I suppose I firmly, but not entirely, put myself in the camp that thinks yoga selfies — or, yes, photos of yourself taken by someone else that more or less mimic selfies– are missing the point.
So, to be fair, here’s a link (from the NY Post) to coverage of the responses to some far more outraged reaction than mine by one of the celeb yogis most identified with these photos, Hilaria Baldwin. Which she did via Twitter. Such as:
I know negativity & bullying sell…But what would happen if we promoted positivity instead? What would happen if we supported each other?
You can read the rest at the link above.
My reaction is consistent with what I said in my earlier post: I don’t think what these photos capture ought to be called yoga. They are pretty, even impressive, acts of physical contortion, which is fine. I just wish, as I wrote before, there was a way to distinguish between an asana practice and a yoga practice.
Baldwin also is featured this weekend in a New York Times story. Quick excerpt:
The eminently shareable and sometimes controversial pictures show yoga as Ms. Baldwin likes it: fun, athletic and unapologetically sexual. Here she is striking a camel pose in Washington Square Park, there a handstand in a bathtub, wearing only underwear and gripping the shower head with her foot. In January, she drew criticism for appearing to annoy her fellow first-class passengers with a pilot pose on an airplane. On Valentine’s Day, a photo of Ms. Baldwin doing a handstand above her reposing husband, the two locked in an upside-down kiss, went viral. The quirky shots have garnered Ms. Baldwin an enthusiastic following among people who enjoy pictures of fit, funny mothers doing yoga in stilettos. But do they not interfere with Mr. Baldwin’s attempts to make his private life less public?
One of Baldwin’s Tweets does, I think, support my contention that yoga in the West has been redefined by a lot, maybe most, yoga teachers:
This happens because teachers have evolved the practice and aren’t afraid to take chances. I take chances every day with my #hilariaypd
I read that as meaning that what we’re seeing online, what’s being practiced in gyms (and, I suppose, lots of yoga studios, too) is a Western-take on yoga — an “evolved” practice.
I don’t argue with that, beyond thinking that “changed” would be a better description — because evolved suggests improvement. And I’m not sure that’s the case. I’d even say it’s a bit presumptuous to think it is, although there are elements — its being open to all (even if that’s probably more an ideal still than a reality), for instance — that probably are.
Posted by Steve