Why my butt-dimples just unsubscribed from Yoga Journal

Published on August 13, 2014 by      Print
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By Rachel Meyer

Yesterday I sat with my kid in my lap and leafed through the latest Yoga Journal. There was a fashion supplement, a celebrity profile of a pretty teacher who married a famous actor, and a whole feature on how to dress to hide your figure flaws and look thinner on the mat (“How can I conceal my butt dimples?”).

I cancelled my subscription.

I felt sad. And dejected. And not good enough, especially since I’m a butt-dimpled new mom with a muffin top and it’s been awhile since I’ve done Natarajasana in high heels on a rooftop like Hilaria Baldwin. But mostly, I felt disappointed, because I’ve written a few pieces for YJ in the past and have always felt proud of finding a market for intelligent mindful writing amidst the glossy rags.

Today I’m sitting on the floor with my kid in my lap and he’s chewing on a soft fabric car with wheels that spin across the three sheet-covered yoga mats that we’ve laid out across the living room floor as a playmat. We’re making frozen toaster waffles (nope, not organic) with maple syrup and reading Where The Wild Things Are, which, incidentally, includes no fashion supplements. He’s learning how to sit by himself, and falling forward into Paschimottanasana every time. I’m wearing old black tutu-leggings with a hole in the crotch; my peeling, calloused feet haven’t had a pedicure since January; I ate 27 dark-chocolate-covered almonds from Trader Joe’s for breakfast (after finishing the peanut butter cups first), and my bare face is blotchy with postpartum rosacea.

It doesn’t look anything like a Yoga Journal spread. There are no high heels or probiotics to be found. And yet, it feels very much like yoga.

My son is the child of two long-time yogis. He’ll grow up learning a lot about yoga. We’ll teach him the Primary Series when he’s ready. He already does Navasana in the bath, and says goodnight to Buddha and Ganesha and Shiva and Vishnu every evening before bed. But I want him to know the kind of yoga that’s about being wild and loving and unpretentious and free. The yoga that means learning how to be real, and fearless, and gentle, and compassionate, and kind. Not the type that was

Rachel Meyer

tes precious life energy worrying about covering up the “flaws” in your “apple- or pear-shaped” temple of All That Is Good And Holy.

So we’ll keep eating waffles. I’ll bandage my blistered toes. And we’ll leave Yoga Journal on the magazine rack

for someone else to buy.

 About Rachel Meyer

Rachel Meyer is a San Francisco-based writer and yoga teacher who believes in keeping things real. Someday she’ll actually finish that book manuscript she’s been avoiding. In the meantime, you can find further musings on yoga, meditation, and more at her literary practice mat, www.rawrach.com, or on her website at www.rachelmeyeryoga.com

Filed under: Or How About This? and Tagged:


  1. Jamie says:

    Check out my site for real yogi’s :)
    Loved your article.. Easy to be dissolutioned by the perfection..
    Physical & mental portrayed by commercial yoga sometimes.

  2. Brandi J. Waits says:

    Delightful posting! As a long time yogi (who long ago cancelled the membership to Yoga Journal). This article resonates with me! I still find solace and mental clarity on my yoga mat, alas, I don’t find it in the current vain of what yoga has become.

    • Rachel says:

      I agree, Brandi. My quiet, well-worn, simple mat continues to be a place of sanctuary from all the consumeristic “stuff” of the ever-growing yoga industry. Thanks for reading.

  3. P says:

    well said!
    i think we should boycott all magazines that are just promoting the physical beauty by putting pencil thin gymnasts on the cover, inside and throughout these supposed spiritually, evolving, intelligent compositions called yoga magazines with claims of what one can aspire to!
    this consistent barrage of “look what I can do” yoga poses that are incessantly proliferating every given space on facebook adorning fake smiles dulls me out and yet no substance of what they are doing to promote internal peace and external generosity towards mankind. this is a far cry from reality of what we need to see to feel we can are doing yoga!

    • Rachel says:

      Amen! I often think to myself, “More soul, less self.” I miss the substance and the content of previous incarnations of the magazine. Grateful for alternatives like RYogi, and the stellar community that has emerged here.

