At 4:45am, it’s quiet, it’s cold, it’s dark, it’s far from glamorous. I’m bundled in layers, I’m sweating and I’m on my mat. I’m wearing whatever yoga pants and tops were on the top of the pile (they definitely don’t match), my hair is tugged into various disparate clips and elastics to keep it off my face and I’m moving through the ashtanga primary series with strong ujayi breath, sounding somewhat like a feminine Darth Vader. It’s definitely not yoga selfie time.
Don’t get me wrong, I am very much pro-yoga selfies, but if I took a yoga selfie during my actual practice, it would be less than spectacular. It would also be pixelated from lack of light, set against a dull background, because I’m forced to practice in the lounge (almost the passageway) as my hubbie is still sleeping, and it would look pretty damn boring because my countless layers of clothing would prevent you from seeing shape, movement, body.
This is the real yoga. This is my yoga. This is how I really look on the mat in the middle of Winter. It’s beautiful in its imperfection but no one really wants to see my hair like that… cray cray! And I’m certainly not going to take a picture of the glorious mess that I am before dawn.
While I do post yoga selfies, I don’t post photos of this time, because it’s my time. For me and me only. It’s my sanctuary and my solitude. It’s where I come to remember, to learn, to unwind, to let go. It’s how I feed myself with all the magic that comes from the fluidity of moving from one pose to the next, preparing myself internally for whatever life has to throw at me. The world doesn’t need to see that or be there in my space of healing. The world can see me later when I’m bathed and moisturised and looking a little more presentable, as it does with everyone else.
So why do I take yoga selfies? Because I flippin’ love them, that’s why! I love the beauty of how the body can move into a shape that is reminiscent of art. I love how when I look at what I am actually capable of, I feel rather proud. I love that when I do post photos of yoga poses, I inspire people to get on the mat. I love that after posting a yoga selfie, people ask me for suggestions on how to get started with a life of yoga. This, to me, is sharing the love. This is the same inspiration I receive from so many yogis that I look up to, like Kino MacGregor, Kerri Verna and Day Christensen who have all shared their love with me through – you guessed it – yoga selfies!
For those who criticise the yoga selfie – you have every right to. That is 100% your choice. But then don’t take them, don’t share them and don’t look at them. But also, don’t try and make people feel bad for taking them and not seeing them the way that you do. Just let them do their thing.
Just because Kino has millions of eyeballs on her beautiful yogic Instagram feed, doesn’t make her any less of a devout yogi. In fact, from what I can tell she is one of the most dedicated yogis I’ve ever come across in my life. We are not there during her actual practice where the real magic happens, and I’m sure not many people are. Her practice is her time… but that doesn’t mean she can’t share her love of it in a different way, at a different time, when the backdrop is perfect, her hair looks divine, her skin is luminous and she’s not sweating in all those wonderful places.
Her and me, both.
Things have changed a lot in the last few years – even since I did my teacher training ten years ago. I don’t even think we had smartphones then! Eeek! Can you imagine? We live in a digital world now, where people like to share beautiful things, and some of that beauty is yoga. We are simply moving and shaking with the times and it’s an exciting movement to be a part of. The yoga selfie has helped develop a huge following of yoga and aided yoga teachers in making the most of their gift to teach.
I also think it will be super cool when I’m old and grey, to look back and show my grandchildren what smashing things I used to be able to do. But then again… maybe I’ll still be doing them? Not sure if I’ll still be snapping selfies, but you never know! 😉