What is “Yoga Bleaching?”

yoga bleaching: 1. a form of marketing in which yoga or an image of yogic lifestyle is used to make an otherwise unrelated product appear to be in line with yogic principles. 2. the act of using yoga or an image of yogic lifestyle to sell an unrelated product. 3. a form of spin or marketing intended to deceive consumers into believing that a product is related to yogic practice or theory when in fact it is not.

And, just like that! A new term is born!

First there was whitewashing:
“to gloss over or cover up vices, crimes or scandals….” (wiki).

Then there was greenwashing:
“a form of spin in which green PR or green marketing is deceptively used to promote the perception that an organization’s aims and policies are environmentally friendly” (wiki).

Then there was astroturfing:
“a form of advocacy in support of a political, organizational, or corporate agenda, designed to give the appearance of a ‘grassroots’ movement” (wiki).

Now there is yoga bleaching!

Celebriyogi culture has begun to permeate every last crevice of contemporary yogic culture to the point where some people think both yoga and commercial yoga culture are one and the same, or, at the very least, attached at the hip. In actuality, they are not! And, they certainly do not have to be!

Asana. Meditation. Gyan mudra. White clothing. Mala beads. Ganesh. Raag Bhairavi. All of it used to sell not only products, but an idea—an image—of yogic lifestyle. The whole lot of it a great big rummage sale whereby people and agencies sell off their product while bleaching the dubious content with “Brand Yoga”©®.

But, we can draw it out into the open.

The first step in creating a distinction between yoga practice and the culture of yoga commodification is to call it out. IF YOU SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING!

Unfortunately, many people feel that commercial yoga culture is simply an aspect of yoga that uses commerce to promote its positive message to a wider audience. We disagree. To us:

Commercial yoga culture is a form of commerce that uses yoga to broaden the reach of commerce!

  • “Loose weight fast” schemes
  • “How to make more money” workshops
  • Trendy yoga mats
  • Trendy “health” foods
  • Yoga fashion
  • Music festivals
  • Yoga cruises

Some of it useful. Some of it interesting. Some of it fun as hell! All of it commerce.

Now, we’re not saying people shouldn’t do or buy any of these things. We’re not saying people should become cynical luddite hermits living in a cave (although we are very intrigued by the idea). We do, however, believe it high time we stopped trying to convince ourselves that any of this commercial culture has anything whatsoever to do with yoga practice, all in an effort to sleep better at night.

It’s time to call it like we see it.

Here’s how you can help:

  • Freely pass along and share our yoga bleaching infograph.
  • Start a Wikipedia and/or Wiktionary page outlining a working definition of yoga bleaching.
  • Use the term “yoga bleaching” on your Facebook page when you come across a piece of marketing that reminds you of yoga bleaching.
  • Tweet to your heart’s twitter when you come across yoga bleaching that makes your stomach turn.
  • Start a discussion group that investigates aspects of yoga bleaching in the media.
  • Design beautiful posters and infographs that highlight the commercial aspects of our contemporary bleached yogic tradition.
  • Teach your students about the difference between yoga and yoga bleaching.
  • Tell your friends and family about how to spot shameless acts of yoga bleaching.

Of course, as “yoga bleaching” is a new term, naturally there will be a number of different takes on what actually constitutes an act of yoga bleaching. Around the BabaHQ we’ve each got a varied take on what does or does not constitute yoga bleaching. Remember, there is no closure in language, so let’s keep the swinging door swinging.

Tell us what yoga bleaching means to YOU in the comments.

Now, who’s gonna write up that Wikipedia page???

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50 comments

  1. JJ Love

    Did you check first to see if some of the local nipple bleaching/hair salon/ green cleaning products hasn’t already taken the term?

  2. But my lululemon yoga pants make my butt look good…

  3. ko

    “Soulful engineering! Technology with a heart!”

