A few weeks ago I had a yoga photo shoot done. Although I was excited about having new pictures for my website and promotional materials, I also felt strangely self-conscious. It was odd to be on my mat in this context—to be “posing.” I was performing instead of practicing. I was aware of the camera, and I was intent on perfection.
My yoga practice has helped me to loosen the reigns on my perfectionist tendencies, so it was rather disorienting to be hyperaware of my every body part, facial expression, and shape on my mat.
The other evening I was working on a promo for social media. As I added the words “Trust in your resilience” to a professional black and white photo of myself in gate pose, I felt uneasy. Sure, I was pleased with the picture, and I was hopeful that it would be well received, but I wrestled with posting myself in a stylized yoga pose with an affirmation intended to inspire viewers.
Was I portraying myself as an enlightened yogi who no longer needed to aspire or be inspired?
Was I suggesting to the world that I have all the answers because I practice and teach yoga?
Or that I always trust my own resilience?
Would people think I was showing off? Asking for praise? Desiring admiration?
Was I promoting the yoga mat as a stage for perfection and performance?
"You have to put yourself out there, Jennifer. You have to take risks," I told myself in the moments before posting the picture on Facebook and Instagram. So, despite my concerns, I posted “resilience."
Although I have yet to let go of my concerns, I continue to post pictures of myself in yoga poses with inspiring affirmations.
This internal conflict nags at me, and I have finally come to understand why. With the surplus of yoga selfies on the internet and social media, I strongly feel the need to define my intentions for posting pictures of myself in yoga poses. Although I cannot speak for the motivations behind the other yoga selfies that saturate social media, I feel compelled to clearly share the motivations behind mine.
And here it is:
I am the strongest, healthiest version of myself when I am on my yoga mat. I express myself most fully and uncritically through asana.
What I need you to know is this: Should you see a picture of me in a yoga pose with an inspiring affirmation, know that you and I are the same. No amount of yoga will change that. We are both trying to figure out this life, to heal past wounds, to find steadiness and peace of mind. The affirmations I write are the very ones I tell myself.
My yoga pictures capture a single moment—a self(ie) reflection—upon which I inscribe words that speak to my experiences and personal goals of continued self-improvement and to help others thrive in their lives.
I hope to offer you an inspiring affirmation, a word or phrase to take for your own. It’s only because these words or phrases speak to me that I can share them with you.
Hold steady in your resilience.