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  1. 11 likes
    I have noticed an interesting debate gathering momentum on various platforms recently, so I thought I’d bring it here to see what people thought. It seems to have originated with this article on yoganonymous: http://yoganonymous.com/end-yoga-porn-focus-on-real-people-stop-the-selfies?fb_action_ids=10155586581055612&fb_action_types=og.comments And Ali Kamenova has responded with this articulate rebuttal: http://www.alikamenova.com/visitors/yoga-thoughts/yoga-porn-nudity-and-yoga-selfies/ There is, as always, a spectrum of views in between. It has raised an interested contradiction in my own beliefs which I am still reasoning through. I follow many of the skinny white bikini girls under 30 on Instagram. I also follow male yogis and yogis of all shapes and sizes colour and creeds. The yoga selfie is a staple part of my social media diet. They inspire me and motivate me. They teach me and help develop my yoga practise. However……! I am not oblivious to the narcissism of many of these yoga selfies, and sometimes you can’t see the yoga for the vanity. There is a phenomenal dominance of inversions and arm balances and more than just a hint of showing off. It’s also hard to ignore the fact that the most popular feeds belong to the young and the beautiful. The very first yoga text I read was The Heart of Yoga by Desikachar, and I highlighted a passage that really leapt out at me, “What is yoga after all? It is something that we experience inside, deep within our being. Yoga is not an external experience…….Yoga is different from dance or theatre. In yoga we are not creating something for others to look at………We do it only for ourselves.” Now I know that modern yoga has no dogma. You don’t have to follow the teaching of the Desikacher or Patanjali to enjoy the benefits of yoga. But for me, the above extract taught me a valuable principal of yoga that I apply every time I get on the mat. It has allowed me to focus on the importance of being mindful and present in yoga and to free myself from external perceptions and pressures. It is one of the foundations of my practise and I cherish this philosophy very dearly. I uploaded my first yoga selfie the other day. I have started balancing in handstand for a few seconds and I wanted to see how straight I was. I posted it on Instagram with a yoga hashtag and instantly received more likes than I had for any other upload (Granted, I am spectacularly crap at posting on Instagram). It was great encouragement; I felt like I had finally joined the Instagram yoga community and yes, I want to do it again… Was my handstand an internal experience? No, not at the point the picture was taken. Was I creating something for others to look at? Yes, I was showing off at least a little bit. I feel a little conflicted. One the one hand I think the positive feedback from Instagram can really help motivate and develop my practise, but on the other hand I know it won’t be long before I crave validation and before you know it, whoops my shirt has come off. I’d love to know what others feel about this phenomenon. Is there a place in yoga for vanity?
  2. 11 likes
    I love that you started this discussion, Robbie! That first blog post is such crap I almost feel it was posted just to start a heated debate. There are so many things I disagree with the author on - most notably the shaming. I cannot stand it when people shame others. This sounds like the type of teacher who gives a crap about what her students wear to class (my mom, a woman in her 50s, was turned away from class because she wore a tank top with spaghetti straps - the instructor loudly told her she needed to change because yoga was a 'reverent practice'. My mom was humiliated and left in tears. WTF?!) And for the record, being in a bikini is about the same amount of clothing that's worn by Bikram practitioners. But the real point is, who the heck cares?! (Related post: Dear students, I don't care.) Sorry, this gets me really fired up. And to say her job is to make people feel good about themselves? I mean good luck with that, but it's another point I disagree on because I truly believe we are responsible for how we feel and the energy we bring into a space. You've met people who are so determined to be in an awful mood that no matter how kind you are, they just won't change? That's what I'm saying. My job is not to make people feel good about themselves. My job as a yoga instructor is to create a warm, welcoming, compassionate, safe environment for people to come practice. My job is to accept everyone within that space from the woman in her 50s wearing a spaghetti strap tank to the college athlete who is so tight in his hamstrings he can't touch his shins, never mind his toes, to the super bendy ballerina type who I know I need to watch out for with the hyperextension so she doesn't hurt herself, to the first timer who is nervous that I'll judge him for not knowing what savasana is. My job is to show people that this my class is a safe place where all of our insecurities and ego can be dropped at the door and we can all just breathe a sigh of relief and just BE. If I'm worried about the under 30 skinny white girl and what she's posting on instagram, well then I'm not doing my job. I'm 31 and of Ecuadorian and Lebanese decent so maybe I'm not the skinny white girl she's referring to, but my yoga selfies serve me well in my personal practice. Comparing this handstand to this handstand shows me solid evidence that the practice doesn't lie - that I am finding growth and strength over time even though I might not be feeling it daily. And of course the scorpion pose progress - I am fascinated by the human body and all that it can do. That series of photos is so beautiful to me - not because of how I look but because it represents my yoga journey - all the hours I practiced when I was happy and sad and frustrated and tired and all the times I got on my mat when I didn't want to... and it represents my health journey. As most of you know, I have