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How to Be a Beautiful Yoga Selfie Star

in Yogitorials

yoga-selfies-nytEnter the age of yoga selfies. Oh, they’re selfless, of course. (Aaaand I’m being facetious. Of course.) Have a camera and a bikini? You too can be an internet yoga star! No, silly, you don’t really have to practice yoga.

Ah, but what to make of this online yoga sharing, and over sharing, in an age when technology baits us to be ever increasingly “social” with TMI, OMG NSFW?

This New York Times article on Inst-yo-gram superstars had me pause mid-duckface pose to reflect on my own epic fail to achieve true internet yoga fame. What have I been doing wrong? Why didn’t I have 145,000 followers on Instagram? I mean, I practice yoga, I do enough navasana to feel confident in my beach scorpion pose wearing nothing but henna tattoos and mala beads. What do they have that I don’t? (By the way that last part is not true and is likely the blasted obstacle, the 6th klesha (!), in my way of achieving true instant yoga stardom.)

What does it take to be an insta-yoga-internet sensation? Let’s examine the steps! Explicated with quotes from the NYT:

"First bikini shot of the year!" photo via @laurasykora instagram July 4, 2013.

“First bikini shot of the year!” photo via @laurasykora instagram July 4, 2013.

1. BE DEDICATED: Because with yogapop stardom comes responsibility. There are people who depend on you!

Like many yoga aficionados, Laura Kasperzak, 36, practices early in the morning when she can get some time by herself. “No one’s up at 5:30 with me,” she said, referring to her husband and two young children. But unlike most other Zen seekers, before she does her first downward dog, she sets the timer on her Nikon camera to photograph herself every two seconds. After all, about 245,000 people who follow her on Instagram are waiting to see the results.

2. SET GOALS: Start small and then go for it all. Sky’s the limitless.

“It’s still shocking to me how many followers I have,” said Ms. Kasperzak, who lives in Lincoln Park, N.J., works for a software company and has been doing yoga for 16 years. “At first I thought, ‘If I get 100, I’ll be happy.’ And then my goal grew.”

3. GET EXOTIC: Location, location, location.

Indeed, Caitlin Turner, 27, a yoga teacher in Scottsdale, Ariz., has picked up more than 40,000 Instagram followers as @GypsetGoddess by picturing her practice in exotic locales, like the Galápagos Islands; Ecuador; and Chiang Mai, Thailand, generally using a self-timer on her iPhone.

4. GET THE RIGHT CAMERA: You don’t need much yoga or training, just make sure your photos are pretty. Start with the right equipment.

“What’s important is if your photos look appealing,” Ms. Goldman said. “Come on, I started like seven months ago. There are plenty of other yogis who are better than I am, but I have a good camera, which takes pretty pictures.

5. LOOK GOOD: Wear the right clothing, tight clothing or less clothing, and you’re sure to catch fire.

A pair that looks like a mermaid’s scales are a favorite, and a recent shot of her in a standing bow-pulling pose shows her in lower half clad in fuchsia-and-orange stripes. “Fashion and yoga are kind of similar,” she said. “With both I like to be lighthearted.”

6. BE ENTERTAINING: Gotta mix it up and keep ’em coming back for more!

To keep them entertained, Ms. Kasperzak does a lot of moves Indra Devi never would, like on her birthday when she posted a shot of herself upside down, eating a cupcake.

7. IF ALL ELSE FAILS: Hire a professional photographer. They know your best angles and how the light reflects just so off your tanned skin in eight directions while in astavakrasana. You’ve been working hard perfecting that pose so you can post it. You owe it to yourself and your followers to spend $750+ for 10 freaking fantastic shots.

And there you have it!

So, I know in this age of smartphones, Instagram, insta-video, facebook and mirrors we’ve pretty much all been caught with a case of the selfies. Look at that beautiful mug, who could resist? But when you can post a pic of your bod contorting into impressive shapes while tying your shoe with your teeth and baking a casserole? Now that’s some serious follow, favorite and share shit right there.

One might argue all this virtual and serial yoga exposition is in direct conflict with the nature of an inward practice.  They would probably read this article on glorifying unrealistic pregnant bodies and try switching out the word “pregnancy” for “yoga” in this quote:

“We glorify the perfect pregnancy body for the wrong reasons, and there is nothing authentic, true or affirming about that. Pregnancy is hard, and often amazing, but how we look in our pregnancy skinny jeans shouldn’t top the list of importance.”

They probably think all these beautiful yoga photos perpetuate an unrealistic and unattainable fairytale stereotype leaving people feeling intimidated, inadequate and confused as to what yoga practice might be for them. They probably hate pictures of cute puppies, too. Hey, newsflash haters, it’s my body and my yoga, I can exploit them however I like! Besides, everyone knows the ultimate reward of having 250,000 Instagram followers is to feel completely whole and content with ourselves in the world. It’s definitely on like half of those 5 million top 10 lists on how to be being happy and fulfilled.

Don’t we all have the freedom and right to post yoga photos of ourselves and feel good about it?


Well, sure! If they’re beautiful. Even if it does run the risk of confusing certain people into thinking all yogis have to be young, thin women doing fancy tricks, like perplexed Instagram user yavarmi who commented on the above photo: “I took yoga class expecting to see hotties instead its full of grandams.” Ugh, sorry dude, major letdown.

But photos are powerful and speak louder than your average ‘yoga for everybody’ prattle.

As prolific professional photographer to the yoga stars Robert Sturman states:

“We live in a world where pictures are the most prominent way of communicating there is,” Mr. Sturman said. “I know how to make yoga pictures look beautiful, and I might as well share it.”

Well, duh. And thank goodness for that. Because if you don’t post a beautiful picture of your yoga, it didn’t happen.




178 comments… add one
  • Great concluding line. And many in-between. Sigh.

    • Wow. Reading all the new comments leads one to believe that the ‘stars’ have set off a comment bombing campaign here. While there are valid points being made, for sure, my two main problems:

      1. Many of the commenters obviously have never seen this site before and are being completely reactionary without investigating the great work you’ve done for quite some time. That’s just ignorant. It’s ok to disagree with one post and have feelings about it, but to discredit the whole site and the writers is outlandish and disrespectful.

      2. I have not read a single instance of self-reflection from the people railing against this post. It’s all been completely reactionary. The comments continue to amount to, ‘me, my, I did this, I did that,’ which, in some ways, was part of the focus of this article in the first place. Bravo for proving the point.

      • Melissa

        My question is this – for the owner of this site to write such stuff, and yet at the same time have an entire gallery devoted to others’ “yoga selfies” – don’t you think it’s a tad hypocritical? Instagram or someone’s blog, what’s the difference?

      • gwen

        I have no problem with the context of the article. Everyone has their view.

        My issue is that names and faces were, for the most part, called out without regard to who they really are.

        If you want to reference am article, that is fine, but don’t call out specific people to make your case. The issue could have been addressed in a much less hurtful way.

      • paul

        bravo for relating to what you relate to.. (is my sarcastic, unhelpful reply. o the brutality.) incendiary actions inspire reactionary posts; had the article been informed, reflective and interested rather than bitter, insulting and sarcastic, the mode of response would be different.

      • How about

        With ya there Derek.

      • John

        I agree.

        There is a problem in the yoga world with envy, with forgetting asana has a place in yoga, and with assuming every one who chooses to challenge themselves with “difficult” asana does so only and completely to satisfy vanity.

        This article does none of that. It gently and amusingly picks up on some of the paradoxes involved in the whole publish pictures of your practice thing. I for one would like to express support for it, something I rarely do, just because of all the nonsense reactionary comments.

        (I cheerfully facebook pictures of my practice from time to time and I’d IG them if IG was my thing, but I can see the funny side of what I’m doing and have no problem with the fact YD can see it too)

        As for naming names – I lost sympathy for any complaints about that the minute “how to” guides went up. You teach people yoga you publicly represent what it is and you’re publicly responsible for the content of your teaching – and its quality.

      • philokalia

        I see where you are coming from on #2. It may not have been the best move to single out a few from the many in a landslide of activity across a huge spectrum of cultures and backgrounds, but oddly enough it is not the responding with the most anger, defense, and the ‘yoga dork is unyogic and not worth my time’ mentality. The majority seems to be either for-or-against, not ‘considering’! What nerve did she hit that was such a live wire, you might ask?

        Putting photos of yourself out on the internet for the world to comment on is an open door to criticism of what you are portraying, and inherently comes with some anxiety about your choice to do it and the reaction of viewers to your subject matter (and what better source of anxiety is there than the body?). I can see why anyone who has ever posted a yoga selfie or is working hard to post a yoga selfie would be jolted with anyone calling out the action… it is a media platform with the intention to incite reaction after all… but this isn’t a body-building blog, it’s an all-things-yoga-related blog. So let’s see if under pressure, I can practice some svadhyaya (self reflection) and discernment (viveka) in our responses.

