Author: Charley Hickey is a practicing yoga therapist and senior yoga teacher who runs group and private yoga classes in Applecross & Fremantle, Perth. She also runs specialised yoga workshops for yoga students & yoga teachers.
So, I thought I’d put a challenge out to you all, can you take a yoga selfie and share it with us? (By the way, I chose this accompanying photo simply because I like it.)
It’s an interesting concept which was touched upon by many of the speakers at the recent annual Australian Yoga Therapy Conference in Sydney.
The Rise Of The Yoga Selfie
More and more the idea of what yoga looks like is being propagated through social media. We are influenced by what we see, whether we like it or not! This can underhandedly give voice to insecurities we may have about ourselves not being good enough, flexible enough, fit enough or good looking enough to start a yoga practice. I wrote a bit of a blog about this in 2015 which you can read here, plus it has a very controversial picture of me if you haven’t seen it yet!
Most students who have been to a yoga class will already know that yoga is much more about what is happening on the inside then on the outside so how on earth is it possible to photograph that?! As the yoga sutras (a yogic text) tell us ‘yoga is the quietening of the mind so that we may glimpse our true nature.’ How the heck do you photograph that and do you still accept my selfie challenge?
Enquiring students often ask if their teacher practices yoga every day and my answer is always yes but not in the way you might think. Even more alarming to me is the assumption that because I am thin (which is mostly genetic by the way!) that I must practice asana (poses) vigorously everyday which couldn’t be further from the truth! It should be noted here that ‘wellness’ often cannot be seen from the outside. The idea of wellness is much more than simply being thin and/or looking healthy.
8 Parts To Yoga Practice
As described in the yoga sutras, there are 8 limbs or parts to a yoga practice of which asana is one. The other limbs are just as responsible for any kind of healthy glow that a practitioner may be exhibiting. These are the 8 limbs. I may expand on them in future posts should you feel to follow along.
1&2 – a set of ethical guidelines to live by
3 – Asana – poses (the bit that is in photos)
4 – Pranayama – breathing practices
5 – Pratyahara – withdrawal of the senses
6 – Dharana – Concentration
7 – Dhyana – Meditation
8 – Samadhi – Bliss
We practice all of these limbs in each and every class. I sometimes speak about them specifically but mostly we just do it! Exploring the depths of your inner self during a class is so much more than a yoga selfie could ever be. It’s also much more useful in our everyday lives. The practice and goal of yoga is in fact not to “get better” as a yoga selfie might allude to. The purpose of yoga is to clear the lens of our perception in order to gain perspective. Perspective is a wonderful thing and can help us in our daily lives enormously, especially in tougher times.
Remember those statements, the unhelpful ones like not being good enough, flexible enough, fit enough or good looking enough to do yoga? Can we change that to “I am enough!”
When we feel that we are enough already, it makes it easier to start a yoga practice from exactly where we are. This is preferable to striving to be somewhere else, even if we want to be. It’s much less of a struggle this way, more pleasant and manageable. A good yoga teacher will always start you off from where you are. They also know that you are already everything that you need to be. Our role is to simply help you to discover that for yourself : )