Identifying the ‘Real Yoga Body’ in Selfie Culture

my-real-yoga-bodyby Guinevere Hilton

My heart dropped a little when I read the title to the recent article in the NY Post: “Celebrity Posers Have Yoga in a Twist.” Blergh.

The article reads pretty much as one would expect: Gorgeous (female) supermodels, yoga teachers with celebrity status and actresses flaunt their beautiful, toned, fleshy goodness all over Instagram, Twitter and the like. The article poses (baits us with?) the questions: Is this yoga? Is there a place for this in yoga? It seems that their conclusion is that it all boils down to two categories: the narcissists who can’t stop posing, and the real yogis.

But it is so much more complicated than that. Social media creates community for many people. And that includes sharing photos of yourself. The article paints the selfie-posting yogi as “the yoga showoff who’s more circus sideshow than beacon of motivation.” Ouch.

The article also brings up the question of safety in the poses being shown. Agreed, posing in high heels whilst having a baby strapped to you is probably not safe for the beginner. However, I don’t really think that these pictures will lead anyone to do anything unsafe. Most people will think twice before pairing offspring with asana and stilettos.

I walked away from this feeling confused. So many of the posts of the gorgeous women (did I mention they were almost all female?) are so, just, well, gorgeous in face and spirit. And they look so happy. Awesome! Of course they are happy! They are doing yoga! And the fact that they are gorgeous, successful supermodels/actresses/teachers probably doesn’t hurt! So why the hubbub? Is the issue that they aren’t representative of all women? Or that they have the audacity to be good looking? What’s the big deal?

Would we be talking about it at all if they were not attractive? Or if they were men?

I am guessing no.

This article is propagating exactly what it is condemning. There are 29 photos of these yoga selfie addicts. Only one of them features a man (Russell Simmons) as the star of the shot. There are zero pictures of Roseanne Harvey, mentioned as one of the members of the movement to show real yoga bodies. There are also zero references to the multitude of homes for real yoga bodies: Anna Guest-Jelley and Curvy Yoga, Mantra Magazine, and My Real Yoga Body on FB/Instagram/Twitter (disclaimer: I started MRYB…exactly because all I saw were these types of images), just to name a few. Teachers, such as Kathryn Budig, Gina Caputo, Noah Maze, among many others, make it a point to post lots of pics and address real yoga issues, and are consistently accepting and body positive.

I know this is an important issue. There is so much information out there about the undeniable effect of how women are portrayed in the media and how it affects self esteem and myriad other issues. What we see informs what we decide is “normal.” And we need to all participate in the conversation in a positive way. We have choices in how we respond to this: go on a FB/Instagram/Twitter detox, be daring and post your real yoga body, or laugh it off.

Basically, we can either stand on the sidelines bummed out and hating, or put on our stretchy pants and get that booty out there.

In a very safe, yogic way, of course.

 

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Guinevere Hilton lives in New Hampshire with her two amazing sons. She has been practicing yoga for 20 years and teaching for 14. Lately, she loves to get people to share their real yoga bodies and practices with the world on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram #myrealyogabody.

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RelatedLet’s Talk About Yoga Selfies, Baby

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One Comment

  1. Totally agree. I actually love the beautiful yoga photos of the gorgeous yoga “goddesses,” as I call them. But I also love all yoga bodies. Including my own. I sometimes post yoga selfies — not in an effort to counteract the more toned/perfectly poised ones, but because I’m sharing my story. I recently wrote a post about this if you’re interested! http://www.balanceintheburbs.com/downward-facing-blog/2014/5/15/the-truth-about-that-sexy-lean-yoga-body

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