        I have been inspired by the capacity of many of these selfie-yoga-stars on IG and I have thought of putting more thought into my physical practice so that I too can conquer my shoulders and do a handstand. It looks FUN, and if I could get there without hurting myself, it might even feel GOOD. I don’t post yoga photos, but I’ve thought of it, and of course of how neat it would be to have a bunch of people who were inspired by me and who I might be able to benefit once I had their attention. So yeah, this hit a little note in my chest, rung the bell to wake me from my fantasy. Do I think it’s wrong? No, but if I blink a few times I can clearly see it’s not for me. I’m sure that if I do master a handstand, I will want to post it to share with others because I will be excited (and only practice at home, not a studio), but with reflection on this article I can see that it is not the path to yoga that I really want to share. I am surrounded by people who think that yoga is out of reach or not available to them in their current state, and watching other people do postures does not help them one bit. I want to show them how to be aware of their movement and breath, and make small changes in their flexibility and strength so they can better attend to their duties. I want them to see that they can live without (or with less) pain. I want them to see how I remain calm under the same pressures they face, how I react to crisis and criticism, and how I’m paying attention to them when I speak. I once attended an ex-bf’s church in which the pastor, speaking of spreading their ministry, said that it was not important you go out and share the news with everyone, but that you “live in a way that demands explanation”. That is how I can best share my practice, inspire my students, and make the world better.

        I do not think that people on IG are wrong or self-centered or going overboard – they are living, sharing, learning, and dealing with the effects (many) and consequences (many) of choosing to live a life online for the public. It’s just one way. That doesn’t mean, though, that they need the public defender or a henchman. Whether you agree or disagree at first glance, take the time to make it a continual reflection of whether or not you are doing what you are best suited to do; whether this use of your time and activity is helping you or your students the most. Is it still serving a purpose for growth or are you just addicted to it? Either is OKAY, but you should at least KNOW. We have the remarkable opportunity to use a sensationalist article as a vehicle to figure out what we believe, what we want and how far we really are from both of those. Take it!

        There is a quote from Gandhi’s book of ashram prayers which says:

        “One who speaks ill of me is a hero for me. He works without pay. He is instrumental in enabling me to wash off my old sins. He renders me service without reward. He sinks and saves others. He is such a beloved fellow. O Rama, I pray for his long life. Dadu says: The vilifier is a benefactor in disguise.”

        So there, Derek. Thereis some reflection for you.

        • Vision_Quest2

          “I am surrounded by people who think that yoga is out of reach or not available to them in their current state, and watching other people do postures does not help them one bit. I want to show them how to be aware of their movement and breath, and make small changes in their flexibility and strength so they can better attend to their duties. I want them to see that they can live without (or with less) pain. I want them to see how I remain calm under the same pressures they face, how I react to crisis and criticism, and how I’m paying attention to them when I speak. ”

          You really GET the dissenting opinion here.

          But just yesterday, a wise man was addressing me and telling me not to blog about certain things. Synchronicity that I am, today, very inspired by the IG yogis to take a lengthy Facebook diet, again.

          • angelina presley

            omg are people seriously mad about this? lol who fucking cares? isn’t the whole point of yoga to give up your attachments to your “false self” anyway? this is a good way to practice.. ask yourself what, inside of you, is making you respond this way? because it is NEVER what someone else does.. you’re responsible for your own happiness. we’re all hypocrites. literally every single one of us. i have pictures of yoga poses and i think this article is hilarious and humbling. can we just laugh about it and get on with appreciating our day? 😀

      • charlie

        exactly my thoughts , well said Derek Beres .

  • Debra

    Finally. Bless you for this sir. Just bless you.

  • Laura

    I love this site so damn much. SO MUCH.

  • Sonia

    I’m not feelin it. Egos and yoga shouldn’t go together.. And the last line is blasphemy….I think yoga is a private thing and when it is captured and put on display it takes some of the sanctity away.

    • PnV

      Sonia, the last line was sarcasm.

      • Sonia

        ok embarrassing, I hadn’t read the whole article b/c yoga pictures are not my bag. My guy just gave me a heads up that the article is bashing the yoga selfie. We’re totally on the same page…and my bad!

        • Sonia

          I guess I left my sense of humor at home today…but then again, I’ve been known to take things kinda literally before. Great article!

  • Sue

    Thank you. Just thank you. Was reading 21st Century Yoga this week,,,and this goes right along with it. Some people get it:-)

  • paul

    thank goodness i’m bitter enough to know where this post is coming from, that special, rancid place of the other and her minions

  • Great article, Holly!

    My favorite line (among many): “They probably hate pictures of cute puppies, too. Hey, newsflash haters, it’s my body and my yoga, I can exploit them however I like!”

    Actually, I’ve been so removed from the Yoga blogosphere for the couple of years that I wasn’t even aware of this exciting new trend, and I’ve never seen and Instagram photo, unless unknowingly.

    But with my new Yoga philosophy project and all, I really need to be up on the latest stuff. So thanks for bringing me up to date!

    Bob W. Editor
    Best of Yoga Philosophy

    • Vision_Quest2

      You publish Robert Sturman’s photography, whatchatalkinbout, Bob?

      • Actually vision, I retired from elephant almost a year ago, so I haven’t published anything. But I’m meant I wasn’t aware of the Instagram thing, not Yoga photography in general.

        The most memorable Sturman on elephant is his haunting photos of yoga in prison, sometimes with in-depth interviews of the prisoners by Anneke Lucas (click on her name for the rest of the series.) http://bit.ly/sy8jVK


  • I enjoy doing outdoor yoga photography…..I can usually only round up myself as a model…my most recent episode was with my camera on a tripod, shooting three consecutive shots. I was doing a Warrior II pose with my front leg on a large boulder overlooking a 500′ cliff and the vista of Red Rock and my rear extended leg on a different boulder. This particular time I was more concerned about capturing the image, left the ‘present’, looked over my shoulder at the camera, lost my balance instantly. As I fell head first and saw my sunglasses go over the cliff, I was somehow able to put the brakes on and stop. Ten minutes later I was able to climb back up to the bluff and be extracted by helicopter. The crushed and ripped calf skin will take about 14 weeks to heal. So, just wanted to add a ‘variation’ to your story. 🙂

    • CH

      are you serious?

      • robertb

        Yep, they know me well in the trauma center as yoga dude….

  • Dana

    Just got to say that while some people are more obsessed with images than actual yoga, Laura has been very motivating for me! I’m in a rural area with a minimal number of yogis. The daily/monthly inversion challenges inspire me to try more, practice new things and have fun…..

    Maybe not for you, but yoga can be fun and lighthearted….and yes, even have self-portraits and followers on instagram…..why not?

    • I agree with Dana. Instagram can be a fun way to express yourself and your yoga–and it also is a way to motivate others. In fact a few days before the NYT article came out a new student walked into my class. She had never done yoga before. When class was over, I walked over to tell her how happy I was that she had joined us. Her response: ” Do you know how to do those balance poses. You know… like the ones on Instagram?” Is that the wrong reason to come to a yoga class? Some would probably say so. I think if it gets them through the door … there might be a chance they’ll learn what yoga is REALLY all about. And that’s a good thing.

      The flip side of the whole — I thought yoga class would be full of hotties phenomenon — is all the normal people with all kinds of different bodies who are participating in posting yoga photos to Instagram, too. They might not have thousands of followers, but if you look for them they’re there. And they’re amazing, too.

      • Dana

        Um…that would be me. My friend and I do post pictures. she is the “hot” one, me not so much. But she has encouraged me to participate in challenges and post images, even if I don’t look “photogenic or amazing”. It’s a record of what we accomplish.

        She although quite hot, is still fairly new. The other day she showed off an image from when she was first learning how to do a handstand….and she was thrilled to have physical evidence that she has come such a long way….our journey can be slow and pictures help us see that we are progressing!

        • So I have a question: I’m not disagreeing with your assessment that photographs can help to show that you’re progressing. As others have noted above, postural books and photos help others understand alignment. But why would one need to then post them online? If the point is to see your progress, then thousands of other people are not needed in order to verify that progress. That seems to be where this discussion turns from self-verification to needing verification (or other emotional responses) from others, which brings into mind a whole other sort of questioning.

          • Vision_Quest2

            Hey, these are mostly yoga teachers doing the posing–many with active employment.

            I know from whom NOT to take yoga. And I’m not even “old school” anymore.

            Funny how pilates practice delivers a sexier “result”, yet you don’t see online contrology “showmanship” very frequently.

          • Rachel

            The majority of these people post their asanas to get feed back, guidance, and to be apart of a special community, that’s what you are not understanding. Not all of us have the money or a location to get teacher guidance in person. It’s a wonderful tool to further their practices correctly, and to share the love of a passion, to feel the unity of yoga. I’m sorry it’s such a hard thing for you to grasp and understand.

          • Vision_Quest2

            @Rachel, sorry — I call foul. I call consquentialism above all. I also call not addressing the needs of the individual.

            I live in the New York City area. As you may have guessed, I am not preternaturally talented at yoga, never was. Never had been adept and don’t particularly think that that is a prerequisite for enlightenment. I am also not a visual learner. I’ve learned more from when they step out from in front of the camera and share the tough thing, hopefully for free–I have also learned from taking classes, which I’m sure you realize are in oversupply in my neck of the woods.

            Unbundling the opportunities for upsell and assorted fruitless (except for THEIR coffers) recommendations from my concern, I don’t believe this is about sharing. From Dharma Mittra and BKS who’d started this whole trend off years ago, and through today. There comes a time when movement has to emanate from within, when striving has to cease, when poses stop being collected.

            We’re all gonna die someday!

