Yoga Teachers: We Must Stop Flaunting Our Ass-ana. ~ Theresa Pauline

Via Theresa Paulineon Oct 22, 2013

Handstand spilts

There are many, many, amazing yoga teachers out there who—even though they aren’t standing on their little finger on some tropical island—are inspiring in their own quiet ways.

If I had a nickel for every time I saw a posted photo of a yoga teacher in handstand, I’d be a millionaire.

There is a fine line between shining your inner spiritual light brightly so that others feel inspired to do the same…and shining the light, a little too bright, blinding the onlookers.

I follow many yoga teachers who I admire on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Lately, while scrolling through my newsfeed looking for something inspiring to share with my own students, all I see is pictures of these beautiful teachers in challenging postures, in very exotic places.

Fact: I know from my own experience that the fancy stuff gets the most attention (a plethora of “likes”). My question is: in a world where social media unintentionally has an influence on participants’ emotional well being, who are these posts really serving and how?

The Economist reported:

 …in February, 584 users of Facebook aged mostly in their 20s were surveyed. They found that the most common emotion aroused by using Facebook is envy. Endlessly comparing themselves with peers….this leaves Facebook’s users more than a little green-eyed. Real-life encounters, by contrast, are more WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get)…

Let’s be honest: social media is where many young budding people of the modern world turn to for news updates, inspiration and to stay connected. This is having some serious negative unintended consequences in many realms.

The realm of yoga should be safe, right?

Wrong. It is driving the definition of “yoga” more and more towards fancy postures. With teachers playing to the audience and posting themselves in the most difficult “asana” postures, they draw the most likes, the most attention, and the most number of vulnerable yoga students feeling inadequate and oh so far away from ever being “good at yoga”.

One could go so far as to say that the overuse of the difficult posture posts might even deter some new or inconsistent yogis from diving deeper into their own practice.

Leah, a yogi who is looking to get re-started said, “There is a teacher who I really like who does yoga in the park near my house, all of a sudden I started noticing that she was constantly posting all these photos of her in all these crazy poses…it really intimidated me and made me scared to go because I could never do any of that.”

When teachers constantly post photos of themselves in difficult postures, this gives a totally erroneous impression of what yoga is about. Social media gives yoga teachers the perfect opportunity to positively impact the health and minds of their students and instead they all too often increase anxiety levels and feelings of inadequacy.

After starting this article I took a gander at the sites I follow and saw of course, many photos of teachers in advanced handstands and arm balances. Just as I was starting to feel the frustration emerge, I saw this:

This is What a Real Yoga Body Looks Like, an article written from the heart from a real live yoga teacher, Rachel Priest.

This inspired me, it gave me hope and I was reminded that there are many, many, amazing yoga teachers out there who, because they aren’t standing on their little finger on some tropical island, perhaps aren’t as visible.

But they are out there inspiring in their own quiet ways.

I must recognize that obviously there are some positive impacts of teachers posting photos of advanced yoga postures. They are beautiful and they are inspiring for mid-level to advanced asana practitioners who already understand the foundational elements of yoga. They understand that their asana practice is a moving meditation using breath work and postures to focus the mind.

“The Study of asana is not about mastering the posture. It’s about using the posture to understand and transform yourself.” ~ Gary Kraftsow

As we progress in our whole practice over time, perhaps a desire will spark to push the boundaries of self, to get rid of old ideas of what we thought was possible for our bodies and then we dive deeper into our asana practice with more advanced postures.

My goal for my 30th birthday coming up in a couple of weeks is…guess what!?

After eight years of practicing, getting into handstand! It hasn’t been about the posture itself but about my own belief system and understanding how my practice creates results. It has been about the journey.

If it happens, I will share with my students that it happened for me and the reason I share is because, if it is possible for moi  to stand on my hands, then so can they…eventually.

No one steps onto their mat for the first time and nails an advanced posture, nor should they try, the posture is not the goal.

The first step is to get on the mat and to breath, get the journey started. New students are not going to want to get onto the mat in the first place if they think yoga is about advanced postures, and this is exactly what is happening.

Our job as yoga teachers is to inspire, not to intimidate. Let’s stop flaunting our ass-ana.

Once in a while let’s show them handstand, crane, bird of paradise, whatever, but we should make sure they understand it is about the journey.

 

Like elephant journal on Facebook.

