Yoga vs. Instagram | The Battle Royale
Instagram culture and The Yogi
Ashtanga yoga is for everyone. Yoga in general is for every body type, every type of person, in any stage of life. However, this would not be obvious to someone being exposed to yoga exclusively through social media. I’m choosing to focus on instagram, because everyone’s favorite photo sharing app is probably the most toxic of any app or website I have ever encountered, and by far the most widespread. Exposing oneself to the best parts of our peers’ and favorite celebrities’ lives constantly can make a person feel very alone in their personal struggle. Unfortunately, opening up the instagram app can be an impulsive part of anyone’s wake up routine, mine included. Images of beautiful women, beaming on white sandy beaches, in some sort of pose that I’m sure they believe is that of traditional yoga immediately appear in mass amounts. They’re all thin, mostly white, and I can almost guarantee that they are in a higher tax bracket than you. They have sponsorships from the highest end legging brands, and offer their discount codes as if fifteen-percent off leggings with pockets is the savior society needs.
I don’t blame anyone for falling for these people. Who wouldn’t want to be inhumanly flexible, traveling to the most beautiful places on earth, and make money the whole time? Or more likely, who wouldn’t want to live vicariously through them? But I can confidently tell you that this is not what yoga was supposed to be, and actually waters down the original intent so that the true benefits are greatly minimized, or removed completely.
Theoretically, this is nothing more than a minor inconvenience, and perhaps something traditional yoga practitioners will roll their eyes at and scroll past. In practice though, these idealistic yogis can take a hold on students’, or potential students’, self esteem. If being thin, rich, and white are prerequisites for practicing high-level yoga, then why would someone who is not any of those things even attempt yoga?
Yoga is more than photo op. When the fitness industry got a hold of yoga, it took a drastic turn towards consumerism, capitalism, and therefore model body types. People who don’t fit this ideal standard that was created for yoga when yoga was hijacked by the local gym deserve to have as much of the opportunity, even in theory, to take a yoga class. No one should wander past the Shala and wonder how they will be perceived by their physical appearance, abilities, or the leggings they are wearing. Yoga is safe, and yoga is for everyone. There are sequences created specifically for every body type under the sun, there are sequences specifically for helping people through depression or anxiety, there are sequences for older people, younger people, beginners, pros, and everything in between. Not only can yoga be for everyone, but it is for everyone. Every person, despite what they are going through should feel welcome to reap the spiritual and physical rewards of yoga, despite what social media might be representing.
If I hope to accomplish anything with this blog post, I would hope that someone may find the courage to take a yoga class, at the Bellingham Yoga School or not, and feel confident in their right to be there. I also would hope that people that perhaps do fit the ideal standard may go out of their way to make others feel welcome. Recognizing the privilege of being conventionally attractive according to yoga standards creates self awareness, and self awareness cultivates kindness and a welcoming environment.
So come one, come all, if you feel so called to join a yoga class. Your body and mind will thank you, and you can prove something to the instagram models that made it so hard to begin with.