I recently went on a three-week holiday trip around California. During this time, I did a yoga challenge on Instagram, every single day. As I was thinking about my motivations, it brought up quite a lot of interesting questions.
Why did I do it? Why expose myself like that? Am I being shallow or narcissist? How is it compatible with yoga philosophy? I have never liked being in pictures, I am not fond of the way I look, I am always running away from cameras. So, why do I suddenly feel comfortable with it?
Well, these pictures are not really about me; they are about the asanas, and maybe a bit about the place around it. It was actually quite difficult to put myself out there at first, but it really is not about showing off, it is about sharing.
1. To Connect
Yoga is quite a personal practice. You go to your mat, you connect with your own breath, and you let your asanas flow. In a yoga class, we also aim at focusing on the inside.
Posting pictures of our asanas means leaving the private space of our mat to reach out and to connect. That is where I discovered this huge community of amazing yogi(ni)s! And being part of this community, sharing my practice, supporting and feeling supported, connecting with yogi(ni)s from all over the world is an amazing experience!
2. For Fun
How fun is it to be hiking, and going into an asana with hiking boots, just in front of an amazing sight? Well…it is extremely fun! It can be a little challenging for the body, and I strongly recommend warming up properly, but it is a lot of fun! I love the feeling of looking completely absurd, doing a posture in front of a laundry place or on the middle of the hallway of my hotel in Las Vegas!
This challenge also became an opportunity to discover asanas I didn't know about (hello fallen angel), and I have now brought them into my practice. And, now that my trip is over, I really enjoy having this photo diary of my practice during the trip!
3. To Free Yourself From People's Judgment
To take the picture, obviously, you have to come into the posture, in front of all the people around. It can be quite difficult, but what a great way to learn about letting go of the fear of judgment! It teaches you that it is ok to stand out, and that it doesn't matter how you look.
On Instagram as well, your asanas are not always perfect, and sometimes, you share something you may not be 100% proud of, but it doesn't really matter when you're part of a community where you see people who are just like you, on their own yoga journey. It really is not about perfection, it is about the journey!
Taking one picture a day may not seem like a big deal, but it is actually quite a challenge. Some days are more difficult than others, because of schedule, mood, weather… and some postures can be challenging! But you have to make enough space in your day for it to keep the challenge going. So in this sense, it is a good practice to integrate yoga into your everyday life. And it is a good introduction to Patanjali's Niyama: tapas (discipline)!
5. Changing How We Look At The World
I have never been a big fan of taking pictures. I always thought that focusing on saving an image for the future would distract me from enjoying it in that exact moment…so I generally let other people do that. I am now starting to understand, however, that taking pictures has one big benefit: it makes you look for the beauty in every place.
Obviously, it is not a hard task in places as the Grand Canyon, but in more common locations, you are constantly shifting your gaze to find hidden beauty, and I really appreciate this simple effort! I think it could be a great habit to cultivate, and to apply to a lot of things: shifting your gaze and changing your pespective to find the beauty everywhere!
Have you ever participated in an Instagram yoga challenge? What was your experience like?
Image credit: Claire Lalande