Assistant Ed: Paige Vignola/Ed: Sara Crolick

About Theresa Pauline

Theresa or (Taozi/桃子 to her Chinese students) is a yoga teacher/student, world traveler, artist, natural food enthusiast and a writer from the heart. She always over uses the smiley face emoticon. ;)  She lives day to day, moment to moment and goes wherever it is the universe calls her to be of service, which is always a mystery. This way of life has taken her all around the world for nearly a decade, going with a smile. Her motto is, “the seeds we water are the seeds that grow”.  Find Theresa on Facebook or read more from her on her blog, Taozi Tree Yoga.

 

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75 Responses to “Yoga Teachers: We Must Stop Flaunting Our Ass-ana. ~ Theresa Pauline”

  1. Seka says:

    This. Thank you.

    • Yes – I agree – Thank you for this article…..It is not just students who get intimidated by these kinds of posts – as a yoga instructor who tends to NOT post things like this I often wonder, "Am I doing enough, Am I good enough, I can't do that should I be able to?" Thank you for this reminder….that yes, I too am enough…..

  2. They are just shooting themselves in the foot. The spillover effects of this could be enormous, in a marketing sense. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/21/yoga-myt

    Yoga teachers, don't they also teach santosha, one of the niyamas? (To the selfie addicts, the niyamas are NOT found in the accomplishing the hardest of the poses) …

    My santosha keeps me–for whom fancy-ass poses are medically contraindicated–from giving the poseurs any business, except for the occasional yoga class download. That includes my (live) pilates teacher, who doesn't DO selfies or Facebook, but who also teaches yoga. And has lapsed into the kick-ass poses after class (I take a bit to vacate the room) … "Keep it at home" … I told her … "this should be private …"

    • kait says:

      her doing her advanced poses should be done at home? and private? I don't agree. Her journey is her journey, she should be free to express herself. While I agree with the article, this right here…. doesn't make much sense.

      • I, at least OWN my feelings and don't paint a false airy-fairy-it's all good patina over it … call me non-advanced as a yogi or anything you wish. It rolls off my back and back at YOU!!!

        I have lived too long on this Earth for nonsense!

        Anyway, I did stop taking YOGA from her, but for another reason–not SO unrelated, though; she changed style possibly in trying to appeal to the burgeoning market for restorative styles of yoga that are not quite sleepytime (and underrepresented in my wannabe area). I don't take live classes in yoga right now.

  3. taozirae says:

    Haha—what a great article, I'm a sucker for cute cats…Thanks for sharing it.

    This reminds me of a phenomenal yoga teacher I have in Denver called "Bird". At the beginning of this year we stayed after class to continue our practice (including kicking up into handstand). Bird came over to see if he could help. We discussed the posture in depth and asked him for some pointers and guidance. Effortlessly floating up into an astonishing handstand he surprised us. We were shocked as he had never demonstrated his insane physical strength (and ability to fly) in class before. Like any good yoga teacher he was always more interested in assisting and helping his students get the most out of his classes.

    I don't mind at all teachers helping and demonstrating postures at the right level of the students during class or even after class as long as the principals of the other branches of yoga are being demonstrated simultaneously. And you are right "Selfy-on-one-handayama" is not one of the eight limbs. ;)

  4. neil keleher says:

    Personally I use photographs (or series of photographs) to show how to work towards asana.

    • taozirae says:

      Indeed. It is helpful when teachers demonstrate a series that is progressing toward an advanced version of a posture. ;)

  5. Jenifer says:

    I definitely agree with you on many counts.

    I don't think yoga self portraits are a bad thing per se, or that a person is bad for doing them or whatever. All good, really, because what do I know about them and it?

    But, for myself — as an entrepreneur — I know that these images can actually be damaging to what I want to communicate to current and future students. My classes are about making a person's daily life better — it's really not so much about postures or achieving certain versions of postures. It's about moving through ranges of motion so that you can feel better going about your life. So that you can live better. That is all.

    So, a fancy pose — well, it often doesn't create that. Fancy poses can be fun, challenging, and take us into all kinds of new areas of awareness. But, they can also be distracting, or a consumer-driven process, or just injurious.

    For me, there's no reason to demonstrate, photograph, or whatever the various fancy postures. Sometimes, it's because that posture will be injurious to me — so I also have to honor and trust my own body and not do something stupid. That's also a teaching tool — reminding people that we shouldn't do things that are injurious to us.

