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**:
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:
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.