Tuesday, July 11, 2017


For the life of me I can't understand why an artist would practice yoga. Actually, I can't understand why anyone at all would practice it. It's an awful lot of work and what do you get for it? You get to be rubbery. Since when was being rubbery so special?

What really needs to be explained to me is why artists would be interested in it. Am I the only one who's noticed that yoga poses are ugly? Why would an artist try to cultivate ugliness? We're the people who are supposed to make the world more beautiful!

Honestly, I think yoga goes out of its way to be ugly. Ugly poses occur far too frequently to be caused by random chance.

Even traditional Indian art ignores yoga. The dancing Shiva is beautiful by any standard and the Kama Sutra is informed by something resembling yoga but not dominated by it. I know nothing about Indian history but I'll hazard a guess that yoga came to India fairly recently, maybe only a few centuries ago.

India must have had a charismatic Richard Simmons-type who convinced everybody to dispose of tradition and adopt ugliness instead. Who WAS this malevolent person? Why would he do such a thing? Why did people listen to him?

Yoga not only violates traditional Western ideas of beauty, it flies in the face of an international consensus. Everywhere you go outside of India the people have developed some kind of aesthetic fitness training.

Whether it's hula or karate or tai-chi or hip-hop, the moves are all intended to be beautiful. Only yoga defies the aesthetic standard. OK, that's my take on it. I'm going to get a sandwich.

BTW: DJ, a long time yoga practitioner, wrote a thoughtful comment to this post which is worth reading. He says yoga has roots that are at least 4,500 years old.  Give it a read!


Kali Fontecchio said...

Eddie- you need to change the time stamp on this post so that it's today and not yesterday- that's why it's below your last post!

Jenny Lerew said...

What's this? A sudden aversion to ugliness? I thought you loooooved "ugly"? Ugly is funny, no? So what's wrong with yoga?
Hmmm...you just haven't watched the right practitioners.
Anyway, it's good for you. No, I can't go against stretching. ; )

Benjamin De Schrijver said...

I doubt yoga is only a few centuries old. What we call yoga is only a part of a part of what is yoga, and that's basically a religious/spiritual movement. Some of its "sub-groups" did the physical yoga, and in the West they only took that (often) without the spiritual aspect.

I have never practiced this myself, but as I understand it, it keeps you fit and keeps your body "in balance" without having to do all the effort martial artists for example do.

Anonymous said...

Flexibility, shmexibility, No man should ever pose like that, for any reason.

M said...

My theory is that any pose that requires a lot of effort requires a lot of strength, ergo you must exert yourself to achieve it and thus you become stronger. The same thing happens with weight lifting: it works because the heavier the burden the more you have to pull hard and therefore the stronger you get. These yoga poses are really hard and people can get very strong if they persevere. On the same "ugly" subject have you noticed how it's near impossible to sing opera and look beautiful? You can look beautiful in between singing, but not while you're at it. Why?

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Kali: Thanks for mentioning that! But how do you change the time stamp? On my browser it only appears on Blogger's edit menu and the date there can't be deleted or changed.

Benjamin: You may be right about yoga's history. I made a guess based only on a hunch.

Jenny: The examples in the pictures go way beyond stretching. You're probably thinking of the North American version of fitness yoga which nobody in India would proably recognize.

Mariana: Maria Callas was good looking but I know what you mean. Opera singers do tend to be fat. I just assumed that the extra weight helped the singing.

I saw Melchior put on a girdle during an interview and I've never been able to think of him the same way since.

Lester Hunt said...

Eddie, I think Mariana meant that it's near-impossible to look beautiful while emitting those auditorium-filling sounds. And she's right. The best opera movies, like the immortal "Tales of Hoffman," are filmed without singing, with the sound added later, for that reason.

Gabriel said...

Maybe being rubbery was good in the rubber hose days.
Jenny, a funny thing about yoga beside it's ugliness is that it makes people lose control of their farts. I've witnessed things...
Ben is probably right about it being old and about the subgroups. I think the most famous physical yoga is called hatha yoga.

M said...

Ooh, I'm not talking about their physique in repose. I'm talking about the facial expressions they make while they sing. I've seen pop or rock singers not making ugly faces as they sing, but the most beautiful person in the world, when he or she is singing opera, does the most ghastly faces!

jiowfojieoij said...


Anonymous said...

try laughing yoga, ce beau


Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Mariana: Interesting!