    • taozirae says:

      Well said Jenifer. I also don't think yoga portraits are bad, I like photo shoots and getting pictures taken- I even have photos in challenging asana but I don't think it is right to constantly send them/post them/ "flaunt" them to my students. Even though…sometimes it is tempting. I know why I would do it. Why?

      Challenging asana photo=Attention on social media=followers=potential clients=MONEY. It is a natural cycle…right?

      That being said, yoga teaching and money are rarely put together in the same sentence and although money isn't why most yoga teachers teach….they have to eat right?

      So how do we as teachers get across to our students that (as you said) our "…classes are about making a person's daily life better — it's really not so much about postures or achieving certain versions of postures. It's about moving through ranges of motion so that you can feel better going about your life. So that you can live better."… on our social media sites? It's harder to portray in a post then "BOOM! Cool posture!" Right?

      The whole physical injury once a student gets on the mat is a whole other topic! How often students hurt themselves trying to get into something they don't fit into because what they are capable of doing looks "wrong". We often forget that a seated forward fold with bent knees, a straight back and the hands touching the knees is for some, just as intense as with the legs straight and hands grabbing the wrists around the feet for others! But rarely is a student comfortable sitting there, breathing, with bent knees…it's our job to make sure they ARE comfortable… :)

    • Will says:

      What a great message. I teach a Business of Yoga Class to Yogis and Yoginis that are just starting out and your words are golden. Thank you

  6. Ramini says:

    I agree with everything you say here. Something has gone way wrong somewhere along the way. I like to think that yoga can go back to where it was "pre-sticky mat", as I like to call it. I think the practice should be more quiet, and private as much as possible. Of course there is a time, as a teacher, for demonstration, but one should not be too eager to demonstrate. We have to question where the need or desire to "show" comes from.

    Thanks for sharing! I wonder, why you chose the image you did for the article? Is this someone in particular you follow?

    Om Shanti

    • taozirae says:

      Thank you for your comment Ramini…

      I love what you share here. I had a teacher in India, can't remember which one… who did not practice on a mat at all! Yoga has taken such a variety of paths in the modern world… it is interesting to see which ones are most prevalent in the media and on the store front.

      About the photo… which is ironically of a beautiful yogini in a challenging asana…I don't know! You'll have to write the editors on that one… I am curious too actually. My guess, it draws attention and is pretty much the type of thing the article is addressing.
      :)

  7. Linda Wells says:

    Yep, you said it. The selfie is not the point of my practice. Ever. But that is just me.

  8. scoob says:

    While I appreciate the sentiment here, I think we should be careful in assuming we know what goes through people's heads and that we know what's best for people. Also, there's the assumption here that teachers are 'flaunting' when they post photos. We don't know their intentions. And we are all responsible for our reactions to things. People I envy make me address those parts of myself I need to push and blossom.
    Before I ever committed to yoga, I was mesmerized by a certain teacher's photos and her grace…a beauty that I could see with my eyes and feel with my heart. I was in awe of her and while I first pursued yoga naive and body-driven, a higher power had more in store for me.
    We as teachers snapping photos can't control the divine plan for potential students. We just don't have that kind of power.

  9. Lauren says:

    I’ve been thinking about this for a while now. It’s hard to find anything but crazy transitions or arm balances or inversions on social media. There are HUNDREDS of other poses to choose from. For example, Warrior 1 is an intricate asana and there is always something new to learn while in it. Feeling your back thigh inner rotate for the first time is a really exciting personal experience. We should help the entire yoga community in discovering their practice instead of showing off what years of yoga has accomplished for you. set the ego free.

    • Sometimes it isn't even years; and sometimes it's just someone who learned gymnastics or martial arts and who really doesn't practice yoga …
      http://yogadork.com/2013/07/07/how-to-be-a-yoga-i

      And, I like to think … even Dharma Mittra – who, face it – started this trend YEARS AGO, knew better …

      • Ramini says:

        Good point about Dharma Mittra. I often take reassurance in his words though (and they have helped so very much) about teachers and students attracting each other because their energies are similar:

        "As students grow spiritually and improve their mental patterns they'll attract better teachers. Unfortunately there are many certified yoga instructors today who don't know anything about yoga. But students needn't worry – everything has a divine purpose. Instructors who don't know anything attract students who don't deserve the truth yet. There is a natural order in the world".

