The Pearl, vol. 66: No more Instagram yoga

Dear Oysters, 

I hope this finds you with warm shearling slippers on your feet and a rainbow of fall foliage before your eyes. I'm fending off a cold, gearing up for a big Steve Reich concert, and preparing for another weekend of yoga teacher training. So I'll be brief today.

This week, I listened to a wonderful interview with yoga teacher, psychologist, and researcher Bo Forbes on a podcast called The Liberated BodyOne of Bo's biggest teaching ideas is interoception, a concept that's gaining a lot of ground among neuroscientists. As I understand it, interoception is a way of "entering" the body with your attention; an inner listening to the body's sensations. Bo called it "mindfulness expressed in the body." 

One of the reasons that interoception can be challenging for people, Bo says, is a phenomenon she calls "Instagram yoga": the pervasive idea that what a pose looks like is what the pose is. As human beings, we're highly tuned in to what's visible. But the way Bo teaches yoga—leading with sensation, with interoception—is all about what's invisible. It's all about what can only be felt by the person practicing the pose. And yet Instagram, and all of our social media self-expressions, cannot include any of that information. I thought this was such a good point. Instagram is a hugely popular mode of expression for yoga folks, but it only tells the exterior story. 

Interestingly, I had just had the experience of getting my photo taken in all kinds of yoga poses. We did this during our first weekend of yoga teacher training, not as a way of judging or critiquing ourselves, but as a way of assessing our alignment and areas we may want to address. 


Looking at myself in yoga poses was not my favorite thing ever. Suddenly, my mind chattered away: Like, what's up with my Warrior II? My arms look kinda badass, but how have I never noticed that my stance is this short?! My front thigh is nowhere near parallel to the ground! 

Some yoga classes have mirrors. Some don't. This whole inner monologue is probably one reason why. It's helpful to see what you're doing, and challenge yourself to go deeper. But it can come with a giant heap of self-judgment. 

I've made a major commitment to learning about, practicing, and eventually teaching yoga in a way that I believe in. So today, I'm making my first declaration: this ain't no Instagram yoga. I mean, sure, I might post yoga poses on Instagram. But what really matters is what happens inside. 

Stay salty, Oysters, and much love!
Ellen

PS: My feet are so not parallel in Wheel. But I love Wheel! It's really exhilarating. Maybe we should just remove the L and call it Wheeeeeeee!

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