Bad Yogi Roundup: Yoga Selfies (with selfies from our writers!)
Selfies and flashy Instagrams and the “fame” that comes with them can be super fun! Heck, taking pictures of yourself in yoga poses can just be a good way to track your progress or see how you can improve your alignment. Check out how our contributors weigh in on the fun as well as the perils of social media and selfies, and then tell us your thoughts in the comments!
I have nothing against anyone’s yoga selfie habit. 🙂 I find a lot of beauty and inspiration in looking at the photos! It took me a long time to get on the social media train, and I’m still not one to post constantly (and I’m always forgetting to snap pictures, partly because I don’t insist on carrying my phone with me everywhere). I’m not the one to put on makeup or a swim suit just to get a handstand photo. You won’t find me doing dancer on the edge of a cliff. Yoga on social media is a lot of fun, and it can be educational; I just find myself hoping that those who are new to yoga remember there’s so much more to this rich practice than a photogenic warrior II.
Ahhhh social media, isn’t it great! There’s a little sarcasm in my statement. If you take it for what it’s worth, yoga selfies on social media can be very entertaining, motivational and informative. The viewer needs to understand that everything they see may not be real. Selfies are sometimes illusion of reality. No, a person can’t levitate in mid air while sitting in Sukhasana while holding someone else above them in Savasana with only their index finger. Please don’t try this at home.
Selfies and the content they are taken in are for entertainment. Reality is still reality. Results come from hard work and not by saying cheese, filter..filter..filter and post. Oh and not everyone has a twin..it’s just a cool filter. That being said, I love selfies. Their eye catching, shocking and often times a reflection of art. A way of self expression.
Back in the day before the digital space even existed there was something called “self -portrait”. Which is a representation of an artist that is drawn, painted, photographed, or sculpted by that artist. I’m not saying everyone is an artist but this is where it all began.
I first became aware of the “Instagram yoga selfie” phenomenon last year, when, as a newbie yogi, I began befriending my yoga teachers on social media. I quickly saw how their selfies of doing difficult yoga poses at the beach contrasted with my selfies of eating tacos at cheap Mexican restaurants.
My first yoga selfies were more post-class pics of me dripping sweat and drinking a smoothie from the studio’s juice bar. Eventually I enlisted my 13-year-old to take a few shots of me for the “5-day challenge” that two of my teachers were doing on Instagram. The results looked fairly ridiculous … but of course, my yoga pals flattered me with high-five and happy-face emojis, because yoga people are generally very nice.
So, most of the yoga selfies I take now are with my teachers right after class, to promote them, their ventures, and the studio … and to show people that I engage in other activities besides visiting taco shops.
Half of my Instagram feed is yoga selfies these days and I absolutely adore it. I think it’s fantastic that people feel confident enough to show their expression of a particular pose for others to see. Whenever I see a new picture of someone hanging out in a Headstand or something as well-known as Warrior 2 – I get a little warm feeling in my chest. Personally, I don’t take yoga selfies. That’s perhaps a little hypocritical, because I don’t want to see myself in the poses – but I love seeing others. It inspires me to think that someday I will feel more confident and snap a picture. For now, I’ll remain an Instagram lurker and obsessive liker of yoga selfies.
Yoga selfies (and the Instagram challenges that inspire them) are led me to my entire yoga practice. As a plus-size woman with no history of yoga classes, I always thought yoga wasn’t something I could do, but I loved the idea of it. The more I started following yogis posting selfies on Instagram, the more I found yogis who looked and thought like me. After a while, it inspired me to try a few basic, beginner yoga challenges. I thought the process of taking and posting selfies would be kind of awful…and the first few did have me hyper-analyzing. But over time I started to see a lot more of what my body could DO instead of being so wrapped up in how it looked. Selfies helped me find and adjust issues in my form, and helped me learn to love my body in the here and now. Posting regular yoga selfies even helped me inspire some friends to take up yoga, and allowed me to make some incredible friends.
