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Sex and Spirituality: Yoga’s Potent Cocktail for Commercialized Success

in Business of Yoga, YD News

Even more commentary on the commercialization of yoga and nudie booties in ads, with a dash of spiritual enterprising.

From the Guardian UK:

Does all this fuss over yoga and sex reflect the enduring strength of American puritanism and prudishness? Are critics merely jealous killjoys? Supporters of Budig and the new nudity trend in yoga certainly think so. But it’s also true that yoga is one of the few industries of its size that exists with virtually no regulation – either from public authorities, or from within. Last summer, about the same time the nude trend emerged, New York and Virginia tried to impose state guidelines on yoga “teacher training” programmes – the programmes that are used to teach advanced students to become teachers themselves. But heavy lobbying by yoga associations in both states beat back those efforts, claiming yoga was a “spiritual” enterprise, much like a church, and should be “exempt” from all government interference.

A spiritual enterprise with revenues of $6bn a year? That’s some pose.

If sex sells, and spirituality saves, then the yoga industry forming a union of both is more powerful in the market than Jesus Fish on steroids. Or is that quaaludes? Anyway, maybe Albert Mohler does have something to pray about. The question is, is that a good or bad thing?



9 comments… add one
  • Things I don’t understand about articles like the one you quoted:

    1. I’m a yoga teacher and I put my heart into it. I also earn a modest living from it–why is that so problematic?

    2. If the yoga industry is making 6 billion dollars a year, why are most yoga teachers (and even teacher trainers) just scraping by? After 10 years in the yoga biz, I truly don’t know ANYONE making a killing at yoga. Most yoga teachers have to supplement their income with other gigs. Who’s making that money? Is it corporations? Is it super super celebrity teachers?

    3. Why is anyone surprised that the yoga community resists regulation? Yogis rejected state guidelines because there is no upside for us–people in the yoga industry would have to PAY to be regulated by people who may or may not share our values. The brunt of the financial burden would fall on teachers who are already not making a ton of money. And who’s gonna make the regulations? Are the people making the regulations from a lineage similar to mine?

    4. Why are state governments seeking to regulate the yoga industry anyway?

    Just wonderin’.

  • I get the yoga + sex appeal. But socks? Not sexy! Haha…plus you really don’t need them for yoga. Hmmm.

  • Kris

    I honestly dont see what the big deal is. Is it really sex that they are selling or a naked body? God gave us these bodies, I dont see what the problem is with being naked? In all honesty, if it wasnt of the standards of the public, I would have no problem running around with no clothes on. :o) Now if it were truly SEX they were showing, I think that would be sending the wrong message, because its not what yoga is about. This ad is about the body.

  • Marty

    Kris how old are you. Sounds good in theory but after a certain age no one want to see wrinkled flesh especially male flesh. But if you do thats kind of a kinky turn on.

  • Mary

    I don’t know for sure, but my hunch is that a large portion of the $6 billion goes to clothing and prop companies.

    The implicit message of sexy ads — naked or otherwise, for yoga stuff or other things — is that if you buy the product, you can be like the model. That’s what advertising has always been about and why sexuality sells. One *needs* very little to *do* yoga. And no amount of fancy clothes or props will make us look like Kathryn Budig, so for an ad to suggest otherwise is not in keeping with satya (truthfulness).
    At the same time, to promote the accumulation of unnecessary possessions is against aparigraha (non-greed/hoarding). Accumulation of (unnecessary) stuff is the heart of American consumerism, and that may be part of why the growth of the yoga industry is such a contentious issue here.

    At the same time, let’s keep 6 billion “spiritual” dollars in perspective. The revenue of the US Catholic Church in 2001 was an estimated $201 billion according to an article in the Boston Globe.

  • I agree that yoga socks are not necessary for yoga. I think I would find them bothersome. The question is if we’re dong yoga naked, why bother with the socks? I know of a select few yoga teachers that make a great living teaching yoga, but it’s not just through yoga classes. They have digital products, etc. Plus, our naked friend maybe made a some money by posing for this ad? Maybe not. She still looks great.

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