          • Then why post anything online? I post photos on panoramio.com as I love to travel and love to share what I see with others. As I wrote on my instagram, Photos are memories! And I’ve been capturing memories since 1973! I post “memories” on instagram as that is the latest way to share what makes you different. I used to put photos in albums and could share with a few people, but now I have friends all over the USA and other countries and I can share instantly with them.

            I recently started doing yoga and I enjoy following @laurasykora each day to see what poses she will share. I also follow other yoga practitioners and enjoy and get encouragement from the photos they post and comments they make.

            The point is not to see your progress by posting daily photos, but to embrace a larger community of like mined people.

            I like to bike and roller skate so I also follow bicyclers and roller skaters. I’m glad people take the time to post photos, stories and share their comments. What did we do before the internet. We read magazines and had to wait until the next month to get an update. And @laurasykora didn’t start off thinking she would have over 450k followers. Why did she get so many. Well her content is fresh everyday her outfits are fantastic and her poses are insane. She is transitioning from doing yoga full time and why would she not capitalize on her ability to reach and help so many people.

            There is a super power on instagram called the unfollow button.

  • Vision_Quest2

    Time capsule fodder!

    A hundred years from now all that data will be dug up and dismissed as the era in which all of this was fetishized.

  • Vision_Quest2

    “perplexed Instagram user yavarmi who commented on the above photo: “I took yoga class expecting to see hotties instead its full of grandams.” Ugh, sorry dude, major letdown,”

    Who do you think is still going to class?

    This is post-backlash … you get the late adopters, the traditional “market” for yoga,;and of course, those looking for sangha … for whatever reason … you wouldn’t understand …. so I won’t bother translating, DUDE …

    Try freakin’ Cross-fit, dude …

  • Thats really interesting to read this wonderful article about Yoga Instagram stars. Do you think it is really matter how difficult poses you can perform?

  • J-ill

    I rememeber reading on Laura Sykora Instagram page that she has only been practicing Yoga regularly for the last year. But here (in the nyt article) it says 17 years! Um big change.

    • Rachel

      She’s been praciticing daily for one yr. she’s switched from other workouts to focus on her practice.

  • Jennifer S

    When I get to the point that my yoga practice is no longer “practice”, well, perhaps then I might consider a “selfie”. Until then, I am enjoying the practice part of learning about yoga. Excellent article from one of the very few blogs that I follow religiously. Thanks for all that you do and Namaste!

  • I just posted my own thoughts about this on my blog (click above to check it out), where I say, that when it comes to these Internet yoga-lebrities, I cannot speak for their intention – what it is that makes them post their yoga selfies. However I would say it’s quite obvious that their focus is on likes and clicks and eyeballs on their page and more advertising dollars or bodies in their classes and workshops or whatever. Yoga is a big business now, and I don’t think that’s going to change and perhaps in some ways that is a good thing. Perhaps we need the fancy (yoga) pants poses to get people interested in the practice, and then they find their own path from there, a path that isn’t about standing on their head, but about what that enabled them to do off of the mat.

    To sum it up, I think yoga selfies have a purpose and a place. But I think they can also detract from one’s practice and from the general understanding of yoga, when not used with the proper intention.

    • Estrallita7

      I think your response is very well thought out. I am guilty of the yoga selfie, it adds a little fun and I have made some insta- friends so to say. There is a great annoyance factor where in if you look awesome and can stand on your head you therefore must be enlightened and feel you can preach with every pic you post. If they left all that out or made it more about how that is how “they” feel rather then telling people thats how it must be it, would be much less obnoxious. I do love looking at the pictures. I follow thin and not so thin and young or not so young yogis alike. Sone inspire, some are just pretty to look at. I agree that this instagram business is great publicity for the yoga community and true yogis should maybe see it that way rather then an affront. After all isn’t the whole point of yoga taking your own path to inner peace? Maybe taking pics helps out the less dedicated.

  • What does “selfie” mean in this context exactly?
    Selfless ‘sharing’?

    • It is the contemporary slang for posting photos of yourself.

      • Jenifer

        Selfie — “self portrait”

  • Why not embrace the beauty that we capture in yoga? We all have the capability of sharing instantly now, and why wouldn’t we embrace that if we choose to? I have a following on instagram, and through this I get questions from girls that are insecure about their body and want some help or advice. I have people that get inspired to try something new. I am able to connect with my audience and students in a different way than ever before, and for this I am grateful. I have always said that as long as we get people to start going to yoga for one reason, they will get the benefits of everything yoga gives. So keep going all you yoga ‘selfie’ lovers. We are sharing our love and passion, and inspiring other in return. @yoga_snow_love 🙂

  • John

    I don’t have any problem with people posting pictures of themselves doing poses. I remember being enormously inspired by footage of Swenson doing handstands when I first started out, and we’ve all seen the old black and white docu footage of Iyengar.

    I personally prefer something like Yuval on Hands, though, because they’re professional entertainers who are open about being a business. They obviously have a genuine passion for every aspect of what they doe, and he try to provide useful information as well as attention grabbing photos. Also, Yuval, and other gymnasts/ circus artists doing the same, are light years better at getting the line of the poses than any of the yoga people – and if it’s all about photos of difficult poses then I’m not really interested in the “it’s more spiritual to do it badly” brigade.

    Also… Yuval and the like post video… I’m not accusing any one of faking their wonderful yoga photos but some of them look like a momentary snapshot from a sequence that went jump, rush, grab at something that looks good, fall.

    • Vision_Quest2

      ” I’m not accusing any one of faking their wonderful yoga photos but some of them look like a momentary snapshot from a sequence that went jump, rush, grab at something that looks good, fall.”

      That must account for all those exotic beach zoom shots. Yup, there’s something magical about doing the joyous expression on sand, compadre … nature’s gymnastics mat …

  • Stella

    I can’t believe no one mentioned @yoga_girl. She is the IT Insta Yogini.

    • Nicole

      Rachel Brathen is so much more than her Instagram. Sure, she uses it to promote her classes… but she’s also an fabulous teacher, and she posts words of love and inspiration every day. I think it’s safe to say that her IG is more than crazy poses, even if she does love handstands. 🙂

  • kayla

    You know all I can hear in my head as I read this article is a lot of hate and discontent. I am not nearly as advanved as any of these insta-yoga stars but it never makes me feel bad about myself. It helps me feel inspired when I need it. Practicing hatha yoga is a personal practice but unlesd youre in your own home without any living beings you are sharing space with other individuals. It sounds like this is a community of bringing those above you down instead of lifting those below you, up. That is not the community I surround myself with, wish to be apart of, or will promote.

    • Laura :)

      Totally agree! I may not be the best, since I just started, but this ladies inspire me to be better everyday!

  • Laura Sykora

    JUST TO CLARIFY SOME THINGS… The writer got it wrong when she said “before I do my first down dog I set up my camera”. I do an HOUR practice inside my house before I ever take out my camera…

    I am a 36 year old, mom of 2, full time employee… I never asked to be put into the IG spotlight… It just happened. I started yoga when I was 19… It wasn’t as consistent of a practice (maybe 2-3 times a week). I have been strictly yoga for almost a year now. The IG community has actually influenced me positively and at the age of 36, I am taking the leap into teaching yoga now.

    Not every one steps to their mat for the same reason… but no one should dismiss the fact that they DO step onto their mat to practice. This article does make it seem like I jump out of bed and just pose and snap pictures. I DO NOT. Yes… I like to have FUN… There is absolutely nothing wrong with that! It’s life… Have fun… lighten up just a bit.


    • Becca

      Your a great person!! You inspire me everyday!! I love your pictures. It helps me to push myself in my practice. Yoga is supposed to help us find peace and joy and I’ve found that and I know you have. Don’t let anyone get you down. Your pictures capture your happiness in yoga. Why not post them?!?! The world should know how happy you are and how you find it, so they can find happiness too. Those who have nothing nice to say are lost in side a small box and need help getting out. We can help them by posting more pictures so maybe someday they could be happy in their life. Find joy in this Laura! Hurtful things are all around us it’s how we decide to act on them and make them better for ourselves and others. Namaste

    • Megsann93

      I completely agree with you, all of the photos on Instagram inspire my practice, anyone who truly understands the “point” of yoga understand that none of you guys would post those just for the fame. You can see intention in your pictures and it’s truely unfortunate that some are incapable of seeing what is so clearly right in front of their faces. Individuals don’t judge in yoga, they focus on themselves,
      Spreading the light, and inspiring others. If you don’t like what people do on Instagram, fine. But there is no need to attack people who you don’t even know. Don’t like them? Don’t follow them, it’s that simple. But I know that myself and many others will continue to love the messages that they send through their photos. Being hateful and assuming information has never been beneficial to anyway, it only promotes negativity, which has no place in the yoga culture.

    • Maggie

      Laura, I don’t think these yogis understand how judgmental their comments are and how foolish they sound. Love yourself and don’t feel less of a yogini just because you’re doing something different. Control and judgement is not pretty, feel some love people. May the selfies continue!

    • Laura

      Laura keep up what you’ve been doing!! You pictures are awesome!! I’ve greatly enjoyed the challenges you’ve hosted.. They have led me to try new poses which I never thought I could do.. You and all the other IG yogis are truly inspirational!! 🙂

    • Carrissa

      Laura, I absolutely love following your posts. I’ve seen what you can do and have been inspired. I started out just attempting a few poses here and there. I also have read from some of your posts that you use yogaglo.com for your private at home practice. As a result I have signed up not only for yogaglo.com but also a wellness studio that offers yoga. So thank you for doing what you do!