To understand my stance on the matter, you must understand my stance on yoga in general. To me, yoga is a celebration of what my body can do. It shows how strong, how flexible, and how awesome my body is. With this in mind, I record my practice most days and proudly post a screenshot (or 6) of different things I am working on. It’s gives me a sense of accomplishment, and it’s also an exc
ellent way to mark progress in your practice. Through documenting my yoga sessions with “yoga selfies,” I have been able to notice dramatic changes in some of my poses that I wouldn’t have noticed otherwise. While I’m in some of the poses, sometimes they “feel” the same, but oftentimes look different. Because I often tape my practice, I was able to capture an image that showed just how close I was to getting into a headstand and that fueled my fire to try even harder; that night was the the first time I managed to nail a headstand. That’s a moment I will never forget, but I’m now able to look back on it and see the pure joy on my face from making such a huge accomplishment. So, my vote is #yogaselfie all the way!
Superficial or super? Waste or wonder? Where do social media (Instagram especially) selfies sit? Personally, I believe they sit somewhere in between both extremes, with as many benefits as negative qualities. And, if we go by yogic ways of thinking, surely it is to each their own… In this intensely modern age many encounter yoga through others’ selfies, or, at the very least, online videos and such that play not so dissimilar a role. My first yoga experience was a physical class local to me, but, in truth, my most significant encounters, around the time of my mother’s death, we’re both an Instagram yoga celebrity and a YouTube yoga force. Both led me to many more doors, some via Instagram, others via study, other via local classes. And, most significantly, aided me on the biggest personal and healing journey at this point in my life. I, too, take selfies for Instagram, maybe there’s a little ego in there, but mostly, I do it to share words and stories accompanying the images and also to tell stories with my body. I hope, above all, to inspire and empower.
I teach yoga and coach CrossFit, so needless to say my Instagram feed is all handstands, deadlifts, meal plans, and gym memes. No matter where you are on your fitness journey chances are you have come across some perfect vinyasa flows and a set or two of perfectly executed butterfly pull-ups. I’m not a huge fan of social media but I am a fan of videoing and documenting my progress in all areas of my training. Most of these videos I would never dream of positing because they’re not perfect. I think a lot of teachers, instructors, and coaches share this mindset. And I think it needs to change. What if the fitness industry depicted the beauty of the journey rather than the finished product? I love the grit and courage behind a missed lift or a failed muscle up, more than I love to see these movements performed with ease. Why? Because I value the journey so much more than I could ever possibly articulate. I’ve learned more from every time I failed to lift up my own bodyweight, fell out of a balancing pose, or didn’t beat my time than I have from any of the rare instances in which I nailed something on the first or second try.
People see the picture of your arm balance on their feed but what they don’t see is the hours and hours of work alone on your mat that have brought you to were you are now. So share those moments. Share tips. Share the love! Everyone’s journey is different but all of us are striving for the same, or similar things. Long term health, physical and mental strength, and a sliver of self love in this crazy world. So take it from your perfectionistic coach, it’s time to start using social media as a tool to promote the journey rather than an edited, filtered, perfected version of the destination.
I LOVE yoga selfies. I love to look at them, to take them (because everyone needs a photographer!), and to be in them. Personally, I like to track my progress. I love looking back a couple of years to see how my inversions have transitioned. Most of the time I notice more how creative I’ve gotten in my practice rather than how much more flexible or strong I have become. However, if I really look for it, I can definitely tell how my body has changed! I enjoy looking through other people’s photos to get ideas for my own practice, and I love to pop in a word of encouragement. It’s so fun to jump onto social media sites and have an instant community of yogis to connect with.
We as yogis, have a daily practice, on as well as off of the mat to love, be accepting, and remain in this moment. Being that we are in a ever changing generation I feel that social media is a most useful tool that we must utilize to our advantage, which is to make everyone love yoga in a manor like we do! Some of the most popular apps worldwide are a tap of the fingertip away, and although our practice is not just awesome inversions and peak poses, we still may attempt to catch the future yogi’s attention! We are a special breed of people, not all who practice are born in the east where this beautiful form of honoring one’s self physically and mentally originated; yoga is change, which is why it, in my opinion is a fantastic idea to spread our message worldwide! Let us show everyone what happiness and strength may be found on the mat, the tranquility that meditating on a pillow or wearing a Mala might bring, a picture is worth a thousand words!There is so much fun, grace, creativity, and beauty in our yoga selfies!
