Equinox Responds to Video Uproar

After posting a video of one of its teachers practicing yoga at home in her underwear, the fitness chain comes under fire.

The latest viral yoga video to hit YouTube isn't a hilarious spoof about the practice—it's of someone demonstrating awe-inspiring asanas in a beautiful room set to beautiful music. In fact, there seems to be only one thing that sets this video apart from thousands of other videos posted to YouTube—the yogini in this video is wearing her underwear.

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If case you haven't contributed to the 2 million (and counting) page views the video has received since it was posted earlier this month, go ahead and take a look.

Critics have taken aim at yoga teacher/model Briohny Kate Smyth and fitness chain Equinox, who created the video, saying that the sexualized message the video sends isn't what yoga is all about. Last week Smyth responded to the criticism in an interview with Kathryn Budig, who has herself been the center of a similar controversy for her racy images in ToeSox ads. Yoga helped Smyth to overcome an eating disorder and gain confidence in her body. "It felt incredibly liberating to be confident in my own skin," she said of the experience.

The video was not intended to be an ad campaign for Equinox, but an editorial video showcasing Smyth's amazing arm balances for Equinox's Q Blog, which provides editorial content to inspire members and potential members, explained Equinox's Editorial Manager Liz Miersch. In fact, the initial idea was for a how-to video giving tips on arm balances. But as they shot the video, what Miersch saw was so inspiring and beautiful, she made the decision to change directions and just show Smyth's practice.

Of course, Smyth would have been as inspiring and beautiful if she'd worn yoga clothes in a different setting. The intention was to emphasize Smyth's physique, but it was also to inspire others to practice yoga. "Equinox is not afraid to be sexy, as you can see in our ad campaigns," said Miersch. "We like to be provocative, but provocative with a purpose--she's not just walking around in her underwear in the video, but she's showing her amazing, strong, yoga body."

What do you think of the video? Does hearing the story behind it change your opinion of it at all?