It’s here. The video for “Yoga” by Janelle Monae Yes, there is some yoga in it. Well, yoga pants, at least. We cringed at first, too.
Monae, soul songstress turned apparent pop diva, released the song a couple of weeks ago and, honestly, we all weren’t sure how we felt about it. On the one hand, the lyrics – ie. “baby bend over, let me see you do that yoga” – gave us the icks. Ugh, is this really what yoga needs right now? Or pop music for that matter? On the other hand, there’s something that seems strangely subversive about it. Could Janelle really be selling out or is she cleverly sending a message about women in society in the form of a catchy club track calling out booties and yoga pants AND areolas?
With the video here, I’m still not sure we know exactly what to think about it. As with the song, the first reaction is NO, MAKE IT STOP! YogaPop meter’s reaching code red and sounding the alarm bells. Abandon ship! Yoga has reached maximum pop culture saturation! However, there are some interesting theories flying around the interwebs suggesting that Janelle is not, in fact, abandoning her social commentary, but instead, acknowledging a problem and throwing it back in our flexible faces.
The video opens on Janelle levitating and (presumably) meditating. Later on we see her dancing in front of a mirror, watching her own reflection as she sings “I ain’t got no worries, I’m my own private dancer.” Cut to “yoga class” with a dozen or so females all dressed in matching yoga outfits doing some sort of dance/asana hybrid with Janelle leading the group, levitating once again, telling everyone to “get off my areola.” Then they all just break into dance for the chorus — some relatively tasteful booty shaking commences. The rap verse, which seems completely unnecessary, shows Jidenna in a restaurant dressed as an entitled loafer-wearing, tycoon-looking fellow who appears to be out of touch with reality and respecting females. Then Janelle and her lady friends pile into the establishment and take over the place culminating in one big dance party.
It’s actually much tamer than they could have gone with this, yeah? Imagine if it were another (any other) pop star’s song. Yes, there are women wearing tight clothing, there are booties bouncing, and the lyrics sound like they’re encouraging the sexualization of yoga and objectification of women, but digging under the surface, I think Janelle might be trying to say quite the opposite. That women are bending over backwards to meet society’s expectations of them. That women can be flexible and make things happen and bend but never break, despite “the world on my shoulder.” That women should feel free to own their bodies, and areolas, despite what they’re being told. That being confident in yourself and dancing to your own rhythm (or mirror) is empowering. The song really has little to do with yoga at all, besides the metaphor. Janelle levitating is her literally floating above all the nonsense.
Review this verse again:
Crown on my head but the world on my shoulder
I’m too much a rebel, never do what I’m supposed ta
Bend it never break it, baby watch and I’ma show ya
Stretching on my cash, got my money doing yoga
Sometimes I’m peachy, and sometimes I’m vulgar
Even when I’m sleeping I got one eye open
You cannot police me, so get off my areola
It does resonate a little differently after second though, no? Too much of a stretch? Am I completely off? I do realize it’s still a pop song with an unfortunate yoga angle.
Watch the video below and let me know what you think:
hollypenny is a writer, yoga practitioner and dimply-butted gal living in New York City. Her interests include taking long walks, meeting smart people and trying to make sense of the world. She appreciates those who have fire and passion, and who dig below the surface to find meaning within even the most mundane of situations.