Yoga in Popular Media

The depiction of yoga in popular media.

Like Comment

If you can find ten minutes to read this article today, we feel it would be time extremely well spent. It addresses the fact that as yoga’s utilisation and representation within popular media continues to grow, it is equally important to begin dissecting and discerning appropriate media depictions.

Media images have been shown by multiple research studies to have the potential to significantly impact our lives, particularly in terms of providing a potential yardstick for us to measure ourselves against. Sadly, Western images often display homogeneous notions of what it is to be a yoga practitioner: most commonly female, Caucasian. slim, toned and able to do a seemingly impossible range of complex poses. Yoga, rather, is available to everybody and every body, with the asanas being but one element of the practice of yoga as a whole.

The three authors of this piece make their point well. They explain, 'Unfortunately, the dominant perceptions of yoga in the Western world restrict yoga’s utility, by only promoting the physical and breathing practices. Limited media representations essentially dismiss other, equally beneficial, practices that are encompassed by this ancient practice, the full range of which include: ethical life practices (yamas), personal observances (niyamas), postural practices (asana), breathing practices (pranayama), sense withdrawal (pratyahara), concentration (dharana), meditation (dhyana), and absorption (Samadhi; Satchidananda, 2003)'.

In response, research and clinical team have established several general guidelines regarding media portrayal that they believe would help increase access to and desire for this valuable practice. They state that their recommendations would also better serve current practitioners by presenting images of a safer and more adaptive practice. To read the full guidelines, please click on the link below.


Heather Mason

Founder of the Minded Institute, The Minded Institute

Heather Mason is a leader in the field of mind-body therapy and the founder of Yoga Therapy for the Mind. She develops innovative methods for mental health treatment drawing on her robust educational background including an MA in Psychotherapy, an MA in Buddhist Studies, studies in Neuroscience and a current MSc in Medical Physiology.. She is also a 500 RYT, a yoga therapist and an MBCT facilitator. Heather offers various professional trainings for yoga teachers, healthcare professionals and therapists, lectures around the world, and delivers training to medical students. She also develops protocols for different client populations by translating cutting edge research from the psycho-biology and neuro-biology of stress into yoga practices, breathwork, mindfulness interventions and therapeutic holding. Further she is involved in research on the efficacy of these practices, holds the annual UK yoga therapy conference and is blazing the trail for the integration of yoga therapy into the NHS