    • Kas

      Laura, you inspire me and shouldn’t have to justify anything to this writer or the people who’ve agreed with it. You’ve inspired thousands to get on that yoga mat everyday and look inward and become better, how many people can say that? I wouldn’t be where I am today in my yoga practice if it weren’t for your lovely pictures and fun challenges. Yoga is about looking into yourself as much as it is about forming a loving community, and that’s what you and Caitlin, and many others have done through IG. If I had never done yoga and stumbled across this article, I would never try it. This seems so hateful and disrespectful, not to mention extremely judgemental, and I would want no part of a community that bashes it’s fellow yogis, luckily, I know the other side of yoga, the support and love. This writer is going to deter hopeful yogis.

      • Kas I agree with you completely. I follow Laura daily. I will never be able to do the things she does, but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy any less looking at her amazing poses. My camel pose may look like a donkey sitting down. But after a few weeks it’s getting better. I think the writer is doing what many people think and that is assume they know all about a person they don’t even know.

        I love getting the comment from some guys I work with that yoga is easy. I said join me and it will kick your butt! So there again are the assumptions. I’m glad Laura has mastered the self timer. There are even some phones you can tell it to take your photo! I may get one of those when my upward dog gets better 🙂

    • Emily Lodge

      Laura Sykora you are an inspiration to many yogis and non yogis. Go’on brush ya shoulders off!

      I think the author of this article finally got the attention they have been craving. They just had to do a little hatin to get there… But that’s not yoga like…! As a yoga teacher that phrase makes me cringe more than anything – the pointing of a finger and denouncing an act as un-yogic. It comes from a place of judgement and that inandofitself is un yogic.

      Listen, I don’t care what gets people in the door doing yoga. 115 degree room with mirrors, hipster playlists, lulu lemon, or seeing pics of bikini clad hotties in arm balances on IG. They’re all GATEWAY DRUGS to the rest of yoga – breath, internal awareness, connecting to the divine within all. Welcome them ALL in to this world-wide web of yoga, and be glad.

      I love to take/post yoga pics. Sometimes it’s the locale that I want to highlight, sometimes it’s the pose. However, When I’m taking said pic there is no part of me that thinks “ahhh I’m doing my yoga practice”- no, it’s become more of an art, its simply a yoga POSE. When I am practicing asana, though, there are no stops for pics – I am in my zone, within all breath an embodiment. Point being – you can take yoga pose pics and have a meaningful practice. It’s not black and white. Wanna see what I do and where I pose?

    • John

      Off topic and this is long over … but just to clarify something… do your photos ever include props – like leaning against the glass doors of the french windows I see in the Instagram photos?

  • OK. Hilarious. My favorite lines:

    But when you can post a pic of your bod contorting into impressive shapes while tying your shoe with your teeth and baking a casserole? Now that’s some serious follow, favorite and share shit right there.

    and the next:

    Besides, everyone knows the ultimate reward of having 250,000 Instagram followers is to feel completely whole and content with ourselves in the world. It’s definitely on like half of those 5 million top 10 lists on how to be being happy and fulfilled.


  • This post seems full of bitterness and judgement. I get very disappointed by all of the finger pointing and holier-than-thou attitudes that frequently occur in the yoga world. The self-righteous attitudes that so many yogis have adopted are far more of a turn off for new practicioners than a photo of a girl doing a yoga pose in a pair of cute leggings. The level of unhappiness and sarcasm present in this post make me sad. Lighten up and try smiling once in a while.

    • Anon

      Agreed, bravo!

    • ana

      They sound like jealousy and bitterness. I wonder if all these pessimistics had a beautiful practice and got some skills…wouldnt they like to share and express their happiness and progress in that way?? lets practice compassion and sympathy.

    • Karis

      Word, Caitlin.

    • Maggie

      Very well said.

    • And hopefully they get a commission on the leggings they wear. If you have a talent who would ever know if you don’t show people. Since I’m new to the “yoga world” I didn’t know that finger pointing went on.
      Isn’t it a positive thing that these yogis make people more aware of yoga and want to try it? I know I’ve made a promise to myself to continue yoga for as long as I can. It’s a good workout and helps with my flexibility. I didn’t start following yogis until I started practicing a few months ago. But I love to see what people can do and get inspired.

  • Anon

    How very judgegy of you, quite the opposite of the true meaning of yoga. Get over yourself.

  • Natalie

    What a hateful article. You preach about people being comfortable in their own skin and not having a fear of being judged and then basically bash those who support, motivate and inspire others to do Yoga in the first place. They don’t preach bone skinny beauty or the ability to maintain perfect form every time, instead providing insight and interest and promoting popularity into an otherwise hidden activity. Who are you to judge and make fun of others for their successes? You simply sound jealous and resentful and bitter, and I, for one, enjoy seeing them on Instagram providing daily inspiration and yes, exotic locales and untraditional poses, but if all you’re interested in is a classroom with a mat- you’re right – they probably aren’t for you, but stop spreading your judgmental hate for others to be subjected to. Your blog, your opinion…but don’t judge others for theirs.

    • I totally agree. Reading this article I couldn’t get over how bitter it sounded. I see similar bitterness in the running community when people run in fun un-timed runs like Color Me Rad and all the ‘real’ runners hate on the people joining in because they saw all the fun pictures (those people are real runners! That isn’t a real race! its just a fun photo opt etc). Ridiculous. How dare photos of fitness be fun and inspiring! How dare anyone but the most modest, most holiest, MOST HUMBLE people get on their mats and make a connection with their bodies. /sarcasm

      Stop judging and keep your eyes on your mat if the photos bother you that much. It doesn’t affect your practice.

    • Vision_Quest2

      A classroom, a mat, no judgment, no forcing, no shame, no humiliation and no comparisons.


      When IG yogis can take a page from the old school, and realize that it IS about how the PRACTITIONER feels and not how their business is doing, ring me up.

      That being said, I don’t play follow-the-leader very well. I am looking never to be a follower, except of my own heart … as are you all …

  • Lynn

    You may be speaking your own personal truth and opinion, but satya isn’t the basis of yoga … ahimsa is. Sure, this article will get your website traffic, but it is dripping with non-yogic sentiment.

    The men and women I follow on social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram post shots of themselves in asana, as well as other information: how to get into poses, what eating healthy means to them, quotes that inspire, etc. Some of these people were featured in the NYT article.

    Sure, I’ve stopped following yogis who post about weight and seem self-obsessed. But the women highlighted in the NYT article are dedicated yogis. I don’t know them personally but I “follow” them and I’m interested in their authentic presentation of self and in their journeys. I’m not interested in snark and bitterness that hurts others, so I won’t be reading more of your articles.

  • molly

    ignorant ignorant ignorant. Yoga is a form of art if people wanna post pictures let them. Its 2013 people post pictures of food, animals, tattoos, etc. Because it is something they are passionate about. Get over it.

  • ana

    how is the IG trend different than the Yogadork gallery??

  • Sylvia

    I love yoga selfies on IG. They’re inspiring and fun. These individuals are forming a community revolving around a topics that interests them. It’s wonderful to see strong and healthy bodies practicing yoga. Sounds like you’re jealous or perhaps insecure about the reasons why do yoga.

  • Andrea Osei

    Well said Laura. No need to feed any further into this negative energy. You’re such an inspiration! And I love the tutorials you give on IG!

  • Karis

    For an article that seems to be shaking a judging finger at yoga and the ego, the writing is nothing but ego, ego, ego, looking to make itself feel better and less “denied” of its “ego wants”. True yoga is not about the superficial, but it is damned WELL about INSPIRATION, CONNECTION, CROSSING BOUNDARIES and UNIFYING HEARTS. For those of us who are emotionally moved and drawn together by the visual, it’s a helpful education tool and community connector.

    This is your blog. Write what you want. But if you’re going to talk yoga, please don’t talk hate. People will get the wrong idea about what yoga really is.. which is, ironically, what you are objecting to.

  • Lindsay

    How is posting pictures of yoga on instagram any different than other athletes posting pictures of them doing their sports? We are proud of what we can do and want to inspire others to do the same. I personally love viewing pictures of my fellow yogis as is gives me inspiration and inspires my practice. Don’t judge what makes others happy. This world would be a much better place if everyone just stop caring so much about what other people were doing and focused on their own lives.

  • Karis

    And I second whoever asked how this is any different from the YOGADORKS Gallery.. really, how is it?? Even the ladies that you attempted to bash in this article understand that followers and views don’t make one picture more important from another..

  • I have been practicing yoga for years and recently was introduced to the Instagram yoga community, I learned tons of new things and have become stronger in my practice and even went on to become a teacher. I see nothing wrong with it. If posting pictures influences people to get on a mat then so be it! This article is the exact opposite of a yogic lifestyle. What’re you trying to promote here? Hurting people’s feelings? Tearing other people down? The Instagram yoga community has been nothing but helpful and supportive, unlike this article.

