My dad likes to tease me, saying that you know someone is a yoga teacher, or maybe just plain yoga fanatic when they go on vacation and the pictures posted to Facebook and Instagram contain you in various postures on the beach, next to waterfalls, in front of museums and monuments, or on a hillside. It’s true, I love to strike a pose for fun now and then and I know I’m not the only one.
There are a lot of critics out there that think that yoga is a personal practice and not intended to be plastered all over the internet for everyone to see. Do they think that the people that post these pictures are simply showing off? Possibly. But for me that couldn’t be any further than the truth.
My first pictures of my practice date back to 2011. This is the same year I went to Teacher Training. I had already been practicing for over 5 years at this point and believe me when I say that I wish I had started taking pictures earlier. I’ve written before about how sometimes you need that proof that the posture once looked one way and now has improved to look like something completely different. Photos of my postures have taught me about my form, my focus, and where I need to continue to work. These first pictures were limited only to the studio though. There were no lovely background scenes to be captured, no interest other than the learning tool that the picture was for me.
As my practice progressed, the spirituality of the yoga took hold. Spirituality, in Bikram Yoga?, you might be thinking, Where is there spirituality in a yoga that is loud, bossy, and oh, so, sweaty? Well, as an instructor I am certainly not going to ask you to open your Heart Chakra, but I can’t help it if the yoga works as a tool to get you to actually do just that. The spirituality of this yoga is simple. It’s the spirituality of you and the power and light that you already possess, finally exposed after years of practice, staring at yourself in the eye day after day, to reveal the amazing Being you truly are. You might show up to merely shed a few pounds or release stress, but I promise you, if you stick with it, you will gain so much more from your practice.
The first time I took a photo of myself out in nature striking a pose I will admit I wanted to use it as my Facebook cover photo. It was of me, doing yoga, while hiking, and honestly there is nothing more “me” than that and I wanted to share it with my friends and family. But now, with the yoga being such a huge part of my life – when I’m not teaching it, practicing it, thinking about it, or reading about it, I am still writing about it, and yes, I do, have a life that has nothing to do with yoga, though my husband might disagree with that at times – I found myself attempting poses whenever I am inspired to do it.
When I knew this was what I was going to be writing about this week, I pondered why that is. Why do so many yogis strike a pose and take a photo when they are out in nature, or maybe on vacation? What compels us to do it then? Certainly the yoga poses I do when I’m out hiking are not going be that impressive or my deepest expressions of my postures, as after traversing miles of terrain, my hamstrings are super tight and my lower spine a little locked up. When I really contemplated it I found myself thinking about how I always want to stop, drop, and yoga when I am inspired by what I’m seeing out in nature or how happy my heart is on that day. For me, and I’m not talking about every yogi out there, just me, it’s about not simply observing something breathtaking and beautiful, but being a part of it in my own way – to really be in that moment. Would I do it if there weren’t someone snapping a photo? Probably. Doing yoga out in the elements is inspiring and invigorating as you feel the fresh air fill your lungs and focus on that feeling. So, I will continue to take pictures when I’m outside in nature of my yoga practice. Maybe you will too. It’s not about being perfect out there, it’s about being part of it all.
VFTP Readers do you take pictures of your practice? I would love to see them! Send your summer photos of you outside the studio striking a pose and, with your permission, I will share them with the VFTP Community!
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