exemplified (and not necessarily Kathryn Budig whose naked body grace’s the Toesox ads and who has been the target of negativity and/or support in the matter), but you know what? Who cares what they have to say? We want to know what YOU think. The readers, the practitioners, the targeted consumers. Who speaks for you? Because people, magazines, maybe even advertisers will listen. If nothing else, at least we yogadorks will.

Have you noticed other ads that are TOO sexy? American Apparel LOVES to tap that sexy yoga ass in ads. Is it perverse? A double standard on men/women nakedness? Should Yoga Journal be held to a higher level of ethics? Is it just business? “Sex sells” capitalism? Are we being prude? Is it art?

ps. this is yoga journal’s 35th anniversary. Is this a harbinger of changing tides?

Read the actual letter (scanned in from the physical mag that interestingly enough no one seemed to have), followed by official responses from Judith Hansen Lasater, Toesox, and Lululemon.

JH Lasater via an interview on it’s all yoga, baby:

For me it is not about the nakedness; rather, it is about using bodies to distract us instead of using ads that inspire us to practice yoga, to live in the present and to be open to compassion and grace in each moment. I am sad when I see yoga in general, and many yoga classes in particular, becoming about distraction and entertainment.

ToeSox Inc. founder/president Joe Patterson’s response via elephantjournal:

For the record, our intention has been to associate ourselves with inspiring, beautiful artwork that celebrates both artists’ work and showcases them in a forum that reaches many. We do this because we are patrons of the artistic efforts of Jasper Johal, Kathryn Budig and Carrie Macy. The ancillary benefit is that the audience is simply aware of our product. We do not try to oversell in the ads and clutter the art.

We do not equate nudity to sex and selling sex can be done without nudity. Sex is not our intention and the proof is shown through the mindful gaze of the artist and the positioning of poses. There is no coquettish look at the camera or wink to the audience. We aren’t using nudity for nudity’s sake. The campaign is about minimalism and expression. Each month features a different pose, each with thoughtful use of lighting, depth, and composition. Images are not just thrown together, but instead orchestrated with genuine heart and love of the human body and its strength.

Lululemon response via twitter DM:

Thanks for inviting us to participate in this spirited debate! lululemon focuses on inspiring our guests to live healthier lives through athletic pursuits, so we graciously decline participation in this conversation.

Reader response via elephantjournal:

art trip Two points:

1. Stop with the “this is art” already. This is not art. This is commercial photography. Calling this art is like calling what she is doing in that ad Tantric yoga. Calling this art is an insult to artists.

2. To those calling this courageous, it is not. This is the oldest and cheapest advertising trick in the book. Using a hot young babe. Courageous would be to use an old naked women, or a naked male of any age or a person on any age or color other than white.

EarlierAmerican Apparel Taps that Yoga Ass

In Response To Camel Toe, Or 10 Things We Learned About Yoga Crotch Advertising

Marilyn Monroe, Hollywood Celebriyogi (photos)

68 comments… add one
  • One of my favorite pics at my friend’s studio that she has hanging on the information board is about 500 yogis in India, all in downward dog and all buck-naked.
    To each their own, I suppose…. I see no issue with this, considering current events, floods, etc…. Let’s focus on the more important issues.

  • I think the ads themselves are lovely. However, my issue is that ads like this tend to alienate new or non-practitioners and lead them to believe that yoga is “not for them.” Yoga is for all of us, no matter how we look naked. I think it’s hard enough for new yoginis to see the cover of Yoga Journal and not feel intimidated. If they’re brave enough to open its pages to find those ads, I’m concerned that it will be one more reason for them to give up their practice. And really, aren’t those the people we need to reach most?

  • Sarah

    I don’t personally take offense to the nudity in the Toe Sox ads. At least it’s tasteful. And to be honest, there isn’t much fabric separating them from the hard tail ads. The issues I have with YJ are the images of tiny, completely fit girls positioned right next to the huge ads for diet pills. I really like Yoga Journal, but if any of their ads are off message or inappropriate, those are the absolute worst.

