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Yoga Selfies: What’s Your Intention?

in Yogitorials

kelly-yoga-selfieby Kelly Barrett

A few weeks ago I did something I never thought I would do: I changed my Facebook profile picture to a photo of myself doing yoga on the beach.

The next morning, I walked into my office and the first thing one of my coworkers said was, “How do you even do that?!” It took a moment to realize what she was talking about, but then we had a conversation about the pose. I explained how you get into headstand, and we chatted a bit more about yoga in general.

But I couldn’t help but feel bashful about it.

Then a few weeks back (because it really was just a matter of time) The New York Times published an article about yoga selfies and the entire Internet rolled its eyes. I braced myself to play defense for a team I wasn’t even sure I wanted to be on. But I’m on that team, Team Yoga Selfies.

I am not even remotely a yoga selfie Insta-star (as are several of the people interviewed within the Times’ article.) I started taking videos of myself doing yoga at home one morning about four months ago, when I placed my MacBook on the floor in my house and set a video to record to see what my alignment looked like in an inversion. It then occurred to me what a great learning tool it could be, and that it could serve as a means for watching my asana practice change over time. One night I took a crappy, low-resolution freeze-frame of peacock pose and considered posting it on Instagram. I thought, would that be the most narcissistic thing ever?

I decided that yes, it was slightly narcissistic, this being social media, where a certain element of narcissism exists at the core of most user’s individual experience. But I reasoned that my sharing these images came from a place of education, inspiration and appreciation for yoga. I believe there are many yoga practitioners on the Internet that see it this way as well. There isn’t one pose I ever learned to do entirely on my own. Yoga is the practice of getting to know your true self, but it’s also deeply rooted in community. If people saw a beautiful pose and it inspired them to check out a yoga class or deepen their own practice or correct something unsafe they were doing, or if they could correct something unsafe I was doing, for me it was worth the vanity of the selfie. I continue to hope that the intention behind the image will shine through, despite what the potential perception is by some.

There have been moments where I’ve had to keep that intention in check. Sometimes, I feel myself prioritizing getting a good shot over getting through my sequence or focusing on my breath. These are times when I’ve had to take a step back from sharing. I make it a point now to go through my practice in the morning and then if there’s time, record a video after, or later on that night. For me, for now, this works.

But is posting pictures of one’s yoga practice on the Internet a yogic thing to do? This twinge of hesitation hasn’t quite left me. But I think that’s a part of the nature of sharing, because while we can certainly control our own intentions, we cannot control those of others. My hesitation emerges when I get creepy comments from strangers or I’m followed by a girl on Tumblr who is clearly battling with issues that a yoga pose picture isn’t going to help. My hesitation wanes when it prompts a conversation with someone who otherwise wouldn’t have thought about yoga at all that day, like my coworker.

When it comes to these Internet yoga-lebrities, I cannot speak for their intention. 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.

As the viewer of these images, we have the power to exert our own intention as well. Will it come from a place of intimidation or respect? Will it come from a place of envy or appreciation? Will it come from a place of judgment or growth?

Kelly Barrett is a PR professional and yoga teacher living in Washington, D.C. She completed her 200-hour teacher training in the spring of 2013 after spending years falling in love with the transformative quality of yoga. Kelly also writes about her experiences with yoga at her personal blog, nomnomnamaste.tumblr.com.  

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59 comments… add one

  • Cathy Ge

    I was with you all the way for posting a photo of yourself doing a difficult pose and holding firm that it is a right to do so.

    I lost you though when you decided to ssay that it is quite obvious thatthe focus of yoga celebrities is on likes and clicks. I disagree. They are oto that much different than you or I. Their, your and my poses project our latest self-expression in yoga which we choose to share. They havea right for part of their business to show themselves and their work as part of marketing.
    i would appreciate your not making negative aspersions at others, just as you didn’t like them at you.

