I have been practicing the physical form of yoga for over fifteen years and love the journey that my practice has taken me on. The internal and external changes that have occurred in my mind, body and soul over these years are enough to write a book about - from happiness, tears, quiet moments and everything in between.... my journey has been an adventure.
However, in saying this, I'm becoming more and more disappointed by the volume of Instagram and Facebook posts that I come across from yoga teachers and studios posting pictures of beautiful people in semi advanced to advanced yoga poses. I want to qualify that statement by saying that I do feel their intentions are positive and it's being done to help them market their yoga services as it's a consumerist world we live in.
However, from a long time yogi's point of view (like myself), I don't think it helps bring this beautiful and ancient practice to those who need it the most. In fact, I think it sends intimidating messages to those who might feel that their bodies are not flexible or that they don't have that perfect 'yoga body' (like the way social media images portray). It's a big call, but I will even go as far as comparing the aspect of posting such images with the fashion companies who only use size 0 models. It's just not what yoga is supposed to be about.
Yoga is internal and it's a practice of bringing unity to the mind and body. My countless hours of reading ancient scriptures such as the Gita, The Sutras and Upanishads have taught me so many things that I continue to practice every day.
Krishnamacharya , who is known as the father of modern yoga and who taught many of the great teachers today said, "Yoga is an awareness, a type of knowing. Yoga will end in awareness. When the mind is without any movement, maybe for a quarter of an hour, or even quarter of a minute, you will realise that yoga is of the nature of infinite awareness, and infinite knowing.”
The physical practice of yoga is only one limb of the eight limbs that create the higher definition of yoga. According to Krishnamacharya, the intent, and purpose of yoga is to bring Samadhi. This is an intense concentration that is achieved through meditation. So if that was believed by many yoga teachers, we would see more social media pictures posted of teachers in this final bliss or maybe just sitting comfortably in a seated position.
I just wanted to express a few points around my opinion and leave it as just that... my opinion. It's not my intention to ruffle any feathers or limbs (as the case may be) in the yoga community as it's a community that I love and have been part of for many years.
My last thoughts:
1. There is no such thing as a yoga body. In fact, the majority of super flexible people we see doing complex to advanced poses (in a lot of cases) may be causing their body more harm than good as typically these people are hyper flexing.
2. The same yoga pose can look completely different between two people. Different bone structures and body types impact what your body is safely and physically able to do.
3. If your breath is not right or balanced, you will not receive the full benefits. If you can simply breath, you can do yoga.
To my yoga teacher peers around the world, please start a movement of highlighting what yoga is really about and please stop posting pictures of poses that could have more negative impacts than positive impacts for the wider human community.