Bodies As Ad Space


Yesterday I listened to J. Brown Yoga’s interview with famous Ashtanga teacher Kino Yoga, in which she references the notion of “bodies as ad space,” with regard to some recent legal drama over yoga content and branding. The phrase left me sick to my stomach. I’m still thinking of it 24 hours later.

“Bodies as ad space.” Ohh Lordy. Yoga teachers: is your body your brand? To whom are you subletting precious bone-and-sinew ad space — lululemon? Alo Yoga?

To be frank: I love Instagram, but its emphasis on personal branding and embedded advertising make me ill. F**k #influencers. Just be you, just do you, without the need to subtly push a product at the same time — especially if that product is YOURSELF.

I want to believe that you can still be a mystic and a philosopher and a monastic in this modern-day yoga world. You can be more Henry David Thoreau than Kim Kardashian. You can spend more time reading ancient texts than doing photo shoots. Your body, your teaching, your words do not have to be commodities. Your brand doesn’t have to be more important than your brain. You don’t have to slap a logo on your chest in order to be legit, or to pay your bills.

There is something holy about living your life quietly, doing your work humbly, without having to sell your body as ad space in the process. You are so much more than a brand. Don’t relinquish your personal power in exchange for some free clothes.

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