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Reebok’s New Yoga Ad Wants Us to Live Life ‘The Hard Way’

in YD News

Reebok’s new ad wants us to get rough with yoga. Because “easy does it” is for weak people who don’t know what experiencing real life is like, apparently.

“There are two ways to do things in life; the easy way or the hard way,” so goes the tagline. “Reebok Yoga Collection challenges you to take the path of most resistance.” Blergh. There are many things to feel and think about this approach from Reebok (a straight up fitness apparel company we must remember).

Let’s take a look at the positives: there’s a person practicing yoga in pretty pink yoga pants who might encourage others to find yoga “cool” enough to finally give it a try, or inspire them to stick with it. That’s nice.

But here’s where the not so good stuff comes in.

Sure, yoga takes commitment, especially if you’re not used to practicing asana or sitting for meditation every day. It takes discipline, but discipline doesn’t always mean kicking your own ass every time. Also, if you weren’t sure, yoga in its essence doesn’t necessarily mean that either.

Ouch. We hear this is called Fallen Angel pose, but we're still not sure why anyone would want to do it.

Ouch. We hear this is called Fallen Angel pose, but we’re still not sure why anyone would want to do it.

The problem we have with this type of ad is summed up in this article from the Detroit Free Press about the lack of diversity in yoga and how it’s advertised. Yoga instructor Tim Clark makes an important point about how we tend to be drawn toward the familiar — and advertising, whether we like it or are conscious of it or not, has a powerful affect on that psychological tendency.

“So let’s say … you get a flyer in the mail for a new hair salon and you see in the flyer all black folks. You’d think it’s a salon for black people,” said [Tim] Clark, 40, a contract yoga instructor… “We know there are all sorts of people in the world … but we all tend to go toward something that’s familiar — whether it’s a soccer mom relating to anther soccer mom, or a black kid growing up in Detroit seeing another black kid who’s now going to yoga.”

Tolerance isn’t about being color-blind or pretending that -isms don’t exist. It also isn’t about prejudging others by race or age or body type. Building diversity is about intentionally being inclusive, Parker and Clark said.

It’s about putting people of different sizes, shapes and skin color — and both genders — front and center in marketing. It’s about seeking instructors with different backgrounds.

We take the same issue with ads like this one from Reebok, selling the idea that yoga has to be hard to be working, or you have to push yourself 24/7 to achieve a more balanced, sattvic, and conscious life. Setting aside the fact that yes, the woman in the ad is white and blonde, which is only continuing the lack of diversity problem, she’s also symbolizing the Western “no pain, no gain” mentality that really only works for so long and then we’re burnt out. Yoga is not CrossFit.

If getting yourself to yoga class is super hard for you, if just showing up on your mat is the most difficult thing ever, then by all means take the path of most resistance. But this message from Reebok of pushing “further, further, a little further” is only perpetuating this false concept that yoga (or life) has to be a constant struggle fest to the “edge.” That precipice may feel satisfying sometimes, but we hope you won’t let it run your life or your yoga practice.

Reebok, in being super tight with Tara Stiles and the laissez faire yoga of “do what feels good,” we might have expected more from you.

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29 comments… add one

  • Nicole

    Don’t care for Reebok since being tight w Tara….. what I am loving though, is Kathryn Budig (and now w under armor)!!! Articles recently about self love and being on the Cover of YJ…. I want to bring more focus on great ads/ people/ movements like hers !

  • Conquering one’s ego is much harder than wearing Reebok and doing crossfitized asana.

  • VQ2

    Love that!
    Crossfitized asana … wonder what asanized Crossfit would look (and feel) like … and would the movement spread to dance (beyond Elizabeth Streb, of course, who’s been there and done that … for decades) …

  • yogibattle

    Thanks VQ! I could not bring myself to refer to this as “Yoga.” I even had issues referring to her practice as Asana. I see no “meditation seat” in her practice. Just pure aggression and greed. On that, I officially coin the term “crossfitized asana” for this type of aggro-practice that is ubiquitous in commercialized “yoga.”

  • Patty

    So interesting how so tone deaf this ad is about yoga. Life is hard people go to yoga to decompress and find solace in a very very hardened world so Reebok takes the angle of doing it the hard way is good. They truly don’t have a clue.

  • VQ2

    Except they DO have it totally right about yoga taught in some yuppie enclaves in New York City. The kind of people who actually consider this stuff (or its slightly quaaluded version of it in hatha-vinyasa mix yoga) “relaxation” … this is what those like J. Brown has been fighting against …

  • There is no intelligence in the ad. It’s selling a product in a package without having a clue what’s in the box!

  • Big Om Shanti

    “Reebok’s new ad wants us to get rough with yoga. Because “easy does it” is for weak people who don’t know what experiencing real life is like, apparently.”

    Sorry, nowhere in the ad does it imply that people that take the easy path are “weak.” The author is reading way too much into this and dealing with too much chitta vritti.

    Committing to anything worthy is challenging. That is the message I got from the ad. Personally, I found meditation hard. Even showing up to class 3 days a week was hard. I find absolutely nothing wrong with someone who feels their definition of working hard is working on a scorpion handstand to post on their instagram page.

    Their actions DO NOT define my practice or impact it in the slightest.

  • Reebok manufactures their products in a number of countries including China. I suggest looking at the label and if it is made in China or Hong Kong boycott it. Have you seen what is going on in Hong Kong the communists are cracking down on students who are marching for more democracy. We should boycott all products being made in China and HOng Kong!

