Yoga, social media & body objectification

In an era of social media, where people’s ‘success’ or ‘quality’ is often judged by the number of followers they have, this is the age of the photo. Images are king and queen. People choose personal trainers, yoga teachers, many things, based on criteria from the beauty held in their photos to the levels they go to to achieve that attention.

Body objectification is something I have reflected on for a long time since doing physique competitions a few years back. Having long analysed and written about the mentality of the many men and women who do these, it is hard to separate such competitions from objectification, when you’re being judged purely by the superficial beauty of your body.

But what’s about yoga? A practice which is just one small part of the true essence of yoga, a school of thought you could call it, comprised of eight components, including breath control, meditation and yamas and niyamas, codes by which to live life, personally and within society.

So how do we reconcile this deep rooted philosophy with an age of social media, images and essentially potentially glorifying the human body? Where do we draw the lines of what’s yoga and what’s body objectification or even in some cases, sexualisation? Is it really yoga to be provocatively posing in a thong in a pose which clearly isn’t for the practice of yoga, but because it’s a perfect position to show off that great butt? But then is it yoga to pose in your handstand, thong to the camera, if your intention isn’t in fact one of attention seeking or objectifying your body or even for the sake of social media, but you just don’t give a damn? Maybe that’s your own ‘truth’, known in the Yoga Sutra philosophy as ‘satya’. The body is a beautiful thing, there is no denying that.

It makes me ask what counts as ‘true yoga’ in this social media world? Is it the intention behind the post? Is it content? I know from my own personal decisions on what I post, I always choose my photos according to how my parents would judge it and how embarrassing it would be for my 16 year old niece to see. She is my benchmark as her friends also see my posts. But I admit, maybe I’m old fashioned. Or maybe I just know that the wrong photos could come back to haunt me later on in life. So much food for thought. No judgement but food for thought.

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