  • LILY

    WOW. this post is full with hatred and jealousy. stop being a “high school” girl cause you’re not in high school anymore. don’t be jealous over their successes just because you’re not popular on IG. at least she has inspired a lot of people out there to do yoga . you have no right to judge other yogis practices based on their IG photos :)))

  • Yukie

    Social media, Instagram in particular, has been a huge inspiration for so many people with loving, encouraging people to interact with. It connects yogis (and non-yogis!!) from all over the world so that they can further their practice and expand their world. I’m thinking the writer needs to leave their ego at the door, because if you are able to do that, you can see the world as more than face value.

  • Elisabeth

    Ditto to those who expressed this article as hateful. If it were not for the inspiration I have gotten through IG, I would not be where I am in my practice right now. They inspire me to be on my mat, every day. This has brought a new light and happiness into my life. This article goes against everything yoga stands for, and sounds catty and jealous. I hope you find peace.

    • sarah

      PREACH !

    • Kate

      Agreed. Yeah the ladies of Istagram yoga obviously find the time to snap the pics. Much like the author of this article finds time to hate. Let me see, since the question of intention was raised, what is the intention of this hateful post? As a blogger you obviously seek attention, you do giveaways, you look for validation. All people do in one way or another. Unlike yourself, the Instagram yogis don’t preach hate. This post is just another form of bullying. Gross.

  • sarah

    petty princess

  • The blog is one of the most unattractive things I’ve read in a long time. I do appreciate sarcasm but not when it is at the expense of someone else. How do these “yoga IG stars” impact your life in any way? Don’t like it…don’t look at their instagrams? It seems like a easy fix to me. This is blog is immature, rude, and unnecessary. Why would you want to bring people down when you can lift them up? Shame on you.

    • yes unfollow! and why did she pick on Laura wearing bikini??? duh she was at a pool and struck a pose. If I could do those poses I’d have them posted also. 🙂

  • Bmoreyoga

    I’m surprised to see such a hateful, contemptuous article on a website that represents yoga. This article reeks of sourness and dare I say it jealousy? Yes these women get attention because they are asthetically pleasing to look at, and get such a following because of that initially. But they’re still helping inspire others to start practicing and feel better about themselves. It gives hope to people that they can do it too. Oh and they’re doing it all for free…. You should be ashamed of yourself to write such insulting and hateful remarks and then call yourself a yogi. Yoga isn’t a secret society, stop being such an elitest jerk…. Namaste ^_^

  • Lacy(sleeping_texan)

    This article is ignorant and judgmental. Good job.

  • Alyssa

    I am a yoga teacher and the yogis and yoginis of insatagram actually inspire me to invite myself my students to try new variations of poses. Every day that I see new photos, I get motivated and inspired to continue to deepen my practice and embrace my personal edge. All I feel is gratitude and love for the amazing community of the yoga IG! Jai Bhaguan!

  • woahbrooke

    without judgement – blowing out another’s candle does not make one’s own light shine brighter.

  • Charlene Giasson

    just because you are not good enough or confident enough to post pictures of yourself, dont judge and TRY to discouurage others who feel comfortable and good enough to share their passion, progress, love for yoga etc.
    I have never practiced but ever since i have seen all the different ways yoga can help your body and mind, how it helps keep your body young, limber and healthy it inspires me to try everyday. these pictures of you have posted along with you negitive words only make YOU look bad. so sorry that you dont have the confidence, strengh and knowledge to accept what other people are doing that you can not! 🙂

    if i could do all of what they can (and its funny you can say they throw on a bakini take a picture and thats it. do you live with them? do you know them?) i would pose in a bakini everyday and take pictures because i would be proud of what i can acomplish others cant, and proud of my body.

    just because you have no life and write these stupid atricles whicl others are being active, creative, passionate and living life, dont stomp on their daily lives because YOU think differently about what THEY do.

    When you are older, what pictures will you have to look at yourself? you wont be able to say “wow i used to be able to do that everyday, i was proud”
    you cant say you were dedicated to something other then bashing people over what they do daily.
    im not much for “selfies” either but i dont feel it is anyone elses place to comment or take the time to write a blog entry about it. LOL

    Laura should be proud you made her more into what your complaining about in your article.
    your just a straight up genius arent you 🙂

    love you laura and dont let lonley, insignificant hollypenny ever make you think different. Many people are inspired by you and you have changed many more lives then alot of people.

  • I agree with Bmoreyoga.

    First: Why are you being so downright hateful towards someone you don’t know. Laura and I are friends and I can tell you that the way you are depicting her and the others in her challenge is just despicable. They are people. They are genuine people with feelings who have done nothing to you or anyone else other than share what they are good at. It would be different if they were fake good, but they aren’t. They have genuine skill and strength and beautiful practices.

    Second: If you are trying to reach a group of leart-hearted, enlightened, ego free yogis then you are taking the wrong approach. If you want to tell people what yoga is or isn’t or should or shouldn’t be, then your approach should not be so hateful and ego centered. Who among us hasn’t taken a selfie? Who among us hasn’t looked to someone outside ourselves for inspiration? Do you not think that the yoga greats are inspired by others? What about Kathryn Budig and Tiffany Cruickshank? Arguably two of this generations best up and coming yoga teachers who both post on instagram. Not to mention the dozens of other yoga teachers and famous yoga greats who both follow and participate in Laura’s monthly challenges. And the fact that these yoga greats are taking inspiration from non-famed yogis like myself and others is wonderfully motivating and uplifting to those of us who haven’t reached their levels yet.

    Third: You grossly misconstrued the way the article in the NYT was quoted. I mean come on. This entire article sounds like one jealous girl or guy’s rant about not being #instafamous with some random, kind of relevant quotes from an intelligently researched article someone else wrote.

    The ig yoga community is a wonderful supportive group of people, largely free of judgement, outspoken ego, and/or hatred. Just because you don’t get it, or because you don’t understand the way our technological society is advancing, doesn’t mean that you should hate on those who do.

  • Amanda

    Why did you feel the need to post such a hateful article? I’m sorry but what good does it do to you? Was it really necessary? There are thousands of people inspired and motivated by the photos posted by these Instagram ladies and it is shown by their follower count. If you don’t like what they do, it’s simple, just don’t follow them. I have to say their daily postings encourage me to get off my computer chair or couch and practice every day. And YES, I post photos every once in a while of myself practicing, and I see no harm in it. I take videos of myself practicing sometimes to see where I can improve because I practice at home alone since I can no longer afford classes. I now take cuts of my video when I make progress and I post them, and I don’t see why not! I am proud of my achievements and practicing yoga every day has changed my lifestyle for the better, so why not try to inspire others as well? (As Laura, Caitlin, and others have inspired me) Sure you could say I am showing off but I am genuinely proud of myself, what’s wrong with that? To me it feels similar to me tweeting about getting a promotion or receiving my diploma. You are allowed to be proud of your achievements. I get positive feedback and many of my followers ask me “how” or “where” to start and of course I am no professional so I direct them to just begin at a yoga studio with certified teachers, and half of them go! If my followers get annoyed rather than inspired by my once-a-week- postings then so be it- Please unfollow me!

    These ladies are proud of themselves as they should be and if the have the power to move and motivate several others then why not?

    Leave these instagram ladies be. By reading your article I gather than you have done your research on them and I am surprised you did not realize that these ladies make a POSITIVE difference in peoples lives. I also gather that you are a glass-half-empty kind of person. There are bigger things in this world to hate on than ladies who get attention over social media…

    • I Agree. Everyone has a special talent. And I’m glad there is IG so those talents can be shared by everyone. And the ig yoga ladies have work very hard for many years to be able to do the things the do. Laura for example has been doing yoga for about 17 years. If you just started how can you expect to be able to do the poses she does.

      I used to study martial arts for over 3 years 5~6 times a week. Going home tired and sore. But if instagram was in existence then you bet I’d be posting myself breaking boards doing the different Katas (forms) etc. Why because it was what I was into and I worked very hard to reach higher and higher levels.

      Yoga doesn’t have ‘levels’ but by the poses posted gives you an idea of how long someone has been practicing as it takes time to master some of the poses. I’m still trying to get my tree pose steadier, but it’s gets better every time.. I follow about 10 yogis on IG for inspiration and hope they continue to post!.

  • Mahoghani J

    This article is filled with complete egotism! I’ve just started practicing yoga… because this is the digital age and I first saw a post from another IGer mentioning laura who inspired me to start and push myself to something I hadn’t done before… How can you not acknowledge that the way we receive information has changed? If a person wants to share their yoga selfies let them! I personally do it, its good way to track your own progress and share it with people, tho I have a very minuscule following I’ve inspired a few strangers and friends! These ladies that you have mentioned font post their photos online for fame they do it to share what they love with others and to help people like myself who want to get started or even advanced yogis who would prefer to be challenged.

    They are teaching as well as learning, why so judgmental?

  • Kelly

    It seems very “un-yoga” of you to comment at all about Laura’s pictures and posts. Everyone has their own practice and many yogis love to look at her pictures. If you don’t, then don’t look at them.

