Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Well, That Sounds Like a Great Reason!

A friend sent me this ad she saw in a newspaper:


I can understand why people who are larger and not that flexible might be uncomfortable taking yoga in a class full of people who are smaller and more flexible.

But, to gender the situation in this way plays into the uninspired tropes about authentic masculinity being "large" and authentic femininity being "small."

What if someone's a woman who's interested in yoga but feels self-conscious about being large and inflexible, can she take Man Yoga?

Or, is the male ego so uniquely frail that it's incapable of withstanding the dishonor of doing a physical activity in the same space as women who might appear physically better at it than they are.

I'm not sure if this ad is more insulting to women or to men.

On a final note, my knowledge of yoga is limited, but I do think the philosophical underpinnings of many forms of yoga would find this obvious catering to the ego to be problematic. Americanized versions of practices that have Asian roots continue to amuse me. As a practitioner of a traditional Asian practice, I don't think mind-body-spirit practices from Asia should never be altered. I think they can be thoughtfully and mindfully modified, but it's sad to me when they become infused with some of the worst, ego-driven aspects of American society.

I wouldn't be surprised if there's a "Buddhist" Temple For Dudes somewhere where they crush beer cans on their heads upon entering, and then hang them on the door to keep out the taint of Woman from entering.

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