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Let’s Talk About Yoga Selfies, Baby

in YD News


Yoga selfies: take ’em or leave ’em, or have another person take ’em (is it still considered a ‘selfie,’ then?). The NY Post has a piece today on the Insta-trend with some quotes from rebel Yogi-in-a-box, Tara Stiles, as well as YD Editor-in-Chieftess, JLHC, and Roseanne Harvey from It’s All Yoga, Baby, among others. It’s an interesting conversation to be had whether you sit with the selfie-ers of the selfie-nots, especially in light of yesterday’s events and the tech-centric, quick fix culture that we live in.

YD has posted on both the negatives and positives of yoga selfies — it’s not exactly black and white — but we somehow end up playing the antagonist in articles like this. It’s OK, we’ll take it on. Someone has to be the voice of reason. Kidding! All opinions are valid in this wild and crazy smarty-picture-taking-phone, yoga-pose-lovin’ world we live in. Yoga can be cool and fun, no?

But are selfies undoing the fabric of our very yoga foundations? Probably not. Yoga lives on with us no matter what. But the incessant posting of fancy pose pics can get pretty gosh darn annoying, can’t they? One might start to wonder the intention and validity behind the “yoga anywhere” idea when one is posing in a single-armed handstand atop the Empire State Building in December in a bikini. #nofilter. Times that by 1000 and the millions a picture on the internet can reach. That might be the exact thing someone would need to point to when they say they’re not flexible or fit enough to try yoga. (Nonsense!) The other argument against selfies is that they’re dangerously misleading to someone new to the practice in terms of alignment and personal body safety.

On the other hand, the selfie can be seen as a form of empowerment. When inundated by images of what we’re told and what we think yoga should look like and be (see How Yoga Can Make Things Better. And Worse.) putting our own images out there can help flood the system and maybe, just maybe, squash the stereotype and flip the script, making real change in how many (outsiders, newbs and veterans alike) view the practice. The My Real Yoga Body project is seeking to do just that. Inspire rather than intimidate. The same with Roseanne’s “awkward selfie” project. One might even say our cat #savasanagram-s are inspiring feline practitioners everywhere to take extra time in corpse pose.

All of this was said in conversation with the journalist (minus the cat talk), but we understand the need for quotes from people on all sides. We just happen to be the… rebels? Naw, that doesn’t sound right.

Really, though. Enough from us. We’d love for you to read the piece and let us know what you think about it all. Let’s continue the conversation in the comments!



16 comments… add one
  • I recently wrote about those gorgeous yoga bodies we see on Instagram. I find them beautiful and inspiring. However, I am comfortable with where I am in my yoga practice (which is not as advanced as those hashtagged yoga goddesses). I can see how those images could be discouraging to someone who hasn’t started yoga or gotten to a place in their practice where they’ve stopped being concerned with where others are in their practice. As T. Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”

    It’s not the fault of the selfie-posters. However, I do think that efforts like the real yoga body campaign are great.

    I have a yoga body. It’s not always graceful and toned and able to hold intricate poses, but I’ll still post it up on the ‘gram from time to time. If that helps make yoga less scary to newbs, great! But that’s not my purpose. I guess my only purpose is to selfishly tell my story through my iPhone. #putahashtagonit

  • Vision_Quest2

    “I guess my only purpose is to selfishly tell my story through my iPhone.”

    You need not have bothered. After about nearly 7 years of regular yoga practice (at the #perennialadvancedbeginner level, I finally pretty much gave it up. Though by far not the most compelling reason to have done so. But everything adds up.

    I guess deep down in the back of the selfie posters’ minds, that (or crass commercializing of their offerings) is what they really wanted.

    Mission accomplished. You can now have your own mutual admiration societies to yourselves … #Missionaccomplished

  • arlet

    hmmm i’m on the fence with (and guilty of) yoga selfies. they can be empowering and motiving, but some times just showoff-y or just down right crazy! i think that as long as the self in the selfie is being honest and real- than it’s all good! http://extendyoga.com

  • Vision_Quest2

    I would so much rather, if I have to look at these ego-imbued kids doing yoga at all, the time-lapse video. I’m sorry, I cook more than a little, I even at times go out to eat; but I don’t spotlight my food, stage it and share it on social media.