When my practice was born I began video taping myself attempting poses like triangle, crow, floor bow, pigeon, and what I enjoyed seeing more than myself recreating these beautiful poses was the room for growth it presented. No practice can be labeled perfect, everyone is where they should be in their journey and I personally have grown like a vine; each leaf reaching in each direction where light may be shines. The opportunity to document our practice’s growth from infancy to where we are now is a enormous gift! I can’t say anything on behalf of other yogis but what I can say for myself is going through the yoga selfies I have taken since day one, I look like a much healthier and happier person; now full of purpose. As a student I am forever grateful and as a teacher I am forever humbled and ready to guide yogis who are growing towards their own light.
Every day, I used to spend a considerable amount of time on my phone, not posting but checking how many likes I got and from who. Also who commented and what others were posting. It became such an important tool in my life that it affected my relationships. I have been with friends and family and totally immersed in my device like the world only existed inside the screen, and not otherwise.
In the last months I have been reflecting more and more about this topic. I decided finally to go offline for a few days. I took three days completely off all social media and I didn’t die 😉 I actually lived more. I could observe as I did in the past, the people and scenarios around me inventing stories about them and their lives. I enjoyed nature, the city, snow, cold, walking, feeling, smelling and breathing. I lived with more awareness.
Despite the amount of time I spend on social media, I am still using it as one of the main tools for work, but with more awareness. Social media is not going to govern my life and should not govern anyone else either. We should govern SM, as we do yoga to govern our thoughts. Happy selfies everyone 😉
It was actually because of Bad Yogi that I created an Instagram account and started sharing yoga pictures on social media, full of fear. In the beginning I made sure that I didn’t share it to my Facebook so people I knew wouldn’t see my pictures. Building up courage to share those pictures seems so silly to me now, realizing how far I’ve come, but I can still clearly remember how proud those pictures made me feel. Slowly I started sharing more, even to my Facebook page, especially after I got “better” at yoga and could do something remotely closer to the fancy poses. And with every picture I shared, my confidence grew. I was proud, I started believing in myself more and with that my yoga practice grew. It is because of those pictures that my handstand journey began. The pictures cannot lie and they will inevitably show you the truth. In my case they showed me what my body was capable of but my mind didn’t believe yet. More recently my response to my pictures will be “OMG! I’m so amazing!” still not expecting to be able to do all those things.
When you see a picture of yourself actually doing a handstand, even though it was only for a few seconds, you have to believe that you can actually do it, and you will only grow from there. I will though say, as you can’t talk about yoga selfies without mentioning this, do be careful. I went from being scared to post to taking part in many challenges at the same time, where I woke up to decide how, where and when to take my pictures, without good enough warm up. After a summer of pushing myself to hard to take the “perfect” picture I took almost a year off Instagram challenges and I believe I’ve found the balance. Now my pictures will reflect the truth, mostly. I will still post handstand pictures though I can only hold it for a few seconds, because they show me who I can become. So the bottom line is this: Find your balance, sharing your yoga with the world can be beneficial for both you and your community, but just remember that you are amazing no matter how your pictures will turn out and you are always growing. Use your pictures to see your progress. Be genuine, be proud and love yourself, no matter what.
Instagram caught my eye early on in my yoga practice and absolutely hooked into the aspirational side of me that wanted to be that beautiful girl contorting into shapes whilst clad in all kinds of crazy-gorgeous leggings. And I posted 365 photos in 2016; so I guess you could say the obsession continued for some time! For me, it was a place of community and I made some really lovely connections with people, I tried out poses that I may not have otherwise, and gained a lot of knowledge. However; I regularly injured myself by pushing into poses that I wasn’t quite ready for in order to ‘get the shot’ and would drag myself to my mat to post a photo even when my body didn’t feel like it. As my practice progressed I became more focused on the internal process, I wanted to roll out my mat and just do my practice without thinking about how it looks on a screen. Yoga became a way of getting out of my head and into my body, and somehow the whole concept of a ‘yoga selfie’ just doesn’t feel synonymous with that. Since starting to train as a yoga teacher, it has become more apparent to me than ever that the most important parts of my practice are the ones that just cannot be captured and cropped into a neat little square. That’s not to say that I don’t sometimes feel the urge to snap a quick pose in a beautiful location…I am only human after all!