I have a very strong opinion about yoga selfies.
They are so very important to me.
I fell in love with yoga because of an e-course I took with Vivienne McMaster and Anna Guest-Jelley. I learned how to use my love for the camera and my interest in yoga to grow my self-love and self-appreciation. I learned how to use photography to put myself in beautiful and meaningful spaces in a way other than smiling at the camera. I learned how to use my body to create interesting angles in everyday spaces.
I began to connect and appreciate both what my body could do and where I am. In geography, in space, in a pose, in the process.
Several weeks ago, I participated in a discussion on Instagram about the impact of yoga selfies in social media. And the conversation has stuck with me. The statement that caused me pause was that most yoga selfies are just party tricks - they are done to impress and to brag under the banner of inspiration. Yoga pictures on social media are only a function of ego. My inner critic immediately laughed at myself. There isn't a single picture I have ever taken that would be considered a brag. My initial reaction was that maybe I should stop posting my yoga portraits and videos then. What purpose am I serving? Not that I think posting to brag is the right way to post (I don't at all), but I initially went to the feeling that I'm not doing something right, that if I'm not impressing than I'm not enough. I don't do complicated poses. You won't see me standing on my hands or climbing a wall or in a full wheel or other backbend. I don't think I do anything in my pictures that most of us couldn't do once we are warmed up.
And then it hit me. That is exactly why I love my yoga selfies so much. The most impressive things about my photos is that I have a little bit of an eye for a nice background, we chose a fantastic paint color for the spare-bedroom-turned-yoga-room, and that I know how to work timer apps on an iPhone. There's nothing about my yoga practice that is out to impress. I want to connect. My hope is that my experiences on my yoga mat makes you a little more likely to come to your own mat.
I am now seventy (70!!) days into my 365 Days of Yoga practice. And I have stopped taking yoga self-portraits. Not because I don't want to take them, but because I don't want to stop my practice to set up a camera. It is the process within my practice that is most important to me now. But this is a hard habit to break, and I would like to be able to print out photos of my journey at some point, I'm sure. So I have gone back through my stop-motion videos and picked out one still shot for each video that I have shot. And I love them. There are some that I look at and can see that I was still getting into my fullest expression of the pose. There are some that my motion has given me crazy hair. But I am absolutely in love with these less-polished, #nofilter shots. They are such a representation of my practice and my process. You can see the full album here.
Yoga selfies give me a view of how others see me. I can see tweaks I need to make in a pose. I can see where I was really pulling a pose off that I felt like I couldn't get right. I'm using actually seeing myself to help me connect to my practice.
Is there somewhere you feel disconnected? With others or with yourself? Could you use photography and social media to help build these connections?