The Yoga of “50 Shades of Grey”

My bookshelf is an interesting place-I am a pretty voracious reader and usually switch between books with deep subjects (yoga philosophy and work content) and juicy fluff.

Last week, as I headed to the East Coast to visit friends and family, I was also doing my home-study for my new job.  On the 6 hour flight and several hours everyday while on my trip, I was studying interesting (but pretty intense) content on cancer.  T-cells, phagocytosis, and the effects of chemotherapy filled the pages of the content I was reading.  And, while interesting, my brain needed a break.

My East Coast running friends were all talking about this book “50 Shades of Grey” and calling it “Mommy Porn”.

After walking past bookstore after bookstore  (yes, they still have those!) advertising this book-I plunked down $15.95 and bought it.

I opened the cover expecting boring, PG, vanilla content but damn was I surprised!

The book outlines a romanticized relationship between a young virgin and a wealthy man (pretty typical Harlequin stuff) but it also touches upon something unexpected…..

One chapter in, the book starts to outline a damsel in distress being seduced by a Dominant who immediately shows her his “Red Room of Pain” complete with floggers and nipple clamps.

This is for housewives???

I finished the book in 3 days (interdispersed with studying cancer therapy) and received raised eyebrows from people in the coffeeshops where I studied.

Finally, at a pre-Mother’s Day happy hour at a local winery, the discussion turned to “50 Shades of Grey”.

ALL of the women secretly wanted to get it especially the ones who feigned shock (then later cornered me to grill me about it).

And, I realized I’m a bit of a snob about my liberal San Francisco and our open attitudes regarding sex.  It never occured to me that my hometown friends would understand, let alone LIKE, more complicated sexual practices.

Then, I realized, maybe it’s not about the sex after all.

In the book, the powerful Dominant man insists on controlling the young woman’s activities-from what she eats to how much she sleeps to what she’s wearing.  In fact, he becomes borderline stalker-(flying across the country to check up on her when she’s non responsive to his calls).

Like most romantic novels, it gets over-the-top ridiculous (the millionaire male lead has his own helicoper, jet and is a classical pianist!?!?).  But, it DOES touch upon a fantasy for most women-to be desired and worshipped.  And, in the BDSM scenes, it strikes upon the primal need for all of us to be SEEN and taken care of.

So, maybe it’s a universal fantasy that we ALL have -housewife and urbanite alike.  Maybe the need to have someone truly SEE us and pay attention to our every movement is something we all need to feel alive and attended to.

And, maybe it’s like the yoga practice.

I know it’s a stretch (raunchy romance novels having something in common with a spiritual practice?!?!)

But, think about it, in the yoga room we are letting go:  allowing someone else to direct how we move, breathe and feel.  We trust someone to watch over us and care for us and our well-being.  For the hour and a half to 2 hours we are in that room, we give over control.

So, for both urbanites trying to escape the constant onslaught of city life to housewives yearning for a release, we are all looking for that refuge.

Whether it’s reading “50 Shades of Grey” or unpluging our phones to check out as we enter our yoga studio-nothing is more grounding and relieving than letting go of the reins and letting someone else take over.

So, this San Francisco urbanite learned a valuable lesson.  We are more alike than we know- urbanites and housewives, career chicks and soccer moms.  We are all looking for a place to let go of control and lose ourselves for just a bit.

Myself, I’m looking forward to returning to my SF yoga studio and also looking forward to the next in the “50 Shades” series as well……

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