    • Megan says:

      Couldn’t agree more! I too was struck dumbfounded with YJ’s most recent edition. With something so powerful and healing and accepting as yoga is, it’s straight up insulting and infuriating that it’s being sold in the context that YJ has crafted it. Rather than filling those pages with substance and truth, the editors are choosing to print articles and pictures focused solely on physical appearance. So disappointing.
      And I certainly echo your frustration with social media, too! I started to notice all of this BS is infiltrating our yoga studios. One can only hope studios out there ARE teaching and spreading what yoga is, rather than repeating the vanity.

  4. Susan Wanmer says:

    Here here! Love this part about your baby ……..”He’s learning how to sit by himself, and falling forward into Paschimottanasana every time……”

    • Rachel says:

      Thanks, Susan. :) Yep, it’s a good thing he has such sweetly stretchy hamstrings, because he’s face-planting his shins every time. And then he just comes up smiling and tries again. Now that’s yoga. Gotta love it.

  5. Sarah Zapico says:

    Thank You! I read the same article and I was completely disgusted. Yoga isn’t about hiding oneself. Its about living with grace through happiness, hardship, and, Gods forbid… a size 18 yoga pant. Yoga Journal used to be a great resource for a healthy yoga practice but lately it looks like a stack of Lululemon ads. I’d cancel my subscription too but it comes free with my yoga liability insurance…

    • Rachel says:

      Thanks, Sarah! I called the insurance company and just asked them to cancel the YJ subscription when they renewed my insurance policy later this month. It’s actually tacked on as a separate package. Felt really liberating. And defiant. :)

  6. Toni says:

    Wow..really powerful to read, and my eyes filled with tears…I’ve been feeling that way for quite a while…thank you.

  7. Laura says:

    Beautifully said. I’ve unsubscribed from Yoga Journal (and most women’s magazines) for the same reason. One day it dawned on me that I don’t need a magazine perfect body to enjoy life. I’ve been enjoying life in this beautiful well worn body I’m already in. The only time I don’t enjoy life is when I’m reading these magazines.

  8. Nicole says:

    You know what yoga is? Your beautiful face with that beautiful baby wrapped up so closely to you. It doesn’t get better than that! Congratulations! This was an excellent piece and I so relate.

  9. Sophie Cleere says:

    Great! Yoga magazines have become just another avenue to sell women shit they don’t need and make them feel crap about themselves…who needs that?! X

    • Rachel says:

      I know, right?!? That’s why I think one of the most radical things we can do right now is to say: “Hey dude, I already have everything I need, right here, now, as I am.” No fancy pants necessary.

  10. Carrie Bloomston says:

    Awesome, awesome, awesome. Amen.

  11. lisa says:

    for the love of GOD: AT LEAST EAT ORGANIC WAFFLES!!!!!



    seriously, love the article and agree wholeheartedly. I’ll be 49 in a month and have been teaching yoga for nearly a decade. I used to see these articles and feel so intimidated…sometimes I wondered why people would want to take classes from me when I was so NOT perfect…imbalance in my legs from a bad car accident 33 yrs ago, cellulite, and generally NOT a teeny 20-something doing pony (yoga) tricks. Now I know that one reason people may like my classes is BECAUSE I am a flawed. real, and strong and flexible middle-aged woman (did I just say that?) who stills falls over in balance poses sometimes.

    Thanks for keeping it real…and for the record, i didn’t get off my ass from the time I got pregnant w my son until he was beginning kindergarten about 6 yrs and 9 months later. damn….he’ll be 25 in a month. you cherish your babies and breathe and stretch and eat dark chocolate almonds for breakfast. and enjoy every smile, dimple, breath, moment, and of course, every dark chocolate almond you choose to eat.

  12. Dale says:

    Why raise the child Hindu?