  • S.

    Working in a sweatshop for pennies a day at a Reebok factory in Southeast Asia is living life the “hard way.” At least Reebok is telling it like it is at that company.

  • Big Om Shanti

    Brad,

    Why stop at Reebok products? You do realize that many of the items you are using are made through the exploitation of labor (China). I’m sure there is good chance one of the devices you own was manufactured at a Foxconn factory. Google Foxconn and you will get the picture.

  • Denise

    Seriously, it’s just another goofy add selling clothing made in sweatshops to people who just want to ‘fit in’ with everyone else’s idea of the ideal…it’s sad, and frankly I am just tired of it.

    What is Yoga? It is meant to Unite, not divide, and yes, it can be something you push yourself to do, even B.K.S Iyengar said as much, but with intellegence, not the blind ego based desire to be thin and fit (though that is the more common reason why so many do Yoga)..meh, what does it matter, just do what you love and ignore the hogwash! It’s all Avidya (non-seeing) anyways :D

  • paul

    please, always wear a helmet when bicycling in traffic. this is more important than anything else in the ad, which makes no sense, as in becoming aquatinted with one’s self, the path of resistance is understood to be the insistence on mistaking what is not the self for the self.

  • Resistance is futile. All yogi’s and Trekkies know this.

  • John

    It would be more convincing if she was doing anything difficult. A safe, healthy, asana practice is more effort than a lazy, ineffective, or dangerous one. It’s easy to be lazy. You can mock a picture of “fallen angel” and say you’ve no idea why any one would want to do it. Or you can do the pose right, put in the effort to make it safe, and discover that like any other asana, if done right, it does good things to the body that somehow affect the mind and emotions. I’ve seen lots of yoga injuries, and most of them came from people failing to put in the effort to be safe, they’d rather collapse into joint compression and whine about how yoga is supposed to be “nourishing”. Fifteen years later they don’t understand why they need a new hip and start trying to blame it on their indolent practice being “too challenging” and “ego driven”. No, they were just lazy.

  • john

    But that would be “hard”. Jason Brown says that yoga isn’t supposed to be hard. As far as “joint compression”, do you know if we “compress” our joints when we do stuff like climb a flight of stairs? Does running compress the joints? How about taking a long walk. Since a lot of the yoga poses aren’t even weight bearing, can you explain how that “compresses” the joint. It’s good to have someone knowledgeable like you to advise on stuff like why people might have injured their hips. It’s sounds a lot like Paul Grilley’s explanation of hip arthritis, which also uses a shotgun explanation, for which there is no proof. Anyway, I’m glad you figured out hip arthritis.

  • Maria

    Ummmmm – so why was she carrying a yoga mat to the studio and then didn’t bother using one…. continuity error there Reebok……

  • paul

    the path of most resistance involves bringing along things that will never be used.

  • Nice to see that I am not the only one who thinks that fallen angel is weird.

  • Dwayne

    Interesting, but I don’t see the big deal. Don’t many yoga “students” (especially in big cities, and those crossing over from athletic backgrounds) treat yoga essentially as exercise? Seems the campaign is aimed at them. Reebok may or may not make money from yoga, no difference to me. My impression is that all the big sports/footwear companies (adidas, Nike, etc) are making runs at the “yoga market”, so we can expect to see lots more of such ads. Maybe the price of yoga clothing will decrease! :)

  • If the model followed her own advice of not taking the easy way, her low back wouldn’t be rounded in down dog and she’d step her foot forward without lifting a hand. Also, that pose looks more fallen than angel.

  • VQ2

    Yeah, well. That’s dancer-actresses. A little hammy, too: notice the smug, competitive snarl jussst as the camera shifts to soft-focus at the end. The director/cameraperson overcorrected for the underskilled acting; kudos to him/her.

  • amy g

    oh boy. another skinny white blond 20ish woman practicing yoga. who knew.

  • Dwayne

    For yoga “the hard way”, the arm bind in parsvakonasa variation (0:18) is very weak – a hardass yogi would grab the right wrist with the left hand instead of wimpily hooking the fingertips :)
    Also, is she riding a fixed-gear bike at the beginning? Now *that* is tough, though maybe not so practical or safe.

  • Instructor

    I recognize those leggings from Les Mills videos, wonder if this was joint commercial. I know their programs are around the world, they could have so easily used multiple yogis/models to diversify.

  • When you take spirituality out of Yoga you take Love out of the world exactly a mirror of what is going on on the planet.

  • Mel

    Wow! This isn’t the first or the last of this type of ad. Yoga is everywhere you look these days which I think is a great thing. Everyone has a right to practice in their own way and wear what ever they want to practice in no matter what the brand or how much it costs. If I want to practice in my undies so be it. If I want to practice in $100 leggings, great! You all have that right also just like you have the right to not look at this ad or wear reebok yoga wear. I usually don’t comment on this type of thing because I feel everyone has their own opinion and the right to voice it but here I am anyway. I’ve just feel so discouraged by all the yogier-than-thou comments and how everyone is wrong but the writer. Everyone is their own person and has a right to believe and practice their own way. There, I’m done.

  • as a teacher, I can’t help but notice all the little misalignments that will one day bite this Reebok model in her asana one day, and then she’ll understand what the “hard way” really is. Rehab is a bitch.

  • Wow – to say you’re yoga people, there’s seems to be a lot of hate on here!

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