  • Kas

    Laura has inspired me as well. The yoga challenges on IG push me to try new things that I don’t typically like. I HATE backbends, they’ve never felt good for me, but through IG I’ve forced myself to dig deeper into my own yoga practice and have grown tremendously because of it. I always loved yoga but the challenges have shown me just how much I love it. It isn’t in vain, it’s inspiring people to push harder and keep practising no matter what. I don’t think I’ll ever be as good as Laura and Caitlin, but I know I’ll be better thanks to people like them who inspire. I understand the rationality behind this article, but yoga is also about sharing as a community, these people are getting thousands more involved with yoga daily, and this sarcasm and negativity is not what MY yoga practice is about, and what no yoga practice should be about. I take pictures of my practice and find it incredibly helpful, I can see how my form is wrong, what I need to work on, and see my progress over a few months. This writer sounds incredibly bitter and the complete opposite of everything yoga has taught me. No judgement, just love.

  • Lorena

    You sound bitter and mad. So Un-Yoga lf you. Deal with it. Yoga is whatever you choose to make of it. Live and let live or keep your namaste mouth shut!

  • Fernanda

    yeah well, not very yogi of you.. don’t you think? Picture Inspiration is the best way of getting people to get up of their seats and try a move or two.
    Sounds like you need a little inspiration too.

  • My husband asked me the same thing last night as he was taking my picture (HAHAHA!) — What was the point of taking the photos? For me, it inspires me to do more challenging poses on the mat. Things I would not normally try to do. I then incorporate these new poses into my daily practice. Nobody forces you to follow people on IG, so if it bothers you then feel free to unfollow, right? 🙂


  • Caitlin

    What a hateful and un-yogi like article to have to read. If all of your articles are this judgmental of others I don’t think I care to read any more. To each their own (bash all you want!), but damn what a disappointing read. I don’t necessarily disagree with some of the points you were trying to make, but the bitterness is literally palpable in your writing. The inner peace and open heart and mind I strive to achieve in my yoga practice doesn’t seem to be present here. I won’t be returning for further reading, inspiration, motivation, or good vibes!

  • Hay

    Ah HELLO?? Is Instagram not about posting photos? So your telling me when she post photos of herself she’s now a selfie?? She is clearly passionate about yoga and you know what if 1000000 people like her and comment then great! Good for her! That’s what Instagram is about!!!!! She is a HUGE inspiration to so many people, but as for this blog…. Really? I have never seen such great yoga posses and also so many different yoga posses, so I would never have begun yoga if it weren’t for her. This blog is ridiculous and complete assumption you probably know nothing about who she really is and how many people she really inspires. I can’t believe you’d put time and effort into slandering such a wonderful person. Shame on you!

  • Brittany

    I find it so judgmental for people to be commenting on someone else’s yoga practice…Yoga is for yourself. The pictures people post are so inspiring they teach people form and give people new ideas in order to challenge themselves. Honestly, the pictures people post are ART! I love them…!

    It’s also silly to assume someone’s practice only lasts for the picture they post on instagram.

    Stop being judgmental and let people be proud of what their body can do!!

    I see no shame in that.

  • Marcela

    Amazing! Loved every bit of this. It really amazes me how the american culture (no offense intended) managed to make celebrities out of yoga and instagram. Talk about a marketed nation.

    • Lindsay

      Kind of like how we made celebrities out of people acting on television. Or how we make celebrities out of politicians. None of them are claiming to be celebrities, just yogis wanting to spread the joy that is yoga! Namaste.

      • Marcela

        Point proven. Why is there that non stop necessity of the american culture to obsess and worship others? In this particular case: yoga is a personal practice…it doesn’t require a photo inspiration or even instagram to be involved. My point here was the necessity of making this people celebrities (wether they hoped for it or not). I find it incredible that constant need to worship and defend humans that most would never meet. Funny enough they will alway profit from your fanatism and need for worshiping (and this applies to your thoughtful examples).

        Regardless of my ridiculous highly traveled non american opinion…this blog post is funny in many ways. Have a sense of humor love and stop trying to point fingers at what’s more yogi or not. Dedicate your practice to yourself and perhaps look up to yourself for inspiration.
        Sat nam

  • Kat

    I think maybe your confused Ms. Holly. These women don’t take their yoga photos to show off or to show people their bodies or moves… Most of them take the photos to motivate, inspire and spread positivity. All three things this Internet world most certainly needs. I wasn’t going to comment on this article, I’ve never commented on an article in my life because I don’t want to spread any kind of hate. I think you just need to think before you write something bashing other people in a condescending way. Yoga is about spreading love and peace to others, why bash those who practice it and want to teach others? I’m a follower of Laura and GypsetGoddess and with their posts they always leave an inspirational quote or steps on how to do the pose they are photographed doing. They are using Instagram to teach and to inspire.

    What is so wrong with that?

    Spread the love, end the hate,


  • Orri

    This is disgusting. How judgemental of you. Where is the yoga in that?

  • Melissa

    “How to be a judgmental, hypocritical, yogi downer.” – write articles like this.

    Judge, judge, judge. Yeesh.

  • Ashlyn

    This article is rather funny. And it definitely shows that the author lacks actual talent to write a real article. People pull inspiration from seeing others try new poses. It’s the same thing as going to a class and seeing someone who can stretch a little further than you. It drives people. It also let’s them share with others something that they love. Stop whining.

  • Rachel

    In the teachings of yoga that I have had, yoga is about love. Loving yourself and others. This article shows no other emotion than jealousy. youre attacking these lovely ladies when you know nothing about them. you’re self esteem and your ego are getting the better of you. Instagram is a wonderful place to share and “teach” those who are interested in yoga the right way to do a posture. Especially for those who don’t have a studio near by or a real teacher to go to in person. So many people have found interest in yoga and have grown in their personal practices from these wonderful ladies that might have otherwise NOT have. I’m sorry that their fame irks you so. You don’t know that the majority of these people that share their pictures DO have a ritual personal practice, it may not be the traditional way but why does that matter? You think you’re being sarcastic when you’re just being judgemental. You’re behavior is quite the opposite of yoga. You may done “great things” on this blog but this one post throws all that out the window. You need to really evaluate and think before you write and “express yourself”. Maybe you should revisit the first grade where they teach ” if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all”.

  • Sam

    With as little judgement as possible towards the writer of this article, I do think the sarcastic tone of the article is inappropriate. If there is one thing I have learned from the limited yoga knowledge I have it’s to have an open mind and to observe rather than judge. This article would have proved a more credible argument in my mind if it had not been written in such a sarcastic tone. Personally, my flare of interest in yoga began with the so called “yoga selfies”. Was I drawn to the beauty of their poses ? Absolutely. But I did find a much deeper interest in the practice of yoga with time. I follow both @laurasykora and @gypsetgoddess as well as many other “selfie” and inspirational yogis. I hope that they continue to present and promote yoga challenges and find peace in their practice despite the criticism that may be thrown their way. – @scudes

  • Cassie

    I just wonder where the ahimsa is in this article? And it brings me to the question…what, if not a book of beautiful selfies & the yogic attitude broken down with instruction, is Iyengars book? Perhaps a refresher on how to be kind and less judgemental is order for you, as these women have inspired many women to further their practice. Hosting a DAILY challenge encourages you to participate & build your community. The features have linked many women together(you can view pat baileys ig page yesterday to confirm that). All of that is inspiring; what, if not inspiring, should yoga be?

  • Chris

    Wow, people will always have something to bash.

    Yoga is..
    .. What you make it!!!!
    Many people have found some of the above through these women so stfu and leave them alone.
    It is sad that all you have taken from them is jealously.

  • gwen

    I am relatively new to yoga…tho i did practice in the past. I have had every kind of inspiration, and many different instructors/teachers.

    This article, and these comments scream to me “I am a better yogi than you” which is so sad to me.

    Leave your ego at the door. Weather you choose to share or not is your buisness and that of the people who chooseto interact.

    Everyone has thier own interpretation of the “rules” (which i thought were…love yourself, love your body, and be kind) nothing here is kind.

    There should be no pitting one against another. There should be NO harsh words on a yoga site. We all practice. We all do what is right for us. Support or dont. But be nice. And understand that there are real people involved in this doscussion. Ego isnt good, but bullying is even worse. And you don’t know the person behind the picture…

    What kind of yogi are you? Cause most of these comments say you aren’t one at all.

    (Stepping down from my soap box)

  • Anita

    Laura I actually like her, however I am a stepmother to a women who is trying to be an exact replica of you and that is annoying when my stepdaugther is telling me all her mom does is chat on the computer yeah she throw her in the pics with her. But is more focused on her Yoga mat then finding an actual job/career to support her daughter. She send her raggedy clothes yet people are idolizing her. I want to at time yell at the top of my lung for people to stop idolizing people they don’t actually know. Mainly because she plays the victim role. I do not have respect for people who don’t get their priorities straight. That is where I see the fine lines in all the idolizing of yoga. Someone who spends a 100. on lulumon yoga pants but wont spend on her kid.

    • Vision_Quest2

      Tip of the iceberg. I’d been similar – not about money or any children, but about unforeseen disease …

      You take a certain more leisured class – who for whatever reason, may have taken to yoga – and they impose their values onto those who really could least afford it.

