The rise of the yoga butt
By Stewart Lawrence
There’s an old saying: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” In theory, that same dictum should apply to the treatment of our bodies. But in today’s “do-it-yourself” yoga culture, many women, it seems, are eager to fix their bodies — even when they’re not in any way broken.
Indeed, more than a few have taken to this task with true vengeance (upon themselves, apparently). They’ve literally tried to use their yoga practice to alter their entire physiognomy. I have witnessed this miracle of modern alchemy up close. Sensing that their original shape and form was somehow lacking in Aryan “perfection,” they’ve done what amounts to a complete makeover.
It’s as if Dr. Frankenstein got a hold of a copy of “Our Bodies, Our Selves” and decided to use it as a body sculpting handbook.
Witness the contemporary – but largely unremarked – obsession with “Yoga Butt.” Like the search for the perfect wave, which may never be found, the quest for the perfect ass is relentless and elusive – and in the end – no pun intended – can prove painfully self-defeating.
It’s also the perfect dodge. The same yoginis who wouldn’t dream of shooting themselves up with Botox or “going under the knife” to pay for expensive cosmetic surgery think it’s perfectly acceptable to re-engineer the shape and look of their derriéres through zealous “all-natural” means.
In fact, the practice of intensively toning the “glutes” can strain other muscles, and even cause serious injury. And while it’s arguably safer than a nose or boob job, psychologically, it’s still a dangerously self-obsessive practice. And make no mistake: the Yoga Butt obsession can last years.
When it comes to most aspects of daily life, the Yoga Butt mavens may publically extol the principles espoused in the Yoga Sutras: self-acceptance, authenticity, and truthfulness. Yet, when it comes to Yoga Butt, the embrace of Hindu scripture is far less, well, “pat-and-jolly.”
But, that’s just it, ladies. Even on aesthetic grounds, Yoga Butt is distinctly over-rated. Oh, it’s shapely alright, in a distinctly globular sense, much as some modern silicone breasts are. But upon inspection, these power orbs are maybe just a little too shapely.
In fact, after multiple viewings, on different bodies, they all start to look pretty much the same.
Indeed, even a cute and perky novelty item like Yoga Butt eventually becomes boring. Yoga Butt doesn’t move, let alone jiggle. She doesn’t dance. She just sits there and tries to look pretty. She’s the Barbie doll of bums. She’s an asana unto herself.
Yoga Butt may announce herself with great fanfare, but it turns out she has nothing of great consequence to say. She projects power — but exhibits no real majesty, let alone authority. Compared to your other body parts, she’s a total newbie. She lacks real life experience and the gravitas and wisdom that come with it. You don’t want to worship Yoga Butt – let alone caress her. You’re afraid she might bite, and you prefer to avoid her. While to the the bearer she may look and feel like the real thing, to the viewer, she’s just another shiny heiny.
Why do we need Yoga Butt to begin with? Beats the glucose out of me. Call me old school, but if yoga’s truly about self-acceptance, how come so many otherwise thoughtful yoginis have such a strong urge to shift their gift?
Some people blame it on the Beauty Myth. Slim is just in, right? Wrong. Much of the beauty myth is just that: a myth. These days the hottest females in and out of Hollywood exhibit the most sprawling and bodacious rear-ends. In fact, prior to the thin craze of the 1980s and 1990s, America the “Booti-ful” was practically our second national anthem. Despite the occasional Twiggy-style model, most of the bombshells and screen sirens of yesteryear were packing serious HEAT — downstairs AND up.
So, ladies, revel in your craftsmanship, if you must. We know how hard you’ve worked to forge those Buns of Steel. And they are a marvelous tribute to your yogic ingenuity — and to the emerging power of “ars-ana.” But rest assured: when you’re strolling along your favorite beach this summer, reveling in your newfound glory, you may turn a few heads. But most of us will be gawking elsewhere.
No ifs, glands – or butts – about it.
About Stewart Lawrence
Stewart J. Lawrence is a lifelong snoop, sneak, critic and scribe. He credits his Sephardic Jewish father for his affinity for the Spanish-speaking world, his poetic sensibilities, and his unflinching desire to speak truth to power. His mother, who largely raised him, did her best to endow her son with common sense, financial acumen, and a spirit of generosity toward his fellow man—largely to no avail. Stewart formally renounced the small, dull, grubby world of the bourgeois householder at age 50—and has no intention of turning back. When not navel gazing alone in perfect bliss under a Banyan tree, he contributes regular articles on Latino affairs, immigration, presidential politics, and yes, yoga, to the Guardian, Counterpunch, Huffington Post, the World and I, and the Los Angeles Times. He is co-author, with John Barton, of Four More Years: the Overwhelming Case for President Obama’s Second Term (forthcoming, June 2012). You can find his weekly musings at Huffington Post.