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Yoga + Bondage = Fifty Shades of Yoga?

Bondage-BlackRope

The controversial spotlight this week seems to be shining on a newborn Facebook page: Fifty Shades of Yoga.

A promo page for an upcoming coffee table—or bathroom magazine rack—book: “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.” The “About” tag line reads: “Yoga is not a path of freedom. Yoga is a path of exquisite bondage.

“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.”

For obvious reasons the soon-to-be book, and coinciding Facebook page, have elicited strong feelings of downright outrage and confusion from members of our community—it’s become the catalyst for blog posts, Facebook statuses and hugely in-depth discussions aiming to explain why yoga and bondage don’t belong together in any way, shape or form—and that’s putting it nicely.

A clear line has been drawn: on one side stand practitioners who are blown away, pissed off, who feel that this will only add to the over sexed, media birthed, marketing focused,  misconception of yoga as a whole—and on the other side, the “haters”.

We wanted to share part of a blog post published by Huffington Post writer Ira Israel entitled On Yoga and Bondage: Pimping Spirituality and Sex as Art. Ira brings up some solid points that are less about attacking Fifty Shades of Yoga and more focused on posing some important and relevant questions to the community at large:

It holds little benefit to me professionally or personally to be deemed a moralist. And anyone who has attended my workshops and retreats—as well as all of my psychotherapy patients—knows that my only mantra is “Authenticity! Authenticity! Authenticity!” I am simply stating my reaction to the 50 Shades of Yoga Facebook page that reared its gruesome head last week.

The above exegesis on the sexualization of yoga should be taken in the same vein as Duchamp’s Fountain—namely, to raise interesting questions. In exhibiting a common urinal as a piece of art in 1917, young and provocative Marcel sought to goad people to ask, “What is Art?”

If you recall, in the late 1980s Andres Serrano’s artwork “Piss Christ” — a photo of a crucifix submerged in urine — was literally attacked by Christians who took umbrage at an image of a what they considered to be a desecration.

As I previously stated in the Huffington Post, the yoga community’s laissez-faire attitude of “It’s all good!” may ultimately become its undoing.

So I ask, when you encounter something such as “Yoga and Bondage,” Fifty Shades of Yoga do you consider it to be art?

Do you think it has anything to do with yoga?

Do you find it to be respectful towards women? And, if so, is it remotely possible that yoginis are complicit in their own sexual objectification and commodification by wearing sexy outfits to class and condoning images of women tied up?

We would like to ask these same questions to you, our readers, because we think they are damn good and would love to know what y’all think. Let us know in the comment section below, and please keep it clean and respectful, no personal attacks.

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