Or maybe a the real question should be, what do you see when you're looking?
Some of you may have seen my post on Instagram earlier this week in which I mentioned my disinclination to post pictures of myself performing asana.
It's a tricky one. I'm a yoga teacher. My account on both Facebook and Instagram is Berwick & Borders Yoga. It's not an unreasonable expectation to see me knocking out a perfect Bird of Paradise or gravity-defying arm balance. It's part of the unwritten contract whenever you attach "yoga" to your profile. Yoga equals amazing yoga selfies.
But Christ on a bike, I hate them.
Hassle. To be honest, as an inherently lazy person the thought alone of a yoga selfie feels exhausting. Taking the cover off my phone to mount it on the tripod? Urgh. Fannying about with the timer? Need a lie-down. Finding my glasses in order to fanny about with timer? Hospitalisation. Quite frankly, can't be arsed. There, I said it.
Insta yoga. Social media asana is not the same as regular asana. I lack the ability to thread my head through a gap in my spine. If I were to flood my feed with asana, I'd alternate between Warrior II and Child's Pose* until everyone got bored and went home. (*Which on reflection still offers a pose for every occasion.)
Who on earth would want to look at pictures of me? I certainly don't. That would just be bloody weird. I have as many body-related hang-ups as the next person, let's be clear. But okay, I'll get on board with taking yoga selfies when they are a) an aide-memoire of a teaching point and b) fun. (There is also a c) which involves the phases of the moon. We need not trouble ourselves with that here.)
For me ~ and you can tell that my dog walks have been spent in fruitful rumination ~ it always comes back to authenticity. It's important to me that I represent myself as much as I actually *am* so that if we ever meet in person it's not so much of a WTF-catfish moment.
So I joke and I swear. I get cross and impatient. I laugh a lot. As I've said in a previous post, The Authenticity Fraud, as far as your typical yoga representation on social media goes, I am a problematic brand, a difficult sell.
But I am not a brand. I occasionally use social media, yes, to promote my classes. This is different to brand-building. Who wants to be a brand? Imagine the burden of creating planned content, every waking moment consumed with analytics, follower count, sponsorship opportunities and the fear of being shadow-banned. Not allowing yourself to be anything other? I just do not see the yoga in any of it. The spontanaiety or joy in any of it.
We've been sold the myth that if we do what we love for a living, we'll never work again. Well, isn't that just the biggest and hairiest bunch of balls you ever did hear? My heart breaks for all those teachers whose love for yoga has been crushed by the daily need to find an angle on a handstand in order to pay the leccy.
My joy, my yoga, is found walking with Mr Kip, observing the world. I take pictures of things that touch me in a way that words would reduce or obsfucate. And I share these pictures, hoping that you get it too ~ maybe not all the time, but that's okay.
Because by not looking at me, you see me far more clearly.