Public Image or Personal Development?
I follow a lot of yogis on instagram and am starting to get the impression that many are prioritising their public image over personal development. It seems that due to our image-obsessed culture and the ability to connect with followers and fans over social media, that the yoga world is becoming increasingly saturated with wannabe models and luxury sportswear.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand the temptation to post a selfie when you’ve perfected a new pose and its nice to feel attractive when you head to yoga class, but aren’t we getting a little too obsessed with what the rest of the world thinks? The beauty of the virtual world is that we can post the most perfect versions of ourselves and ‘filter’ out the rest, but surely the point of yoga practice (or indeed fitness in general) is to focus on personal development?
It’s not just instagram and social media that have got me thinking. The growing trend for luxury and designer sportswear has reached a worrying peak and I can’t go to a single class without feeling like I’m in an advert for Lululemon or SweatyBetty. Since when did going to the gym or taking a yoga class become a fashion parade?
I have nothing against those particular brands, but its worrying to think that we place so much importance on our appearance during exercise. Of course it’s important to be comfortable and supported in the right places, but do we seriously need to be spending £60 on a pair of yoga leggings with a desirable logo just so we fit in with the cool kids? I can’t help but feel like the only kid at school who doesn’t have the latest flashing trainers.
Apart from anything else, this recent craze of ‘yoga fashion’ is sure to alienate some people. Imagine being new to yoga class and turning up to find you’re the only one without all the latest gear, or not being able to afford the pretty branded clothes that everyone around you is wearing. I would certainly feel self-concious in that situation and who needs that in a yoga class of all places?
So what can we do about it?
With regards to focusing on personal development, I guess its just important to keep in mind the reasons behind your training and be clear about what you are doing just for yourself versus trying to illicit a reaction from others. When writing a blog post or posting on social media I am going to try harder to include both the positives and negatives of my journey and not share a rose-tinted version of the truth. If I post something yoga-related on instagram, I will be sure of its relevance to my journey and that it shows progress rather than just a gratuitous picture of me in leggings! (Or if I do want to post a yoga-selfie, I am at least more self-aware about it).
When it comes to buying sportswear, I am certainly not suggesting to throw out everything with a label on it – but perhaps we could all be a little more mindful of the bigger picture. Do we really need those expensive flowery leggings to help us progress and go deeper in our practice? The answer is probably no. It’s wonderful to go to class feeling good about your body, but ultimately it isn’t clothes that will bring you self-confidence; it’s your state of mind. I highly doubt that the first yogis of ancient India were prancing about in Lululemon crop-tops!
I’ll leave you with that hilarious image and a little quote which inspires me to work from the inside-out rather than the outside-in…