    • Rachel says:

      One river, many wells. It’s all yoga. I’m a Lutheran preacher’s kid. I studied progressive ecofeminist, queer, and body theologies. Taoism adds a love for simplicity and emptiness. Buddhism lends an awareness of impermanence and suffering. The trees and forests surrounding our home teem with the sacred, too. So he’ll grow up learning to recognize and offer thanks to the many faces of the divine (Hindu gods, too, yes), and to find the Oneness therein.

  13. Doroti says:

    YJ is generating such bad karma! To use the quest for truth and enlightment in such a twisted manner is sad. May they find their true calling anew.

  14. Barbara says:

    You are right, Rachel. I unsubscribed to YJ many years ago, because I thought it looked like an extension of Cosmopolitan with yoga poses. I also stopped going to yoga classes for the same reason.

  15. Nicole says:

    Where I currently live and practice yoga, many women end up getting ass implants to hide their dimples, one of whom was in front of me in class last night. Distracting to say the least, you can imagine how in the way a synthetic booty gets in paschimottanasana…I’ll stick with my dimples, thank you very much.

  16. Annie Gurton says:

    Well said! I have been ‘off the mat’ for about 15 months and feel so much more relaxed. My sciatica (from too much forward bending) has healed and I am keeping fit with walking, swimming and cycling. I am less competitive, less anxious about how I look in stretchy lycra, and altogether in a better place. I continue to be a yogini in my heart, acting and thinking in yogic ways, and do some quiet stretching in privacy, but the classes and the publications seem to promote the wrong side of yoga and are not for me anymore.

    • Rachel says:

      How ironic, Annie. That makes me sad. And yet, you are so clearly not alone. I too find myself less interested in attending classes and festivals and more drawn to the quiet unpretentious refuge that is my home practice. I don’t want to feel like it’s a performance!

  17. Sarah says:

    Great post. I loved this. Probably one of the best things on yoga i have read in ages. At present the yoga community seems to be buying into the commercialization of everything… create yet another way for people to feel inadequate. Nourishing contentment should be a much more important thing for yoga teachers to be doing right now than promoting body position comparison (we are a society in an epidemic of depression… little wonder really when even the yoga becomes an activity scrutinized from the outside as opposed to breathed from the inside…

  18. Shirley Mataya says:

    Boy howdy, you completly nailed this. Yoga is about what happens inside, not what you look like on the outside. Being who you truly are, not an image you want to portray. My dissatisfaction with YJ’s image vs. reality ….monumental. And altho I look forward to the home practice sequence, does it really have to be done in a bra and panties??!! I think not!! Thanks for the opportunity to express myself here, now I am going to take 3 cleansing breaths and plan my class for this evening. Namaste.

    • Rachel says:

      Thanks, Shirley! I hope you had a great class. One of my favorite definitions of yoga is that it is simply the process of learning to be real. YES. (No Photoshop necessary.)

  19. Nadine says:

    Now you can buy more Trader Joes peanut butter cups – the dark chocolate kind.

  20. Corena says:

    Now that was a breath of fresh air! And a great reminder to not worry about how I look when I go to class in order to feel like I belong there (because I’m no longer svelte like I was in my 20s and 30s) . It truly is a practice for the inside.

  21. Dana S says:

    Unfortunately, as with most things in this day and age, 2 deadly sins, vanity and greed, reign supreme.

    And as the spouse for 25 years of a 15 year yogini, I love the muffin top we created together and wouldn’t have her any other way. Au naturale, baby!

  22. Lauri Lumby says:

    I too have unsubscribed to Yoga Journal. I got tired of all the beautiful, skinny, mostly white women on the cover that were mostly half-naked. I got tired of ALL THE ADS for questionable supplements and “diet aids.” GRRRR. And the less than informative articles. Oh, yeah….and the constant fashion spreads of ridiculously overpriced yoga clothes. GRRRRR Yoga journal has nothing to do with yoga and everything to do with supporting American consumeristic greed. GROSS!

    • Rachel says:

      Yes, yes. The ads have been slowly killing me for months. The superficial lack of content didn’t help. And the product placement. But it was this issue that finally pushed me over the edge. Not my yoga. My yoga doesn’t need expensive pants or detox plans. It just needs breath and space.