  • Loo

    Sure, the naked model is stunning, but I agree with the elephantjournal response. It’s a cheap shot. When I was in art school, we would have live models to draw. One week we had a dancer who had a gorgeous body and struck all manner of athletic poses and we quickly grew bored. The next week we had an elderly gentleman who sat in deep contemplation. I’ve never forgotten his beauty and how much better my drawing was with him. Yoga is for everyone but these ads don’t have the courage to show that. Besides, no one I know would use toe sox anyway. Strange product if you ask me, but then again, I’m an ashtangi and you know how we are!

  • Kathleen

    Come on everybody. Lighten up. The half naked/naked bodies don’t bother me. The NUMBER of ads is more than I can take.

  • Wow, what year is this? We are still getting all worked up over “naked” people in ads? Yes, the pictures are about selling a product, which is exactly what advertisements do.

    What is more concerning is the non-ad content of Yoga Journal, with its almost religious emphasis on the purely physical aspects of yoga. As probably the most widely read yoga magazine (or most widely read among non-teachers), it does a poor job of presenting the many levels of yoga and reinforces the yoga-as-asana stereotype.

    Yoga Journal has gone the way of many publications that survive almost solely on advertising revenue: first the number of ads increase, then the content is watered down as the focus shifts to short sound bytes rather than in-depth articles (things to read while waiting for your next 105 degree yoga class), and finally the magazine is complete dribble worthy of the free publication box on the corner. It’s time for a new yoga magazine, one that presents yoga in a more thorough and thoughtful manner.

  • For over 5000 years, yoga has been so deeply embedded in brahmacharya (yogic celibacy) that barely (no pun) any Westerner seems to notice how divergent modern yoga is … the ratio of “internally married” brahmacharya yogis to persons with “modern sexual lifestyles” in India for those 5000 years (including Mr Iyengar) must be around one million to zero. None of this registers to Western yoga teachers. What is sad, is that it is in these “celibate erotic depths” that the mysteries of yoga remain hidden behind these rather superficial debates about fashion model yogis, etc. Khecari mudra, urdhva retas, and even pariyanga (erotic tantra, with no resemblance to “modern tantric sex”) remain obscure. See my many publications in US, Russia, Italy, India for more (resume at website)

  • Just about the only body part that needs to be naked for yoga is the foot. Ironic then that ToeSox want to sell yogis something they don’t need, by taking away things that we do. When I advise students on what to wear, I suggest clothes that show teachers what they’re doing – leggings not baggy pants for example – but not things that distract us. We’ve all seen body parts we don’t want to, while we’ve been teaching sirsasana, haven’t we? People will always take a peek at a naked body just because it’s there; it’s not necessarily a sexual thing. We’d look into a room that has the lights on and the curtains open, just to see what’s in there. Same thing. It’s a distraction. The model has a lovely body, but for me it belongs behind closed doors. As long as it’s normal to go to classes clothed, then yoga postures are best demonstrated clothed, so we watch the posture and don’t get distracted by the body doing it. If you’re doing yoga to show off your body, or to look at other people’s then you’re not really doing yoga, you’re doing acrobatics and your mind has been left behind somewhere else. Yoga exists to quieten the mind, not to stir it up. Mr Iyengar has said (only partly joking) that the first rule of yoga is to tuck in your t-shirt.
    But if anyone is daft enough to buy ToeSox naked model or not, when bare feet are clearly better, then they deserve to be parted with their cash.

  • Stefanie

    So glad a discussion has finally surfaced about something that has rubbed me the wrong way for months now – the ToeSox ads in YJ. My reaction to these ads has always been, “are you kidding me?” It’s a product no one needs, and they’ve picked such a stereotypical model – young, thin, flexible. Talk about lack of creativity, and especially lack of taste. I am not a fan.