        Anyway, I digress. I do have a question which always comes to my mind. That is, every asana has already been shown (and possibly by Dharma Mittra). How would I be doing anything in service of yoga to show it again? Do people need to see ME also doing it? I always think not.

        Om Shanti

        • The irony of this is, I'd started attracting MILDER teachers (even the pilates teacher, referenced above–seems to have literally ANNEALED from teaching power yoga to a form of restorative yoga (AFAIK) in her yet-short life …

          And, I believe I am paying it forward, by unapologetically letting people know–both online and in real life–of the teacher(s) who have redeemed my practice (both at home and in class) after those first (for want of a better term) wannabes (some, at the time; for sure—for the trenchancy of their youth is also ephemeral…)

  10. The beginner and perennial beginner, have to arm themselves with knowledge. They have to see the selfie, and then force the posting teacher to break it down, i.e., I know there is a backbend in scorpion. How do I achieve the backbend in an upright position? Will there be a strain on my sacrum? How do I avoid that?

    Pick their brains for free on Facebook. Till they get sick. Enter contests. Soak them for freebies. If they don't respond, fight fire with fire. Block them. Log on infrequently. Don't have to post "yawn" or be hostile.

    Practice santosha.

    Message will be sent.

    They will have a narrower and narrower mutual admiration society …

    But let the showoffs know that you want knowledge and not a show …

  11. Ummm, guilty as charged.

    Actually, I USED to do that …

    Also, to commercial venues promoting anything that smacked of acroyoga.

    Which burns not much more calories than a beginner class. [Proof that yes, there IS a God ... Btw, my condition mandates dedicated cardio. The kind you get from moving your legs real fast. In an upright position. On land. Even Ashtanga doesn't give you that!]

  12. inspired yogi says:

    what is wrong with someone sharing an image of something they continually worked towards and achieved whether it be a yoga image or other image? I think all yoga images are beautiful and people can share images of themselves no matter where in the world they are and no matter how they are standing/posing. It's just a picture and they have ever right to be proud. I'm inspired by people who feel good about their achievements.

  13. elephantjournal says:

    Yes. I've talked with my friend Rachel about this…she's aware of the issue. It is tough…as an editor or writer I see what folks click, and what things I care about, and I see the gap between those two. But we have to figure out how to do both—to inspire, connect, and to share genuine path inspiration, not just candy.

    In that vein, I'm a longtime fan of #yogafail on Instagram…more sense of humor and modesty in one of those photos and 108 photos by would-be yoga celebs.

    Speaking of… http://www.elephantjournal.com/2012/03/10-steps-t

  14. Stella says:

    This group seems pretty judgmental for a bunch of yogis… Just sayin. May all beings everywhere be happy and free.

  15. Bill says:

    Flaunting ones ass seems to bring back the guys anyway and some girls too. The distraction part of yoga gear is unnerving. Is it really necessary to wear so little? Or whats the deal? I have yet to take any classes where ANY meditation is spoken of. Its about that hour and move to the next class. Since that is/has been the state of Yoga I quit attending. It just seems as though its all about the teacher and her neverending need to show her next cool move that you may never achieve.

    • More power to you.

      Unfortunately, while I try to keep my practicing fully self-sequenced, I do have lapses into commercialized yoga.

      Myyogaonline comes to mind. But they are at least fairly close to keeping their yoga offerings fully-limbed, and spiritually aware …

  16. sabine says:

    The best quote I remember hearing regarding this is from teacher Bryan Kest "there's no f$#%!+^ trophy for getting into the hardest pose" (or something to that effect)… which really put this into perspective for me. Yoga is not about how it looks -it's about how it feels. And that is hard to convey on to image.

  17. Jessica says:

    amazing timing. you have given me so much comfort and connectedness through this. thank you, thank you!

  18. Jim says:

    I just started teaching a beginners yoga class at a public library and the response has been amazingly positive. My goal – teach people about some basic meditation, basic postures and slow smooth sun salutations focusing on feeling the body as they move. We go slow, we repeat, I show, they do and I adjust them. I'm also doing this in the context of what they might find at a yoga studio (the setup, the routine, the touching, the chanting, etc.)

    My students love it and all told me they would have never just walked into a yoga studio and started taking classes simply because they were intimated by the unknown and their own perceptions of the perfect asana (that they can't do.)

    We have fun, we laugh, I fall, they fall and we talk all about the 8-limbs. As a new teacher it's good for me and it is good for them. They keep coming back and the class size keeps growing with their friends.