  23. Tish says:

    Personally, I find it quite liberating to practice naked. You can’t hide from yourself, there’s nothing to cover you up. You’re open and honest and just plain REAL. If our imperfections are what makes us perfect, why should we be so concerned w/ covering them up?

  24. Joanne carter says:

    Lovely honest article. We need your voice.

  25. Lorraine Bell says:

    Wow, I am so relieved to read that so many people have decided to cancel their subscription to Y J. I have had it posted to me here in Australia for over 20 years and this year have not renewed my subscription as I feel the is so much in it now that is superficial., vain and self centered. A wonderful show of discernment by those who have cancelled

  26. Carrie says:

    So smart, and right on time. Thank you <3

  27. Beth says:

    Yep, it was the pose in high heels that put me over. Truthfully, YJ has just made me feel bad about myself and my practice ( or lack of) for a while now, I think I just kept hoping it would actually inspire me at some point. Lululemon and Hardtail ads, the serious lack of diversity in the models and now Hilaria Baldwin and ass dimples. I’m done. Thanks for the incredibly well-timed and well-written post.

    • Rachel says:

      Isn’t it tragic that a yoga magazine could make you feel crappy about yourself? You know something’s off when that’s the case. There’s a reason I haven’t bought a women’s magazine since I was 12. No thank you! I’ll take the original humble 1970s incarnation of YJ any day.

  28. Amita says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you dearest Rachel for writing this! I kid you not, but I was perusing through the latest Yoga Journal and all the adverts and the steps into vanity hit me like a ton of bricks…realizing that I will not be renewing the magazine, I feel so much more empowered. The beauty of yoga and teaching it are an amazing gift that I share with others…I don’t have the perfect body, nor am I looking for it…I am happy in my skin and don’t need a magazine that flaunts perfection in heels and skinny waist telling me otherwise. Wish I had some of those dark chocolate covered almonds to eat for my breakfast today, but, perhaps it’ll be a late night snack. Thank you again, yogini sister!

    • Rachel says:

      “The steps into vanity” — exactly. That’s what keeps breaking my heart. Yoga should cultivate the selflessness and ease that is the opposite of vanity. Thanks for your solidarity. I feel empowered, too.

      And I’d share some dark chocolate almonds, but I finished them last night. ;)

  29. Nancy says:

    Thanks for bringing light to this issue. About 5 years ago, I started to question myself. I was working as a massage therapist, teaching yoga, eating organic, taking herbs and practicing yoga every day. I wondered why I was bothered by “new agey” people. Sure that is my own stuff to work out. But I realized that what was bothersome was the inauthenticity of what has become another “scene”. So cheers to you for stepping out of that scene to honor your true nature!

    • Rachel says:

      Preach! Especially as a teacher, it can feel scary to step out of (or question) the ever-expanding scene. But boy, does it feel better to be authentic, even if it takes a little bravery. Thanks for getting it!

  30. Robyn says:

    I was so disheartened/disappointed/upset by this article, too! Thank you for your post.

  31. Holly says:

    This is so encouraging! I am a single mother of a 3-year-old. I’m 41, and we live with my parents, helping them with their health problems (both extensive, father with severe dementia). My daughter’s father passed away 10 months ago. I struggle daily with feelings of self-worth and body image problems.

    I have so much fun with my daughter, and work alongside my mother to do daily chores and even often enjoy very much what we’re doing. I recently began a regular yoga routine again after many years (and even more pounds). I swam a mile in a triathalon, ran a mile in a “fun run” and am working to have more energy and stamina. All the same, I am frustrated by the “image” of it all. I don’t even want to go to a public yoga class. I do all my yoga at home.

    What you say is so so encouraging, as I am truly straddling the fence between “screw it” and “I can do this.” Thank you!

    • Rachel says:

      Holly, you are a hero and a badass for just doing what you’re doing every day to stay afloat. Your life sounds like one big yoga practice. I commend you. You’ll have more wisdom and patience than any 22-year-old gymnast yoga model.

      Please keep trusting yourself to give yourself what you need. Maybe that’s a home practice. Maybe it’s just five minutes of sitting alone and not hustling.

