Last week when I posted a time-lapse video of my yoga practice on my Facebook page, my online friend and fellow yogi, Terra, commented: "I love your practice fastforwards. SO YUMMY. [It] totally inspires my home practice. It's beautiful."
And I got to thinking about yoga selfies: what they typically are and what mine are.
Most yoga selfies and yoga images we see in the media (traditional or social) portray thin, young, caucasian women doing acrobatic, gravity-defying poses in form-fitting, brightly colored, high-end yoga gear.
Most yoga selfies feature the "supermodels" of the yoga industry. And just like I have an issue with the effect of "supermodels" and the media on women and teens, I have an issue with the effect "superyogis" and the media on the greater yoga community.
So in this age of the internet, I've taken matters into my own hands. I've started doing my part to share with the world what a "regular" yoga practice looks like.
You likely know that I often share my yoga selfie videos and post about the aches in my body and the insights and benefits I gain from my yoga practice. My hope is to help change the popular (and intimidating) image of yoga and inspire regular people to practice.
Earlier this week I timelapse-recorded my morning practice. That particular day I woke up with a whole lot of pain in my low back. While some degree of low back pain is typical for me, this day it was much worse than usual. So after I took my kids to school I headed to the studio for my yoga practice.
When my practice was finished I watched the video and I hesitated about sharing it on Facebook like I normally do. It felt like an exceptionally vulnerable practice to share.
I hadn’t realized that, even as I had been striving to share what a “real” practice looked like, there was some amount of vanity in the videos I’d previously posted. This new video was not like that. It was not flattering in any way. I didn’t do any fancy poses. My belly rolls were evident in every forward fold. Even sped up 10X, the practice looked pretty slow. And boring.
And then I thought back to my exchange with my online yogi friend Terra. She said my last video inspired her to practice. She said my practice was “yummy” and “beautiful” and she “loved” it.
So, if my practice had that effect on Terra, it might have that effect on others, so then what exactly did I have to hide? Who cares if I’m not a thin, young, caucasian women doing acrobatic, gravity-defying poses in form-fitting, brightly colored, high-end yoga gear?
I have a real yoga practice. In 35 minutes of rolling around on my mat I can ease 95% of my back pain without medication, a doctor, or insurance. I know that yoga, in all its forms, is a practice worth sharing and I hope that my practice can maybe encourage regular ol’ people to give yoga a try.
So here you go. If you’re a regular ol’ person - if you’re a mom or a dad, a grandma or a grandpa, a daughter or a son, an aunt or an uncle, if you’re overweight or a healthy weight or underweight, if you’re fit or not fit, flexible or not flexible, if you’re able-bodied or disabled, whatever color you are, whatever whatever you are - I’m putting this practice out there for you. If you have any interest at all in yoga, may this video (and this post) bring you inspiration and confidence to give it a try.
Go to your nearest studio. Ask for a beginner-friendly class. If the people you meet are unfriendly or unwelcoming, walk out the door and try a different place.
Or you can follow me online. I share yoga nearly every day on The Yoga Room’s Facebook page and Instagram feed. I also share yoga on The Yoga Room’s YouTube channel and on this blog. And soon I’ll be sharing even more yoga. Please stay tuned for that.
In the meantime, I encourage you to share YOUR practice. Post a picture or a video on your social media page (or ours!) every now and then. Use the hashtag #thisisyoga so I can follow your practice. Help normalize yoga as a beneficial practice for regular people. Help me get the word out that Yoga is for EveryBody and every body can benefit from yoga.
And if you have any questions about your yoga practice at any time, shoot me a note! You can leave a comment below, send me an email, or leave a comment or PM on our Facebook page. I look forward to hearing from you!
P.S. You may be thinking, well yeah, but what about your handstand videos? My #handstand365 challenge isn’t my real yoga practice. As with all yoga practice, it’s an opportunity for learning, but mostly it’s just for fun.
What you see in the video posted here on this post is the yoga that keeps me going and keeps me grounded, day after day. While the practice may look slow and boring, there’s actually a whole lot going on. Throughout the practice I’m observing of the sensations in my body. When I find an area that is tense, I focus my breathing on the tense area to create ease and relaxation. The effect of ease and relaxation carries over from my body into my life. It’s awesome!