Yoga’s Instagram Provocateur
June 1, 2019 2:16 PM   Subscribe

You cannot swing a cat (pose) on Instagram without hitting photographs of yoga instructors with perfect figures twisted into perfect shapes, selling essential oils and greeting-card spirituality. Alex Auder is not one of them.

From the New York Times style section Ms. Auder, 48, is something of a yoga auteur, sharing homemade videos that are more performance art than content. In them she satirizes, mocks and sometimes fillets the wellness industry, its relentless marketing and “the commodification of yoga,” as Ms. Auder calls it.
posted by waving (19 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
this is fun. I have a good friend who owns a Pilates/Yoga studio. She's got a degree in exercise/physiology and runs the Pilates, but yoga sells and she enjoys it as a soothing activity with (sure) health benefits. But she delegates the hiring of new yoga instructors, because she couldn't take sitting thru trial classes with insane people anymore. She let's a yogi she trusts do it, ever since that time she burst into laughter part way thru a trial practice and had to leave the room.
posted by es_de_bah at 2:27 PM on June 1 [13 favorites]

Is there a link that doesn't require me to sign up to view it, because the first instagram link does as far as I can tell.
posted by Rufous-headed Towhee heehee at 2:42 PM on June 1 [1 favorite]

there's a little X to close the sign up window in the upper right corner
posted by poffin boffin at 2:54 PM on June 1

I gotta say I found this a little like a hall of mirrors. I mean I find all the......stuff, around yoga and the broader instagram phenomena to be scarily empty and obsessed, but I found it weird that I was looking at an article about a performance artist critical of people doing yoga wrong and just for the....whatever you call the "look at me" thing...while at the same time the pictures in the article are of a society do and feature higher status "hip" people, and much is made of her authentic Chelsea Hotel childhood.
posted by Pembquist at 3:13 PM on June 1 [14 favorites]

Yeah, the cynical side of me thinks that she's just the highbrow version of the white-woman yoga-appropriation industry. She's celebrity-adjacent to cooler celebrities than the instagram wellness influencers are, so she allows her fans to think that they're doing something totally different and much superior to what those crass, bougie yoga fans are doing. But it's all basically the same thing.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 3:58 PM on June 1 [8 favorites]

there is no appropriation* when it comes to yoga. It's fabricated 'new-age' marketing on quasi Indian practices. It's not bad, but it sure ain't ancient or worldly.

*new. it's always been fake from both sides. Like American Chinese food: it's not bad...but don't try and apply authenticity to it.
posted by es_de_bah at 5:55 PM on June 1 [9 favorites]

The family moved into a bedroom in a townhouse owned by the photographer Annie Leibovitz, for whom Ms. Auder became a daily private instructor. The mattress-on-the-floor family bedroom doubled as an underground studio, where Ms. Auder taught to private clients like Anohni and Parker Posey. She also did private home sessions with clients including Uma Thurman, Harvey Keitel and Maggie Gyllenhaal.

I love the Style section version of "authenticity".
posted by betweenthebars at 6:01 PM on June 1 [15 favorites]

The commodification of yoga? Isn't this a couple of decades late to be talking about this?
posted by kozad at 7:07 PM on June 1 [3 favorites]

Oh, like clicking cracked pixelated glass.
posted by clavdivs at 7:58 PM on June 1

Gaby Hoffman’s sister caught the NYT’s attention.
posted by Ideefixe at 9:50 PM on June 1

I feel...confused about this. Yeah, she’s right that rosemary essential oil isn’t going to fix people’s problems is they can’t afford healthcare or essential oils. But I also feel like she’s missing out that there are a lot of people already disrupting yoga. So I’m not impressed by her satirizing some kind of sadistic yoga teacher peddling essential oils when there’s plenty of people out there who are teaching yoga in all the ways she wants to see in the world (presumably, though her whole Instagram feed seems to feature lithe able-bodied white people and it feels less satirical the harder I look). And Instagram makes it really easy to find people doing cool shit while teaching yoga. My entire friend group in Portland is thanks to me finding a yoga teacher on Instagram who looked interesting, going to her classes, and making friends from there.

Fat yoga; accessible yoga for those with physical limitations; yoga taught for and by people of color; queer yoga; yoga for trauma; affordable yoga. That’s easy to find on Instagram, it’s hard to say if I’m not seeing the really atrocious bullshit influencer yoga shit because of my algorithm but it honestly seems like she and the NYT don’t realize that no one needs to “cling to the last vestiges of yoga’s counterculture roots” — the counterculture is alive and well and it’s on social media. And Alex just ain’t the voice of the counterculture.

I apologize for the negativity but I really don’t get her schtick and god I love to hate the NYT Style section. To me this seems like a project from a rich conventionally attractive white lady amusing herself by making people like her chuckle and tell themselves that they’re also one of the good conventionally attractive white ladies doing yoga because they follow this “rabble-rouser” on Instagram.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 10:25 PM on June 1 [20 favorites]

These jokes are not good jokes?
posted by Gin and Broadband at 1:33 AM on June 2 [2 favorites]

She let's a yogi she trusts do it

Calling people who do or even teach yoga "yogis" makes me cringe so much.....I suppose I can't do anything to stop it of course
posted by thelonius at 1:37 AM on June 2 [2 favorites]

yoga taught for and by people of color

I gotta say, we have fallen into the abyss when the people who invented yoga are perceived as "disrupting" yoga.

there is no appropriation* when it comes to yoga. It's fabricated 'new-age' marketing on quasi Indian practices. It's not bad, but it sure ain't ancient or worldly.

Am I perhaps misunderstanding this statement? Because yoga isn't "quasi Indian" anything -- it's a deeply religious practice from about 1000 BCE (if not before) that aims to unite the imperfect human body and soul with the Divine. More akin to, I don't know, taking communion, than Pilates. Yes, it has been appropriated by skinny white chicks in the last 20-odd years, and yes, that's gross.

I have no idea who this lady is or what her shtick is supposed to represent, but scrolling through her IG feed doesn't feel like satire to me.
posted by basalganglia at 4:40 AM on June 2 [6 favorites]

Yeah and I can’t decide if her political posts are terrible satire or just terrible. Yeeeesh.
posted by lazaruslong at 8:12 AM on June 2 [1 favorite]

Is 6k followers on IG the kind of popularity that warrants news coverage?
posted by Selena777 at 9:05 AM on June 2 [2 favorites]

More akin to, I don't know, taking communion, than Pilates

The history of what people practice as "yoga" in the US is complicated
posted by thelonius at 9:21 AM on June 2 [6 favorites]

I gotta say, we have fallen into the abyss when the people who invented yoga are perceived as "disrupting" yoga.

You are totally correct. I apologize for not acknowledging that, when I was typing that I had in mind Jessamyn Stanley, who is Black, and meant that her popularity is disrupting the typical American yoga experience, which has been very white. I should have been clearer.

To further clarify, my entire comment was about the disruptors of the “typical American experience” which is what Alex purports to be satirizing.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 11:57 AM on June 2 [2 favorites]

A lot of white folks don't understand that "satire" doesn't mean "I mean what I'm saying but I wink while doing it"
posted by zerolives at 7:31 PM on June 5

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