      Thank you for inspiring. We are all in this together.

  32. Wendy Dakini says:

    The unfortunate part is that, yes, some unsuspecting person will buy Yoga Journal. I picked up a copy the other day and leafed through it and put it down in disgust 30 seconds later. It is false advertising to call most of what it contains “yoga” and is a sign of the sad state of affairs that yoga has become in modern America.

    • Rachel says:

      Pretty disappointing to see how the burgeoning yoga “industry” has turned it into a fairly unrecognizable scene, isn’t it? Capitalism. Sigh.

  33. Jill Campana says:

    You are my hero…or is it heroine? Whichever is more appropriate, I am beyond delighted that I found this blog post. I cancelled my subscription to YJ quite some time ago after sensing that what the writers of the articles wanted was to perfect the human body rather than enjoying perfection in the process, perfection in the moment, imperfect perfection. Thank you!!!

  34. Crystal DAmatoSteen says:

    I simply cannot thank you enough for this post. I feel exactly the same way.

  35. D.S. says:

    So glad to read this. I recently subscribed to. New kirtan magazine as that is my favorite form of practice. I was so shocked and saddened that well over half of it were huge ads of “beautiful” people doing gymnastic asanas on tropical beaches, promoting various VERY expensive yoga and meditation retreats in island paradises around the globe. I mean, really, $2500 for 4 days?? I can go do some sun salutations and pranayama in my local park! And so many ads for “healing” quackery – I’m quite open and supportive of natural therapies but these made me super incredulous.

    And what did all this have to do with kirtan anyway?

    I felt so let down. I thought I was going to be reading insightful articles about chanting and music as a spiritual path. Instead I just got a glossy eye-full of gross consumerism. I felt quite sick about it.

    It’s a shame what’s becoming of the western yoga world. I couldn’t afford to be a part of it even if I wanted to! Guess I’ll just keep sticking to the Hindu temples and learning to play my second-hand harmonium with its sticky keys. And I’m pretty ok with that!

  36. Mark macLeod says:

    Good for you. I’ve found each issue getting more and more meaningless. Think I will follow your lead

  37. Carly Friesen says:

    Lovely post. Good for you. I chose to ‘quit’ health and fitness magazines once I recognized that they were a trigger (among others) related to my disordered eating and self image. They are anything BUT healthy for me!

  38. Michelle says:

    I am a full time teacher and been thinking some of the same. I just sent email to cancel my subscription to YJ as well. Asked them to please refund me for remaining issues and to remove me from future mailings. Felt good to do it:) Thanks for your article.

  39. Ryan says:

    I’m surprised you found an article in YJ. I thought it was all advertising. Too bad it was an article in poor taste with nothing useful to talk about :(

  40. Guinevere Hilton says:

    So much love for this. Thank you for responding so eloquently … I run a project called My Real Yoga Body (https://www.facebook.com/myrealyogabody) and was tentative about stating why the lastest YJ issue was such a bummer (why? am I afraid of the yoga mafia???). I am sharing your post on our site.

    Thank you and OM!

    • VQ2 says:

      That’s the least you could do, in this case.

      This is dreadful.

      I’m not on Facebook or Instagram. Maybe it will get those selfie takers to finally find the middle path.

    • Rachel says:

      Thank you so much, Guinevere! I’m so inspired by your site. Populist and REAL. Way to go.

      We need more like you! Solidarity makes me less afraid of the yoga mafia, too. ;)

      • VQ2 says:

        Hardly populist at all! A lot of “larger” women, probably straining themselves, doing handstands and other challenging inversions. Without a wall.

        The #represent school of yoga will die down soon.

        Of course, I am not the only older, differently-abled person to spot this.

  41. Jenny says:

    I’m new to yoga (and 8 months pregnant) and for me yoga has been a place to celebrate my changing body and be proud of it. NOT worry that my butt looks too big or too flat in yoga pants.

    • Rachel says:

      Exactly, Jenny. Exactly. That’s what it should be.