  • Hi Cathy, Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this – I agree with you. I didn’t mean to come across negatively with regard to “yoga celebrities.” I do believe that clicks, likes, etc. are sought out because as you point out, for many it is the avenue they have chosen to market themselves (if that gets students on their mats, all the better). As rewarding as teaching yoga can be, it’s challenging to make a decent living as an instructor alone, you need to show your expertise/abilities to connect with students. But the fact that someone uses their pics for marketing absolutely doesn’t preclude the other wonderful intentions behind them sharing, it’s just yet another one. I appreciate your comment and again thanks so much for reading.

  • Hannah

    Thank you for writing about this! I’ve really been struggling with this. In our social media craze age, everything is about presentation and editing how we want to portray ourselves to the internet community. As a new practitioner of yoga, one thing that has been hard to balance is being patient with my practice and going about the right steps to achieving x y z inversion poses. Since they’re prevalent on instagram etc it’s hard not to want to try those poses for myself. But its also easy to get hurt or build the wrong foundation for the mere sake of trying to get into a pose. I’m afraid that social media cannot capture the transforming power of yoga- just the result of years of practice. I really appreciate it though when yogis write an honest caption for how long it took them to get to that pose. This way, new practitioners will know that it doesn’t happen over night- or should that be the motivation.

    Thanks for sharing Kelly!

  • Jenifer

    The really funny thing about yoga is this:

    You start out with the basics, looking at the fancy poses hoping someday to “get there.” (and perhaps pushing yourself too early anyway.)

    Then, when you have been practicing yoga for a while, you go back to basics and there aren’t any fancy photos to take.

    In all seriousness, my practice — and I’ve been practicing for 33 yrs and teaching for 18 — is basically the most basic postures.

    My students walked in on my practice the other day (I’d lost track of time). They were shocked that I was working mountain pose so intently. it is a hard posture when you are really working it. But guess how awesome it looks on instagram or whatever? Nada. Looks like standing there.

    Can I express to you the subtle challenge that I’m facing in bridge pose? I have no injuries — but like everyone I have inherent postural imbalances due to my postural pattern. I am working keeping my hips level — working the balanced strength that it requires). I can’t lift my left hip as high as my right without great effort. And, My left shoulder likes to pop out of joint (not painful, just how it sits naturally with my errant postural pattern), so i’m working on keeping that joint stable. Oh, and there’s also the matching twist in my rib cage (opposite my hip “twist”), which needs to be corrected.

    A picture of working that posture? *Yawn* “she’s obviously a noob.”

    The practice becomes much much much more subtle over time. So subtle that many of my friends who have been practicing for years and years and teaching for years and years get together to roll around on the floor. Block work. Strap work. Detailed work.

    Photos? Boring and not cool.

    Not to mention the lego strewn everywhere and my seriously un-fancy yoga clothes.

    You know, yes, I can do “fancy” stuff. I can even manage 2 seconds of headstand with no hands (Dharma Mittra style). But I very rarely practice that. Once week I do a non-detailed, vigorous “fun” practice with fancy-pants what nots. But the rest of the time? Slow, boring foundational, detail-oriented things that no one wants to photograph.

    I write this just to point out that, you’ll discover that those postures might be fun or interesting and/or cool looking, but end of the day, the foundational stuff is the real bomb-diggity of postures. When you discover the complexity of how Mountain, Plank, head stand, and savasana all work the same weird postural stuff that you manifest with different gravitational pulls, you’ll really discover the sweetness of it.

    But no one is going to really “like” that picture on facebook. *BORING.* LOL

  • Hi Kelly! When I started blogging, I felt that gym selfies were too obnoxious. But when I started putting them up on my blog, readers were very inspired. So maybe they are half obnoxious/half totally cool. People have have told me repeatedly that they are super glad I have all of those gym pics of me up on my blog. One reader told me that when she puts her hair into a pony tail, she is reminded of me and how hard I work in the gym, as reflected in all of those photos–and she wants to exercise as hard as I do. So–great! Aren’t we just trying to make people want to be healthier?! :D

  • Yes! Cool post.

  • kia

    growsoulbeautiful.com is a site that encourages these for women to be transformative in experiencing their beauty. Their Instagram yoga challenge every month is responsible for its fair share of these images that are in my opinion as yogic as you make them.

  • VQ2

    We are all gonna die!

