“Yoga Porn”

First, please allow me to thank all of you who sent your kind thoughts and prayers my way for my dad and his heart.  My father is feeling much better, and the stents are doing their job – he has been able to sleep through the night (for the first time in a long time) without chest pain.  Thank you, thank you!

“Yoga Porn”

I’m starting to question why I ever started to follow Yoganonymous on social media.

Admittedly, I’m not as regular with my yoga practice as I should be – I really enjoy getting some quality time with my yoga mat, but often times, when I’m trying to quickly squeeze in a workout between teaching classes and scheduling for the following month, my first thought is to jump on the treadmill really quickly rather than to get down to the mat (that I purchased from Craigslist when I was too poor to afford one a few years back).

But at any rate, I feel that yoga, like many forms of exercise, prayer, or meditation, is an important and valuable practice that does a lot of good for a lot of people.  So why this hate?

There was this a while back, I Don’t Do Yoga and It’s Because of You.  And then thisEnd Yoga Porn: Focus on “Real People and Stop the Selfies.

[Please allow me to point out that that quotation mark in the second title was part of the title, and not a typo on my part.  I think it was for emphasis?]

So, let me break it down for you.  “Yoga Porn” refers to those photos that you’ll often see on Instagram and Facebook, the ones of your healthy friends and sometimes your fitness inspiration in various yoga poses.  Sometimes the women are professionals, long-haired lithe beauties like Laura Sykora, and sometimes, it’s some chick with a lot of tattoos from Cary in a bikini.  Either way, typically I look, will watch videos, check out their alignment (which is not always perfect, but I’m certainly down to learn something,) and move along.  Sometimes, if I’m being honest, I’ll check the yogi in question out, and take mental notes on how great her (usually) body is, and remark to myself, that though I certainly don’t look like this when I do yoga, I hope that I look like this some day.  And that’s the extent of my feeling.

But these articles that Yogaonymous is guilty of circulating on more than one occasion are, for lack of a better word, silly.  To succinctly sum up their arguments, the authors assert that:

  • Yoga selfies are indicative of an ego issue (the person in the selfie has a big fat head).  The selfier (stay with me, I had to make that word up), only cares about looking good.
  • Yoga selfies are discouraging to folks who want to do yoga because of…
    • The beautiful people that they feature.
    • The beautiful people that they feature wearing bikinis.
  • Yoga selfies aren’t “real” yoga.
  • Yoga selfies are a competition to see who can outdo whom.
  • And the most troubling and sad assertion, that “I don’t do Yoga and it’s because of you [selfier]”

::deep breath::

Typically, you won’t catch me posting a ton of yoga selfies (or selfies in particular) because I’m awkward, and I don’t practice a ton of yoga.  However, I snap pics of my running shoes, trails I’m running on, and foodstuffs I create.  Not because I have an ego problem, or because I feel like I’m in competition with anyone else, but because these are the things that I do on the daily.  And I’m willing to bet the perps of this “porn” are doing the same.  They spend a lot of time with their mats, and if they happen to be in bikinis?  Guess what, they probably spend a lot of time in bikinis as well.

To the authors of these articles, or to people who see these yoga selfies and snarl, please don’t try to get into the yogis head and parse out what their intention is.  Take the selfie for what it is.  A FRICKIN SELFIE!  And not something that should have the power to make you feel bad about yourself, discourage you from practicing, feel “less than” about your body or your form of exercise, critical of whether it is “real” yoga or not, or in any way, impact your mood or well-being.  In fact, I might even suggest that you look at it, and perhaps feel inspired.  Heck, I can appreciate a pretty girl in a bikini with some decent alignment in a downward dog, and pray, that one day too, I might not look like a lost bison in my yoga classes.

As an aside, I will say, the one area of merit that came from one of the authors was when she mentioned poor alignment in a lot of selfies, which can be concerning, especially for someone who is a yoga pro, like she is.  I would caution folks who like to scroll through yogsperation on IG not to try to imitate those poses or recreate them without first warming up or asking your yoga teacher for appropriate cues – it’s a good way to end up hurt.

So, fitness friends, tell me.  What do you think of yoga porn?

Spoiler alert:  I kinda like it.  Who doesn’t appreciate beautiful people doing beautiful things, right?