Δευτέρα, 21 Δεκεμβρίου 2015

What a Yogi Looks Like


There is something that bugs me about the way yoga is portrayed via the western media, yoga-themed sites and online communities included. There has been a lot of discussion on the internet lately as to whether yogis should or shouldn't post their so-called "yoga selfies". Some say it is important to share the happiness and confidence you feel through your progress; others deem those pictures unfaithful to the purpose of yoga and daunting to the aspiring beginners; my view, which I present here and leave open for discussion, is somewhere in the middle.

The problem with modern, westernized yoga has very little to do with whether or not you can rock a headstand, tie yourself up like a pretzel, or hover upside-down defying -seemingly- all laws of gravity. I think anyone can agree that those poses, advanced as they may be, even impossible for most of us -myself included- are a considerable part of the yogic tradition and require years of practice and a level of expertise anyone would be proud of. And if your jaw-dropping forearm balances took years of unrolling your mat daily and comprise the result of hard work, why the hell not post them on your wall  for your friends to see? After all, comparison and feeling daunted by someone else's abilities have very little to do with the selfless roots of the yogic filosophy.

So, what is it that drives so many people into desperation, frustration, and ultimately away from yoga? For me the problem lies in the way yoga practice is presented by the yoga media themselves. Yoga in the western world, like everything that sells, has become a business, and as such, it has to be profitable. And it does; clothes, special mats, mala beads, aromatic candles, props and an endless bunch of online communities and articles glorifying all the wrong aspects of the practice, to the point where it looks like an extravaganza of impossible acrobatics, performed by skinny girls in flowery yoga pants, and nothing more. And, while there is absolutely nothing wrong with showing with pride your handstand on Instagram, literally everything is wrong when one out of two articles devoted to yoga practice - a practice of seemingly countless styles and asanas to choose from- moves along the lines of "how to perform a headstand" or "firefly pose breakdown for beginners" (sarcasm intended). My progress is mine, asana is endless, and nobody has the right to tell me what I should and shouldn't be proud of. 

So I posted my own yoga selfie. I am performing -badly enough- a shoulderstand combined with splits. My asana is imperfect and requires work, but at the present moment I am proud of how far I've come and everything I have achieved. My pants are cheap and pitch black. My face looks rather silly. I am using the carpet instead of a formal mat because after a certain point I sweat and inversions become slippery.

But I am proud of this. I am proud of my yoga selfie. Anyone should be proud of their own progress.

 And, yes, I am having tons of fun.


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