The only thing I love more than a good yoga debate, is a good yoga debate about the use of social media. Of course I'm referencing this article in The New York Times, which amounts to a raised eyebrow at the incredibly popular trend of self-absorbed yogis snapping selfies of themselves in their craziest yoga poses and posting them on the Internet for all to see, via a little photo-sharing app called Instagram (maybe you've heard of it?).
My favorite line:
"Some more-traditional practitioners might disparage what they consider to be purely ego- or vanity-driven selfies. After all, isn’t yoga supposed to be about turning your gaze inward?"
Well, duh. There are "more-traditional practitioners" out there that will disparage anything other than their own precious way of practicing yoga—especially anything new-fangled like social media.
I know the article was really supposed to make me tsk-tsk these women (and men!) who are so self-absorbed that they spend time each and every day snapping photos at themselves for their own enjoyment. But instead I spent some time perusing the app (I admittedly have not seen the point of Instagram really, and have shared my personal photos to Facebook), but I realized there's a huge, thriving community of yoga practitioners and teachers who are really just using Instagram as a medium to demonstrate (and even teach!) yoga poses. I was inspired—not just by their yoga poses, but by their passion for what they love, and how they courageously put themselves out there knowing that there would be plenty of critics. Not to mention, the challenges are FUN. I want to be a part of this movement.
So here you go. Gazing at my inner self right HERE, baby.
What's been interesting in the few days I've been taking a photo a day, is how critical I am of myself. I almost didn't post the picture below because my leg wasn't perfectly straight, you could tell I hadn't swept my patio, and OMG is that a boob shadow?! Then I thought.. Who the heck am I trying to impress?! I realized that this could actually be a really good tool for self reflection after all. (If I inspire someone else along the way-fantastic!) My practice isn't perfect (nobody's is!). My body has plenty of flaws. I care a lot (way too much, in fact) about what other people think about me. Realizing this and accepting--dare I say celebrating—myself anyway is a big part of my practice. Maybe sharing a yoga selfie every now and then is a good way to express that.
On a side note, I've seen a lot of discussion since the NYT article was published about how the trend could impact the public perception of yoga. You know the one I'm talking about: It's all for thin, white, upper middle class women with a lot of time on their hands abnormally bendy spines. I happen to be a young-ish, bendy, white woman. Could my presence on Instagram make some people who know very little about yoga think that the practice is for thin white women? I guess so. But is that my responsibility? Do I really have to censor myself because of what someone else might think? Isn't THAT in conflict with the nature of yoga?