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.
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.