  • looking at instagram yoga pictures makes me happy. To me that is art, to see a person making a beautiful shape with their bodies while standing in front of a gorgeous place it’s ART.
    I started posting my pictures after I finished breast cancer treatment, almost like a progress report to not just me, but others who wanted to see. I get emails from people going thru cancer saying how inspired they are and that they have hope to either start or continue with yoga after cancer treatment. That puts a smile on my face. My pics tell others that there is a normal life after cancer.

  • How is posting a yoga photo un-yogic? It harms no one. There are too many other destructive behaviours that abound in this world to be spending energy figuring out someone’s intention for having a photo! Trying to call out instances of ego existence in any/every situation is futile and ridiculous. There are more serious issues for people to solve than incessantly proving they have “no ego”. It’s gettin’ weird.

  • Brooke

    I have never really posted a yoga selfie myself. I was involved in a challenge where we had to do an inversion everyday and post a pic of it, but that has been the extent to which I have posted… I love yoga selfies, though! I find them very inspiring. I am going to my intensive yoga teacher training in a few weeks and once I am teaching I will defn be posting selfies, too. And yes, part of me will be doing it to get more students, but that is because I have such a desire to share my love of yoga and all the great things it can do for your life with others. I think that all yoga teachers have this desire or they wouldn’t be in the business. I personally don’t think there is anything wrong that, in fact, I think it is great! I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting to be successful in your chosen career either. There is no other career where people are judged for trying to be successful and make a good living. Why is it necessary to do this with yoga?? I understand that yoga is a spiritual practice, it is one of the things that brought me to yoga in the first place, but why because of that do we expect people to give themselves to it and choose it as their career-and spend quite a bit of time and money in doing so, I might add- but never care about making any money doing it?? In a perfect world, money would not be an issue, but sadly, this isn’t a perfect world and money is an issue, it is needed to survive. So, let’s just leave the yoga teachers and their selfies alone already. That energy could be much better served looking within at what we need to change about ourselves.

  • VQ2

    Yawn!

  • yrbest

    I relate to points on both sides of this issue, admittedly falling more on the ‘con’ side of yoga selfies. But then I’m an extremely private person who hesitates sharing certain aspects of myself publicly, and that includes my personal practice (while I’m doing it). I like to have things well-integrated before I share them through teaching, for example.

    I hear a lot about “beautiful” yoga pics acting as “inspiration” for people to take up yoga, and I’m just not convinced it works this way. I think it may actually serve to alienate people who don’t identify with the form of “beauty” they see in the photo. It’s like the BS “weight-loss inspiration” posts on pinterest that are just fat-shaming in disguise, and may reinforce people’s misconceptions about who yoga’s for – leaving them to dismiss it as a pursuit for bendy, slim, well-dressed youth.

  • VQ2

    Yes! Where are the pilates selfies??

    Oh, I get it …. the process for YOGA is the sexy, marketing-looking one…
    … and you don’t give two sh*Ts about the results, costs, effort or lack of same …

    Caveat emptor for the prospective student… and I absolutely agree with you.

    Spiritual, private BUT looking for results!

  • fin

    If you dont identify with someone who has most likely had a strong yoga practice for over several years than that’s judgement on your part. Everyone’s body is capable, the moment you stop believing you can do something is when it becomes impossible..
    A woman of 80 can look at a shot of a 20 year old woman and identify with her being a woman, someone who exhorts shakti, someone who practices yoga…ect ect.. The asana may not be physically possible at the moment in time the shot is shown to her but she can look at the shot and enjoy the beginning of a new journey in learning how her own body can “get there” as well as her practice.
    That’s the whole point of photography, getting the viewer to open up and identify with the image. If you can’t allow yourself to identify, than take a step back, observe yourself and see if you can connect on some level. Dont disconnect!!

  • yrbest

    Ok exactly my point then – why would an 80 year old woman want to “get there” to a 20 year old body and its capabilities? How self-defeating! Not identifying with something doesn’t imply judgement.

    The more I think about this the more I’m convinced that the problem with photos of yoga is that they’re superficial – they only show what’s happening on the surface, in the physical realm, to the body. There’s just way more happening than that.

    Also, is that really the whole point of photography? What about advertising photos that are designed to make people feel insecure so they spend money?