    • Ruby

      Stefanie, you wrote exactly what I am thinking. Thank you.

  • johnnystretchable

    Forget cameltoe, I say say no to fat chicks in tight clothing.
    We all have to start somewhere, but seriously, start with a XXL
    T Shirt and Boyfriend’s gym shorts.

  • Yogini#

    I say no to self-righteous fat phobic yogis and yoga teachers .. !

  • Strangely enough, I’ve never paid much attention to the ToeSox ads, but I did actually do a double-take on the YJ Conference ad with the topless girl (when I flipped through this issue at home). I expect ads for products to go down this road, but YJ? Come on. No one’s going to that conference topless so why are you promoting it with a topless yogi. Flat out strange and unnecessary.

  • Ashleigh

    the human body is beautiful and should be celebrated in it’s most natural state!!!

  • Around 6 months ago I picked up a copy of YJ and was amazed at the volume of ads selling products that were supposed to cater to yoga practitioners-things that no one needs!!
    Manufacturers are obviously trying to cash in on the 20 million Americans who practice yoga, and the blatant consumerism represented in YJ by the ads they put in their magazine is just slightly repulsive. I read YJ and am captivated by some of their articles, but mostly the advertisements are just downright distracting. Reading YJ isn’t observing svadhyaya anyway, it’s not sacred text, it’s more distraction. I’m not saying I’m a purist and I’m not saying that one should or should not abstain from reading yoga-based magazines- but this whole debate over the ads surely makes you reflect- and that’s always a good thing 🙂

    I noticed that the September issue of YJ has Kathryn Budig wearing a top in paschimottanasana with her dog. I’m guessing they did this because of the uproar about their ads, but it really doesn’t prove anything or sell anything- the bottom line is you should not wear socks while practicing asana. All you need is comfortable clothing, barefeet, and a mat- and sometimes not even that depending on the circumstances!

    I am all for nudity and celebrating the human body because it is a natural beautiful creation, and I respect that Toesox used tasteful photography with nice lighting and posing and all that- but the fact is that it was the same young, white, thin model in all their ads, usually doing inversions!!! What is the point of socks if your feet are in the air? The nudity doesn’t bother me, the use of a young attractive female to sell a product intended for a modest mindful lifestyle is what does.

    I will not be purchasing/borrowing/perusing YJ anymore- I prefer Yoga+/Yoga International anyway.

  • I don’t think this debate is about whether or not we are being prudish.

    As Brooks wrote, how we react to nudity is personal.

    And then there’s this post that Linda Sama pointed us to by Anne Cushman.

    Why are a large proportion of the nude models all women? Why are they all young, slender and white? Where do we see representation of the 50 year old greying haired ladies I have in my class? Or the young men who aren’t flexible but still come to class anyway?

    Where’s the diversity and equanimity in advertising? It’s not there. That’s not why these women are naked in these yoga ads.

    There’s nothing wrong with sexy, but I like my sexy REAL. Natural. Encompassing faults, not having them air-brushed away.

    And I agree with Loo and Sarah above – the one part of the body we want to be naked in yoga is the feet. That’s how we connect, how we sense our connectedness to the ground.

    I tend not to practice much with props and I don’t teach with them either. They can have their purposes, but they can also inhibit a person from finding a way to go further, explore more.

    And Toe Sox are a prop. A super unnecessary one. Maybe they know that, and maybe that’s why they’ve gone to such extremes in an attempt to sell them.

    I can’t really make sense of why the marketing people for Toe Sox decided to take that direction. But it doesn’t work for me, as an advertisement or as so-called art. Totally agree that advertising is never art, because art is created out of passion, need and desire from the artist’s point of view. Not for money. Never for money.

  • Yogini3

    What kind of undisciplined self-practice includes only inversions and arm balances, never needing floor contact … uhh, if it’s all becoming Forrest Yoga these days, I want off the merry-go-round … !

