Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Beating a Dead Horse...

...cuz I'm nerdly that way, I wanted to draw your attention to a study released earlier this month. A group of marketing prof.s writing in the Journal for Consumer Research, observed that looking at an advertisement of a beauty or fashion product caused female undergraduates to have a negative view of themselves afterwards. However, looking at a picture of makeup or high-heeled shoes outside of the context of an ad did not affect the viewers' self-esteem. They suggest that the fact that the item is featured in an ad may be a message in itself--this picture is to remind you that you should buy this product because of your lack of smooth skin, thick lashes, etc.

This study didn't consider ads featuring the human body, but it isn't much of a stretch to consider the implications when looking at an image of an impossibly thin and flexible body doing, say, a difficult arm balance. Especially in the context of selling something. Those that argue that this kind of imagery is empowering and uplifting may want to think again.

I'm just sayin'...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Man with the Child in his Eyes

My Goodness, it's almost been a month since last I wrote. I guess that's what happens when many final projects and final finals converge. Still, the last thing got handed in yesterday, so here I am. Whew.

Last week, I decided to mix it up a bit in class. Usually we work our way up to a pose, moving through a variety of preparations, so the final asana comes easily and with grace (for the most part). On Thursday night, I switched the order, so we moved from Sun Salutes into standing poses right away, and then came to the floor for forward bends, etc. It was a nice change, and we were so chill by the time savasana rolled around, the room was completely silent for 10 minutes. No rustling, adjusting or shifting...just release.

When we finally came up and opened our eyes from namaste I was struck, in particular, by how much one of my students looked like his 5-yr-old daughter. Startlingly so . And I got to thinking, I wonder if we all have a moment
at the end of class when a shadow of our young selves passes across our faces . Brows soft, jaws released, cheeks plump from lying down, awareness in the present moment. Yoga as Time Machine.

And there might be something to that. A NYT article a couple weeks back describe the achievements of a 91-yr-old Canadian, Olga Kotelko, who holds 23 Masters Records in track-and-field events. Exercise physiologists are studying her closely to see what it is about her body that allows her to continue to exercise with such intensity. More and more evidence demonstrates that regular exercise into one's 70s and 80s can have a significant effect on cellular health (the mitochondria, to be specific)(Question #3 on the Human Bio exam) and slow the inevitable deterioration of the muscles and joints. These are all studies on aerobic exercise, but I wouldn't be surprised if the same thing was learned about yoga.

See what you see after your next class. Watch your face, and others' when you finish. Then go home and look at your baby book or or class pictures. Freaky.

*cue Dr. Who theme music*