struggled with my health for years due to Lyme disease. In the first picture I was uber skinny - but not because I wanted to be - I was extremely unhealthy due to the after effects of all the medication I was on for Lyme disease. The second photo, slightly better. By July, I was a lot better but still struggling in certain aspects of my health - basically what I'm saying is that a picture is just a picture - it tells nothing about the person's struggle, and how we choose to interpret that photo says a lot about who we are (and who we are not). On the topic of clothing I have some thoughts - above all, I don't think what anyone wears matters at all. The human body is so beautiful to me in all shapes and sizes. I am more fascinated by how the body works - how when I see a video of people doing an intricate arm balance, I can see each little shiver and shake the little tiny muscles in their hands and forearms make. I can see how the tilt of the pelvis determines whether or not I fall over out of handstand, and how when space between my shoulder blades is slightly round, I am more stable in forearm stand. You can't see these little things if the person is wearing baggy clothing. Now, don't get me wrong, I live for baggy pants - but if you've ever tried practicing in them you know they get caught in your, um, butt, and then your entire practice is spent picking a wedgie. What difference does it make if the person is wearing leggings or a bikini? Why is it that when we see skin we freak out? Doesn't that say something about how comfortable (or how uncomfortable) we are in our own skin? And I don't buy the rebuttal that it must be easy when you look like that (believe me, everyone has something they're dealing with) or that it makes others feel bad (no it doesn't - how people react to a photo is more about them than it is about the person in the photo. I mean, unless the person in the photo is all like, 'HEY! Look what I can do that you can't!" Then, you just unfollow and call it a day). What I really want to communicate and to encourage people to do is to look beyond the photo or the video. What can you learn? What can you celebrate? What can you extract that might serve your practice? Lastly - I am super inspired by the people I follow on instagram that share their yoga journey. I've actually learned different ways to enter various poses, really cool transitions and other things that have impacted my own practice. There are definitely people out there that seem to be doing it for attention - and in that case, I just unfollow. When I take my own, I'm often either teaching something, looking to promote an event I have coming up (and there is no shame in that, by the way - I can't pay the bills unless I work and tweeting "come to my yoga class" will not reach as many people as if I post a photo to instagram, share a little snippet of something I'm inspired by and tell people about my class), or I'm sharing something I'm either struggling with, challenging myself to do, or a major breakthrough. When my practice becomes solely about taking the photo for instagram, then obviously there's a problem, but I truly think that social media - especially used in this way - can be a means of developing a better connection between communities (#YBCyogis - woop!) and a means to learn. Thanks for letting me share!
  3. 8 likes
    Great topic - thanks for starting this thread, Robbie! I had to stop reading about half way into that first article, as it really turned me off. Among other things, the author/yoga teacher/studio owner wrote was that it was her "job to make people feel good about themselves". This attitude is so disempowering, as it places our individual well-being in the hands of another. Her article was strongly peppered with judgement on so many levels, and I was put off by her implication that somehow uber-hot young women doing arm balances aren't "real" yogis. Had to stop reading because I found myself wanting to call her out on these (and other) things, which is not going to help me maintain my own serenity. Breathe, Kristi ... :-) I think selfies are a great way to check your alignment in a pose - I do it (via video) all the time! As a yoga teacher, I need to demonstrate poses properly, and since I am (thankfully) not practicing in a room full of mirrors, I don't always know when my arm is too low in warrior 2, that I'm arching my back in headstand, or that my hips are sagging in bridge. I'm also very appreciative of yogis who do post selfies because they are a reminder that there are multiple ways to do a pose "correctly", and they push me past my comfort zone when I get inspired. Candace's scorpion progress selfies are insanely inspiring to me and because of said inspiration, I'm doing them too! So, post your selfie handstand pics...please! Ever since I started my own (relatively new) blog, I have been posting a lot of yoga selfies. Why? Because I'm explaining how to do and modify poses, and it's kind of hard to do this without a visual. My selfies include forward folding, down dog, scorpion, headstand, etc. - basically, everything I'm trying to explain! I'm also passing on the same sorts of things that have inspired me from other sites - like YBC. And the feedback has been great. As for the young hot female issue...they are "real" people doing yoga. No, they are probably not truly into their inner zen when posing for pics, but that's fine. I don't know how you get to that place with a camera nearby anyway. And they are inspiring. I don't look great in a bikini, but when I see pictures of Candace in hers on the beach doing scorpion, I don't feel bad about myself. Rather, I get inspired to get more into my own yoga and to hit the gym more often. Because she radiates vitality, and I'd like more of it. Women (and men) need to take ownership for their own well-being and focus less on what society "dictates" we should look like. Yoga can help us transcend these things so that society's "expectations" are meaningless. Anyway, I am rambling. I'm looking forward to reading others' responses.