      I cannot idolize, nor do I support the idolization of yoga people who will inspire those who couls least afford to be inspired, and it is to their detriment if they are …

      • Vision_Quest2

        It hadn’t one of those pushing the envelope pictures, either of some scorpion pose that would be irrelevant once humanity has colonized zero-gravity space. It had just been a simple Lolasana variation on the beach …

        I did not have the 10,000 proverbial hours (which the preternaturally talented often do not need) to throw at the practice, but I’d thrown too many hours at it, as it had been. And I’ve had a full plate, schedulewise …

  • I have very mixed opinions on this whole thing. Admittedly I first came to this article from a thread on instagram defending these ladies. I began following them about a week ago when I heard about one of the monthly challenges they were a part of. Since then i’ve been both impressed and annoyed with their pictures….sure it’s cool to see some of the crazy poses they can get themselves into but yes it also does create some “I want to give up” feelings. It’s a fine line between motivation and showing off. The instagram challenge pictures get me motivated to rev up my own practice and aim for the goals, beyond that however some of their pictures take it a bit to far.

    They claim to like photography but to be honest, setting a self timer and running in front of the camera to contort themselves doesn’t seem to be the best use of photographic skills. But hey, that also doesn’t mean I haven’t taken a few yoga selfies myself. Personally I agree with the author of this article in many points he addresses, many of which with humorous sarcasm, which I always enjoy.

    Further, it’s the internet – how many times have you seen/heard/read something online that you didn’t agree with, thought was stupid, or on the flip side, wanted to “repost” “reblog” or “comment” on. That’s the beauty of the blog/picture virtual world we live in. Anyone can share their opinion or image, no matter how inane, insane, or idiotic it may be. Leaving others deal with it as they please – if you don’t want to hear opinions i’d log off.

    • Vision_Quest2

      Yup, I’d taken a Facebook diet for 8 months.

      I came back and was feeling much better as a result.

      Sometimes, you just have to switch it off.

  • How about

    Handy when “inspiring” others also promotes ones self. It’s interesting to think that one can be soooo inspirational etc. w/out actually doing anything for others. Inspiration is where you find it, but for myself that’s not an Instagram .

    • Vision_Quest2


      Right said!

      Kinda sounds like the noblesse oblige of exporting yoga teacher training to the African Congo … To improve the economy? To foster international trade?

      I’d always thought economic productivity started with the basics … such as production itself …

  • Leia

    I can only speak For myself but I find those ‘yoga selfies’ pretty inspiring at times. I can’t afford going to yoga classes all the time so I learned a lot of yoga poses from those “yogastars”. Don’t you think for people that want to do yoga by theirselfes (since yoga is something personal as you said) it is better visualized through pictures of real people than doodles?
    I am aware that my body isn’t the ‘perfect yogabody’ and that I probably should lose some pounds, but every now and then I post a ‘yoga selfie’ myself to show my progress. It is motivating! Just because people aren’t impressed by your expression of those yoga poses it doesnt mean you should judge those who get the ‘fame’ that you’ve been wanting.

  • jag

    Like anything that is expected to live, survive, and continue, it must change and adapt based on the times, the people, and the circumstances. I would say that you could compare yoga to language which changes constantly. Language is “living” in that it is constantly adapting and altering based on a number of circumstances (time, location, people, technology…). Maybe social media is the new way of a old guru sitting on a hill practicing and giving small lectures to his students. Globalization: its happening, and it’s going to be okay.

    Yogis everywhere can maybe not take themselves, or their yoga too seriously. If you like to post yoga pictures cool – but don’t be too serious about being perfect or obsessing over how many people “liked” it. And if you don’t that’s cool too, but there’s no need to attack others for attempting to inspire others. In the end it’s just a picture and it’s just yoga. Yes, yoga is life, but is life all that serious anyways? Having fun and loving people is the purpose of yoga and of life.

    Let’s all relax and get our down dogs on like the awesome worldwide yoga community we are!

    peace and love

  • Vision_Quest2

    And not one more dime from me goes to yoga, unless I ask myself a million times if it is ME who wants it, for me and my feelings, and MY health management; and not living up to some ideal.

    And you commenters in particular, are very inspiring. It is time for another Facebook diet. Maybe 16 months this time!

    Flip the switch. There’s no law against that!

  • I found a the article a little bit funny, no big deal. I will say this however…” To Each His Own”.

    Perhaps we should all take a look instead at how we have turned the Yoga community into Puritan Christianity Version 2 with all our dogma and judging and levels of hierarchy and authoritarianism?

    • Vision_Quest2

      No, it’s much more Calvinist than it has to be.

      Not Puritan, per se …

      Of course, in Calvinism, there are the anointed who don’t have to work so hard … who would be easier “redeemed” …

      But to translate this message to the popular interpretation of this exhibitionism that is Calvinist to the core–just as in the lyrics of RuPaul (sorry to offend cisgender yogis, this makes it all the snarkier, tho’): “You better WORK … covergirl …”

  • Zaiden aka @treehouseohm via Instagram

    For “yogis” everyone seems to be acting like such big assholes. I mean seriously, if you don’t like it don’t look at it.

    So many are preaching about yoga is this, yoga is that. YOGA IS WHAT THE F@:K YOU MAKE IT AND HOW YOU INTERPRET IT. It’s your body and your practice, traditional, non traditional, for spiritual connection and some just do it for the physical aspects. It is unfortunate that the ones that claim to be so enlightened and spiritual- the same people trying to write and define yoga for all, with claims of a non judgmental practice and to look within are the same ones being f@cking judgmental assholes towards others…. So how does this translate to the inner zen? What happened to spreading love? Are there rules written that all yogis must follow?? Is there a manual I forgot to pick up that somewhere says I cannot be myself and share what I want on my social media account??? Whether its naked yoga, winter coat wearing yoga, blasting reggae, practicing in between while I prepping dinner— who gives a shit. YOUR BODY YOUR PRACTICE. If people are so concerned with what yoga should and shouldn’t be- focus that on creating rituals and patterns for your own practice. Be your own guru. Learn and gather inspiration from many and do your thing- only keep what resonates well with you… Trying to live up to certain rules that someone wrote thousands of years ago— which by the way has changed and been modified so much over the years — is just ignorant. Stop being yogassholes and trying to pretend like you’re spreading peace and love when clearly this is only expressing hate towards others choices. That is not yoga- that is fuckery.

    • angelina presley

      hell yes! haha

    • Emily Lodge


    • Hank

      Zaiden, you are an idiot and need to breathe.

  • angelina

    haha i think this is fucking great and SO true. i’m even guilty of it, which may be why i find it so funny lol when people get defensive, it’s because they’re taking something personally; you’ve struck a cord in them. instead of getting all pissed off at someone for saying something about you or something you’re doing, why not ask yourself what it’s inside of you that’s letting that bother you so much? then let it gooooo! we’re ALL hypocrites. who fucking cares, honestly? why take it so seriously? we’re all gonna die anyway, so why not just laugh about it while we can? have a beautiful day 😀

  • Kate R

    I personally feel really bad for me hollypenny, the author. There is no hiding the fact that she has a lot of pain, suffering, and personal self doubt burried deep inside of her to write such a personal attack. It clearly depicts the vain jealousy she has for people that have something she wants, and to justify these emotions has attempted to make what she envies most appear to be what she finds repulsive by being condescending, sarcastic, and judgemental. I hope some light is shed on the idea that the only person to make you feel bad or upset about something is yourself; considering we live in a free society (I am assuming she does), she can choose to not participate in, read, look at etc the things she is targeting.

    • Vision_Quest2

      I don’t for a minute believe you even know or could begin to guess what drives hollypenny.

      The only nonjudgmental, factual, wise and accurate assesment in this whole response is, essentially: flip the switch!

  • This is one really good website. However, I have one question. Does Yoga contribute to weight loss somehow?

    • Vision_Quest2

      Sadly, if you are talking about the physical postures alone … rarely …

      Many combine yoga with dietary changes and puhh-lenty of cardio that they sneak off to do in the middle of the day or under cover of darkness … but they make it seem that yoga is all they do.

      I MUST do cardio, and would never shove that under the rug. Particularly since yoga has become a competition and I have to admit I am more highly skilled at cardio than the purely physical aspects of yoga.

    • jag

      It depends on how often you practice. I didn’t combine with other workouts and lost weight. I practice hot vinyasa. I ate vegan for about a year before practicing and lost weight after I began going to hot yoga 3 or more times a week… It depends on YOU and what you want from your practice…. There are many styles of yoga and you can choose how you eat, but I find that when I eat healthy, my yoga practice is much better and I feel more comfortable and at ease. Loosing weight and keeping it off is about lifestyle, not either eating right OR working out, doing both is key to being healthy.

      Good luck! And I hope you find the yoga style and healthy diet that suit your life!

  • Katrina

    “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”

  • yrbest

    Eesh. I’d say the waters have certainly been muddied on this one by the snarky tone of the article.

    I agree with the author that overall, instagramming your yoga practice likely does more harm than good in the cosmic balance.

    But by getting everyone all defensive, they’re not receptive to the discussion.

    Just do your best everyone!

  • Heather

    Yoga, a practice that has become the self-absorbed freak show of white privilege. The comments from these self-obsessed yoga IG groupies are amusing in a sad way.

  • I think it’s all about scale. I’ve made yoga practice videos in the past and have occasionally posted asana pictures. I quit Facebook last January but am on Instagram and follow a few of the obsessed selfie posters. Some of them post a handful of times per day!

    It reminds me of Warren Beaty (however you spell his name) talking about Madonna in Truth or Dare. He said that she didn’t want to LIVE off camera. Even if you’re a teacher, there’s self promotion and then there’s relentless sharing obsession. I sometimes feel like the compulsives would wither up and die if they didn’t get a certain amount of adulatory comments per day.