      I’m writing as my 6 month old sleeps in my lap. I wish you ease and great joy with your upcoming babe. Motherhood will kick your butt and open your heart! :)

  42. Cheryl says:

    I used to refer to myself as an Un-Yogi. I love Yoga and have taught for many years, I was teaching in gyms and church basements, to real people. People of all ages, genders and each with their own challenges. I was told by ‘real’ yogis (they taught in studios) that it was too bad I didnt do real yoga…..and YJ did the same things on its pages. I think that YJ and the other publications that promote this flat, linear, one dimensional idea of Yoga ( young, white females, who can put their foot behind their ears, while wearing high heels) do the public a disservice. Lets represent what yoga really is, a personal practice, a commitment to ones own physical, mental emotional and spiritual journey. Your artical is beautiful, thank you for sharing it.

  43. VQ2 says:

    Why be so offended? Even in their more politically correct days, Jessica Berger Gross (author of EnLIGHTened), the original fat-phobic, crunchy, yuppie sizeism-apologist yogi had been a regular mom-blogger on their site.

    You guys should have seen it coming …

  44. Jessie Dwiggins says:

    Loved your perspective! “Wedge” is what got me and that we continue to compare women’s bodies with food. I am recovering from eating disorder, I have body image issues, that does not help me! I wrote a similar piece here: http://goo.gl/QFcyRl

    • VQ2 says:

      I’m now a proud Wedge (reduced precipitously down from an Apple), and now ready to kick yoga itself to the curb after all these years. But, damned if – were I STILL interested in today’s Type-A BS take on yoga – I would cover up/camouflage/proportion-out ANYTHING to be able to reserve my right to carry my yoga mat and plunk it down in a New York City yoga class.

  45. Gabriela says:

    Well said… Could not believe the “cover your flaws” phrase!! Isn’t that the least important thing to yoga? I’m not a YJ subscriber because I live outside the US but I always wanted to be one. Nowadays, I’ve been hearing more and more about this kind of things from YJ. I am a mother of a beautiful 2 year old kid, yes my mat is crowded when I practice at home since he loves to be my yogui-buddie and practice along. I am just getting back in shape but not for vanity but as a desire to be strong for my kid, to be in the zone when he needs me and also, because I love yoga for the emotional, phisical and spiritual effects it has on me. Loved your description of everything you want your kid to learn… Isn’t that what really matters to yoga? We need more voices like you. Like the #realyogaselfie project and all these voices that want yoga to be known for what truly is.

  46. Rebecca Kellerman says:

    Hi Rachel,
    LOVED your article. You should look up a teacher named Chandra Om. She was offered the cover of yoga journal twice and turned it down (for other reasons I’ve heard) but based on what you wrote you’d probably love her teachings! Namaste!

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  48. Chelsea says:

    Yogis being reduced to fruit-shapes was the end of my rope.
    I cancelled my subscription.

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  50. Donna says:

    “I’m wearing old black tutu-leggings with a hole in the crotch; my peeling, calloused feet haven’t had a pedicure since January; I ate 27 dark-chocolate-covered almonds from Trader Joe’s for breakfast (after finishing the peanut butter cups first), and my bare face is blotchy with postpartum rosacea.”

    You sound just beautiful. I’m being completely serious. No sarcasm. You sound absolutely beautiful; real, imperfect, human and utterly beautiful.

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  52. Brent says:

    I get that YJ is simply doing what they need to do to compete with the countless other glossy magazines they share shelf space with. They are a business. Where the irony comes in, is when you remember that one of the reasons YJ used to so attractive is they did not seem to feel they had to compete with the others…they did their own thing, wrote about what mattered to them / their readers, and they owned it, making them an appealing magazine to be able to turn to in the white noise of yoga magazines that look more like Vogue or Glamour. Unfortunately for YJ, this is the very definition of cutting off your nose to spite your face :-)

  53. Zo Newell says:

    You had me at “black tu-tu leggings with a hole in the crotch”, if not before.

  54. bellyfat says:

    I felt disappointed, because I’ve written a few pieces for YJ in the past and have always felt proud of finding a market for intelligent mindful writing amidst the glossy rags.

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