Everyday Yoga

Every time I check out a yoga tag on… well.. anywhere, I’m inundated with pictures of really flexible people in really fancy poses. Examples**:

Tittibhasana-firefly pose

UPSTREAM FITNESS-4

Lululemon Yellow Yoga

Amazing Yoga MDU Campus, Rohtak

Virtually always by people who have goodly amounts of visible muscle and minimal if any visible fat. (In this case, boobs are granted an exception to the “no visible fat” requirement.) Bonus points if they’re bikini- or Speedo-clad and/or in exotic locations like beaches, mountaintops, airplane wings, or the edges of cliffs.

I want to make this clear: I’m not complaining about the fact that these types of yoga pictures exist. I’m complaining that this very specific combination of asana types plus body types makes up a disproportionate amount of yoga photos — and thus probably impacts how we think about yoga and what we value in it. (Maybe not as much for folks who already have a regular practice, but for people just starting to dabble in the idea? Whole different story.) Essentially, if the majority of what we’re seeing is pictures of thin, well-muscled people in bendy, flashy poses, it’s that much easier to internalize the idea that those bodies or those asanas are the goal of yoga — and that we’re somehow “less good” at yoga if we don’t achieve those goals.

Far less common, for example, are modifications of the flashy poses — or even what they’d look like on a different body. Additionally, a lot of the poses where I spend a lot of my time — mountain, forward fold, low cobra, easy pose, etc. — get almost no photo love at all.

I would like to change that. I would like to start normalizing more “everyday” yoga, sort of the way there are several websites that show models and celebrities before and after photoshop (that link selected because it was a single page instead of a Flash slideshow, not necessarily because it’s the best example) or the way the photo gallery at the Fit Fatties Forum (you might have to join to see it) are trying to normalize images of fat people being active and athletic.

I’d like to see more types of bodies in a wider variety of yoga poses — including some that often get overlooked when it comes to photo ops but are often integral to people’s practices. I’d like both to capture the sheer anatomical variety in expressions of poses and to help solidify the message that yoga is not about what you look like in the poses.

I would like to to do this, but I’d need some help. Essentially, if I tried to organize this type of project — let’s call it “Everyday Yoga” — would people be interested in submitting pictures? Specifics will follow at a later date (pending interest), and I’m way good at giving credit and respecting privacy (e.g., pixeling out face) at the preference of the individual person submitting. This is just an initial check to see:

  1. Is there interest in viewing such a collection of asana photos?
  2. If so, are there people who’d be willing to submit photos of themselves in specific poses (on a not-overwhelming but somewhat continuing basis)?

Thanks for any feedback you have on this!

** Mine are coming from Wikimedia Commons, so I know: a) that they’re okay for me to use here; b) how to credit them. So they’re representative of the types of pictures I see, not the exact images I’ve seen.

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19 comments on “Everyday Yoga
  1. Candice says:

    I’m totally interested…I wonder if I could convince someone to take some pics of me on the yoga wall at my studio :-)

    • Tori says:

      Yay! Pics like that would be awesome. Though in the interest of full disclosure, mine will totally be stills from my webcam recording my own practice. (I will probably aim to move the dirty laundry out of the way, but… priorities.)

  2. Tapetum says:

    I’d love to see such a site, and might submit if I could talk a kid into taking a picture.

  3. Bonnie Ohara says:

    I could contribute! I think it’s great to point out that you can be athletic without being 100% fat free ;)

    • Tori says:

      Also, that people can “do yoga” without being supremely bendy. Also too, that yoga is not just about the visually impressive poses. :)

      Thanks for offering to contribute!

  4. gaayathri says:

    Totally keen! Would love to contribute if I can get my partner to take some pics of me doing fun poses. I also have a pin board on interest of people of all shapes and sizes doing cool things but obviously I don’t have the rights to those photos.

    • Tori says:

      Awesome. Given the interest, I will try to put together a “this is how I guess things will work” post for early next week.

  5. Maehem says:

    I don’t do yoga for PRECISELY this. The videos, the images…all of them…intimidating as hell for someone who is NOT in peak physical shape and who has never done yoga. I want to do yoga, but don’t feel like it’s a very welcoming space because of the images associated with it. I would LOVE a collection of people doing yoga.

    • Tori says:

      Awesome. I’m writing the “nitty-gritty, this is how I think things will work” post now, and it should go live early next week. I’m hoping to get as many people as possible to contribute for greatest variety, but obviously I don’t want to ask anyone to contribute if/where they’d feel uncomfortable. But yes, this is definitely going forward now.

  6. Jessie says:

    I would be interested in viewing and possibly contributing.

  7. meredith says:

    Hi Tori, I’ve been directed to your site by – uh, don’t remember (nursing mama brain, I’m afraid…). However, would love to see pictures of all kinds of people doing all kinds of poses – just got reminded during yoga practice yesterday that it’s NOT about being the most flexible person in the room (the flexibility in my shoulders is somewhere around zero). I would also be willing to contribute, especially for basic poses.

  8. I’d be interested in this sort of thing. I’ve been wanting to do more yoga, and this would be a good incentive to do so.

  9. theplayfulteacher says:

    I run a Tumblr that is about collecting everyday yoga pictures, and it’s astonishingly hard. I track the yoga tag regularly and am lucky to find one or two to share a day. Great idea to start creating this pool of pictures!

  10. laura says:

    I would be interested in contributing to this project! Also, I recommend the gallery at Curvy Yoga:
    http://www.curvyyoga.com/cyr/
    (I’m the one sitting in front of a graffiti wall.)

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