Have you ever typed "yoga" or "yoga poses" on Instagram search? Yep? And what happened next? Did you think for a second you made a mistake and typed "models on exotic locations doing most physically challenging asanas?" Well you didn't make a mistake. This is what social media presentation of yoga looks like.
I haven't searched for posts on Instagram until about a year and a half ago. At that time I heard about all the amazing yogis who have this gorgeous accounts I really need to see. So I did and of course my first reaction was just WOW. Gorgeous people. Amazing scenery. Impeccably executed asanas that appear to be flawlessly caught by the camera. Like "Oh, instead of a wave and a smile I shall just give you the Bhujapidasana (Shoulder-Pressing Pose). With a smile.
This is Kino MacGregor, world famous Ashtanga yogini. She should be recognised as a devoted yogini, successful businesswoman, but not as a role model in terms of what you need to achieve through your praxis. (Ph: Kino McGregor Instagram)
I found myself coming back to this accounts day after day, starting to see this people as a representation of unreachable goals and places.
How to compete with Bali sunset Sun salutation, followed by the good morning Warrior next to the Sydney Opera house?
And this is where everything starts to go downhill for you. You came for inspiration, you got frustration instead. You feel the need to show your worth by competing, matching up to those images. And in 99% of the time you can't. Because those images represent probably less then 1% of yogis out there. But you see them as the norm. That's media power right there. We live in an era where we believe that what is publicly seen, advertised, praised, that is the norm. Even though you are now shaking with your head, you are most probably affected by them at least on a subconscious level.
To point a finger to all the yogi celebrities is like pointing a finger to McDonalds and say that they are to blame for all the obesity in this world. The fact is that we live in a time where social media is one of the biggest role players out there. True. But yet again, we are the one who are turning the hamster wheel. Without demand, there is no supply. The reality is that we obviously want this images, want this "truth" in our lives because we are asking for it. One doesn't exist without the other. But why do we want it? This brings us to the sad question;
"Are we looking to escape our monotone daily lives with glimpsing into the world of the "fortunate" ones? Did we substitute movies with real life tv? Are they becoming our idols and icons? Sweet pain of the mirror showing us what ifs could look like?"
For some of us, especially young people who were raised and are growing up together with the social media craze, it is extremely difficult to distinguish between the reality and the projected fantasy of it all. Especially when a lot of this images are accompanied with the positive affirmation texts telling us that you can have anything you wish for. This is not true. This is a lie. There are so many limitations out there that need to be recognised. Not everyone has same potential, same opportunities, same genetic body structure, support, mind set, etc. We need to praise that. We need to show diversity. We need to be honest, not just pretty. We need to put emphasis on the true things that matter, instead of escaping to visually stimulating images. Personality. Sense of humour. Kindness. Courage. Progress. Overcoming fears. Body positivity. Lets show those. Lets give them recognition and voice. Shamelessly!
This is also yoga - having a stroll, bumping into a canal that is just wide enough to stretch your sides in Utthita Parsvakonasana and your friend snaps one photo. Voila!