Pretty much every time I log onto Facebook lately, this ad has turned up in the sidebar. I actually clicked the link and went to a page selling an online course called Lose Weight and Look Younger With Yoga. Regularly $59, it’s now on sale for $39 (and you can only purchase it, or even read the details, by signing in through your Facebook account).
I posted the ad on the IAYB Facebook fan page, prompting a lively discussion. Here are some of the highlights:
Jessica Seletti: I personally find it sad that yoga is sold as any other slimming fitness programme. It looks like the mind & spirit component went out of the window to target those who don’t believe in chanting and meditation and just want to look young and slim…but why call it yoga then?
Carol Horton: This sort of marketing counteracts the best of what yoga has to offer us today. “Getting a Summer Yoga Body” is all about feeling that you need to conform to look like some externally generated ideal. That takes you in the opposite direction from learning to listen to, and respect and appreciate your own body.
Charlotte Bell: These ads reinforce the idea that yoga is all about the body to begin with. If the yoga that brings you to the mat is simply reinforcing our cultural obsession with body image, it’s not going to change anything. Yoga is supposed to help us unhook from delusions, not reinforce them.
Steph Abbott: I dislike the association of “skinny and yoga.” Let’s face it, the weight loss industry will tap into whatever is big right now and yoga is a 6 billion dollar business in America. So there you have it. I my students want to talk about diet, I ask if they would be open first to changing the language to “lifestyle” then we can have a more positive discussion. [some comments have been edited, slightly.]
This ad is problematic, for all the reasons pointed out above. It targets one of the most deep-rooted desires of many North American women and uses it to sell yoga. The ad didn’t turn up there randomly – like all Facebook ads, it was designed and paid for. As the Facebook Advertising primer states: “Reach over 800 million people where they connect and share.” This ad’s presence is very deliberate and it turns up on my Facebook newsfeed because I search and talk about yoga a lot.
It’s not the first time that Sadie Nardini has used weight loss in the marketing of her yoga online trainings, workshops and products. I just Googled “yoga for weight loss,” and the fifth unpaid result was Sadie Nardini’s YouTube channel. Search “yoga for weight loss” on Nardini’s YouTube channel and there are 98 results (it was clearly an early SEO strategy, as many of the videos from 3+ years ago were titled some variant of WEIGHT LOSS YOGA).
While defenders of Nardini claim that her practice is about more than weight loss, and most practitioners agree that yoga is more than weight loss, Nardini has tapped into the fact that yoga strengthens physical and emotional core muscles. Maybe not to the extent that it’s a weight gainer or muscle gainer workout, but it’s still good for building strength.
What do you think of the Facebook ad? And how do you feel about the blatant use of the promise of weight loss in yoga marketing?
Update: As of 5pm April 20, the ad copy had been changed to: 14 Day Yoga Detox and Empowerment Course, Get healthier and fit on all levels in just 14 days with Sadie Nardini.
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