Teaching Ashtanga,  Uncategorized,  Yoga Philosophy,  Yoga Sutras

Body Image and Privlege Is Not a Yoga Problem, It’s a Human Problem

There have been many articles written lately regarding whether or not yoga celebrities got popular simply because they look pretty doing handstand. While this is an interesting conversation, we need to remember that this is not a yoga problem. I have not studied every text on yoga, but the ones I have looked at like the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali or The Bhagavad  Gita don’t mention anything about needing to look a certain way or be a certain size or color. These are all issues that are outside of yoga. These are human problems. This is garbage that we have taken from our every day lives into yoga.This culture’s love of celebrity and external beauty is what needs to addressed.

Yoga is actually the solution to this problem. According to Patanjali, “yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind”. The attitude that looking a certain way somehow makes you better, goes hand in hand with 3 of the five fluctuations that Patanjali says the yogi is seeking to let go of. These are right knowledge, misconception and verbal delusion. For more on these, check  out the APP’s weekly post, Yoga Sutra’s for Modern Life .

The bigger question is how can we get back to actually practicing yoga and letting go of the BS? If teachers taught the philosophy of yoga hand in hand with physical poses, lived the truth of it for themselves and spread this to their students, the face of yoga would change. This is what Yoga Journal covers used to look like.







Now it looks like a fashion magazine. I am not going to blame the teachers that grace its’ covers and pages. They are just taking advantage of the good fortune that occurred when the world started to see their type of look as a commodity.  I am not going to blame the size 0 handstand junkies on Instagram. I am not going to blame the people who travel the world based on this popularity. If someone wanted to  pay me  $5,000-$10,000  to come give a two hour workshop simply because they loved my Instagram account, I would be lying if I said I wouldn’t consider going.  Instead of jumping on these teachers, lets just bring back all 8 limbs of yoga and let it infect our communities and bring balance back.



Disclaimer: the views of the author does not necessarily reflect the views of all APP participants

Shanna Small has been practicing Ashtanga Yoga and studying the Yoga Sutras since 2001. She has studied in Mysore with Sharath Jois and is the Director of AYS Charlotte, a school for traditional Ashtanga in Charlotte NC. She has written for Yoga International and the Ashtanga Dispatch. Go here for more information on AYS Charlotte. For information on workshops, please e-mail shanna@ashtangayogaproject.com.

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