  4. 7 likes
    Great topic Robbie! That first article-ugh. I've seen it before and can never make it more that halfway before I get annoyed and stop reading. I personally find the selfie trend inspiring. Just as you can seek out the "hot" yogis you can seek out middle aged guys, moms, curvy yogis, etc. There are all bodies and ages and abilities and I have been inspired by so many photos of poses I never would have seen or modifications I couldn't have thought of myself. Follow someone long enough and you can absolutely see their journey and maybe even connect with them along the way-how cool is that?! My practice has definitely benefited by the monthly challenges and there have been times seeing or posting selfies has given me a boost when I'm in a yoga slump. Now, on the flip side, I know that the selfie trend can also be ego driven and shallow. I know I could take pictures to track progress or see alignment without posting it and hashtagging it. Sometimes on an off day I can get discouraged (or even a tad jealous!) by yogis with 100's of likes and 1000's of followers or when other progress in poses that still elude me. Ego. If there is someone who always makes me feel crappy about myself or is too "showy" I unfollow. There are countless other accounts to interact with! All in all I am far more encouraged and inspired by what I see than not. I am a skinny white girl and although not young (turning 38 tomorrow, how the heck did that happen?!) I do very occasionally post pictures in a bikini. I do not stop being a real person by doing so as the 1st article would suggest. Just out of the frame there are usually sand covered kids and a mess waiting in the kitchen for me-not very sexy or glamorous but definitely real! I usually post these because I am inspired by the beauty of the beach and think it would make a pretty picture and that is just what I have on at the time. I always look carefully at the photo to make sure it is not "pornographic" in any way and would not embarrass my sons or husband. The human body is beautiful and I post the pictures that I think make me look strong, not because I want to look"sexy". Honestly, the last thing I want is some perv-y guy making crude comments on Instagram about me! I debated with myself for an hour whether to post a shot of the best scorpion forearm stand I had ever done. I was so proud and wanted to share with my real life friends and Instagram yogi friends...but part of my bum was hanging out because I didn't change out of the shorts I had on at the time. I finally decided to post it and I'm glad I did. For every person who doesn't like it there is a middle aged mom like me who sees what I'm doing and might be inspired to try something new whether its yoga or something else that makes them feel strong, happy and empowered. For me the bottom line is this, if you like the selfie trend jump in! If not, keep practicing in a way that makes you happy and fulfills your needs as a yogi
  5. 6 likes
    I'm really glad that this is being discussed, because my feelings about this are far from clear cut. Personally, I have some health issues that I have to deal with and I will therefore never be able to do amazing advanced poses. Now, because of my own issues about how I feel about my circumstances, I do sometimes feel alienated by such selfies. I get that this says more about me, but I'm just putting this out there: if I see/follow a yoga account that becomes nothing but show-offy asanas, I unfollow them. This is because I have this sort of mental litmus test: is this yoga? or is it gymnastics? (Gymnastics being beautiful and difficult and totally worthy of respect...but it's not my yoga.) This is not a million miles away from the usual social media discussions, such as the au courant one about Instagram cliches that people post because they'll get lots of likes, such as Diptyque candles and Chanel lipsticks artfully arranged on a marble tabletop next to peonies and a latte. So I guess my yoga v gymnastics dichotomy is about the larger message of how a person is presenting themself. Is there more meaning or significance to the poses they post? Or is it just vain "like" bait? Anyway, not to ramble, but icky feelings about this do crop up for me, for whatever reason. It's not the jelly monster, it's more that I just don't relate to the spectacle and it kinda makes me lose a little respect. In a way, I see how the spectacle puts the non-skinny non-white non-girls off and it kinda frustrates me. And it's hard to define "the spectacle" because I follow a few people who will throw in a yoga selfie in a bikini and in the context of their larger whole, it's completely fine, so I'm not sure where I draw the line. Overall, though, I like when the selfies are more about the struggle it took to get the pose than the pose itself, especially when the asanas are more "accessible".