    I'm sharing my gift and keeping it simple. It's all good.

  19. Silver Kim says:

    We all know yoga is beyond asana. But the body is a beautiful manifestation of the heart and mind. I find that seeing individuals creating art and beauty in a yoga pose, dance or in a seated meditation is just that, beauty. One will see IN others what is truly only a reflection of themselves. If they see someone in a yoga pose and feel inspired, encouraged and empowered, then that is what they feel inside themselves. However if they see difficulty, fear, judgement and anger, it because that’s what lives in them.

    I enjoy and feel inspired by all the beautiful souls around the world that is safely practicing, using their body, wisdom, intelligence and a lot of heart to create art and then share it with others, whether it’s in a small space in their house, gym, studio or an “exotic” location, it’s all beautiful.

    Yoga is union, and I feel very connected to my world when I see my friend (whom I never met) in Singapore in a pose that I’ve never tried before, it then inspires me to give it a try here in Bethlehem, PA. Then I see a student of mine exploring her potential in class and this too inspires me even further.

    Social media can be an opportunity to connect, inform and inspire us OR it can disconnect us from what is truly being felt inside each individual, “self”.

    Life is beautiful, challenging and a journey to the “SELF”.

    I hope we see and experience beauty in each of us and in everything, that’s yoga, that’s love!

    Namaste’

    Silver Kim

  20. Wild, Well & Wise - A Path to Wholeness says:

    Thank you! These reflections are much needed. The practice of yoga always asks us to check our ego. "What is the intention of this?", we may ask ourselves. Who does this image serve? And to what purpose?

  21. Just Another Yogi says:

    Honor thy body & thy path. Leave room for the bodies & paths of others. The pose we're practicing is called non-judgement.

  22. Mitch Wolfe says:

    I love the title of the article. It is very clever. I am of the school, "if you got it, flaunt it". If a yoga instructor wants to post beautiful photos of herself in exotic locations, doing all kinds of interesting poses, let her. More power to her. The problem is not with her, but the viewer of the photos. Just chill, man, and breathe. Yoga, as in sex, should be all about the journey and the foreplay.

  23. This is a perfect post. As someone who experiences arthritis issues due to a lifetime of professional stunt work, circus arts and professional dancing, I needed a restorative yoga. I loved my Kundalini yoga but even that sometimes hurts my neck and back. I ventured out to classes and found myself not only competing with the teacher and the other students but with myself. On display were all these very advanced poses and balances and I let me ego get in the way. Either I felt "Geez, what kind of yogini am I that I can't do this?" or "WOW, I can do this!" and be in pain for a week. It truly IS about how it FEELS to each individual. It is all about the spiritual awakening and then that translates (for me) to the physical awakening. And putting my DVDs aside and not going to the classes that seemed to be more for show, I found that YIN yoga and restorative yoga helped me maintain my body, mind and spirit. And at 54 I feel and look pretty darn good! Thanks again for such a GREAT post.

    • I am nearly the opposite to you. My introduction to yoga – at age 16 – had been a form of yin yoga (not yet officially called that moniker), taught by my high school gym teacher, sub rosa, who'd just come back from a summer at Esalen Institute (where she claimed it "changed her life"). She'd also run informal encounter groups in class despite not being allowed to (in the public schools.)

      Not being particularly athletic, I never got the overuse injuries of youth …

      I had not kept a regular yoga practice until much later, when I'd been in my mid 40s.

      Fast forward to the late 90s, which had been right around that time—where yoga was just a half hour stretch to aid me in a few active pursuits. And then the regular practice ensued. I replicated the kick-butt yoga life-cycle in just a few short years.

      And, yeah … I'd engaged in might-have-beens, too … you know, I had been recommended to take the breakdancing class at age 29 (I did have a measure of flexibility, rhythm sense and stamina with aerobic dance) – but I'd been married at the time and couldn't afford to break my neck … So you see these middle-class, clean-cut young people who – in MY day – could also have been breakdancers … my hungry, carpetbagging and in-a-hurry yoga "teachers" — and they started competing with ME …[as if]

  24. Christy V says:

    I've thought about this extensively, as well. I've talked with fellow advanced yogis who've been asked not to do advanced asana in class. I am blessed with a studio and teachers who encourage me to do advanced poses, even in beginner classes, because it teaches possibilities and goals.

