It is becoming more common to find on the internet “sexy” yoginis trying desperately to market themselves on youtube, Instagram, facebook and so on… all the social media outlets are flooded with sexy images of woman practicing yoga.
I am not here to say that it shouldn’t be done once in a while, as women we should enjoy our bodies feel sexy and sensual – the Shakti energy within us should be vibrant and alive! But it is alarming (and sometimes amusing) when sexy photos and videos are posted continually on the internet. Has yoga fallen into the same commercial marketing lane as any other product where sexual appeal is used constantly?
It is becoming also very visible that you should look cool when practicing yoga, have the right pants, top and faddy accessories, the firm bum and abs of steal. Some yoga schools/studios create a feeling that “once you join us you will become a part of a unique and special group, an elite.” This starts to create a feeling of separateness, superiority and that “my yoga is a better than yours”. This creates a misconception of what yoga really is – people see those images and say “I can’t do yoga because I’m not flexible/strong/tall/thin/beautiful… enough”.
So I ask myself, where is it going? Where is the essence of yoga?
It seems that here in the west we are a still in our teenage years when it comes to yoga, needing to mature and grow; we must stop worrying so much with the way we look and start to look more inside. After all, true happiness (which is what I assume we are all after) must come from inside, it cannot come from without. I would rather be fundamentally content and have an “unsexy” body, than miserable whilst having the “fittest” body in town. Wouldn’t you? Slowly slowly people are waking up to the fact that there is no quick fix, no magic pill, no life air-brush and that true, lasting happiness cannot be bought but must be fostered from within. Asanas are an amazing transformative practice if they are performed wisely, but they are not the most important thing in the Yoga practice. We need to bring in more pranayamas and meditation, and perhaps most importantly integrate the Yamas and Nyamas in our everyday life, so slowly but surely we can deserve to call ourselves Yogis; those that search for the truth within and not without.
So, why I am saying all this?
As a yoga teacher I feel like we are all on the edge of a razor’s blade, we assume the position to teach others the path of yoga. If we are not centered enough, on our path, on the teachings of yoga, it is very easy to slip and harm ourselves and our students with distorted behaviour and actions. I see all that is happening as a wakeup call not only for you but especially for me.
I finish my thoughts with a quote from the great yogi Iyengar “Yoga is a mirror to look at ourselves from within.”