Photos of yogis in pose are all over Facebook. The location of the shoot varies. Maybe the photo is taken in the studio, on the beach, or even in a living room. I find this interesting.
Last month I signed up to participate in a yoga photo shoot happening in town. It’s part of an artistic endeavor called the Yoga Posture Project whose intention is give authentic expression to the modern yoga movement through photography, to move beyond the “pretty” images and show what is real.
I was looking forward to the experience of taking photographs of myself doing yoga, like those I’ve seen of others. Even more so, I was interested in how that would feel. I showed up at my time slot, shared some of my yoga story and had my photos taken. As weeks passed, I couldn’t wait to see my photos. What did I actually look like doing yoga? My daily practice doesn’t involve me looking at myself in the mirror so I didn’t really know. All I know is how I feel in each yoga pose.
Soon the wait was over. First, a few of my friends received their photos. Looking at them filled me with joy. I could see the unique expression each one offered. I could feel the contemplative stance in another. One made my heart swell, another expressed a feeling of strength. In essence, the photos became a way to communicate the feeling of yoga, something of which I was very familiar.
Then MY batch of photos arrived. As I flipped through my own photos the self judgement began. My leg wasn’t in the right spot, my face looked weird, my hair wasn’t quite perfect, my body had flaws. Arghh! Then I stopped, turned my awareness back at me and realized the stark contrast between how I viewed the photos of my friends compared to how I viewed my own photos. I started to put myself in the pose, remember how I felt in each pose, recalled what happened to my my mind, heart and soul in that pose. Instantly my own photos started to communicate in the same way as those of my friends. They communicated the feeling of the pose, the light inside, the beauty of the form.
When talking to some of my friends about how they felt about posting their photos on Facebook, one was horrified as she didn’t want to expose her flaws, another considered removing her photos off her page as she didn’t want to seem like her ego was in charge.
So I decided to post some of my pics on Facebook to see what would happen, questioning why I, along with many others, felt the need to do this.
I was curious what my ego might have to say. “Hey, look at me, check out my half moon, aren’t I swell?” or “I’ve been working so hard, can’t you tell?” or “I’m so much more (fill in the blank) than I was in high school.”
What I discovered for myself was something more pure. I noticed self expression, like the way an artist shares her work to communicate a feeling or an idea. I felt inspiration seeing a physical representation of how I feel. I was curious if, by offering the photo up to others, I could possibly inspire them to reach for their goals or take care of their body, mind and soul. There was even a glimpse of connection with others as the image says “I’m shining my light, just like you.”
I took some clues from the comments I received from my photos to what was really going on here. One commented on my inner beauty reflecting outwardly, another on how she was inspired to resume her yoga practice, one mentioned my energy. Others used the word beautiful in some form which could mean “I see your light” or “I like your shell.”
I discovered that the reason people post photos of themselves on Facebook is as diverse as how people respond to these photos. It’s not up to me to judge an individual’s posting as ego or not. It IS my personal responsibility to check my ego as I admire the photos of others and decide to post my own photos. It IS up to me to decide how to accept others comments about my photos as feeding my ego or connecting to my light within. Self-awareness is key. Personally, I love seeing the expression and light shine from a human smile or form. It makes me feel that deep feeling of unconditional love and connection with that fellow soul.
So go ahead, share your photos of yourself doing yoga in a boat, with a goat, in the rain, in the dark, on a train, in a car and in a tree, just as long as it’s You you see.
Come see what you think at the opening night of the exhibit entitled “Synergy: A Fusion of Nature, Yoga & Photography” on Friday, October 10th, 5:30-9:00pm at Tamarack Studio & Gallery at 849 E Washington Ave, Suite 102, Madison, WI.