  • Vision_Quest2

    “Not identifying with something doesn’t imply judgement. ”

    A-menWhat about advertising photos that are designed to make people feel insecure so they spend money?

    Yoga selfies are to yoga practice as fashion modeling is to getting dressed so you’re not naked … !

  • barbara

    What is right or what is wrong is a matter of perspective. What is yogic or what is not yogic? Nobody knows! You want to be totally yogic? Well take inspiration from the sadhus in India. That is where hatha yoga comes from, but we prefer not to know that. Nowadays yoga means something else for all of us. I have been teaching for 6 years now and came across many different people in my classes. Some came for spiritual guidance, some came for a flatter tummy, others loved themselves in beautiful poses. I have to admit, I love myself in beautiful poses, I love looking at others in beautiful poses and I do not feel ashamed of this. I believe it is better than being shameful of our bodies and going on harmful diets to be skinny. Yoga helped me to accept myself as I am and love my body. It also made it fitter, which makes me more confident and healthy. A healthy body is a temple for a healthy mind. I believe whatever your reason is to practice yoga is a good one. Just practice. I deeply believe that the asanas have the power to bring spiritual transformation to all of us, who stick to the practice. Just look around and you can see the spiritual awakening all around… Those who now seem narcissistic, they might just not be very far on the path yet, but at least they are on it.
    Yoga is a business, but it is a better business than for example pharmaceutical medicine. As a business it needs marketing and the point of marketing is that it is pleasing to the eye. We shouldn’t judge so harsh on each other or ourselves. Let yoga grow and spread and let us just enjoy ourselves in the beauty of the poses and change your profile pic to your favorite asana, if you like, it will not make you more or less yogic. You can throw stones at me..

  • Michelle

    I have a whole album of “selfies” of yoga poses….but I do it to encourage others to get involved in yoga. I typically talk about benefits of yoga and how my body changed for the better because of it. I could honestly care less if people are impressed with how I bend my body the way I do….I don’t do it for likes….but for motivation.

    Yoga is all about balance, peace, and well being! Good Karma everyone ~Namaste~

  • John

    People can’t reasonably agree what yoga is, never mind what’s yogic. One good thing about the whole yoga photo celebrity thing is that any one with the necessary genetic advantages in the right age group who puts in the effort and has the luck can be one – it’s about as democratic as these things get.

    It’s also a good way to decide if you want to train with teacher ‘X’. I can watch a video of Meghan Currie and appreciate it’s very pretty AND save myself the cost (and injuries) of doing a workshop with her to find out if her stuff works for me – I know from the video it won’t.

    Very few people, even ones who’ve done lots and lots of yoga and meditation, fully understand their own motives. Even when they can and their motives are “yogic” (whatever that is) they have no clue what motives people who look at pictures have.

    The down side is it encourages the idea that people who can do certain things well can teach them well, which is a dangerous fallacy. The idea that you can safely learn one arm forearm balance from a picture of some one doing it propped up against a glass door and a few pointers tacked under the photo is as dangerous as it is hilarious. The idea that the fact some one can do something means they can teach it is less hilarious but equally dangerous. The idea that the amount of time some one spends on make up, costume, and location, for their pose somehow qualifies them to teach is hilarious, though.

    I think there’s a reason this is all about stills, and not video, and that’s bad for yoga too. It’s easy to put together a single pose in controlled conditions. It’s much harder to do it as part of a flow, particularly in sync with a group. You learn more useful things doing the harder training.

    That isn’t what bothers me about the whole thing. What bothers me is that it seems to be a part of the rubbish teachers get more students than good ones thing.

  • Vision_Quest2

    It’s even worse in that many selfie yoga promoters are so egoic in that they have the illusion that they could teach “anybody” yoga … okay some like Kathryn Budig and Chelsey Korus seem to have bridged into teaching “Gentle Yoga” …

    To the rest of selfie yoga teacher self-promoters. particularly those who have not sustained yoga injuries, try to restrain from teaching inversions for the greater part of your remaining careers to the ischemically challenged post-stroke patient. Not so much as a plow pose … Let’s see a lot of crossover action.

