Today was the first time I’ve ventured onto Instagram. I know, I know… get with the times already…
I understand (in theory) that Instagram can present a good option for brand building – so I’ve reluctantly signed on with an view as to how and if I can use it for YogaMate.
I thought it might provide me with a ready-made, inspirational image that I could on-share to YogaMate’s Facebook page.
When I nonchalantly tapped ‘Yoga’ into the search bar, a multitude of results swiftly returned that left me dumbstruck… and just a tiny bit deflated.
Image after image of ‘beautiful’ toned, women (with a sprinkling of men) showing off terrifically difficult poses in terribly beautiful natural settings. Screen after screen I scrolled to find the ‘same’ images, one after another. Splits, Arms Balances,
unbelievable contortions of the body that 99% of the population will never achieve.
There were (a very modest) sprinkling of voluptuous yogis, but again, in impossibly beautiful locations performing difficult feats like headstands without hands.
Now, I’m not saying that the shots weren’t beautiful. And I’m not saying that I don’t admire the people and their amazing bodies that can bend them into those unbelievable shapes.
Nor am I saying that it’s wrong to aspire to do the same.
Certainly I aspire to advance in my physical practice. I practice stretching and strengthening in hopes that I too can progress to the more advanced postures.
However, I recognize this is my ego driving me… and I know in my heart of heart, that my life will be no better if I never achieve the full expression of King Pigeon.
What troubles me is the magnitude and disproportionate prevalence of difficult poses creating dissonance as to what Yoga actually represents.
I’ve heard too many times, from too many people, ‘I can’t do Yoga, I’m not flexible enough’.
Yoga is NOT about being flexible or bending like a pretzel. It is not even being able to sit perfectly still for hours in meditation with nary a thought.
Since it’s great surge in popularity in the west coinciding with technological advances in communication (not to mention the acceptance of the selfie), there have become a disproportionate number of individuals showing off their physical prowess on social media – and thus creating an even greater chasm between what Yoga is – and what it is not.
And thus, I’ve been compelled me to write this, my first Blog… because it is clear to me that so much of what circulates the internet these days as ‘Yoga’ is anything but…
So, if not those selfies, what is Yoga?
In it’s very essence, Yoga is the recognition that we are more than just a body and a collection of thoughts in the mind. The Yogic tools (which includes the postures, breathwork and meditation), help us transcend the physical and mental limitations to cultivate health, happiness, and a greater sense of self-awareness and higher consciousness.
It aims to create balance and union in your physical, mental and spiritual self. It is about the dissolution of competition and it most certainly is not about posing for the cameras to show off your physical skills.
I am not unrealistic in my view. I know that there is no stopping the daily inundation of ‘yoga’ uploads to the internet; and I am not saying that there is no room for taking a picture (or video) of yourself doing Yoga (in fact, I took one just this morning and posted it to Facebook). But its our responsibility to be mindful about our reasons for doing so.
There is an extremely delicate balance between educating and inspiring vs. narcissistic voyeurism.
Through YogaMate – and perhaps this blog, I am hoping that, as limited as my reach may be, that I may help open the eyes of some to the depth and breadth of this magnificent discipline. To the healing and transformative powers Yoga can unlock within your being.
As Judith Hanson Lasater (a famous American yoga teacher) so wisely stated, ‘Asana is not the yoga… it is the residue the asana leaves in our mind, body and heart that is the yoga’.
So there may be some ‘selfies’ of me to come – but with them there will be a message and hopefully a touch of genuine inspiration. Perhaps, if I’m lucky, I’ll be able to encourage you, too, to step on a mat (or bare floor) and open yourself up to the healing powers Yoga can bring into your life.