About 17 years ago I went to my first yoga class. I didn’t know what to expect but I wanted to try something different from running which was never attractive during those cold, dark and often wet evenings. There were only about 3 of us attending the class at that time which meant a lot of individual attention and adjustments!
The yoga instructor wore a simple black vest and black, light loose fitting jogging bottoms. I remember this because this has pretty much been her uniform for the 17 years that I have known her.
I fell in love with yoga; it gave me a feeling of serenity and made me so acutely aware of my own body and its abilities and limitations. More than that, I loved the ethos within this particular class. Yoga is a non-competitive sport there was no looking at the person on the mat beside you to see whether they were reaching further than you could. (Although I have to admit, back then I did occasionally glance at someone on another mat since my future husband was practicing on said mat… but that’s another story!) The focus was on your own body and sometimes your own discomfort (it’s not pain… it’s heightened awareness!!)
I started to read up on yoga and learned about the spiritual side; while yoga is historically associated with certain religions, it is not a religion in itself. Also regardless of what people may tell you, meditating does not leave space for the devil to enter into the mind! Yoga is about union; the union of the body and mind, breath and energy, conscious and unconscious, the soul and the divine (whatever that means to you).
I started to follow a lot of yogis on social media along with photographers and photography. My hope was to fill my feed with things that inspire and nourish me rather than seeing the latest exotic holiday my friends had been on which only led me to play the comparison game (where I generally lose!)
This worked for some time and I felt better about being on social media; I didn’t get that depleted, dissatisfied feeling once I turned off my screen. Then it changed and my feed started to be filled with images of people in bikinis doing yoga, which sometimes looked more like acrobatics. This wasn’t the yoga I fell in love with; it had somehow turned into a cross between the talent and swimwear round of a Miss World beauty pageant. It became more about, “Look how great my body looks” and “Look I can do the splits while making breakfast… and changing my baby’s nappy at the same time ” than it did about unity of the body mind and spirit.
It’s getting worse. I see yogis now who I have followed and found inspiring for a long time resorting to wearing more revealing clothing; perhaps it’s to get more likes or followers or dare I say it… become influencers… who knows?
I am not saying it’s wrong to show your skin, I’ve rocked a bikini and a crop top many a time, but I do think that the message and meaning of yoga is being diluted and lost in the process of more yogis practicing in this way.
I’m calling for more attention on breath work and less on the booty! It will make you feel better about yourself, I promise.
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