  6. 6 likes
    I love Candace's photos, especially how real she is because she shows her growth and how she's improved the posture rather than starting out with the perfect pose each time. It makes me feel like maybe I can do it, too (one day lol). I think most Westerners have issues with differentiating between what is pornography and what is a normal human body and I tend to think when I see yoga poses they're just normal, natural human bodies with strong people feeling confident. Heck, we see pictures of incredibly old Indian men wearing our equivalent of short underpants doing the splits. I think Kino MacGregor and Kathryn Budig have received major backlash because they are female and blonde (though Kino has some Japanese background) attractive, but I know both feel as self conscious as the rest of us about their bodies, in fact Budig failed in the acting world because she's supposedly too chubby, next minute everyone's telling her she shouldn't get her kit off because she's too attractive - can't win!! Anyway, sorry I feel I'm rambling. I read a blog about a year ago that made me feel incredibly sad by a male yoga student whose wife is a yoga instructor and he basically lay into women for wearing leggings, as though we're not "pure" because his wife wears *insert baggy unflattering outfit here*. I have been to Bikram in the skimpy clothes and it's hard enough to not feel bad about yourself without all of these arguments about how we're doing everything wrong, people can see our pantyline, it goes on and on for female yogis. And I kind of feel all of the "women shouldn't wear leggings/shorts/whatever" could be off-putting for potential male yogis because they're going to feel uncomfortable if there's some sort of assumption that women are there for attention or whatever the rumour is why we wear leggings for any other reason than practical and comfort. What attracted me to Candace and her classes was that I saw she's a woman around my age, and seemed easygoing and like a lot of fun. I think that more males and perhaps larger yogis need to get their pictures and videos up to inspire people like themselves who they can relate to in the age of social media and the selfie. I'm exceptionally bad at selfies but have a few yoga ones up on my instagram. I guess like anything else in my life it's something I'm proud of. I'm sure in my old gymnastics days I'd have put those images up, or if I was talented at something else I'd love to share it with the world.
  7. 6 likes
    Personally I do not find yoganonamous to be a quality source of information. I do feel like that article was made to be incendiary. Much like the backlash against the Briohny Smyth Equinox video and Kathryn Budig's Toe Sox ads. Both of which I find incredibly beautiful and artistic. I enjoy seeing poses done by all different bodies, not just the "perfect" ones. I find selfies to be inspiring, I like to see progress and feel the sense of accomplishment with those I follow and encourage. Instagram gives everyone that opportunity to feel the empowerment that accomplishment can bring. Social media can give us two options. You can choose to fuel the judgment and hate and alienate people, or you can choose to be a part of an accepting and supportive community. I choose community. And by choosing community, I feel the responsibility to post yoga selfies that I hope will inspire someone in their own journey (and a little self promotion as a teacher). Shaming anyone based on their size, whether skinny or not, does not contribute to the type of community I want to belong to. Thank you Candace for creating one of those supportive communities I want to be a part of. So selfie on if that feels right for you!
  8. 6 likes
    This is such an interesting subject, but I don't quite know where I stand. I believe that part of a yoga practice is learning to be compassionate and nonjudgmental, towards yourself as well as others. As a result I don't want to go around telling people what to do or how they should do it. If you're young and conventionally attractive and want to show your body to the world, who am I to say it's wrong? It's not something I would do, for a variety of reasons, but that's as far as I want to go when it comes to expressing an opinion on the subject. On the other hand, most of these images show a fairly narrow version of what yoga is and can be. As Robbie pointed out, most of the images posted (and certainly the most popular ones) are of slim, fit, young people doing somewhat advanced - if not flat out advanced - poses. It's all arm balances and inversions, with very little representation of the less visually spectacular asanas. If you're a beginner you might end up feeling discouraged because those poses are so far out of reach, or potentially injure yourself by trying to do them before you are ready. I'm not very active on Instagram, so I can't really speak about the yoga community there. I do know that in Tumblr, where I spend most of my time, going into the yoga tags can be a discouraging experience as, yes, most of the images that come up are of the young, attractive and fit doing complex poses that I still can't do, even though I've been practicing yoga for years. It gets even worse when you read the blogs and find people who claim to have mastered scorpion after two months practicing yoga. ... Thankfully I kept reading and found that the blogger in question was a former gymnast. That did make me feel a little better, as I'm a former couch potato whose idea of a workout was to run to catch a bus when late for school/work. If anything, that's my biggest problem with this so-called yoga porn. It doesn't show the journey of a yoga practice. You can get that rush, the wonderful feeling of joy, awe and gratitude for your body that comes from finally being able to do a pose you thought was impossible from any asana. Getting your heels down on downward facing dog for the first time is as fantastic an experience as doing scorpion, or so I like to believe (scorpion is far, faaaaaaar in the future for me). Some people are inspired by those images, others are discouraged. In an ideal world it'd be easier to have an opinion on this subject. As it is, with such a narrow definition of what is considered attractive, especially for women, I can understand where some people are coming from. Beauty standards for women are very demanding, and yet those who actually meet them are judged negatively for doing so, as well as for the attention they get. If you're not attractive you won't get any attention - and if you do it's very negative- , but if you are attractive not all the attention you get is welcome, nor are you allowed to enjoy it if it is. I'm not one for taking selfies - I just don't like having my picture taken at all, so I don't see myself participating in this trend. Though I've learned a lot from taping bits and pieces of my own practice I very much doubt I'll post them for the world to see any time soon. I believe that a yoga practice should be focused mostly on yourself, what's good for your body and your mind in the present moment, but I'm also working on not being such a judgmental person. Those pics aren't my thing, but I can just as easily move on and scroll by and ignore them, letting people do their thing.
