Since we’re on a bit of a slowdown with the videos, I’ve decided to throw in an extra blog post. Hopefully this will help hold everyone over and pick at your brain a little. I never really planned on turning this into a video, but if people would like me to, I can! For now, we’re going to settle with this being a blog post on its own.
Let’s talk about the problems surrounding Pinterest and Instagram (and a lot of websites in general), and their yoga culture. I’m going to preface this by saying that I am not telling anyone there’s something wrong with sharing your yoga practice. It’s fine if you want to take a picture in a bikini on the beach of a pose you’ve mastered. Heck, you probably even deserve it! I’m not saying anyone isn’t a “real” yogi. It’s just a little bit of an exclusive club that’s been created, which we need to talk about. I love all of you and I think it’s great you want to share your practice/pose/pictures/progress!
Before I started saying anything, I needed to do research. So I scrolled through Instagram on a little mission to see where different groups of people were represented (such as men, curvy people people, and non-white people). I looked at the top 9 pictures that Instagram had under the tag “Yoga”. I didn’t bother with their recent posts with the same tag, since it was approximately 75% quotes, 10% selfies, and 15% random unrelated exercises.
One of the pictures I found on Instagram wasn’t even yoga, it looked like CrossFit, another was a picture of two men just standing there and all you saw was their butts, and yet another was just 4 women talking holding yoga mats. That picture with the 4 women, which is clearly an advertisement, was the only picture with a non-white person in it out of the 9 top pictures. So ignoring those 3 posts, which have almost nothing to do with yoga, I was left with 6. It did make me pretty happy to see that 2 picture were of men doing yoga. And the other 4 had a pretty diverse looking group of women, even if they all appeared to be white. (I’ll give you a D+, you’re almost passing, but you’re still leaving out a lot, Instagram.)
Pinterest is ever changing, but we might as well look at the first 9 posts on there too when you search “Yoga”. Okay, so I looked at more than 9 posts. I was really disappointed. If I had seen more than 9 posts on Instagram, I’m almost positive I would have seen more diversity. Pinterest was really just thin white women.
I scrolled for a while and I only saw a few posts with people who weren’t white or women. And yes, there was someone doing yoga on the beach in front of a sunset. To cut Pinterest a little slack, if you want to even begin to find things you like, you need to be specific. If you look up things like “curvy yoga”, you can find posts and boards which center around not being thin! I love it! It also isn’t just a bunch of weight-loss routines, there genuinely were mostly pictures of women if all sorts of body types getting their Yoga on. Some tags, like “fat yoga” produce mostly weight-loss posts, though. So be careful in your search. However, curvy Yoga is still Yoga. So in reality, it should exist under the tag “Yoga”.
Long story short, we have a problem. A lot of people do yoga, and not all of them are thin, not all of them are white, and not all of them are women.
We have a tendency to exclude people who are not white, thin, or female. We also sometimes ignore people who can’t always afford to do all this fancy stuff and take expensive classes. They don’t have the time and/or money to spend on yoga and a yoga “lifestyle”. People who are interested in something, often get scared to try when they don’t see people like them participating.
It also creates a sort of superficial culture around Yoga. We begin to believe that we can’t do a pose right, or look right, because our bodies don’t look the same as someone else. At the end of the day, you should be doing Yoga for your own reasons and you shouldn’t feel like you need to compare yourself. In reality, Yoga is really possible for anyone! And you can rock a Dancer’s Pose if you’re thin or curvy or somewhere in between.
In addition to all sorts of ethnicities, genders, and body types practicing yoga, people of varying ages, with disabilities, and illnesses can also all practice yoga. There are wonderful programs out there for Yoga in wheelchairs or for people missing limbs. Yoga is also beginning to be considered a very real treatment for PTSD. Children are being taught yoga to help with ADD, ADHD, and Autism. We have cultivated a very diverse and wonderful community in which we are able to share all our experiences and struggles together. We have different goals, but are using the same method to get to them. This diverse community is what helps make people comfortable to experience Yoga for the first time. Rather than saying, “I’m not flexible, it’s not for me”, people understand that there is much more to Yoga.
One of my favorite things about Yoga is the amazing community we have, and I think it’s important that we encourage it to grow and make as many people as possible feel comfortable.
There are fantastic communities online, and you can find really good inspiration and routines on these sites as well. Don’t stop enjoying the posts on Instagram or Pinterest, but help the community grow! There’s nothing wrong with enjoying these pictures, but when you run into a curvy non-white lady practicing yoga, maybe show her a little love. Encourage diversity in a community! After all, even if we all looked the same, our joints and muscles would still work differently. So we might as well promote people who look a little different on the outside too. Anyone can do Yoga, or partake in some aspect of Yoga, so let’s show the world how vibrant and amazing our community really is!
Interested in finding more inclusive people to follow? Check out:
Biggalyoga on Instagram. She’s amazingly talented and so strong. She’s also extremely honest with herself and her community. That’s an Instagram that’s all about self love. She also has her own website.
For a body positive blog look at, Body Positive Yoga. This website also talks about modification for bigger bodies. Modifications like these can be so important, and thin instructors may not understand them! So check them out and spread the word of modifications!
Check out this article about Queer and Trans Yoga! The whole website is wonderful and about all sorts of things, but I want to include my LGBTQIA+ friends!
My Yoga board on Pintrest! I try super hard to be inclusive of all sorts of people. It isn’t always easy though. Send me a picture of you doing yoga firstname.lastname@example.org and I might put it up! Tell me if there’s anything you’d like me to add in the description.
There are so many Yogi’s out there who are inclusive of all sorts of different people, These are just a few examples, but if you look around, you’ll find WAY more!