  • For me, as long as it does not appear to be malicious, I think it’s still fine.

  • MonicaS

    Svasti, Ashley—I agree. It’s simplistic and dismissive to use the word “offended” when it comes to these naked ads as it implies a knee-jerk puritan rejection of nudity in all its forms, and, for me, that’s not what it’s about. Budig, the Hard Tail models, and YJ poster models all clearly have beautiful bodies—and that’s just the problem. Their bodies are the same conventionally beautiful, muscled yet slim, “perfect” specimens you’d see in any ad, whether it’s selling beer or street clothing or a cleaning product. There’s no radical artistic vision at work here, just a predictable and depressing kowtow to the status quo. What gets people’s attention? Beautiful girls. Put them in various stages of contortion and gymnastics and—voila. They’re doing yoga! If some of these brands wanted to use their photographer’s skills to highlight the strength and grace of a variety of bodies (overweight, brown, male, etc.) in various stages of asana, from simple standing poses to deep twists, maybe then I’d get on board.

    I refuse to buy or subscribe to Yoga Journal because of the volume of their ads, but more importantly because they so unapologetically promote this narrow ideal of thin, young, white, female, and uncommonly flexible. It has nothing to do with what I want my yoga practice or my yoga community to be.

  • I used to care about this debate, and then it all got too overwhelming. I give up.

  • Stuart Sovatsky

    In India, images of monastic saint Sridi Sai Baba have been used to advertise products. Beautiful women (and men) of course, too. But, the modesty that still prevalent in India points to knowledge about the privacy and sanctity of eroticism that is not “puritanical.” Go to Khajuraho erotic temples and see a church that has raised the erotic to a Yoga that dramatically exceeds the “tantric sex” of the West, as it is based in neuro-glandular puberties (urdhvaretas, khecari) that are both natural and unknown to the West, except for a few Sanskrit tantric specialists. Hatha yoga, when it is more than mere therapy for health problems, has always been the revered domain of those who “marry” yoga practice — the Swami or Swamini. Yoga without a passionate brahmacharya is like romantic love without sex. Yoga Journal fashion models have the eye-candy ability to further conceal for Westerners the depths of yoga that only can open with brahmacharya and also the depths of pariyanga that are beyond so-called “tantric sex.”

    Americans are good at exploiting the cultural profundities of others for profit and leaving a shallow version of the original profundity in its place. Even a shallow yoga will be powerful. And sexy ads for yoga get all caught up in purely Western or American hot topics like “Don’t be a prude!” or “Freedom of speech, or kill or die for it!” or, “Lighten up!” etc. None of these hot touchstones have anything to do with the depths (or protecting them) that are within the two grand modes of eroticism of Indian culture, the inner and the outer lifelong unions (yogas) that lead to sainthood of Swamis or of unbroken (by divorce) families, 4-5 generations deep, for millenniums, as has been the case in India for 1000s of years (even today, the divorce rate in India is about 40 times lower than in the US).

    So, hidden behind this shallow debate about sexy yoga models is a more privately and sacredly and profound erotic path that leads to lifelong deepening marriages culminating in God-Goddess Knowledge of oneself and one’s mate. — Or the awakenings of great yogic saints.

    See Kundalini and the Complete Maturation of the Ensouled Body (J Transp Psy 2009, or Internal Alchemy, 2009, Kundalini Rising, 2009 or Man in India 2010) or Your Perfect Lips, (amazon)

  • lisa

    I like Yoga Journal. I don’t buy it for the ads and I enjoy the content. That being said, I don’t care if nude models are used to sell products. It is what it is and it’s the magazine’s prerogative to choose what it publishes. If people don’t like it they don’t have to buy it. And am I the only one who reads a little sour grapes in Lasater’s letter?