    And I would look at yoga on those blogs, etc. even more now, that I admittedly do not really practice yoga asana that does not contain the following: de-emphasis on breath awareness, mat pilates, and modern dance [and how!] … so why would a staged still-photo selfie of movement [ostensibly] with breath awareness (as opposed to yoga) fascinate and inspire me?

    Because questions of mudita are now moot.

    And, you know, during my involvement with yoga, I’d gotten to know my Tara (reference to Gone With the Wind, NOT Stiles) for a time with that little hippie studio …

  • It doesn’t bother me, I’ve taken the odd insta-yoga selfie but in know way am I the lululemon wearing, kale smoothie drinking, veggie that detox’s. I am a yogi who runs and uses yoga to keep me running injury free, been doing both for 13 years and never been to a yoga class. I self taught myself using DVD’s and continued via online classes in my home. I love cake and chocolate and frequently have tight hips and hamstrings (quads and calves), I take my yoga mat to races for my post race stretch-cool down.

    If people want to take selfie’s then let them, but lets encourage the full spectra and not just the waif-like super bendy. Lets have some wearing bog standard gym wear and not just super trendy gear.

  • Kayla Nichols

    I’ve been on both sides of this argument. Before yogadorks first ‘article’ on the celebrity yoga selfie, I thought I was against it. But now I see that it’s none of anyone’s business. What I do in or outside my home with my body and my camera, is no one else business. If I choose to share photos of something I’m proud of with my friends, then I will do just that. The real questions is, why do what other people do with their lives so bothering to everyone else? The writers of these type of articles will say that it goes against what yoga is and what yoga is supposed to teach you…. Except how do you even know what my intentions are? Where I’m at in my own practice? What kind of person I am? The main lesson I’ve learned in yoga is focus on your drishti. Stop looking over at your neighbor and eye balling what asana they’re on and how advanced they are and focus on YOUR practice. In other words what the western yoga community needs is a little bit of MIND YA OWN BUSINESS.

    • Vision_Quest2

      Yeah, Kayla. I will finally do a selfie in the pose that I do best. Savasana.

      Maybe I will start a trend. Maybe not.

      All you yoga teachers out there who think I am being #notgoaloriented #lazy #kaphaimbalanced #nonvegan #nonreceptive #notafollower you will JUST have to suck it up!!!

  • Whitney Messervy

    Yes, can definitely get annoying. When my Instagram feed is filled with 20 handstands…I do an inner “ugh”. But then, I do choose to ‘follow’ those people.

    Anyway, I have found that the people I know who do it, and those I follow…are very humble about how they got to that point in your practice. On the whole they seem to inspire…um, me. And I guess that’s the point.

    Thanks as always for an insightful post. (and I’ll go read that article now)

    • Vision_Quest2

      You see, that’s why I follow the vegan chick with the time-lapse videos. You get to see the wobbling, even if in a Keystone Kops sort of way. There is a retrofit-of-technology way to do this to an Instagram.

      But until these posters care ENOUGH to do so for those not in their Mutual Admiration Society, remember there is a difference between the words “inspiration” and “aspiration” … OWN that difference. That takes care of about 75% of the rancor right there.

      Used in sentences:

      Perhaps I aspire to some of these “offerings”. But the chance is near to 100% (because of my level of practice and the fact that I had to ditch most of it) that I am not inspired by them …

      • Vision_Quest2

        And in the case of the Briohnys and the Kathryn Budigs – who do not wobble – the hell with those videos. I choose not to look at those people. But I might just be aspiring to be like them. In about ten lifetimes, since I will not allow my former yoga teacher and the attitude espoused when I’d been in the yoga class to make me wish I had a different body altogether. That’s already SICK … !

        • VQ2

          Hey, I’m doing you yoga teachers a favor.

          If you could imagine teaching those who, in your humble opinions, would never stick handstand in this lifetime with the same care and attention as you do your selfie admirers/those who retain inspiration no matter how strait the gate between where they are now and where YOU are, if you would teach them with ahimsa, patience and no-ego. If you could show selfies of such “self”lessness once in a while, you would not have to connive so much to get private students and the like …

  • David k

    Selfies, another horrible phenomema of the internet. Even the word selfie sounds like it describes a person who is self absorbed. You can’t be very focused on your practice if you are focused on capturing an image on you being focused on your practice. Bahhh….

  • Fatty

    But who was pics?

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