    Try to see if you add therapeutic yoga to your resumes – go the Judith Lasater route. Some young man did it already early in his career:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3RGOtGraNUg

    Try to see if you lose your main “market segment” if you haven’t lost them already …

    On the other hand, over at pilates … maybe you’ll be very welcome …

  • in

    @Vision_Quest2
    I think your lumping everyone in one category and that’s just not right. As a yoga instructor, we are to be examples in and out of the classroom. We, at times, serve as inspiration to our students. How can we inspire them if we ourselves are not challenging our own practice? Maybe it is selfish and egotistical for me to post an accomplishment of a journey of over 2 years..maybe its “bad teaching” that I encourage my students to look at the people surrounding them on their mats, to appreciate their neighbor’s pose as well as their own… WE ARE HUMAN, we are placed on this earth to love, appreciate and raise the vibration…how can we do this when everyone is pointing out the mishaps and the downfalls?
    We can individually work on our prospective to widen our understanding of one another..that’s how.

    And to your comment on “they have the illusion that they can teach anyone”; I can teach anyone, anyone that is whole heartedly open to learning.

  • Vision_Quest2

    Too many things I’ve done on the mat are like a red flag to a bull(y) yoga teacher. Those kinds of yoga teachers cannot teach just anyone. And those are the types more likely to do a selfie in the current climate … that’s just how it is. Live with such opinions, and cherish the young or fit, far less experienced students who you do have …

  • Jenifer

    I might also point out that in most of the selfies that I’ve seen, the person doing the posture is doing it improperly (if it’s krishnamacharya alignment), and often injuriously.

    But it’s interesting, because the average newbie doesn’t know. In a lot of cases, the average teacher doesn’t seem to know (since a lot of these photos are teachers). I find it shocking that a person will use such misaligned photos for advertising, but most people dont’ know it’s misaligned, so they do seem to attract students that way.

    Fascinating, really.

  • Vision_Quest2

    I like your style. Help me with my ardha supta virasana (with mondo blocks. In fact, I’m thinking of getting some other blocks – from a studio I’d rather not do yoga business with – except they have an eye for yoga props – to round it out).

    I refuse to be photographed (or selfie’d). Even now that I’ve wasted away in weight to a size that would be acceptable to a NYC yoga class (through chronic disease), my most flattering photo would still be of parivritta uttkatasana (despite some standing postures I’m capable of doing now, after over 6 years of regular practice).

    My current yoga teacher uses these funny, skinny blocks that are not exactly part of my home practice …

  • Jenifer

    where are you using the block? are you also using a blanket and strap? is your psoas released (ie, ribs not popping up).

  • Vision_Quest2

    Under my tush. (Knee issues.) Psoas is released, Used to be able to descend further backwards once in position.

  • Jenifer

    my third thought on the matter would be to pile up blankets so that you can work the hip/sacrum and lower (floating) ribs to the “floor” — so by having a nice pile of blankets, you can have a ton of space.

    but then, i’m also wondering why this posture in particular would be chosen, considering your knee issue — it’s not ‘necessary’ and it’s not necessarily going to get what you want out of it.

    but then, i don’t know what you want out of it. :)

    so, what do you want out of the posture?

    for me, it’s getting the psoas/illiacus to release, and a bit of work through the thigh, but I find that i can do that with warrior I, really, if i’m holding the pelvis right, and it’s aheck of a lot harder without any risks to the knees. But that’s just how my brain is going.

  • Vision_Quest2

    @Jenifer, I have more in common with the selfie folks, as doesn’t everyone … except it would happen in the space of many years – not months – since I’m old enough to be their mother … I used to be able to do supta virasana, knee had not bugged me. As an up-modification, it had gotten me through that too-mild yoga class that proved to be the antidote to a studio that took no prisoners. From which they have permanently lost me as a yoga-customer. You know, the kind of studio that spawn young selfie-photographers…

  • Vision_Quest2

    My Warrior I had been lousy for years… I started to fix the problem … In addition, I needed more integrity and flexibility in the shoulders … simple bound reaches in my personal home practice do the trick (This is for being able to do a simple Wheel pose)

  • Semper Fi

    I am more impressed when my stiff students can do basic poses they could not do before after many classes of trying, rather than a lithe young woman just showing her flexibility. The truly meaningful yoga moments cannot be viewed in an instragram. My .02

  • Amanda

    I agree.

