Blast from the Past…And Back to the Future

Happy finals week, fellow bloggers! I survived a weekend of more studying and more academic writing, handed in a monster of a paper (22 pages!) Thursday morning, and rocked (ehh…) a final this afternoon, so I feel pretty light, relieved, and confident that I can hack the remaining of my undergraduate college career.  If I can apply a beast of a rhetorical theory from two German philosophers to the commoditization of black culture in the branding of Ben’s Chili Bowl, then I can certainly handle what this week has in store for me.

As a testament to my blood, sweat, and tears of the past few, laborious days, here is a snippet of a project/paper I completed last week. In my Visual Rhetoric class, a class composed of several of our fellow bloggers by the way (I’m blogging about it, Michael!), I wrote a paper on images of yoga tapes and DVDs from the 1990s and from 2010. Basically, I explored the ways these images portrayed the practice of yoga and shattered or reinforced common misconceptions of yoga.

Check out one image from my set of the older generation of yoga instructors. Note the unsaturated colors, the minimal background, and the way Jane Fonda looks at us. How do these elements affect the way we view yoga?


Now check out my yoga DVD cover from 2010. Notice the vibrant, saturated colors, the articulated background, and dominant, sexy gaze of Tara Stiles. How do these elements affect the way we view yoga?


I concluded that images from the 1990s portray yoga as a serious practice that unites the body/mind & market yoga as a way to improve health from the inside-out, while images from 2010 portray yoga as a sensual, visceral regimen that helps us physically emulate the featured instructors. Basically, as yoga became more mainstream, marketers really sexed up the images on yoga DVDs changed: the colors popped, the clothes came off, and the lips parted.

Sex sells, people. While I seethe at the thought of people thinking that they have to weigh under 100 lbs and and twist into a Karma Sutra pose to rock a yoga mat, I say that however the world can attract more people to yoga and discover what it’s really about is fine by me.


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