“There is no man living who isn't capable
of doing more than he thinks he can do"
- Henry Ford
'Hello, my name is Jenn and I'm an Instagram Yogi" ... pauses for reaction
Depending on where you stand, you're probably either grabbing your iPhone and doing a quick search for #thetravellingyogi or rolling your eyes, seconds away from pressing the little red 'x' at the top of your browser. Its a pretty hot topic nowadays and everybody seems to have an opinion - including me. So before you give up on me, let me take a minute to explain. Yes I post daily pictures on social media, AND I am also a full time yoga teacher and practitioner committed to bringing as many people onto their mats as possible.
Celebrity yogis like Rachel Brathen (AKA Yoga Girl) have helped catapult yoga into the mainstream, inspiring millions to roll out their mats yet I often hear people (usually other yoga teachers) saying that it's not 'yoga' to take a photo of yourself doing a handstand in a bikini. Let's discuss shall we?
The argument goes that yoga is about letting go of ego and not about being 'skinny' and achieving a perfect body. I couldn't agree more.
Yoga is not about perfection, its about exploration. It's about developing a deep connection to and understanding of the bodies we are in. We have this incredible container of muscle and ligament, bone and breath, with infinite possibilities for movement and expression. Judge me however you like, but when my students nail something new for the first time in class, I’ll whoop and applaud. For me yoga is a joyful practice, a journey of self acceptance, gratitude and appreciation. How lucky we are to have bodies that move!
My instagram account is a celebration of that movement, a homage to the journey I embark upon every day that I step on my mat. When I discover a new depth in an asana, I share it to inspire. It is no measure of my 'spirituality' whether I am in a bikini or a white robe. What I wear does not determine my worth as a yoga teacher or indeed as a person. I live and work on a beach and I dress accordingly. I am also a grown woman and have the right to dress as I wish ;)
I accept that pictures of glossy advanced yoga asana can scare off potential newcomers (so can the amazing asana of the late B.K.S Iyengar, posing in just a pair of pants in the quintessential 'Light on Yoga'), but for every person who is put off, there are plenty who are inspired and if that inspiration to practice yoga comes from an image of a girl in yoga shorts doing the splits I am grateful to that girl and I will bloody well high five her! On a side note, it's interesting how the boys of Instagram can post topless yoga pictures and are applauded for their yogic prowess ... just saying.
We'd be naive to think that people didn’t sometimes come to yoga to seek a fit / healthy body … if ‘inspirational’ yoga pictures bring people to my workshops and classes then great! They’ll learn the spiritual practice when I have them on the mat (captive audience!). I'm just grateful that they're there and open to learning more about this incredible lifestyle and that I have 7 full days to teach them as much as I can!
Unfortunately there seems to be a lot of judgement in the yoga community these days. There are too many dogmatic practitioners vilifying fellow 'yogis' on what they eat, how often they practice, how many vipassana meditations they've done in an attempt to 'out spiritual' each other. In my opinion THIS is the quickest way to ostracise people interested in the practice, not instagram pictures of the incredible human body and its capabilities!
There is no ‘wrong’ reason for becoming interested in yoga -
If you came for a banging beach bod ... I applaud you ... hop on a mat
If you're recovering from an injury ... I'm with you ... roll out that mat
If you want to feel stronger, more flexible ... you're in the right place ... here's a yoga mat
If you want to learn how to accept yourself and live in gratitude ... welcome my friend ... I'll show you to your mat
If you want to learn about divine connection and oneness ... let me guide you ... here on your yoga mat
However you feel about Instagram, beautiful yogis, just promise me one thing ... be proud of your achievements. Be proud of yourself for the days you drag yourself into class when its knee deep in snow outside. Be proud when you have breakthroughs and discover a new dimension to your practice. Be proud when you fall out of that arm balance. Be proud when you break down in tears during your yin class. You are perfect in your wholeness, in your humanness ... celebrate it, whether thats with a new pair of yoga pant, a well deserved massage, a soak in the bath or a bikini selfie on Instagram ;) No judgment here
Your Practice | Your Journey | Your Way