Naked Yoga Ads Stir Controversy

ToeSox naked yoga ad
Photo via ToeSox.com

I like to think I’m somewhat on top of the different types of accessories and props needed in yoga. I am a yoga teacher, after all. But somehow, I missed out on ToeSox, until recently. It seems that the ToeSox company along with their yoga model Kathryn Budig are right in the middle of a heated debate over the placement of controversial ads in the September issue of Yoga Journal.  The ads have grabbed a lot of attention and have shocked some yogis right out of their socks.

Everyone is talking about the ToeSox ads after Judith Lasater, one of the Yoga Journal original founders, publicly criticized Yoga Journal for running the ad campaign in a letter to the editor. Lasater’s acclaim and accomplishments in the field of teaching yoga are deep, wide and strong. Being one of the Yoga Journal original founders as well as the author of eight books (the most recent being “What We Say Matters”), Lasater teaches countless workshops, trainings and classes. Lasater, clearly, let her feelings be known publicly in her letter to the Yoga Journal editor. She writes:

I am confused because I do not understand how photos of naked or half-naked
women are connected with the sale of practice products for asana, an important
part of yoga. These pictures do not teach the viewer about yoga practice or
themselves. They aren’t even about the celebration of the beauty of the human
body or the beauty of the poses, which I support.

There are, of course, two sides to every story.

There’s the Kathryn Budig, (an up and coming yoga star) side for starters. However, the issue isn’t with Budig, exactly, it’s with the ToeSox ad where she’s wearing…well…nothing…except ToeSox.  Actually, there are several ads, all of Budig, all in complex yoga poses wearing only the ToeSox.

Now, Budig didn’t just arrive on the yoga scene yesterday. She’s quite accomplished and has been featured in and works regularly with Yoga Journal. She writes for The Huffington Post and The Elephant Journal. She’s a sought after yoga teacher, leads yoga teacher trainings through Yoga Posers and is co-founder with Jesse Schein of Poses for Paws an organization dedicated to raising money for animal shelters through yoga.

The ToeSox company is in the Budig corner and they are sticking with the “this is ART, people” mantra. It is, after all, THEIR advertising campaign. I mean, you’d hope they would stick by Budig. They left a thorough rebuttal to Lasater’s letter on their Facebook page.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, we have a three-ring philosophical circus with opinions flying left and right.

It’s a rough topic of conversation. Are we selling out or possibly more importantly, are our go to resources selling out? Is it all about the almighty bottom line? Sex does, after all, sell. What, exactly are we doing here?

Maybe Yoga Darla got it right from over at Darla Teaches Yoga. She said, “We don’t need sex to sell yoga.  But apparently we need sex to sell silly yoga products. Maybe Yoga Journal will be off my renew list this time.  It’s become less about yoga and more about “yoga cool”.”

I’m not saying one side is right and the other is wrong. In fact, the only thing I’m sure of is those photos have been photoshopped. I mean, look at her… no one can be THAT perfect….sigh…right???

Comments 5

  1. The ads are beautiful! They have been around at least a year and I find them inspirational. It makes me sad that yoga folks are appearing so narrow minded. If yoga people cannot accept the naked human form, then who on earth can?!

  2. I think that the ads represent a part of the media that many are trying to get away from, that part is sex sells. I personally find the ads unnecessary. If the product can’t stand on it’s own merit, then a beautiful naked lady probably can’t help in the long run.

  3. Perhaps what is stirring the controversy is the deeply rooted notion that Yoga is not about having a perfect body – it is about maintaining Perfect Peace.

  4. ToeSox is trying to sell their product. Yes, they’re pushing the boundaries, but only in an uptight society. The socks are the focus of the add, so logically there should be no other clothing. I’m neither offended nor excited by the ads. It seems like much ado about nothing. Really, there are more troubling things happening in this world.

  5. I always thought that yoga is practiced in bare feet, usually with some clothes on. Wearing socks while naked doing yoga is a bit peculliar.

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