    My question is, shouldn't people be forced to deal with insecurity, envy and intimidation, instead of asking advanced yogis to tone it down? Isn't this stuff everywhere in life? If it doesn't occur in yoga, it will in a fashion magazine or elsewhere on Facebook.

    If I intimidate you with my advanced pose, YOU are the one with the problem, not me. A big lesson I learned in Yoga-everyone should keep their eyes on their own mat.
    I say this with love and compassion.

    • No. YOU being the provocateur. I come to yoga (or did come to outside commercial classes) for the space to be myself. To be met where I am. Don't get me started on gratuitous yank-and-crank on the part of that teacher who "lives their exhbitionism" and wants to proselytize being justlikethem (for a price, of course). THAT is an 80 page non-fiction small book I do not care to write …

      With online yoga, I can ignore and know that they are speaking to/demoing/practicing along with "advanced" (in asana mostly) viewer/participants ….

  25. Christy V says:

    I've thought about this extensively, as well. I've talked with fellow advanced yogis who've been asked not to do advanced asana in class. I am blessed with a studio and teachers who encourage me to do advanced poses, even in beginner classes, because it teaches possibilities and goals.

  26. Mike Manfredi says:

    Yuk yuk, good article. thank you for exposing the too often gratuitous display of ego so many so called teachers are so imbued with.

    • I think, ego on the part of the teacher … but also (and I am not really making excuses for them) lack of self-awareness of having that ego. Lack of introspection on the part of the teacher, imho.

  27. Michelle Marchildon says:

    This is why I've been conflicted about Instagram. It seems like selfie-land to me.

  28. Diane says:

    As a teacher I do not have students on my private Facebook that being said I do post pictures. Over the past five years I have lost nearly 100 pounds through yoga both asana as well as self discovery. I began as do all beginners with the basics and have practiced, practiced, practiced. I am learning to see my body as strong and beautiful at 51. For too many years I wouldn't even take a photo.. Posting pictures is part of this process of losing the shame of 20+ years. Everyone has a story. For each student who is discouraged by advanced asana another is inspired.

    • taozirae says:

      Yes! THIS is what I am talking about though…when the student sees the process, it is more then inspiring it is magical. For you to go through your journey… over 5 years… and to change in front of your own eyes, this is part of the spirit of teaching yoga and sharing it. Its like saying, "This is my practice, it works for me, it has transformed me, it can work for you too, it is not exclusive!" Yoga teachers become a powerful force to inspire others. The point of this article was not to say that teachers who post pictures in hard asana are bad and it is bad, although I think it is a problem and this is why. Potential and vulnerable students, people who may benefit from "yoga" (breathing, self awareness, self-discovery) the most are never going to bring themselves to the mat in the first place if all they see is difficult asana… they will have a warped perspective of what yoga is about. Through the comments here a few have said things like, "well if a person is intimidated or envious" of difficult postures, then that is their own problem. Which from the perspective of self-awareness and ego, I understand, and this is exactly what yoga would be so helpful with transforming! However, it's not going to happen when people avoid their mat in the first place. Yoga starts to look exclusive and potential practitioners start to think they don't belong. It starts to look like yoga is for people who can stand on their hands and balance on their elbows… when it is really for every-body.

  29. yogateacher says:

    I agree with this post. And not because I think the teachers are flaunting, but mostly because it contributes to the thinking that advanced poses = advanced practice, which is clearly not the case. I absolutely love to see progression photos. Where there are several years difference between photos, sortof a before and after photo in a way. That is amazing because when you look at the amazingly chiselled advanced pose, you have the contrast and get to see that they didn't start there, and that the students' initial photo looks like any normal person in class. These are great because they actually show what is possible, instead of having this image of something that seems out of reach for the average student. I have so many beginner students who have come so far, and some students who came on their first class, and for whatever reason (dance or similar background) could accomplish postures immediately. However, as the article states, it's not about mastering the posture, it's about using the posture to master yourself. The learning my beginning students have done about themselves to get them even and inch further than when they started, is more valuable than the depth. Getting to be witness to this journey is why I teach.

  30. FatManYoga says:

    I posted this message on FatManYoga in Sept I think it's really true what you say…
    So what breed is your downward dog?

    “Best in Show”
    Posted on September 28, 2013

    What breed is your Downward Dog? Look around the local dog park next time you’re taking Lulu for a run.

