Yoga Pictures Poses
Recently, I was scrolling through my Facebook feed and caught a glimpse of what looked like a photo of a yoga studio I used to teach at in Miami. The angle was from the ground, and I could see what looked like 10 or so “corpse-like” bodies with towels over their faces and toes up in the air.
I realized it was in fact the studio I taught it, and this image was a Facebook Live from someone’s class featuring their students in savasana.
At first, I was upset. Then, I was angered. Then, compassion rolled in. Did those students know they were being filmed? What is the point of having the students in such a video? Regardless, is it okay in our society to film and photo our students in one of the most sacred times in a practice?
On a personal level, as a teacher, I vow to my students never to take any photos without prior consent—like at an event or retreat—but especially never sneakily snapping a pic when they’re fast in unconscious land. Further, I strive to not support, like or follow anyone who exemplifies this kind of behavior. In social media, our voice speaks with our likes, comments and follows, and we can use such actions to silently voice our support or dissent.
However, “It seems like its a normal thing to do nowadays, ” says Sarah MacMillan, conscious co-founder of BeGenerationLove. “Social media is the channel that helps us show the world what we do and what we live for.”
I honestly can’t scroll through Instagram or Facebook without seeing at least one or two of these “savasana” photo-ops, and it horrifies me. This had me asking, why is there a trend of teachers taking photos of their students in savasana, one of the most intimate and sacred postures of the practice?
“I’ve never taken pictures during a class because I believe it’s contradictory to teach and hold space to be present in this moment and have a teacher get on her phone during a class and take a picture, ” MacMillan adds.
“With the huge role that social media plays in yoga and wellness these days, it’s not uncommon for [these photos] to be a way to promote their class, ” explains Ava Pendl, founder of Kicking Asana Yoga. She further adds, “A picture says a thousand words, and a lot of times you can feel the energy of the class just by seeing a photo of it. So, I think that photograph plays into attracting students, which is never a bad thing!”
As a yogi with a business mind and advertising background, I get the marketing rationale. Human nature deems more populated venues (in this case, a yoga class) as better and more desirable. However, business strategies aside, is this act of taking photos in a private space morally aligned with our responsibility as teachers?
According to MacMillan, the role of the yoga teacher is “to hold a safe space for just being, with everything that entails. Students should feel we respect their silence and their ‘me time’ moments or else we are going against everything we want to inspire, which is at the end of the day connection with ourselves… We cannot teach that if we are disconnecting from the class to get on our phones and take pictures of that ‘moment’ our students are having.”