Yogi Media

The mixed messages we yogis send ourselves can juuuust about be summed up in this little screengrab. 

I’m not suggesting that one of these articles is less valid than the other. I’m just noticing the juxtaposition: One article questioning the yoga-body-ideal, and one reinforcing it.

I mean, listen, I WANT to demean the Aniston article. And granted, the YogaDorksters are KIND OF for sure (ed note: see Yoga Dork comments below) winking and nudging the stereotype. But, seriously, I hate all the hotness sometimes. And the talk of hotness. I would love to take a break from reading and thinking about body image. And focus instead on what amazing things my body can do. Or how about the BORING topic of what yoga does for the mind, the emotions, the heart and soul? Which is where all the deep beauty really is for me.

Yoga lets me go deep. And stand strong, and cry and take flight. And it doesn’t matter if there’s a jelly roll over my lululemons when I do it. Not one little bit. When I am feeling transcendental and buzzing from the vibrations in my body, I couldn’t care less what the outside looks like.

Listen, I get it. I skip the meditation articles in Yoga Journal too sometimes. I flip to the pictures of the pretty lady. I’m human like that.

And I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t admit to envying those “yoga bodies” out there. Even if they are only a small percentage of the population. I want to make the outside look as amazing as yoga makes me feel on the inside. But I sometimes wish that was an instinct that wasn’t so consistently reinforced by seemingly everything around me. (And if you think I’m too high and mighty to put ‘celebriyogi’ in my post tags, you are mistaken.)

And, as another side note, when we talk about the “yoga body” let’s not forget that what we’re REALLY talking about is the American ideal – with or without yoga. Because until recently the ideal yoga body was one of a 14-year-old Indian boy.

Black Swan Beautiful – or Dangerous?

[image via]

I’m having a hard time reading this article in Vogue about Natalie Portman’s training regimen and transformation for her role in Black Swan.

I don’t disagree with core strength, awareness, beauty and elegance. Mary Helen Bowers, the woman Portman trained with and the creator of the Ballet Beautiful program talks about the physique to which her students aspire:

“The body type is strong. It’s muscular, but the muscles are very long and lean and there is something that’s very elegant about the body, and also very powerful,” she says.

But isn’t there also something dangerous? Mila Kunis talks about how her training and weight loss for the film left her feeling, well, gross. She lost 20 lbs for the role, dwindling to a mere 95 lbs.

“In real life, I looked disgusting, but in photographs and on film, it looked amazing.” [via]

Yikes. I’m glad Kunis says this out loud because even though the pain of training is apparent in the film, and is being discussed in the press, I still feel like there’s this underlying tide of: but don’t they look beautiful?

And that’s what this Ballet Beautiful article talks about too. Train hard, intensely, unforgivably and you, too, can look beautiful. The tagline on the site reads: Artistic. Athletic. Attainable.

Yoga is not ballet. We are not taught to train or restrict for the sake of achieving a certain body type. And, to be honest, I don’t mean to suggest that ballet is a particularly vain pursuit. I simply don’t know enough about it to say that. It is an art, but one that has the surface-workings of painful ego-addiction.

In yoga, we are encouraged to let go of ego all together. But all the tools for vain self-destruction are there: rigorous dedication, cleanses, diets, austerities. The superficial practices – when coupled with the beautiful bodies we see bending and twisting on the pages of magazines – can serve to feed the ego, too.

I don’t have a final word on all of this. I’m not saying that this film is doing women a disservice, or that Yoga Journal is twisting our minds. I’m just aware of my own feelings when I read this article.

Ostensibly, the press coverage is not congratulatory about the rigors of training and weight loss these women undertook for the roles they play in this film. And yet, somehow, I still feel an undercurrent of it. Is it because I can feel the push and pull, the attraction and repulsion of this kind of physique myself?

Is the suggestion there – that this is an acceptable ideal for women – or is it just my sensitivity? Is anyone else feeling it?