    When all our dogs are doing yoga classes too, which breed will be at the front of the class? Teaching, posing on the front of Doga Life, wearing Lululemon at school drop offs? I suspect it will be the tall slender breeds, the Pinschers, perhaps Standard Poodles or the Dalamations. Can’t see Pugs, Labs or Jack Russells getting the front cover, though perhaps they would still be wearing Lululemon.
    What’s my point? My point is your Downward Dog is different to my Downward Dog.
    I’m pretty sure I’ve been told a million times by the Dallys that have been my yoga teachers, “don’t worry about the others in the class”, “it is all about you, do as much as you can”, “this class is not a competition”. All the while reinforcing by example that the goal is to morph into a Dally. Think of popular yoga pose images.
    Imagine telling a Pug “well if you wear the right gear, sign up to the latest retreat, lead a more pure yogic life, one day you’ll be just like the Dally on the cover of Doga Life Magazine”.
    It’s all a joke, sure a Pug can do DD but it won’t be a Dally DD.
    We all need to be our own “best in show”. We all need to practice our own DD.
    My Downward Dog is probably based on a well fed Labrador. And in that class at the show, I sometimes get the blue ribbon.

    We need new models, new templates, new goals, new versions of DD. What is your DD based on Beagle, Great Dane, French Bulldog, Cavoodle, Irish Wolfhound, Collie, St Bernard or a cross breed?

    Understand what your DD looks like and be Best in your Show.

  31. Ed S. says:

    How can a Yoga teacher convey to beginner yoga students or even intermediate yoga students that he/she is highly experienced and advanced? Will the average yoga practitioner really see the complexity in an aligned Utthita Trikonasana or Utthita Parsvakonasana? I doubt it. Handstands, Forearm Stand and Head Stands send the right message – this person is an advanced Yoga teacher.

    • Ramini says:

      Through their words Ed! Stating how long they have been teaching. Testimonials. Perhaps their writing about yoga, demonstrating their understanding. And, when the opportunity to meet in person presents, a quiet mind in the teacher will be evident to the students. A handstand might bring people in, but it won't keep them.
      I think we are reaching a point where we are not so fooled by such things anymore. Case in point, more articles like this being written.

      • Who IS fooled: rank beginners with time and money to burn. The occasional triathlete or marathoner. The young. Parkour traceurs. Have I gotten to 5% of the population yet??!!?

  32. Corey says:

    Dislike !! If Pattabhi Jois never saw Krishnamacharya's demo, Pattabhi Jois would never have followed Krishnamacharya. And there would not have been the "Ashtanga" as we know it today. Flaunting is necessary, and if people don't like it, they don't have to watch. However, people who are not secured themselves do complain about "flaunting". They can complain as much as they want BUT they have absolutely no right to take away the possible inspiration and ideas the value of yoga demonstration .

    • taozirae says:

      This is a great comment. As I understand it, Krishnamacharya was the messenger to get the asana out of the mountains and into the hands of people. The purpose? To draw attention to yoga through asana in order to shed light onto the ancient yogic tradition as a whole. Pattabhi Jois, at the time, was a skinny, flexible Indian teenager. Asana is still the primary attraction in modern yoga, however, we live in a different world. As a large percentage of westerners are obese, sedentary, socially withdrawn, depressed and insecure… it's a different and vulnerable audience.

      • Speak for yourself(ves): one could also be skinny, rapidly aging, diseased, overscheduled, hypercommuting and weak!

        • taozirae says:

          I meant to say OR insecure and add infinitum… You are right, these are all issues people face today as well. Albeit, there are many who are happy, joyous, free, healthy, and full of life— I'm not saying every one is sick (obviously)…just a large enough body of people that it deserves some more foresight when teachers decide how to attract/draw back potential/inconsistent students to yoga.

  33. Julia says:

    Why are we focusing on making other people NOT celebrate success instead of focusing on not comparing ourselves to others in a negative way? Why are we promoting bringing down others instead of enjoying their success with them? Even if it's just to say "good job" or to use for inspiration? I am very new in yoga and after six months finally got into crow pose, what helped me get there was seeing my teachers and classmates get into it effortlessly. I had a goal based on watching others and it motivated me. Anything anyone does in class I could let intimidate me, but why would I?
    I read this and thought, "Hey, please don't be great in public, make sure no one sees you and your hard work because I have insecurities and I'm allowing you to bring them out in me. If you are mediocre I can compare myself better and not feel as bad."

