Whoa, it’s another “controversial” ad from lululemon.
Featured on the back cover of the May issue of Yoga Journal, the ad highlights a quote by Chris Chavez, a Vancouver-based “Elite Lululemon Ambassador.” I just found out about it today on Facebook because I never read YJ.
Lululemon is clearly trying to provoke some kind of response from uptight yoga practitioners who think that pole dancing is not yoga (and there is, of course, some of that). It’s also framing pole dancing as something that’s deviant and dark. The “pole fitness” community, however, has been working hard to change the public perception of pole dancing and getting it recognized as a sport akin to gymnastics or other dance forms (and many pole fitness enthusiasts wear Lululemon products).
The issue with this ad, actually, is that Lululemon is projecting a sex-negative message, and just being generally uncool towards pole dancers. Mixed messaging and contrived controversy, from Lululemon? Quelle suprise!
At the other end of the spectrum (the “sex-positive awesomeness” end) is Fifty Shades of Yoga, which I’ve been quietly following since it popped up in my FB feed a couple of weeks ago. Fifty Shades of Yoga (FSOY) is clearly a reference to a recent soft porn pop cultural phenomenon. It’s an in-progress coffee table book project offering pictures of a woman in yoga poses tied up in ropes, chains, etc.
Loads of articles about FSOY have turned up in the past week, spearheaded by Maya Devi George’s Elephant Journal piece (in which she called the FSOY model a “fucktard” – it has since been taken down).
This is how the mysterious unnamed person (or people) behind the project describes it:
Yoga is not a path of freedom. Yoga is a path of exquisite bondage.
“Fifty Shades Of Yoga” will be an elegant, high end photography coffee table book that unites the worlds of yoga and bondage in a beautiful, sensual and playful way. Haunting and exquisite yoga photographs will take the voyeur on a seductive journey, examining the elements of sexuality, servitude, control and the lack thereof within certain yoga poses. These images will explore the similarities between yoga & bondage, gratification & restraint and diligent practice & surrender; unifying the two seemingly opposites worlds together into one striking, stimulating and down right naughty photography book.
I mean, seriously, who hasn’t caught themselves pondering the similarities between yoga and bondage while strapped to a pile of blankets in an Iyengar class? I’m not the only person, right?
Anyway, it has a provocative surface, but FSOY is a compelling project that is challenging the norms of sexuality and sexual expression in the yoga community.