  • Some of yoga’s joys and rewards can be visually represented and others require words. Neither need be condemned.

  • Maggi

    Just sayin, I’ve seen a lot of people who do NOT practice yoga post yoga selfies. Not a lot of people post pics of themselves in tadasana or utkatasana or more “simple looking” asanas… I see lots of headstands, forearm balances, backbends… You know, the impressive looking asanas. Whether its vanity or attachment or whatever, many of these people are just throwing themselves into a pose that may not serve their body, or that they were never guided through by a knowledgable yogi and it can be completely unsafe. Some of them make me cringe (the compressed necks in headstand comes to mind). Beyond that, it makes people who don’t practice think that this is what yoga is… Whether that draws them to the class or scares them away, I don’t know.

  • Vision_Quest2

    You don’t SAY … !!

    As a former meditation addict, you think some of them may’ve been from OUR camp? Any of them were studying spirituality?

    Nahhh, that’s too naive to ponder. But over at my blogsite there are outdoorspeople/martial arts enthusiasts of whatever weight/size/degree of fitness, who have boasted ability of getting into headstand as their first “accomplishment” … it’s entirely possible …

    Personally, even when I’d been well – um, too many “daddy issues” (as in heredity) for me to even think of ever going this shazam-asana selfie route from lack of exhibitionism to lack of native ability …

  • in

    Some people get excited about their first headstand, maybe because they have such regimented schedules and can take a moment to live on the edge and shake things up a bit… some people get really excited about their first cobra pose, maybe because they had a troubled past and they are afraid of looking back…some people get really excited about their first tree pose, maybe because they feel unaccepted and they can control their thoughts
    AND THEY ACCOMPLISHED IT ON A BREATH AND A FEELING OF “I CAN”
    Please, let people enjoy that, dont take away their joy.

  • Amanda

    For me it depends why you do yoga. If you do it for just the physical aspect then yes by all means take pics of yourself and post them. If you’re doing yoga to help you spiritually then taking these pics is contradictory to what you are trying to achieve. These pictures express attachment to your physical body and ability to asanas which is just a small part of yoga. It also feeds your ego which you should be trying to slowly get rid of.

  • John

    If enjoying having a physical body is in any way contrary to spirituality I’ll give spirituality a miss thanks

  • Vision_Quest2

    Thank YOU.

    Like I’ve said many times, selfies done by teachers, help me winnow out whom to avoid.

    Now, if I take their class and I find that the “spiritual” teacher thinks they are going to be Jillian Michaels of yoga, I vote with my wallet and my internet presence.

  • novecho

    I agree with Amanda. It just becomes exercise. Posing, like a bodybuilder, is ok i guess. I used to like yoga better when it wasn’t so outwardly expressive. Miss “The Underground” aspect.

  • It’s a practise that is both inward and outward. To have to choose between the visual and non-visual aspects creates the polarity that yoga is supposed to transcend. The fact that it can contribute to physical strength need not be disdained. Everyone knows we live in a visual world. The invisible processes are not going to be visibly portrayed anytime soon. Lighten up yogis! People are simply enjoying themselves, harming no one, and spreading the joy!

  • Semper Fi

    True, but the “outward” part of yoga is the Yamas and Niyamas, not the ego gratifying itself via admiration from the internet. That is just a common trap for beginners.

  • Trap? Lure? Invitation to join? Asanas are a fine starting point. I find more egoic expressions here on this thread than I do in yoga photos.

  • Semper Fi

    You are correct Zan, your comments on this thread are egoic expressions of massive proportions. Great self oberservation!

  • Semper Fi, It was an overall observation, certainly not a reference to your comments. No offense meant.

  • in

    agree!

  • Der

    “Slightly” narcissistic? Oy, vey gevalt!
    When he was unable to leave the beauty of his own reflection, Narcissus died.
    Now that you recognize your burden, take down your public photo — don’t use the excuse that you are trying to check your alignment. Or, admire your reflection then turn away before it is too late. But please, don’t share.
    Yoga posing for photos is for poseurs, not yogis.
    Choose the right path.