  9. 5 likes
    I am not a fan of selfies in general, but that just means I won't be taking or posting any of myself. I do follow yogis who inspire me on Instagram, and that ultimately gets my butt onto the mat some days. However, I will say that I do not care much for the pouty-lipped selfie pose or people looking for confirmation of how beautiful they are on a daily basis (or pretty much anything having to do with the Kardashians). That just turns me off, but then again I find that it usually applies to younger girls/women trying their hand at social media. That said, I will reiterate why I am such a big supporter of Candace and what she stands for: she never seems to be looking for "fans", but rather like-minded people who want to improve their yoga practice and health. That is inspiration to me. As Kristi said above, I also find Candace's scorpion pose progression crazy inspiring! And I love that she does them unapologetically in a bikini. So maybe that is the difference in what turns me off and what doesn't: people who do it for their ego vs people who do it for others. Maybe that sounds oversimplified, but it's what makes me follow someone or not.
  10. 5 likes
    I used to attend a regular yoga class in a gym where it was the same 6 students each week - 4 ladies and 2 guys and we were all of a similar ability. The gym decided to run a free introductory session to try and increase class numbers and so the next week there were another 6 guys added into the class. I think these guys were more used to the culture of lifting weights and, oh man, the grunting! I had never heard anything like it in a yoga class. It was like listening to pigs truffle hunting! The feel of the class had changed from the gentle inhale and exhale of waves crashing on a shore, to an alpha male testosterone fuelled gut busting competition. The instructor really had her work cut out for her trying to get everyone to breeeeeaaaaaaaathe and reeeelaaaaaax.
  11. 4 likes
    Does anyone have any tips on using mirroring when teaching? I find it to be one of the more difficult aspects of teaching. I do practice it, but never have been one to know my right from my left.
  12. 3 likes
    (a bit off topic... Yikes, I'm probably older than your mom! ...sorry for the brief hijack)
  13. 2 likes
    I just think opposite no matter what. So if I'm lifting the my left arm I know to say 'lift the right arm' because I know my left is actually the right. Don't know if that makes sense, but definitely think it's something that comes with lots of practice.
  14. 2 likes
    Thank you Candace and MrBalloonHands! I just saw that everything was updated under the appropriate category - thank you!
  15. 1 like
    In Sanskrit Acarya would be the teacher or one who holds knowledge or the light of knowledge. You will be tested on all this later Larry
  16. 1 like
    I struggle with this, too! If it's reasonable to replace "right" or "left" with "front" or "back", then I'll do that. If I'm in the studio, I might say "face the blue wall". It's all mental gymnastics to me, though. Curious how others will respond
  17. 1 like
    I just do my best. I work as a physical therapist and have to look at "mirror" right and left all day long and still mess it up all the time. Honestly I just do the best i can. I know one teacher who writes left on her right foot and vice versa! I never stay on my mat the whole time so I move around the room and sometimes will face forward like them if I feel like I need to get squared away with my right and left. I also don't hesitate to ask the class "this is the side that we have not done yet correct?" or say things like "make sure you do the side you haven't done yet" (maybe they screwed up, maybe I did?)
  18. 1 like
    I hope someone has some great tips to offer! I struggle with the same thing when teaching as does one of the teachers I take classes with. I feel like my brain just doesn't work that way!