It’s pretty hard to find moments when we aren’t expressing ourselves. For instance, when we help a homeless man covered in a million bags hop a turnstile, we’re expressing our love of a thrifty deal. When we pass out drunk on a subway and wake up in Coney Island at four in the morning, we’re expressing how much we love trains. Self-expression seems to be a pretty f’ing constant occurrence.
Commercial yoga culture uses the ubiquity of self expression as a way to make yoga culture forever relevant to consumers by defining “yoga” as the very thing we can never not do. It’s a wondrous logical coup that allows commercial yoga culture to package and sell back to consumers whatever it is they want, and at the same time call it “yoga.” Think about it: If self-expression is all we ever do, and yoga is self-expression, than yoga is by definition anything you ever feel like doing.
- If painting is a form of self-expression, than painting is yoga.
- If dancing is a form of self-expression, than dancing is yoga.
- If singing is a form of self-expression, than singing is yoga.
It’s a win-win!
I love to boogie…..on the dance floor or in my kitchen, not on my yoga mat. I love to twirl and sing and have a good time, but that’s not what I look to yoga for. I don’t need to practice yoga to express myself. I express myself with my written words, with my fashion sense, the way I decorate my house, the art that I create, the flowers that I arrange, the collages I make, the songs that I sing, the conversations that I share. That feels like real self-expression to me. Making a yoga pose “mine” doesn’t really do it for me. I don’t feel the need to throw by body around in order to feel free to be me. I’m me all the time. I’m so into being me so much of the time, that yoga is one of the few times when I can and need to focus on something more, something other than just being “me.”
However, some people don’t see it that way. Looking back at Meghan Blalock’s piece “The Shared Truths of Fashion and Yoga,” we get a rather different point of view. Here, Blalock quotes yoga practitioner and writer, Sarah Herrington:
“Yoga is about authentic experience and expression to me. I think the same can be said about fashion,” she says. “It’s also about finding freedom within structure. Can you find the sense of freedom and ease within a structured [yoga] shape like warrior two? Same with fashion: can you find the freedom and expression within the forms of clothing/accessories? That’s one thing that amazes me about fashion: essentially designers work with the same template: the body. But they find freedom and expression within those bounds.”
“There is definitely a correlation between [fashion and yoga],” she says. “If you call yourself a yogi, it’s a self-proclaimed title. With the clothing you put on your body, you want to show, ‘Hey, I’m a yogi!’
Blalock herself states quite frankly that:
[Yoga and fashion] share a core truth: they are vehicles by which one can both discover one’s core self and endlessly re-shape one’s identity.
Personally, I don’t really get the arguments laid out above that are pro-yoga-as-self-expression. It’s kinda like saying, “Eating a banana is the same as sucking a penis, ’cause both go in your mouth.” I mean, yes. Both require a bit of “peeling,” and both have the potential of “regulating” your bowel movements, but come on. Only one turns a weird color if not attended to.