This morning I received an email ad for a yoga program to help me lose weight – because, clearly, weight loss should occupy most of my time and mind-space – what with being a doughy, middle-aged woman and all.
“This totally unique routine is designed for Women that would like to experience the wonderful benefits of Yoga while being able to burn calories, manage their weight and get into great shape at the same time. As you’ll see, the routine is fast-paced and challenging and uses the proven principals of progression to help women trim down, tighten up, and get fit.”
I spent many years in therapy and many subsequent years on my own continuing that work with yoga and meditation in order to overcome a nasty case of bulimia and develop a peaceful relationship with my body. So, hey guys, just a heads up. . . you chose the wrong person to target with this nonsense.
There was so much wrong with that email that I needed to do TWO yoga nidras before blogging about it.
Please tell me more about your “proven principals of progression?”
And what exactly are the “wonderful benefits of yoga” that I can experience while burning calories and managing my weight at the same time?
And why must we continue to trash yoga by painfully twisting it into yet another cheesy weight loss program?
This kind of mixed messaging (that yoga has wonderfully relaxing benefits, but you are going to feel the burn and lose weight too!) are pernicious and insidious to say the least. They only undermine the ability of yoga professionals to actually help people with the holistic and truly transformative aspects of practice.
Most women need to feel supported, to learn to access self-compassion, self-care and empathy, and to internalize a sense of self-worth and inner peace that helps them reject the culturally toxic ruse that they need to lose weight to be of any significant value as a human being.
Unfortunately, it didn’t stop there.
“The secret to the success of the Program lies in what’s referred to as “Dynamic Sequencing.” “Dynamic Sequencing” is the way in which the program teaches you how to properly perform each movement and then continues to adapt and increase the challenge at the precise moment your body starts to get used to the routine. This forces your body to change and adapt, which in turn, helps to build a shapely, feminine body that not only looks better, but feels better too!”
As my friends across the pond might say, “What a load of bollocks.”
There’s nothing physiologically accurate about this idea and please – stop telling women that they need to “force” their bodies to do anything or insinuate that their feminine bodies are anything other than feminine. And there’s nothing wrong with strong exercise, I love working out and I even love strong yoga poses – but I categorically refuse to do so with an intention of forcing or subduing my body.
Your body is you. It’s an ally, not an enemy in cahoots with the fat empire that must be forced into submission.
Why not teach women to use yoga to befriend their bodies instead?
And, just a side note, there’s very little research around exercise and weight loss, some studies attribute as little as 10% of weight loss to exercise. But there is a growing body of research suggesting that slow, mindful practices help to derail the stress response and ultimately inhibit emotional eating.
So even if you do capitulate to the fat police and sign up to burn your fat off with yoga, it’s a pretty lame strategy. If you insist on buying into this nonsense, just do it the old fashioned way and starve yourself (I don’t really mean that, actually I would invite you to come to my classes or trainings so I can help you de-program yourself from these fallacious, insidious ideas).
Okay, that felt good.
Now I’ll get back to enjoying and teaching about slow, mindful yoga, thank you very much.
Let’s defy the toxic messages that continue to pollute the yogaverse and instead, let’s support each other in using these practices to come home to ourselves and learn to value each other for our intrinsically beautiful beingness.