Back in July, you may have seen the New York Times article called, "
Author Kayleen Shaffer examined the juxtaposition of vanity and yoga and created quite a stir among supporters and haters alike. Though nobody wants to admit it, most selfies are about vanity; but with yoga, there's another dynamic: yoga isn't supposed to be about the shape of the poses. (If it were, it would be a competition that pre-teen gymnasts would win.) If it's so much about controlling the mind, breath and ego, are we trivializing the practice by snapping photos of ourselves in awesome poses? Or are we just celebrating this beautiful practice? In a world where many yogis also enjoy photography and iPhone apps, how do we strike a balance?
I love the inspiration that we can glean from others photos; getting ideas for our practice or new friends for support is great. But is it making yoga feel too exclusive or intimidating? Are we portraying an art form or just snapping crappy photos to show-off? Is some of it over-sexualized?
Whether you're a beginner or have been mindfully practicing yoga for years, we all need to keep our wide, diverse audience in mind; they're developing opinions about yoga, creating new goals or trying new poses. Though it's up to any practitioner to monitor their body in any pose, we (as selfie-posters) still have a responsibility to express our passion in a fitting way, not always a flawless, unrealistic reality. Balance your humdinger photos with peaceful, basic asanas and face-plants.
Once you've come to grips with the idea of even sharing a yoga self-portrait, consider the Instagram "yoga challenges."
Each day, the host of the challenge shares a pose for followers to mimic and share their versions. Often, winners are chosen at the end. Though these can be a great way to get yogis motivated for daily practice, they also can be a perfect way to encourage mindless, ego-driven practice....a recipe for disaster and injury.
That all being said, you'll find lots of yoga photos on my iPhone, here on the blog and some on my Instagram feed.
This blogger explained it well:
"Yes, there are some beautiful people performing near perfect poses, but more often than not, these are people who love yoga and want to share their passion. There are teachers who now have a new outlet to teach and can break down a pose in both words and photos. Photography is also a very powerful tool. It allows me to see myself in a pose, to pinpoint the areas that I need to work on and, most importantly, to document progress."
Yoga selfies are a great way to show steps-by-step instruction. I think it's pretty cool that yogis all around the world can unite and share interesting poses in unique places or artful ways.
It's fascinating to see all the different people and it's equally fascinating to catch tiny glimpses of my own practice that I never get to see. I can hang on to a moment of how I felt in these poses...free, open, balanced or strong. And other yogis on Instagram have inspired my practice or given me ideas for teaching. What do non-yogis think of these photos? I don't know. But yoga photographer Robert Sturman says, in his own words, "I often think of Rumi: 'I Can't stop pointing to the beauty.' That feels right to me." It's okay that yoga is inherently beautiful.
If you're not sure about it or you've never tried it, maybe download a timer app and try your own yoga selfie or two. You certainly don't need to share or post any of the photos, but it's exciting to see such simple beauty through yourself in any yoga posture. If you're worried about doing the pose "wrong" or not looking good enough, it's also an excellent platform to step out of your comfort zone. :) What are your thoughts?