Oliver: A skateboard store?

Muse: Very scary!!!!!

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Lester: Tales of Hoffman? I don't think I've seen it. I'll look out for it.

I got the American cities book you recommended but haven't read it yet. It really could have used some pictures. Why would anybody write a book about visual things and leave out pictures?

Lester Hunt said...

Eddie, In case there is any ambiguity, the "Hoffman" film I mean is the Powell/Pressburger 1951 classic. The DVD has a charming documentary about how it was the favorite film of both George Romero and Marty Scorsese when they were teenagers in Manhattan.

Yes it is curious that Jane Jacobs' book doesn't have any pictures. That's the gripe I always have about Paul Johnson's books. Never any pics. (Exc. for his history of art -- thank God for that!).

Anonymous said...

Certain yoga poses, like "The Breath of Fire" lend themselves to profuse farting, primarily in obese practitioners. Can't believe Leni Riefenstahl missed filming that underwater.

Conrad Vernon said...

Hey Eddie,
Conrad Vernon here. Those guys look like an in-between in a Clampett cartoon. That's what's so great about being rubbery. Great blog, it is now linked to mine.

Anand said...

What is Yoga... http://youtube.com/watch?v=CuZWTTMX5YE

guess u should learn more about it before passing judgements lol ....

DJ said...

Well, True that those photos look like ugly poses, but yoga has some wonderful poses. May be its the upbringing and the sense of beauty that differ between east and west, but when I think of peace, stability, wisdom, intelligence, kindness, mildness, gentleness, my mind throws up excellent poses of yogis sitting. Also, the west, as benjamin said, recieved only part of the teachings widely. It is to attain a state of purity in the body. Psychology says that certain tendencies and inhibitions during our childhood years, lead to particular "hunches" in our nervous and muscular systems, excitement of whom, brings back the inhibitions in the form of phobias. (I guess animated stereo-type shapes have something to do with this). A sound mind helps balance the body and a sound body helps achieving a balanced mind.

Yoga, by the way, means "State of being" or "state of merging". There are literally hundreds of Yogas. Devotion is a yoga(Bhakti yoga). Rational thinking is a yoga (Jnana yoga). Like that there are many yogas. Some yogas emphasize getting sound mind first. Others emphasize on getting a sound body first and then getting a sound mind because of purity of body (and so the body being healthy, doesn't distract the mind but help it function clearly).

Hatha Yoga is the prime of such yogas which concentrates on purifying the body. It includes "purity in food", "purity in action", "purity in rest" and "purity in pose". And among all these parts, what you see in the west are mostly "warm up exercises" and "therapeutic exercises" that help relieve those "hunches of inhibition". The other parts are missing mostly!

Yoga poses (many of them) might look ugly while in the pose, but give a very healthy, great looking body as a result. I personally know a person who drinks 4 liters of clarified butter a day and stays in perfect shape because he practices yoga. He is currently dedicated his life to Yoga. These type of things are rare in the west, which is a pity. The world is different when you are at the right place at the right time!

Now, how will it help artists? As I said, yoga relieves inhibitions, makes bodies and minds active, sharp reflexes and improves sense of observation. But it works ONLY WHEN LEARNT FROM AN ADEPT, not someone who teaches warm-up exercises. Thats why, those who actually KNOW yoga, recommend Kung-fu to common people who don't have access to an Adept in Yoga. Kung-fu incorporates breathing, body-movement regulation, posture resetting, improving mind body connection and coordination, relieves hormonal tension and so on. This of course, doesn't travel to the west at all! Many Yogis actually prescribe Kungfu along with Basic yogic exercises of posture, which can be learned from manuals.

On a last note, Yoga is not something recent. Usage of body posture to control and improve mind is described in RigVeda (dating back to 4500 BC) as "Anganyasa Karanyasa". Several adaptations have occurred through out the centuries. There are some recent ones like "power yoga" which ofcourse completely misses the point.

How do I know? I practice it everyday and have done so for almost 24 years now, and yes, I learnt from an ADEPT and am still learning.

Enough rambling. Great blog on animation! Thanks uncle eddie!


Eddie Fitzgerald said...

DJ: Many thanks for the thoughtful comment! I admit I could be wrong. After all, it's a subject I know next to nothing about. I'll leave the post as it is, which includes historical conjecture which may be in error, but I'll refer readers to your comment. Thanks again!