Yoga in the movies

If I knew nothing of yoga before this weekend, I would believe yoga to be nothing more than an oversexed version of Pilates. Why? Because I went to the movies, twice, to see “Valentine’s Day” and “Couples Retreat”. Both movies included yoga, and both made me cringe.

In the latter, yoga is something that scantily-clad, flirtatious women do outside to impress a macho football star. They weren’t so much doing asanas as just shoving their naked hips in his direction and stretching to show off their bare midriffs.

In the former, a yoga teacher is a total pervy-Fabio-type who can’t – or just doesn’t bother to – discern between a yoga adjustment and a sensual touch, and “spanks” his participants as a form of encouragement (and later drinks with them).

In fact, the most accurate “yoga” moment in either of the movies was in “Valentine’s Day” when the 5th grader’s nanny told him to calm his anxiety by “doing that breathing thing I taught you”, at which point the little boy starts Chandra Bheda, or cooling single nostril breathing (through his left nostril, opening the passive side of the body).

What do you think about the way Hollywood illustrates yoga? Is it enough to make you shudder, or am I taking it too seriously? Surely people realize that’s not what yoga is like, just like the movie is not what life is like, right? Right?



7 responses to “Yoga in the movies

  1. I certainly cringed hearing about those movies! As both a yoga teacher and massage therapist, I cringe every time I see a movie elude to ‘happy endings.’ Massage therapy is a licensed health care profession in most states, but we still have public confusion. I don’t know if that means licensure (in whatever form it would take) would help or hurt yoga’s public image. Both professions are very physical and you have to (egads!) touch people. So I don’t know what it will take for some in our society to stop equating touch with sex.

  2. I haven’t seen either of those movies, but I am sure they will further perpetuate peoples misconceptions of yoga. Very sad! I am amazed at the number of people who have never tried yoga, and if you haven’t tried it, why wouldn’t you have that thought after watching such a movie?

    Great post, Jamie. Hope you are well! I really appreciate the connection ;-))

  3. Hi Jamie, just found your blog and I have to say, I really like your approach of yoga, thanks for sharing!
    I haven’t seen these two movies, I don’t even know if they’re out yet over here in Europe, but yes it is sad, and I don’t know what people who don’t practice yoga will think after seeing this…

  4. I did notice the “Couples Retreat” massage scene as well. There are lots of professions misrepresented in movies, not just yoga. But that doesn’t mean it’s not wrong! : )

    Thanks for reading, everyone!

  5. Have you noticed the Crest commercial where he challenges his girlfriend/wife that if her breath is still fresh after the movie, he gets to go to Vegas with his buddies. And she says if it’s not and she wins, then he has to go to yoga with her. I just love that guy’s face when he says, “I love yoga.” :)

  6. There’s a genuinely funny and fairly accurate (IMO, on both counts) portrayal of yoga in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. But I agree that overall it’s not exactly accurately represented on film.

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