  • Chris

    I like the sexy ads. They make me want to practice yoga even more. Lassater claims that the ads “are not about the celebration of the beauty of the human body,” but that’s exactly what they are about. I find the puritanical furore over these ads not only silly, but contrary to the spirit of tolerance and openness that characterizes yoga.

  • nadine

    The problem I have with Yoga Journal goes way beyond one particular ad or photograph. I take issue with their choice of advertisers, namely Proctor and Gamble, automobile companies, diet pill pushers, etc. I know that a magazine needs advertisers to keep the publication alive, but I think exercising some discernment is warranted. Secondly, I am not a fan of the ‘squeaky-clean’ images of ‘perfection’ portrayed throughout. As many have already here and elsewhere, where are the people of color? Variations on body-type and size? Tattooed folks? It’s just not realistic and does not represent the yoga community that I practice with and teach. Top that off with ho-hum articles which barely scratch the surface, and I really have no use for Yoga Journal. For the price of two YJs, I can buy a good paperback, add it to my library or pass it on to a friend.

  • MonicaS

    Sexy ads make you want to “practice yoga more”? Do you mean that they make you want to work out more so you can look like and/or date the person in the ads? Because to me, that has nothing to do with yoga. Obviously there’s no activity on earth that can’t be used as a tool to further one’s ego and insecurities, but it makes me awfully sad to see people do that with asana or yoga as a whole.

    Advertisements “celebrate” only whatever it is that they’re selling, and usually what they’re selling is a balm for the low self-esteem they’ve just created. The advertisement would be a complete failure if people looked at the ads, appreciated the body featured there, and simply felt happier for it, because how would that lead to buying (the completely unnecessary) socks? Any feeling of admiration has to be accompanied by a feeling of inadequacy (in overall appearance or in asana proficiency) so that the viewer then feels compelled to purchase the socks in the hopes they will erase this inadequacy. This is pretty basic media literacy, and it’s awfully frustrating to see commenters pulling out the “that’s not very yogic card” against others who are making entirely fair criticisms, or say, essentially “shut up about it.” No one is saying that yogis can’t find other yogis sexually attractive, or that they can’t appreciate the human form. In this discussion, it’s all about context.

    • I really appreciated this point you made, “The advertisement would be a complete failure if people looked at the ads, appreciated the body featured there, and simply felt happier for it, because how would that lead to buying (the completely unnecessary) socks?” It reminds me of how I know I’m really practicing when I can look at someone in one of my classes who is doing beautifully and quietly a more ‘advanced’ asana than I can yet do, and I’m gleeful, happy. Of course, we all bring our own imperfect selves to our practice so it doesn’t always happen. But it’s true that advertisements would not be advertisements if they weren’t meant to make you feel you are lacking something.

  • lisa

    Conversely the argument could also be made that, by putting Sarah Maclachlan on the cover, some folks might despair that they’ll never be a talented singer/songwriter. I think too much time is being spent worrying about how people feel about their body image. If someone is so insecure that they purchase products based on the models, well, that’s on them. Personal responsibility plays an important part in purchasing decisions. I’m guessing the majority of readers are free-thinking adults who can choose whether ads will have any effect on them and how they wish to spend their money.

  • nicely stated, MonicaS! i’m with you all the way here.

    i’m going to take a step back and place this in the bigger cultural context, and say that i’m generally angered by seeing images of nude women being used to sell everything. not just yoga, but cars, make-up, clothing, soda pop, whatever. it’s not that i’m offended, or insulted, or embarrassed. it just pisses me off, and i wonder what kind of major cultural force is necessary for this to change.

    for me, it’s especially disappointing to see yoga product marketers use nudity because i think that yoga is a practice above and beyond fashion, make-up, etc. it’s disheartening to see these marketers use the same manipulative tools as the mass culture.

    i practice yoga because i want more out of life. and i don’t think it’s reasonable to expect more out of the yoga magazines i read and the companies who enable these magazines to exist.

