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| By Wellvyl Media Editorial

In all of its accessible splendor, the advent of mobile technology in conjunction with social media has bestowed upon us the capability to become our own photojournalist. Without question, it has revolutionized the way we record and chronicle what happens on the path of our individual incarnate journeys. Social media is an infinite outlet to visually express your thoughts, and interests as well as promote the offerings, of your business, or organization. As always, the value of anything we have is dependent upon how we choose to use it. What we decide to post on our social media accounts is up to our own discretion. There are no hard and fast rules engraved in the ether of the internet.

I enthusiastically create and post yoga-related content daily. My love of the practice and teaching of yoga are is passionately apparent. However, every once in awhile, a student, friend, or acquaintance poses the question, “So, if you are a yoga teacher, how come there are hardly any pics on your Instagram of you doing yoga?” What they mean to ask is, “Why aren’t you posting pictures of yourself doing yoga poses?”

I am not surprised by this query. All around the world, people of all shapes proudly celebrate their practice by posting pictures of themselves in yoga postures. For many, yoga selfies (that’s what I call them) are an empowering testament to the practitioner’s commitment and hard work, as well as to their internal transformation attributed to their consistent decision to come to the mat. There are so many wonderful physical, intellectual, and spiritual gifts that awaken and flourish through a steady asana practice. Yoga has the power to heal, strengthen, and calm, all helping you to navigate the highs and lows of your life with more grace and stability. Sharing images of your practice across social media can be a celebration of the joy, peace, and growth that occurs when the path of yoga is pursued. Posting such content can additionally garner curiosity within others about the practice, perhaps inspiring them to explore time on the mat.

Yet when scrolling through some accounts, I find myself overwhelmingly inundated with an exhaustive plethora of contortion-esque images of camera-ready yogis, captioned with various hashtags, photographer acknowledgments, or @ tag mentions of whatever company, product or clothing item shared in the yogi’s picture. Some captions boast yoga-related quotes. Although the written quotation itself is one of insight and inspiration, in relation to its attached photo, its essence becomes somewhat trivialized. The quote becomes overshadowed by the picture, which seems to scream, “Look at ME. Look at these difficult poses I CAN DO. Admire ME. Congratulate ME. Be in awe of ME. Check out how incredible, how beautiful, how accomplished, how focused and spiritual I AM”. When I encounter this, a question surfaces in my mind. I want to say to that yogi, “You look great, but what else has your practice taught you?”

Yoga is a sacred discipline, not a vanity project. It is an ancient spiritual practice over 5,000 years old. The asanas (postures) are to be studied, and practiced with the intention of not attaining the perfection of physical aesthetic but using and recognizing the gifts of your body, breath, and intelligence to transform the consciousness. From here, we may live and interact with ourselves and others from a mindset rooted in compassion and gratitude, as opposed to leading lives in pursuit of ego gratification. One approaches the practice of yoga in the attitude of humility, in order to surrender the insatiable demands and distractions of ego’s need to be acknowledged. Having a consciousness that is driven by the ego center obscures all truth, disconnecting us not just from the grace of our sacred breath but from seeing the innate value in all living beings. The practice of these postures is sacred because they are a means to help you honor where your body and breath are in the present moment, no matter what sh*t storm is going on in your life. They are not meant to emphasize what you think is wrong with you or your body, but remind you of what is already miraculous - your breath, your heartbeat, your consciousness. The Asana practice accepts you just as you are. It is not a performance and thus there are no demands on appearance. In the exploration of these Asanas, there is consistent learning to quiet the ego’s evaluations and judgments as well as seeing the value in taking care of yourself. Through embodied and mindful engagement of our physical bodies, your values and consciousness transform in wisdom.

I am first and foremost a student of the discipline of yoga and for me, the Asanas are a devotional practice of prayer. Bombarding Instagram with pictures of my body in yoga postures is the equivalent of someone constantly posting images of themselves reciting the Rosary with the hashtags #hailmary #catholiclife. Asanas create sanctuary and steadiness within our souls through accessing our bodies and our breath. Yoga Asana is meant to be an experience, a self-inquiry, a cultivation of gratitude, an awakening to the all-pervading Source that resides within you and through the infinite cosmos. Because the practice of Asana has this spiritual dimension, I shy away from posting pictures of me doing the postures. I do not want to practice or even master the poses so I can look beautiful or impressive to others, it is not even to impress myself. The point of my practice is not so I can hold a posture long enough for a picture to be taken. I do not need a visual reminder of what my body can do or what it looks like or of what my discipline renders. I choose to engage in the discipline of yoga because I seek a transformation of my consciousness, because it helps me to remember that my breath, body, and mind are sacred in and of themselves, that all parts of me are connected to the Divine Source of all that is seen and unseen. My practice teaches me to see past trivial distractions that interfere with true understanding.

I teach to be of service, so that others may awaken to the strength they are capable of no matter what shortcomings they perceive, as well as to the compassionate grace that pervades through their being. If they are willing to treat and see themselves as strong, steady, illuminated creations then perhaps they will venture to seek the same sacred presence in others, improving the way they treat one another. How can I be of service if I put my energy into arranging myself into perfect looking poses for a photographer and taking the time to publish said pictures on my social media? If I am putting this much effort into my visual representation, what am I giving to nourish the self-inquiry of others? How do my yoga selfies inspire compassion? How am I living my practice if I am so preoccupied? A flood of snapshots displaying how I express the sacred practice of Asana will not inspire others to practice. I practice Asana to transform the core of my being, so that my thoughts, my actions, and my words embody LOVE. Yoga selfies cannot capture that.

#namaste #immadlight #wakethefuckup