  4. 108

    its amazing how people get SO good at plugging “spiritual concepts” into things that make SO sense. “let’s SERVE people”. really? w/ another choice yoga mat? i really don’t think that that is the kind of SERVICE spiritual leaders talk about. gimme a break. all this shiz makes my head spin. would be SO much better if they just called it a yoga mat, threw a brand on it, and called it a day. let’s make a mat to SERVE people? what a sad state.

    • chai fan

      Whatever do you mean? Everything about that mat “will lead to very essence of your heart”! haha..writing that out makes me laugh. How did they write any of this service related jargon with a straight face?

  5. TheGreatDestroyer(ofCupcakes)

    Did anyone catch the Victoria’s Secret Pink line of “Yoga Panties?” They have sayings on the bums like “let’s party,” “All Nighter,” and “You Want Me” and apparently the letters were written in such bold letters that you can see them when one wears those-leggings-that-don’t-seem-see-through-but-kinda-are-in-the-right-light-in-Downdog-etc.
    Classy! :)
    Those are not on the VS site anymore, hrm, wonder why.

    I don’t know how to embed…here’s a link:

    http://t3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcT4D1JqUEk7XXaeEQ5q41bw6PH5bQy21K_3J1fJIOZeMBKgDC0mksDIhd1y

  6. Nick

    Anybody know where I can get a discount on a John Friend mat?

    • Ryan

      In the future those mats will be a collectors item. An authentic antique yoga mat bearing the name of the man whose penis rocked the yoga world! My retirement plan is to buy all I can now and sell them for a gargantuan profit in 40 years.

  7. Okay I’ve been hesitant to admit this, but I’ve decided to go ahead and tell the truth: I’m jealous of your relationship (you, the Babarazzi) with Spiritual Hangover. I’ve written some, I do say so myself, fairly funny comments (e.g. my comment on the JF sticky mat commercial under your post: 10 THINGS YOU WILL NEVER NEED TO PRACTICE YOGA) and have received no reply as the other commentators do. I’ve never actually commented on anything online in my life (oh no, that’s not true–I was compelled once to comment on a Sadie Nardini You tube demo video of “drop-backs” [I composed the sarcastic comment for over an hour before I posted it] and then obsessively checked back to see if anyone commented on my comment. They haven’t yet) until I found your site. Now I have to refrain from commenting as to not seem overzealous. So I decided to ignore my irrational need for recognition and praise until tonight when I came across this love fest between you and SH. I dream every day of some sort of wink wink…or better yet: a pinch on the ass (it ain’t bad, they say)….

    • We’ve never responded to you alex??? Is that true??? If that is so, I feel horrible. We usually try and go through the comments that we’ve missed and respond at least a word or two, if not a gushing forth of love and sexual innuendo. Well consider this response your Babarazzi pinch on the ass. Or better yet, a right good spankin’!

    • chai fan

      I just commented on your comments over in the YamaYogajournalconferencehorrorshow piece. And favorably! (and so did Babarazzi!) :)

  8. Great post. I often think that the yoga I read about in everything from Yoga Journal to the New York Times is nothing like the yoga I practice.

    Though I agree with a lot of what you said, I wouldn’t post that yoga bleaching infograph. To some people, the image might be really offensive: a sacred book on the ground is bad enough to them and someone stepping on it, hoo boy. Most religions have some kind of rules about how to treat their scriptures and the rules can be silly, but hey, if we want the society to respect what we hold sacred about yoga shouldn’t we respect what other people hold sacred, too?

    Just saying’.

    • chai fan

      I get what you’re saying, but maybe the image is simply capturing exactly that? That all this celebriyogi/yoga bleaching stuff is akin to some clueless person’s high heeled shoes standing on the sacred Bhagavad Gita. As that is what its doing, offensive to where all of this comes from and needed a powerful image.

    • Thanks, Shelley. I appreciate your comment. It took quite some time to find an image that screamed “Yes” when putting that infograph together. It was harder than we thought. I think the image says quite a bit when placed in the context of the text below it. Let’s see where it takes us.