  • Kelly

    I’m with Kris on this one. There are more important things to worry about these days than stressing out on half naked yoga products ads. Why focus on how companies promote their products?… If anyone find their ads offensive, just don’t buy their product.

  • lisa

    @Roseanne. Hm, you have made me think. Do you think maybe yoga has become such a celebrity fad that ads are now playing catch-up so to speak? Hollywood has a habit of glomming on to things and often warping them to make them appear “cool.” Maybe these ads are a side effect of that “Look at me!” culture?

  • @lisa: thanks for the question. i think, rather, that this kind of advertising is a by-product of the increasing commercialization of yoga in the west. i also see it as the inevitable result of the tension between yoga and western consumer culture.

    if you pick up any magazine, there so many naked women in ads for jewelry, shampoo, whatever that you probably don’t even notice them. it’s almost as though we’ve become desensitized. we’re making a big deal out of nudity in ads in a yoga magazine because many of us think that yoga is an elevated/uplifting practice that transcends the body (and yet, our body obsessed culture is fixated on yoga as a practice to transform the body). it’s just incongruent, in my opinion. and it points to bigger concerns about how yoga is represented, and the sexualization of the practice and how this may affect efforts to create safe yoga spaces.

  • MonicaS

    Thanks, Roseanne. I love your blog (and your avatar!!!)

    Lisa, that’s a pretty facetious response. Women in our culture are still expected to be beautiful, first and foremost, before they are expected to be people of character and integrity. (See: the mainstream media’s evisceration of every female politician for not dressing girlishly enough, not being pretty enough, not wearing enough makeup, etc.) There’s no centuries-long history of pressure applied to make women into singers or artists. Furthermore, Sarah MacLachlan isn’t naked, so I fail to see how her picture relates. No one here is saying pictures of women should be outlawed.

    I hope my yoga has made and will continue to make me more compassionate, which means that if a fellow yogini came to me and told me that an aspect of our studio made her unhappy, I’d want to give her my attention and concern rather than saying to her “suck it up and focus on something more important.” This doesn’t mean personal responsibility plays no role, but certainly we can all muster up a kinder response than “it’s your problem if you’re susceptible to pictures that are conceived with the intent to make you feel bad?” It would be wildly arrogant for any of us to think we’re above cultural conditioning, and ads are part of that. I can pat myself on the back all day for not buying Toe Sox, or American Apparel clothing, or any other number of things, but the bottom line is that after a day out and about amid the billboards of Manhattan, I always feel bad about my body afterwards regardless of whether I come home empty-handed. And I happen to be a tall, thin, white young woman who pretty much fits our culture’s “beautiful” mold!

    The question is why Yoga Journal and other yoga product purveyors think nude (young, thin, white) women best convey the qualities of yoga, because yoga isn’t about celebrating how a body looks. (At best, one could claim it’s about celebrating how someone feels while moving inside/with their own body, but even that’s a limited definition.) And the answer is that images of naked women don’t have anything to do with yoga! But they have everything to do with creating negative, envious, grasping, self-critical emotions that can then be directed towards spending money. I can’t avoid that type of energy when I’m in the public sphere, but I sure can try to eliminate that energy within my yoga sphere.

  • “Tattooed folks?”

    hey, I will be the first one to model if they want tats + yoga! sign me up!

  • I agree with many of the comments here that there are more important things to “worry” about (although I’d phrase it as “direct our energy toward”). Part of a mindful yoga practice is seeing the world clearly, which means filtering out (peering through) the noise. Yoga/Buddhism are not at all about ridding the world of things that annoy/confuse/frighten/pacify us. These are the raw materials that help us progress spiritually/mentally/emotionally. When we view these things mindfully, we can act from a place of balance rather than simply re-acting to the latest “attack” on yoga.

  • Lisa

    Thank you, Roseanne and MonicaS for responding to me.

