yoga selfie

This Is My Yoga Body

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.

Superyogi side bend

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.

This-Is-Yoga-Logo-FinalIn 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!

Zelinda 2013XO, Zelinda



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!

Are Yoga Selfies Feeding Yogis' Egos?

Thirty-one days ago I embarked upon a 365 day handstand challenge. I should let you know that 31 days ago I didn't know the first thing about how to handstand. All I knew was that I wanted to learn. I was inspired to such madness by Amber Shumake, a yoga teacher I'd been following on Facebook, but who I've never met in person. Amber wrapped up her 365 day handstand challenge on Mother's Day, and one day a few weeks ago, without giving it any logical thought at all, I posted a comment on one of her posts and told her and the universe that I was picking up the torch. I would start my 365 days the day after she finished hers.

So for the past 31 days, I've been posting a video of my progress on our Instagram and Facebook pages.

handstand challenge

Since this is really the only consistent "public" view of my yoga practice, I wanted to take a moment to provide some context around the handstands and what my real yoga practice looks like.

My real yoga practice consists of a lot of laying down I have issues with my sacrum and my left SI joint, and they're painful pretty much every day. Like most everyone, I have a lot of tightness in my upper back, shoulders, and neck. I teach and practice a very therapeutic style of yoga, so my yoga practice is intended to address my trouble spots and reduce tightness and pain so my body will be happy.

I pretty much always warm up with a lot of very slow paced laying down postures. Just laying on my back (on the floor) brings relief to my sacrum. I do a variety of poses to stretch out my legs and hips. If I have time and energy, I might also do a few down dogs or standing poses.

My real practice is pretty boring to watch compared to the handstands, but if you want to get an idea of what it looks like you can check it out here. Please note that this is the end part of my practice, after I was completely warmed up.

And the handstands are pretty much the polar opposite of my real practice. They're quick and flashy and mostly just for fun. But I've realized that they do provide an excellent opportunity for increasing strength and also for self-study, both in the moment and later when I review the videos, and to me, self-study is a very important aspect of yoga.

In my handstand practice I pay attention to so many details: the position of my hands, shoulders, hips, legs, and feet; the engagement of different muscles throughout my body; how I'm breathing; my energy level.

By sharing the videos online, I'm not only holding myself accountable, but I'm also creating a visual timeline of my progress. An on-going "Before" and "After".

And maybe more importantly, I'm a real life representation of our Yoga for EveryBody philosophy. If you look up #handstand on Facebook or Instagram, you're pretty much only going to find super-fit, young, thin yogis, and me. And while, yes, of course, I wish I was in better shape, I'm also proud to show that yoga is indeed for every body.

Alright, I'll get off my soapbox now and encourage you to find your own challenge.

Which yoga pose do you wish you could do better or with more ease? It doesn't have to be something flashy like handstand; it could be anything. Maybe a seated forward fold, maybe down dog, or maybe even the basic comfortable sitting position?

Just like with yoga practice, make this challenge your own. Take 30 or 100 or 365 days to consistently work toward your pose. Post a comment and let us know what pose you're committing to work on and for how long. Let us know if you have any questions or need any guidance.

Then take a photo or video every single day and decide if you want to keep it for yourself or if you want to share it on social media.

If you keep it for yourself, I suggest naming each photo "Day 1", "Day 2", etc., and putting them all into a single folder to keep them organized so that you can go back and review your progress. You might even keep a journal of notes and observations to go along with your photos.

If you decide you want to post your Challenge photos online, use the hashtag #rryogaroom so that we can keep up with your progress, too!

I'm so excited about this! I've learned a lot in my first 31 days of handstanding, and I'm sure you're going to learn a lot about yourself and your body if you decide to join me in this Challenge.

Let me know if you have any questions!

P.S. So getting back to the question about whether yoga selfies just serve to feed the yogi's ego, my opinion is that it depends. Selfies might be used as a learning tool (that's mainly what mine are for me) or they might be used to show everyone in social-media-land just how cool and awesome you are. It depends on the yogi :)