      But, yes, we did consider exactly what you bring up.

  9. Pranama Red

    The yoga world is rife with mediocrity and worse. The bar set forth by Yoga Alliance is laughable. Has anyone actually failed teacher training? The biggest yoga bleaching of all takes place in the studio/teacher mills.

  10. Yoga Dude

    “The biggest yoga bleaching of all takes place in the studio/teacher mills.”

    Sad but true.

  11. jjtwister

    Ahhhhhhh. That’s the sound of my soul being quenched by its discovery of this site. So glad I found your voice in the desolate wilderness of yoga beaching.
    I am always astounded by the idea that you need the right kind of jewelery with “yogic” iconography to deepen your practice. Put an om symbol on it and it somehow becomes less materialistic???

  12. JJ Love

    I love the yoga panties idea. Can’t we make some of our own to give subliminal messages to our favorite sleazy butt gazers? FRAUD. STOP LOOKING HEY PERV! Etc…

  13. Now I feel horrible for making you (The Babarazzi) feel horrible. I was just being needy. You DID respond to me a couple of times. Well, now that I’ve got all the attention, you might as well feature me in the next “The Friday Good” posting. I’m about to email you a picture. But, seriously, I feel thoroughly responded to now. You can ignore me for a while now. Although you should feel free to look at my stamp-free ass anytime you want. xxx

    • Ok. You’re off the hook, Alex. But I can’t speak for the rest of the f’ed in the head commenters on this sorry site. Now that you’ve called us all out, who knows….

      But, we at the BabaHQ will defs take you up on the offer to gaze at the ol’ trunk.

      (WTF is happening to our quaint vanilla site??? It’s turning into fetlife.com around here.)

  14. Yoga_Muff Diver

    I have blogged in the past on a most disturbing pop-culture trend: the phenomenon of the shiny new homogenized asana-enhanced Yoga Butt. Sadly, the self-proclaimed Stepford Bitches of the New Age Modeling Clan known as American have declared an unofficial war on the natural aesthetic beauty and grace of the FEMALE ARSE, one of God’s greatest creations. Everywhere you look you see signs of these dreaded “yoga buns.” Me and my Brogis used to sit on street corners to gawk at passing women and practically shout the good news: “FOR THE LOVE OF JESUS, WILL YOU LOOK AT THAT GORGEOUS ASS!.” Now more often than not, we sit there, drooping – in more ways than one – and merely sigh, YEAH, THERE’S ANOTHER ONE. SHE OBVIOUSLY DOES YOGA. Baba-Ganesh – your esteemed Holey-ness — do you think that we might tag-team on this very important topic? Let’s exhibit some of the finest Gluteus Maximi of all time, then compare them to today’s sadly under-performing backsides. Let the reader be the judge. FLAB OR FAB?

  15. Yoga_Muff Diver

    I see tha I left out a word. TYPO! I meant to say the New Age Modeling Clan known as Women’s Yoga.

  16. Yoga_Muff Diver

    Okay, just a quickie — and then I’ll go – Here is a shot of the beautiful Sophia Loren’s uh, BACK BODY. Her GIFT, I woiuld rtiuna whole series of these, under the header: NO YOGA ALLOWED.

    Marilyn Monroe, too, who did yoga in her early 20’s and guess what, people? SHE GAVE IT UP! (Yeah she gave THAT up, too, but that’s ANOTHER story. Badda, boom-boom).

    So, here she is, big nose, big lips, big hips and BIG BODACIOUS SCRUMPTIOUS ARSE TO DIE FOR.

    Sophia Loren's Ass

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  21. Danielle Prohom Olson

    Are we bleaching yoga’s history in order to make it more palatable for mass consumption? Here is my take….

    http://bodydivineyoga.wordpress.com/2012/05/01/sex-and-the-bleaching-of-yoga-history/

  22. Jessica

    Shame shame…someone needs to get poked a few times with those pointy little shoes!

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