    I think ads are pretty much transparent these days. We know that everything is Photoshopped and airbrushed to within an inch of its life, the the eyelashes are fake, the waist is not that narrow, and that the cover model usually has a mole on her upper lip that appears to have disappeared. Which is why I simply do not feel bad about myself when I look at these ads. And I am by no means launching a thousand ships with my face. I may be white but I also take up a fair bit of space on my mat.

    I mentioned Sarah Maclachlan simply because any image can easily be misconstrued. YJ wants to sell issues, ads want to sell products, both want to be as attractive as possible in order to make money. It all comes down to making a buck.

    While I still believe personal responsibility plays a role, Roseanne and MonicaS your closing sentences clarified the argument for me. I never really thought about the concept of safe space and I like the phrase “yoga sphere.” People should find sanctuary in yoga, especially when practicing with others. And yes, if YJ is going to posit itself as a magazine that is for everyone, it should change its policies on ads and cover models. I won’t be looking at it the same way again.

  • MonicaS

    Sorry if I sounded harsh at all, Lisa. Thanks for considering what I had to say. I was venting a lot of pent up frustration over what I’ve seen in some of the comments on various blogs about this topic; I didn’t mean to direct it all at you!

  • Lisa


    You were not at all harsh. I enjoyed being part of the discussion and hearing everyone’s point of view.

  • Yogini3

    On the other hand, as I have stated before, Yoga Journal can keep its ad policies, reframe themselves as “mind-body digest”, cover Pilates and strength training in about the same depth as they do yoga ; and go head to head in the women’s strength training fitness market against Oxygen. Those kinds of books are proliferating with every turn of my head … no hypocrisy and problems solved! Particularly since they have the mascot (and now movie star) Ogden to be their new spokesperson …

  • @lisa: i’m glad you have gotten something out of this conversation. and @monica: i definitely understand the feelings of frustration.

  • Oh for the love of goodness! the cameltoe ad was hilarious and the toesox ads are lovely. No, we don’t all look like that. I don’t. But it doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate a lovely asana, wherever I find it. Do some yoga, get a grip.

  • David

    The problem it’s not naked ads, the problem it’s american yoga, it’s more about money an business than about yoga. That’s it, as simple as that.
    I would like to see a male in the cover for a change, I would like to see an old master not six-packet in the cover aswell.

  • Erin
  • stuart

    Around 2001 or 2, I was charged with the task of buying the Yoga Journal from John Abbott in order to keep its publication standards congruent with those of India’s 7000 year old spiritual traditions. This was before it got “big” and was still operating out of pent up offices in Berkeley. Still, as I recall, a million dollars was talked about to bring top scholars worldwide to help the magazine with fact-checking, advertising and other business and editorial decisions.

    John turned us down. He and his editor-in-chief (see linked article above, on this thread) both maintain they are trying to get wholistic and inspiring information that millions of people will find helpful, and not in the business of protecting the accuracy of ancient teachings involving depths of yoga (shaktipat sahaja urdhvaretas and)…. kundalini, for example, and I mean “real kundalini,” that, to my ear as a 38 year publishing scholar-practitioner, has been “95%” lost to bowdlerized, pop-kundalini and pop-tantra depictions.

    So, my responsbility for 4 decades has been more of the latter and had a culmination in 2008 when I created a spirituality conference in Delhi to correct bowdlerizations or misrepresentations of yoga and other dharma traditions. BKS Iyengar keynoted. The Dalai Lama chose the Prime Minister of Tibet (Lama Samdhong) to represent him. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar inaugurated our gathering of 450 people from 40 countries. Bob Thurman, Jack Kornfield, Karan Singh and Stan Grof all keynoted.

    I again met with John Abbott and others in 2007 to ask for a donation to sponsor this expensive, pro bono created, event. He again said, Yoga Journal is not so much interested in accuracy of Indic traditions, but in conveying information about a wholistic lifestyle. This time, however, we were in his lovely complex of class A San Francisco offices.

