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A recent post on elephantjournal.com has got me thinking about the precarious relationship between yoga, nudity and sexuality. In the post, yoga teacher Dashama Konah reflects on a Facebook backlash to some “risqué” photos that she posted of herself doing yoga in a bikini in Mexico, and then poses some questions about the spirituality of doing yoga in the buff (note: the above photo is *not* Dashama). It’s a pretty interesting discussion, though what’s missing for me is the “why.” What was her intention? Why would a teacher post pictures of herself practicing yoga in a bikini on the beach?
In the context of how our culture perceives and presents women’s bodies, and in comparison to things like the naked yoga phenomenon, Dashama’s photos are fairly innocuous. But coming back to intention, what does it mean when the basic premise of photos of naked women doing yoga is to titillate, to turn someone on? Enter Nude Yoga Girls (warning: graphic content), a series of photos and videos by Abby Winters (see one of the photos above). These pics have been on the internet for a few years, but a friend recently brought them to my attention.
Abby Winters is an Australian website of women-produced amateur porn, which features models without surgical implants or make-up and in their own clothes. The site has received praise for “portraying a more realistic depiction of sex than most pornography.” And interestingly enough, these women (with their natural, flawed bodies and imperfect poses) practicing yoga might even be a more realistic depiction of yoga than the airbrushed, enhanced images that we see in many yoga magazines.
And then this morning, a link to 25 Hot Yoga Babes landed in my inbox, via Holy Taco (the post described them as “the DVD box cover to some kind of athletic themed porno”). Fake boobs and provocative poses galore! There are even some familiar faces, like our friend Sara Jean Underwood of Playboy Yoga fame and Britney Spears doing some poolside stretching.
My feelings about all this are complicated and difficult to articulate. Those who regularly read it’s all yoga, baby know that I am a lover of burlesque and interested in pushing beyond standard representations of women’s bodies. Whether it’s in yoga, advertising, dance, or film ~ I like to see anything that pushes boundaries and challenges convention. Yet I have different and complex reactions to all three of these examples. The teacher and her “controversy” exasperates me; the hot yoga babes make me feel depressed; and the nude yoga girls… I find them to be subversive and vulnerable and actually pretty sexy. What are your reactions? How do you navigate the sensitive relationship between yoga and sexuality?
So it’s old news that there’s some kind of connection between yoga and sex, and it’s an easy marketing target (remember that whole Better Sex Through Yoga craze a few years ago?).
But I was flipping through the latest issue of Bust and came across an article (not available online) on new pop-fitness “research” pointing to the possibility of the coregasm – an orgasm experienced during core-strengthening exercises, including ab work, pilates and, of course, yoga.
Apparently, the coregasm concept is something that Men’s Health magazine picked up on earlier this year, and the Women’s Health website responded to it (with a handy coregasm workout). And the OmGym – “suspension yoga” – creators had already tapped into this a while ago, designing a suspension yoga coregasm workout to “awaken the inner Love Goddess” and getting featured on The Doctors TV show (see vid below).
It’s possible that those feelings of bliss and oneness (not to mention shortness of breath) that we’ve experienced during our yoga practice might be more than we thought. And perhaps Om may no longer be the only “big O” in yoga…
Has anyone out there experienced a coregasm during yoga? Dare to share your thoughts in the comments section!