I’ve read a few different articles about yoga selfies, how teachers who are posting pictures of themselves in challenging postures in exotic locations are getting yoga all wrong. I’d like to offer an alternative view to these critiques:
- It’s an egotistical display of show-offery
It’s presumptuous to assume the intention behind yoga selfies, but I’ll explain mine. I started taking pictures of myself in poses because I was very injured, and needed to see what was going wrong in my poses. The pictures reflected back my misalignments, and helped me tune up my poses and clean up my practice. I continued to take pictures to document my progress, and as I became healthier, I transitioned into pictures as story telling. I take pictures of asana like my friends take pictures of their kids: to tell my story, and keep a record of my progress.
As to runaway ego, that is a valid concern. Be vigilant in your meditation practice to keep ego in check. Everyday, yogis, every day!
- Difficult-looking postures intimidate beginners.
This could depend on the beginner. I remember being very inspired my first year of yoga watching my teacher kick up to pincha mayurasana. And I was certain I could never do that! I still surprise myself with my steadiness in inversions today, which were initially so hard for me. Then I see pictures like this one of Instagram darling Laura Sykora, and I’m reminded there’s still much to explore.
- These are not examples of real bodies.
There are as many real bodies as there are yogis. My body is very real, and I never ‘touch up’ my pictures. I have cellulite. My weight fluctuates by 10-20 pounds throughout the year. Parts that were perky ten years ago droop and fall today. I have sun damage on my face and chest. As my body continues to age, these ‘imperfections’ build. Rather than trying to present some image of unattainable perfection, I hope to showcase what over a decade of practice looks like on an everyday woman.
I was never athletic as a child. I have never had a ‘perfect’ body. For me, looking at pictures of myself has helped me to make peace with my perfectly imperfect body. When we see ourselves as we really are, our natural beauty comes through. When we’re too ashamed to truly see ourselves, all we receive is more insecurity and doubt.
- Yoga is meant to be an inner journey, not an outer expression.
What are your thoughts on the yoga selfie? Leave a comment, and let me know your take.
Justicia DeClue is the co-owner of Maha Yoga, and is honored to have recently be named one of the top fitness Instagrammers in Philadelphia by Philly.com. You can follow her Instagram here.