To Pose, Or Not To Pose, for the photo

So right now I'm thinking about yoga poses, and pictures of people in yoga poses (like on Social Media). Ugh. This topic brings up a lot of angst for me. Why? Why? Because I have been practicing the physical practice of Yoga for many years, as well as the more subtle practices. My body is quite strong. Flexible in some ways, tight in others. But to see my "poses" from the outside? In a picture? They are NOT beautiful at all. From my perspective. I occasionally see pictures of myself in a class where I remember feeling great! And it looks nothing like I would've thought. I don't have the type of body that is visually pleasing in a picture (at least by today's standards), especially these kinds. And I don't have the long limbs to aid in the beauty of that picture and/or to create that "fancy pose". My belly is always hanging out, even when I'm trying to suck it in. I personally think I look terrible. But on the inside? When I'm practicing? I feel fantastic. I feel like I am home. I feel strong. I feel stable. I feel connected. I feel powerful and empowered. And I've been writing about it this morning, but it's a recurring theme for me. I am not seen in the way I believe I am or the way I feel inside. So maybe it's just that things don't look how I think they should.

But back to the poses: This is a big reason why I, as a teacher, don't care about how the pose looks. I care about how you feel. I, and many people in my world, feel the same way. Why does it matter how you look in a pose? Sure, we all want to know that we're doing it "right". You're doing it right if you're breathing steadily, you feel good, and you're not worried about what you look like. That's the basics. But how about the pictures? Now this is not to ridicule or look down on anyone and everyone who posts photos of themselves doing yoga poses on Instagram. We all have our reasons for the things we do. Many people inspire others by sharing their progress and their stories in this fashion. Or maybe they like to enter lots of challenges and contests where you have to share and tag pictures. But for me, when I see these poses being posted by the beautiful people, most of the time it just makes me feel bad about myself, bringing up whatever body image issues I'm currently dealing with. And I in turn don't want people to feel that way when they see my posts.


Maybe you'll feel better about yourself by looking at my belly in the photos shown? I am proud of these, as they represent me conquering the challenge of these poses on a floating log. I'm also proud that I'm being brave by posting these. I'm showing/revealing things about myself that I don't like. I'm stepping towards conquering the fear and worry of people not liking me for what I say or how I look.


Yoga means Union and Connection. To bring together that which is disconnected. Connecting all things inside oneself, and to the entire universe as well. The poses, or Asanas, are one tool in the practice of Yoga to aid in bringing a person into this state of Yoga. So, so...please tell me how putting your body into a particular shape only to make it visually pleasing brings one into the state of Yoga. I think what bothers me the most is that I want anyone and everyone to be able to experience this practice and all of its benefits. Any part of the practice be it Asana, Pranayama, Meditation, Mantra, any part. But I hear from so many people that they won't give it a try because they've seen so many pictures of people doing acrobatic type things all the while being thin and perhaps of a certain age, and they believe that they could never do or be something like that. And many of us say this, but it's true: Yoga is for Everybody and Every Body. Guess what? Most of the people that look beautiful in these poses have always looked like that. And they happen to be brave enough to share photos of themselves, and perhaps just like and need that attention. Or maybe they're just trying to grow their Yoga business. So now I'm guilty of the same. I have shamelessly shared photos of myself in some poses without practically any clothes on. And it doesn't look as amazing as it feels (see comments above). And no, this doesn't change my body image issues and my competitiveness in a class or out in the world. I'm certainly not enlightened yet ;-). And that/this is part of my personal Yoga practice. This is part of my Self Study. My unravelling layers to bring me to my true luminous essence. 

Courtney Sabbagh