I’m Too Sexy for My Yoga?

7 02 2018

The Rise of Vanity Yoga

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Though it’s a common occurrence amongst most people in the digital age to fall into what’s known as an ‘internet hole,’ generally the hole is something like cute animal videos or makeup tutorials, which sure, I’ve tripped over those holes a few times myself; I never thought I’d fall into a sexy-person-doing-yoga-at-home-in-a-leotard hole.

Yet, that’s exactly what happened to me the other day. I ended up on Instagram where I watched video after video of these model-looking women do all sorts of inversions: handstands, headstands, forearm stands, with their flexy legs going up and down and around, every single one with their butt hanging out of their outfit, all with this bronzy golden skin, long hair flowing like a waterfall, all seemingly having dancer-esque bodies.

And to be honest, I’ve been confused ever since.

Perhaps, the better word is conflicted.

On the one hand, these women have worked really hard to be strong and flexible. It’s probably been a challenge to become confident in their own bodies, confident in who they are as people, and it takes courage to reveal one’s nearly naked self on the internet. I also understand that many of them probably think it’s the best way to prove they are in proper form. And sure, when I see them I might feel a tinge of envy that they can do some of these power poses better than me.

They are indeed badass, and at times it can feel motivating in an “I want to do that someday” type of way.

But then, on the other hand, something feels icky about the whole thing. I’m going to call the whole scene Vanity Yoga. Because I don’t see how scissoring your legs back and forth while upside down wearing a shiny thong leotard has much in common with actual yoga besides the person’s ability to get in the pose. I mean, a person can make a basketball shot and not be a basketball player.

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Maybe I just don’t get it. I’m curious as to what the underlying motivation of this Vanity Yoga scene is all about. Is it to actually motivate other people? Is it to show off their butts? Is it to prove that they’re better than everyone else? Is it to try to get more people to do yoga because beautiful people clearly do yoga? Is it just for fun? Is it to prove to themselves and others that they can get into these poses? Is it to boost their self-esteem by getting a bunch of ‘likes’ from friends and strangers?

I’m sure it’s some sort of combination of the above (and other factors I haven’t thought of).

I mean, I myself put up a pic when I finally was able to get into full lotus after 20+ years of trying because I was excited (and maybe sort of stuck like that for longer than I wanted to be), so I get it, in a way.

Admittedly the issue might be the near nudity. I’m not puritanical, I like to think of myself as sex-positive and yet it’s weird to sexualize yoga. And maybe that’s not the intention, perhaps it’s just because they’re women and women are almost always automatically sexualized, yet, most women know they’re almost always automatically sexualized… so how can women reveal their progression or show off their accomplishments without objectifying themselves? Maybe they can’t? Maybe that’s what they want to do and who am I to judge?

Yet, the word yoga derives from the Sanskrit word ‘yuj’ which means to yoke or bind, and many practitioners interpret as ‘union.’ That union is the union of breath with the mind, body, and spirit.

So, does Vanity Yoga create this union?

Or is it really just vanity for vanity’s sake?

I’m still trying to figure it all out, but for now, I’ll return back to the internet and try to fall down a different hole.

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Thoughts on Solitude Sundays Vol. 2

24 01 2018

Being Alone Doesn’t Mean You’re Lonely…

and other likeminded cliches on Solitude

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January 21st marked my third Solitude Sunday of the year. Inspired by The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Tale of the Last True Hermit by Michael Finkel I’ve been attempting alone-time at least once a week since finishing the book.

The main point of the exercise in solitude is to turn off my phone and computer for an entire day and try to turn inward instead.

In other words, I am Krystal, unplugged.

I have yet to experience a true day of solitude though as I live with roommates and also have woken up to another person in my bed on more than one Sunday morning.

So, I’ve had to redefine these Sundays of Solitude since I am not be able to be truly alone unless some rich person asked me to house-sit for them while they’re away for a weekend or I went out and camped in the middle of nowhere by myself (which I won’t do until the spring due to the fact that I enjoy feeling warmth in my fingers and toes).

What I’ve learned though is that the addiction is real.

Separating myself from my phone has been painful.

I can’t count the times I have looked for it while in one room or the other only to remember I had shut it off and hid it in a drawer.

I haven’t lost track of time during any of these Sundays of Solitude, but instead I often have had no idea what time it was at all.  It turns out that most homes, including ours, have a lot less working clocks in them these days.

I tell time by looking out my window. It gets dark and I think “finally I can go to bed,” then I walk into the kitchen and the one working clock that’s on our oven informs me it’s only 5.30 p.m. Could this be right? I have often found myself saying outloud to no one. This oven clock was accurate yesterday, so why wouldn’t it be today? It’s at that moment that I experience the crushing realization that I have an entire night ahead of entertaining myself.

I believe that was the biggest revelation this last Sunday.

When you disconnect from the outside world and have to focus instead of what’s around you, it feels as though you gain time.

Of course that’s not necessarily how time works; we don’t gain or lose it, time just is. Though I will say that without constantly scrolling through newsfeeds or texting friends all day, it often feels like I’m getting time back; I can recognize it moving at a pace that seems reasonable, seems like it used to seem back in the days of my youth when I lived out in the country in the middle of nowhere Kansas, prior to having access to the internet (it still barely works out there to this day).

Of course, this can feel boring at the same time that it feels refreshing. It can feel lonely at the same time as it feels liberating. It’s not for everyone. I’m not sure if I’d even recommend it.

What it’s done for me though is force me to slow down.

It’s allowed me to catch up.

Solitude Sunday has reminded me that interesting things are happening within just as much as they’re happening without. It’s made my return to technology feel less important. That scrolling through Instagram and Facebook aren’t necessarily wastes of time, but that I could do it less and it still mean just as much.

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I’d like to explore something that could be equally interesting in the future, that is, I’d like to unplug with another person. I know that there’s still plenty to understand and dive into deeper with my own internal landscape, but I also am liking the idea of two people disconnecting from everyone else and instead taking the time to get to know each other without the distraction of our individual networks–because there is more to us than who we follow.

If you’re down to unplug with me some upcoming Sunday (and in Denver), send me a message (I get the humor in using technology to disconnect from technology in the future, but sometimes it’s the best way to get where we need to be).