    But of course in the end, to each their own.

    • Vision_Quest2

      Not just scale, but targeting. It’s okay if it is among a close-knit group … they’re all advanced or advanced-identified. They may or may not be interested in a real, mindful, transformative sadhana, as opposed to just working it out or off …

      Not having to do with exhibitions themselves, but I’d felt disheartened when on Facebook, a studio at which I no longer take yoga, had started in on the yoga for weight loss tactic in their Facebook fan page. This despite being one of the more spiritual studios.

      I mean, personally, who asked THEM …
      I’d expected consistency.

      • Ya I think a lot of the time the target isn’t so much teaching or inspiring others as it is teaching and inspiring themselves. I spent 7.5 years organizing my entire life around yoga. Quit my job. Lived without health insurance. Went to India five times. I can say that in my opinion, the way students learn – particularly anything advanced or showy, which of course is ideally a side effect of yoga rather than an aim – is through practice with a physically present teacher.

        This is why I have the opinion that the travelling teachers who do not run regular rooms and only teach in short term, expensive workships AND who publish promo videos non stop care more about career, adulation and self promotion than they do about their students or any vague notions like “integrity” and “lineage”.

        Which is fine of course. We all need money! Just don’t waft around with a holier than though banner if it’s all “me, me, me” and “show me the money”. LOL

        • Vision_Quest2

          I absolutely agree with you!

          And I am a special needs yoga student, who is older, NOT advanced, a primarily home practitioner … and (perhaps more power to THEM, but I’m not their market) … what can I say?

          There may still be room for the virtuoso in vinyasa yoga


          but don’t pretend you’re a populist!

  • I find these women and men in IG inspiring. They urge people who don’t normally practice, or who may not practice daily, to get up every day and move. Whether their intentions are vain or whatever, only they can know. But isn’t it also un-yogic to be judging them for it?

    • Well, by that logic (assuming one has the wisdom to judge what is and is not yogic, then if you judge the judgers you must compound the non yogicness. No?


      • Haha, I wasn’t judging anyone dear 🙂

        • No? But you trotted out the “non yogic” reference and now you’re calling me “dear”! I hardly think that you regard me that way! People usually use the phrase “non-yogic” in the same way that others use “Christian”, and “dear” usually means “shithead”. LOL.

          I guess it’s ok as long as everyone’s smiling!

          My only point is that it’s just as judgmental as anything else to presume one can define the nuances of yogic behavior and assume they are right.

          • Haha! Oh my! Take it as you will. And yes, it’s always better to have a smile on your face 😉

    • Bob

      Unyogic = passive aggression in the yoga world.

      • Vision_Quest2

        So true.

        The “organized”, commercialized yogic world.

      • Yep – I agree. I got into a big debate in the past six months with the Non-Yogic Police insisting that people who listen to music while practicing asana are doing it wrong, because they are “not meditating”. Obviously these people have the ability to measure brainwaves from afar. Not!

  • Candis

    It’s very sad to me Somone would be so judge mental to someone they don’t know. Judging anyone for that matter is aweful! You don’t know them personally and you don’t know there struggles ! Yes there pictures are beautiful that doesn’t make there practice less meaningful! I participate in not only their Instagram challenges but many others! If it wasn’t for their posts I would have never tried many of the poses I have since learned to master! You are looking at it from the stand point of looms and fame but what about all the people they have helped! I believe making an opinion is fine but when you start blasting names it becomes hurtful ! I post my pictures on ig to participate in the challenges it is also a great way to see my progress ! It just saddens me in a world where nudity is normal and bad language and violence are part of everyday ! That Somone could still find the time to pull on something innocent like this! Maybe you should look into your practice and reflect on your self! Good luck !

  • Now that’s an article ! Puts words on my feelings of getting bored (and frankly disgusted) with this epic display of bikinego that “yoga” is becoming.
    At least, US yoga, as it appears from here (Europe).
    I know, I know, some will find my comment exagerated and judgmental, offensing even, but I say it as I feel it, and that is just my genuine opinion. Believe me, I’m not the only one, and I know that many people in North America try to live and spread a more natural, simple and less fashionable yoga -the one I believe in.
    Being good at gymnastics is not yoga, and being a pretty thin lady in her 20’s is not the definition of a yogini.
    In a flat world of advertising-discount-white-teeth-wisdom, perhaps, but to me yoga is three-dimensional, possibly roundish and based on the development of your own vision, not your looks.

    • Vision_Quest2

      Even the U.S. commercialized yoga world fears the inevitable backlash-apocalypse that is ensuing RIGHT NOW!

      “Please don’t abandon us ….!”:


      The studios, retreat centers and workshop leaders, by trying to supplant, instead of supplement home yoga self-practices–across the board … have created their own monsters ….

      Lovely egos and the Kali Yuga do not mix too well for them, anyway … some of them are sincere even if their business plans started out in the wrong place!

      These are the 21st Century fakirs (that’s where the word “faker” comes from).

  • jillian

    Thanks for all the passionate comments. This is good for the increase in the number of readers for YogaDork. Any article picked up from the NYTimes will get you some great numbers. So congrats for that. Otherwise the selfie, IG intense, hotties, yoga impossible for most people type poses are more like little flyers for circus performers. the ladies (mostly ladies) that commit themselves to snapping and sharing are doing this for their own personal reasons so that is great. I don’t follow any of them and if I did I would cut off the IG friendship right now. Selfies to me indicate narcissism if done time after time after time. That is fine, because without selfies on IG all we would have are a bunch of humans looking at their reflections all the time!. It is narcissistic to put your body and face everywhere for the world to see. That is the time, the era we live in and most of the peeps affected are those young kids in their 20s, early 30’s and very able bodied. They can save their selfies and put them on their wall in their retirement home and think back about how their bodies used to be. The article itself is filled with humor, cynical humor and obviously hits a button for so many that are on this path of self compassion. I guess I look at it all differently – not as yoga at all. It is about taking photos of oneself and posting them online – a lot. It is about how many likes and followers we have. It is about the shallow end of the pool and what washes up on the shore. It is silliness and laughter is the only remedy. Snap, snap.

  • PS from NY

    Why does no one post a photo of themselves in Savasana? Hmmm….

  • Grant Headley

    If you, me or someone else wants to post a million pictures of themselves doing yoga that is their business.
    If one photo inspires someone to start practicing yoga or to return after a time away, who cares why? They will find their own reasons for practicing yoga or not

  • I’ve been practicing yoga regularly for a little over a year now and have recently become making large improvements – arm balances, headstands, still working on my handstand.. but these are things I never thought I could do, but I’ve worked towards them BECAUSE of these instagram yogis and other things I’ve seen online. I spent a day watching Kino videos on youtube and it sparked a fire in me I didn’t have before, and a deep desire to further my practice. When I see these yogi-IGers like Laura (who I follow and look forward to seeing every day), it inspires me to push myself further, to keep practicing, and to try new things. And it feels GREAT when I notice my own improvement!
    I have also posted some photos of my own and as a result, I have four friends and aquaintances who have recently started going to yoga classes, and several others who have contacted me expressing interest and asking for advice. It is an amazing feeling to inspire others and I’m not even a fraction of the caliber of these other girls, so I know they get men and women who see their photos every day and say “I want to do that. I’m going to practice more.” And I think that’s awesome.
    Not everyone can afford the $2500 for yoga teacher training, or have the time to devote to it, or can quit their job to do yoga all day. Posting photos on instagram in this day and age is just another outlet. If it bothers you that much and you think it’s too “narcissistic” then you probably shouldn’t have an instagram account anyway.

    • There’s a point. I deleted my Fakebook account last January and do not miss it. I still like Twitter. There are a lot of funny comedians on it & it’s a good newsfeed, but it always makes me laugh when people use Twitter to complain about Facebook.

    • Vision_Quest2

      And you are either preternaturally talented, were given gymnastics or ballet lessons as a kid, or you’re still young anyway, or strong–or can bankroll a yoga teacher for private lessons; and have all the time in the world (remember those 10,000 hours it ostensibly takes?).

      Some of us do not have those luxuries.

      But, I’ve decided instead of feeling resentment. Santosha STILL does not thin my wallet to those yoga teachers (TO NOT MUCH AVAIL, I MUST ADD). And I have a yoga practice, when I have the time. And it has been years.

  • Tuggstuggietugglife

    You’re pathetic. This blog is pathetic. Screams jealousy, and insecurity.

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  • Excellent article, une fois de plus

  • Colleen

    Love this article! I’ve been thinking about this a lot on my own. I did some yoga challenges on instagram and on the positive side I felt inspired and excited to challenge myself in some fun, new inversions. however, for me, the negative outweighed the positive. I felt like I became too concerned about getting the photo just right. It simply took up too much of my precious practice time. I didn’t like filling people’s feeds with photos and videos of myself. I get tired of seeing all of the scantily clad yogis on Igram. Why yoga in a bikini? My husband chimes in that it’s about narcissism period. It’s just disguised as empowerment. I’m not sure what it is or if I agree with him…and I don’t necessarily think it’s all bad by any means….just not for me. I came to yoga to learn to be in my body. To relax. To heal. The world of Igram yoga takes me to a place of concern for external approval….something I’m trying to unlearn… That is my practice.

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