  • Jews can’t be yogis

  • Himix

    But they can sure be moms… you heard her: take all your photos down!

  • Vision_Quest2

    Or put them in something like these:

    http://listverse.com/2009/04/27/top-10-incredible-time-capsules/

    Jews and Hispanics excel at being the some of the best time binders, whether badass yogis or not …

  • in

    Do you ever read Yoga Journal? Or have you “googled” a yoga pose on the internet?

  • Wondering

    Why? What’s yoga journal have to do with yoga?

  • Vision_Quest2

    LOL :-)

  • Great post! You should not be ashamed or afraid to show off your amazing yoga poses, especially when it helps to inspire others to do the same.

  • I am so glad you wrote this article. Though I have a daily home practice, my yoga selfie policy is that I only instagram photos which capture progress/need feedback. Recently, one of my followers commented that she thought I must have stopped doing yoga because of an unexplained photo hiatus. I was surprised that my reaction was self frustration- I chided myself for not posting more photos. But then I thought “wait a minute- is instagram the yoga police?” Um, no, because there is no yoga police. I had to remind myself that my photos are progress reports, not signs of devotion to the practice. I can’t let the introspection and spiritual growth that yoga gives me be undermined by internet frivolity.

  • Sarah

    I can’t answer exactly what is “yogic” but I can certainly tell you that the negativity, judgement and nastiness displayed on this blog, both from yourself and in the comments, is most definitely NOT in the spirit of yoga. Back to the old adage, “if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing”!

  • Kate

    When I started doing yoga, I continued the practice because of the lack of judgement I found in this beautiful circle of yogis. As time has worn on, it has sometimes been difficult to realize that this circle is not much different than any other- people are terribly judgmental and somewhat self righteous- and quite hipster about “their” yoga- even though yoga, I firmly believe, is for everyone, no matter their walk in life.
    When I ran across these instagramming yogis and ran low on money and could not attend a class anymore, I suddenly was reconnected with the yoga world. I found teachers, friends, yogis and inspirers via the Internet. It is a beautiful circle of encouragement.
    Many of my friends have approached me about yoga ever since I found this amazing community, and people that never would have considered yoga before are now opening their hearts and minds to it.
    Isn’t that the purpose of yoga? To bring others together, and to encourage one another to open their hearts towards each other?

  • Natalie O'Hara

    Thank you for writing this! I had the same inner struggle when it came to posting my first yoga selfie; and I actually came to take it the same way you did! I now post about one or two a week simply because I practice daily and it’s very easy to snap a quick pic with our current technological devices. By posting my yoga selfies to instagram I’ve met fellow yogis on ig, recommended yoga pants to followers, swapped smoothies recipes with other yoga health nuts, got some of my friends to take a few classes, and even got a few new students in my door :) overall yoga selfies have been a positive experience for me but you’re right about reflection on the intentions behind the selfies.

  • Tina

    To each his/her own. I more often than not find myself against taking the yoga selfie unless for seeing my own alignment during my home practice. When I started yoga, my very first class was as a guest with my sister in a bikram class. I got a fair amount of obvious ego-centricity in that class and nearly threw up by the end of the 90 minutes, but at the end of the class in savasana, I felt that calm mind that I hadn’t felt with anything else I had done- whether it was tennis in highschool, squash in college, or gym routines. Although at that time, all I knew was what I saw : glossy photo-shopped photos of young yogi/inis/models or the like- walking into a yoga class at an LA Fitness while I was treading away in the gym. Fast forward to now, and you would not find me stepping foot in a Bikram studio if my life depended on it. I think it’s about the journey- and while I find it to be feeding the Ego to do a yoga selfie and post it all over the web, I also find some of those ‘selfies’ to be beautiful and inspiring all the same. For me it’s about finding balance in life third-metric and yoga has helped me do so- if I hadn’t been inspired by skin-tight bikini clad yogi/inis when I first began my journey, I’m not sure if I would’ve found it to be as healing as I do today.

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