You Don’t Know As Much About Yoga As You Think You Do


I recently found myself in Mallorca watching a Chip-n-Dale mix a cocktail Magic Mike style on a willing female participant. How I ended up in this Spanish strip club is material for a very different article, but I will say that it was both unplanned and phenomenally odd.

Besides the obvious peculiarities regarding the mixology methods, something arguably more curious occurred.

One of my slightly intoxicated male travel companions interrupted my voyeurism to inform me that I “must be really into kinky stuff,” and that I was, without question, enjoying the show because I “do yoga.”

Your reaction might be similar to mine: “What?” But it might not.

I was introduced to yoga as a teenager, things got more serious in college, and I’ll soon have a teaching certification. So, you could say yoga and I are in it for the long haul.

As a practitioner of Vinyasa yoga, the studio is a sacred space for tranquility, self-discovery, and the occasional ass-kicking.

While it’s not uncommon to find spiritual guidance through the Yoga Sutras, for many yogis the practice simply serves as sustainable exercise that catalyzes a healthier body and a clearer mind. Additionally, each style, whether it’s Vinyasa, Hatha, Ashtanga, Bikram, or another, teaches distinctly and occasionally in contradiction with another.

So, with all due respect to my intoxicated and probably over-stimulated friend (we’d been in this burlesque joint for a few hours at this point), yoga to “kinky stuff” isn’t a linear deduction.

Yes, this was one encounter in an unconventional setting, but I worry about yogic misconceptions because uninformed dudes with CrossFit trainers aren’t the only ones perpetuating them.

In 2012 The New York Times published the article, “How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body”. The piece is highly controversial for a number of reasons, the most obvious being the claim the title makes.

The yoga community wrote many articles of its own in retaliation. The gist of most can be paraphrased as a unanimous, “You can’t sit with us!”

Collecting this information: we have a non-yogi convinced that yoga is synonymous with the Kama Sutra, and one of the world’s most circulated news publications insinuating that all yogis might as well schedule their spinal surgeries now. That’s one mixed message.

It gets even more tangled when we take the fitness trend into account.

The swift escalation of lifestyle mania in recent years has begun to redefine consumerism. For better or worse, crop tops and cleanses have edged their way into our shopping carts, flat stomachs and LuLulemon logos are in, and leggings are considered sedate enough for restaurant dining (not complaining).

But the fitness apparel perspectives are not entirely positive. A Montana legislator attempted to outlaw the public wearing of yoga pants under the grounds of indecent exposure, and widely adored sartorial-satirical writer, Fran Lebowitz, strongly opposes the lycra fad.

We’re suffering from cultural confusion in regards to yoga, and the formula for comprehension has taken the form of product rebranding and shaming.

But, can this ancient practice grounded in mindfulness and unity be truly commercialized? And if it can, does it matter?

Despite its vast and detailed history, yoga does evolve. We now heat our studios, flip our downward facing dogs, and climb mountains to hit the perfect dancer’s pose at dusk for the sake of our Instagram feeds. We’re constantly rewriting the rules of our own practice, so we shouldn’t be so surprised when the outside world can’t interpret what we’re really doing.

At the root of these off-hand comments and debatable articles is the desire to understand what goes on inside club yoga. As tempting as it is to smack talk the institutions that disregard the yoga community – yeah, yogis can throw occasional shade like the best of ’em – the solution is to embrace these misunderstandings in an effort to cultivate productive dialogue.

I still stand by my argument that practicing yoga doesn’t indicate one’s psychosexual intricacies, but I never said I didn’t enjoy the show.