Selling Sex and Yoga

The people around you are wearing skin-tight Lycra or nothing at all. Your gaze is met with tight buttocks, six-pack abs and legs spread wide. Beads of sweat drip from strong biceps and heaving chests. The music is slow, deep and soulful. Someone near you lets out a long groan of pleasure. You find yourself sighing and vocally expressing your body’s release too.

Are you at an orgy or hot yoga? Could be either.

Recently I have found a number of things in my path have forced me to contemplate the sexiness of yoga. Some studios offer naked yoga, others seem to be dominated by singles, still others meld DJs, live music and lighting to generate a funky nightclub vibe to your evening workout. Don’t get me wrong, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this. The contemplation of sex as a vibrant expression of yogic practices is ancient – just look at tantra’s exploration of it. My question is whether a studio cultivating the more ‘sensual’ side of community can be alienating to people who don’t exactly fit the criteria.

The simple answer is, of course it can. If a community is filled with hot young bodies, many of them single and looking for other people to sweat with, it will naturally intimidate anyone who is not young, not conventionally ‘hot’, or not interested in meeting other people who are. It is not ideal for a student to be thinking they don’t want to go to yoga because they’re embarrassed they can’t do the poses, they think they’re not looking their best today or they don’t want to see the hottie  they’ve had a few conversations with and might like to take it further. Equally, it is not great news if a student is motivated to go to yoga to show off their bod, their ability to contort and to see the gorgeous young thing that often comes to the same class. But here is the real crux of the issue: these two positions are on either side of the same coin that is non-attachment. Yoga, even in its sexy forms, encourages students to release attachment to their physical bodies, engagements in pleasure and care for how other people perceive them. All of these things are governed by the Ego, which if we are too tightly wound to, will cause an inability to stop comparing ourselves to others, competitiveness and attachment to outcomes. We cannot abandon the Ego entirely, or we would not be able to distinguish between, and respect, the individuality that makes us different from others, but it is far more common in our society to have an overactive ego (whether it is overly confident or lacking self-confidence, both are derived from an overactive ego).

So is it possible to practice genuine yoga at a sexy studio where you notice many people are driven by ego? Of course. It will simply be slightly easier to practice in a community that is filled with like-minded people, who encourage each other to fulfill yogic principles and ACTIVELY practice what they preach. It is a very simple to think to talk the talk, but to walk the walk of a yogic life is a constant struggle for most yogis.

My suggestion is this: if you notice yourself spending more time than you are comfortable with considering how good you will look or the impression you will make on other students – maybe it is time to source out a different community. It might be as simple as taking some home practices, where you can tune in more to your inner self and tune out distractions. It might mean finding a community who has more shared values with yourself, such as family. Anyway you do it, don’t let the external practice of yoga drive you off the path of your true, inner yoga. For that is the only way it will give you genuine strength and flexibility – that of your mind.


About karen2202

I am writing my PhD on children's yoga and it's place within mainstream education. I am also a yoga teacher in Sydney, Australia.

Posted on January 30, 2012, in Asana, Meditation, Philosophy and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Selling Sex and Yoga.

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