    • Because some people don't get into crow pose (and hold it with sukha and sthira) even if they've been practicing yoga regularly for 6 YEARS (and, yes, I are one) … I want the selfies that show the struggle … just like in a regular yoga class!

  34. melissa says:

    Thank you. thank you.

  35. Boodiba says:

    It's funny but I read the blurb of one of my Instagram yogis yesterday, and she was going on about how yoga is not about touching her foot to her head or doing fancy poses, but is about inner stillness. The little video clip showed her in handstand, touching her foot to her head. A shot of her sitting serenely in lotus, eyes closed, would've been more appropriate!

    I wonder if she realized she was being funny :)

    • As I have said many times before, most of those types of yoga teachers are not mature enough (even if they are chronologically older than the current hot patooties) to appreciate existential irony … even if they teach using it!

      • Boodiba says:

        Even unknowingly! :) It doesn't really matter. This woman looks to be anywhere from 28 to 34 or so, but it's hard to tell. I think we can all get what we need out of it though, "it" being the collective yoga experience out there.

  36. onedowndog says:

    love this article. wrote a poem on the topic a bit ago, check it out – I think you might like it:) http://onedowndog.com/blog/practice/get-real/

  37. As a yoga teacher of many years now, it grieves me to see the asanas separated from the true purpose of Hatha yoga, to connect with Source in meditation. We live in a country that glorifies the body, and also exploits it. Hatha yoga offers profound benefits. Not only the fitness and health of the physical body is improved, but Hatha is a segeway into the higher realms. Why sell ourselves short by simply focusing on how well we do in a pose, when the real value lies in how well we can sit in silence, losing awareness of the body and diving deep into Divine Bliss? May all yoga teachers find the true path of Raja Yoga and carry it forth to all their students. Namaste.

  38. kate says:

    This NEEDED to be said!!!! Good work lady!

  39. Erin McGuire says:

    I agree that teachers should pay attention to the intention behind what we post and why we are demonstrating a pose in class or our reason for introducing it to the class in the first place. As you said so well- for inspiration rather than to blind, it shouldn't be coming from the ego. When it comes from the ego it's not so shiny and I personally feel that comes across in photos and in person. I think the viewer has a similar responsibility to recognize from what part of themselves they are viewing. When I see someone doing what they do well and it brings me down or makes me feel incompetent that's coming from my ego. I don't want that for myself or for others. I don't want my ego to make others feel like they need to stifle their light if it's truly coming from their spirit expression. We're all connected right? If others can do what they do well than that means that potential is within me too. I want to look at any pose and anything that someone does well and tell them "You are amazing! Thank you for showing me what is possible for you, it makes me want to explore what is possible for me!" So if you're mindfully shining out in handstand or dandasana – I love it and want to see it! By the way, dandasana was for me for a long time an "advanced pose."

  40. Thank you so much for writing this!!!!! I agree with everything you have said 100%!

  41. taylor says:

    each person's practice should be their own, with no judgement. if someone is not inspired by a teacher, don't follow them… find someone that resonates with you. personally, i love teachers that show challenging poses, it gives me something to work towards. more power to you, yoga godesses!

  42. Heather Morton HeatherM says:

    Many thanks for using my pic as the leading image.

    There are a lot of issues that come up with using pics for marketing and/or media, etc. I agree with your points, but I also feel it works both ways. A student may feel intimidated but does it mean a teacher who is capable of doing the postures, who has worked hard at practice over many years and studies, etc…..should they hide them? Deliberately not show their postures? Does this help the other person not face where and what they ultimately need to work on? And/or clear their lens in that it is not about intimidation as it is about practice, training, inner development and the asanas are 'some' of those fruits.

    If teachers are made to feel bad about themselves for their work then it really doesn't help anyone. It doesn't allow for those who need to build up their practice and/or to get over being jealous to experience a growth spurt. And at the same time, it hinders teachers from showing their postures, .because they have meet with students feeling low about never being able to do 'that' pose.

    I have personally faced these issues. And overall, everyone has to take responsibility for themselves. Students for what they see and for the teachers they choose to study with. And teachers need to own how they present their postures and what is behind it. For myself, I use many postures to show people the possibilities. And I stress where I started (not where I landed) and how far there is still to go.

    Instead of saying that teachers should not flaunt their stuff, it is more a case of being responsible and to some extent being honest and direct about the real journey of yoga, which ultimately is not an asana.

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