    I think Yoga Journal should do both: help the millions, and also take seriously that it is a (bowdlerizing) steward of a complex spiritual tradition that is more like a science than a (mere) set of spiritual practice and wholistic philosophy . It does have a moral responsibility to being evermore accurate to the indigenous traditions, even if it makes less ad revenue in doing so and must upgrade its fact-checking and so on.

  • Maya George

    These ads are offensive. It simply demeans the practice.

    That’s my opinion. I didn’t write a letter. I just stopped buying Yoga Journal.

  • Shanda

    Shew. Lots of spirited debate here. Let’s all take a long inhale, even longer exhale as we fold into uttanasana – ahhhhhhhhh.

  • Patricia

    I never really liked the naked ToeSox ads either. I was a bit taken aback when they first came out, used it a bit as a ‘practice,’ you know: why are you offended, why don’t you like them and pondered this question. I think it takes something away from yoga because it seems cheap, a ploy to sell a product. Interestingly enough, the ‘naked’ Yoga Journal Yoga Conference ads don’t bother me at all. That’s Simi Cruz in them, a real yogis yogi. And she’s only topless, I thought more to illustrate positioning in the pose rather than hawk a product.

  • jan

    why is it necessary to have a naked model for anything? Acting as if it doesn’t matter ignores the fact that the model intentionally does not have clothes on- this is intentional as all marketing and advertising is…

    unless its an add for naked yoga I don’t see the connection between a naked person and toe socks… maybe they’re saying “hey you don’t need clothes in your yoga class- show up naked. But don’t forget the socks!” he he he…

  • Ryan

    People still waste their time looking at Yoga Journal? The magazine is a worthless rag. The advertising…ha. Who cares about that?

    Now all of you go practice yoga and get on with living.

  • MA

    It’s just an advertising ! I don’t see any difference between a young model doing a nude asana and another wearing tight clothes. So, what it’s all about, commercial intention?JY it’s full of advertisings of fit people doing yoga, I’d never see regular people in any ads before. So?

  • MA

    The model it’s a a Yoga teacher, and most of them have that body.

  • Yordan

    “… Disgusting animal the beast in man, but when in pure form, from the heights of his spiritual life, you see it and despise, if you fell, or resist, you remain what you were, but when the same animal behind seeming aesthetic, poetic shell and invoking reverence, then you all sink in and worshiped animal, no longer from wrong. Then this is terrible. ”
    L.N. Tolstoy

  • Yoyo

    art trip Two points:

    1. Stop with the “this is art” already. This is not art. This is commercial photography. Calling this art is like calling what she is doing in that ad Tantric yoga. Calling this art is an insult to artists.

    2. To those calling this courageous, it is not. This is the oldest and cheapest advertising trick in the book. Using a hot young babe. Courageous would be to use an old naked women, or a naked male of any age or a person on any age or color other than white.


    This is an utterly hateful comment. It’s reverse racist, and very anti male in it’s hateful orientation. It also shows no real appreciation for beauty is just a pure contrary agenda comment.

    The photographer is in fact an artist. Whoever wrote this tripe above is an utter and complete dolt. A perverse uninformed idiot of the highest order.

  • Ashley Johnson

    Sex and nudity are not one in the same, the target demographic for the ad is women, so unless we are all assumed lesbians, I’m not sure the advertiser was trying to use sex to sell the product. I have always found the ads simple, beautiful, and inspiring, my favorite in Yoga Journal by far. Also, her body is not idealized in the ads and is shown with creases, ripples, and shadows, not photoshopped or sexualized at all. Yoga is about your relationship with your body, and if the ad makes you uncomfortable, maybe that relationship could use some attention. I think maybe the critical teacher (judith Hansen lasater) should take time to reflect on her own work, instead of tearing down another beautiful and inspiring teacher. She sure has gotten great press for her negativity.

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