by Kara-Leah Grant
Last week, Hannah, the marketing guru over at Power Living, emailed me and asked if I would promote an event that Power Living is running from March 23 – 29, The P.L.A.Y Instagram Competition.
The event involves people taking a series of photos of yoga-related topics and uploading them to Instagram with the tag #modernyogachallenge.
At the end of the week, a winner will be chosen and receive $2000 P.L.A.Y dollars – money that can be put together toward any Power Living Retreat, Teacher Training or membership. Winners will also be chosen each day.
The poster (at the top of the article, click for a bigger version) announcing the competition features all Power Living teachers, looking like rockstar yogis. Nothing wrong with that right? They’re cool people, doing cool things, with passion, enthusiasm and joy.
Yet it made me uneasy.
Here at YLB there’s been an on-going discussion around the kind of images we use to promote yoga and the responsibility that yoga teachers and studios have to be mindful of the impact of their images.
We’ve talked about how using ‘perfect’, or advanced postures exclusively can be, well, exclusive. It can make people feel like yoga is not for them, because they don’t look like that and their bodies don’t move like that.
Now, I’m just about to enter into a partnership with Power Living to give all Insider’s one free month access to Power Living’s streaming online yoga classes – this is why Hannah and I have been in contact a lot recently.
I like a lot of what Power Living does and I know that their teaching is generally solid and they have a strong philosophical background which comes out in that teaching.
So I wasn’t sure how to respond.
My instinct was to say;
‘No, I won’t promote this competition’.
The people-pleaser in me wanted to say;
‘Sure, no worries, I’ll support you’.
Neither response felt right. So I waited – a technique I’m learning to employ more and more to ensure I don’t come from a reactive space.
But finally, I had to give Hannah a response, so instead of saying yes or no, I took the third option.
I shared with Hannah how I was feeling and what I was contemplating without coming to any conclusion.
In brief, I told her;
“I’m not sure if this competition is inclusive and accessible – the attached image features highly flexible and very strong good-looking people doing mostly advanced poses. Because of this, I’m not sure if it would be congruent of me to promote the competition.”
I was impressed with the way in which Hannah responded.
She came back to me and sounded genuinely surprised and curious about my response to the competition – as if it had never occurred to her in her role as a marketing manager that people would perceive the competition in this way.
“Interestingly, in regards to your concerns about the ‘glorified asana’ we actually agree with you on this. It’s also something we have carefully considered given the roots of yoga and people focusing too much of the physical asana as opposed to the complete practice. And how so many people are Insta-famous without actually having the quality of teaching/experience to back it up.
The competition is absolutely open to all which is why the daily themes are accessible and not just super advanced postures – the PLAY practice is based upon being an accessible and modern day style of yoga. The image features our teachers and is meant to be super eye-catching on social media because as we know, this is what grabs peoples attention. But throughout the competition we will be re-gramming entrants pictures with the aim of encouraging people at all levels and from all walks of life to enter.”
In addition to this, Hannah also went back to the copy she’d written to support the competition and revised it to make sure it sounded more inclusive. Of course, the posters stands the same, and at this late date, I wouldn’t expect it to change.
However, I was encouraged by the impact of this dialogue between Hannah and I. I felt listened to and heard, and in sharing my concerns was gratified to see some of them taken on board. Plus on Hannah’s side, her dialogue and inclusivity of my perspective mean I’m now happy to promote and support the competition.
In fact, I’m entering it.
It means I have to start a YLB Instagram account, which I’ve always dismissed as just one more thing to do.
But in talking with Hannah I realised that it’s easy to criticise something from the outside and see it as separate from you.
What’s more powerful is to stay in dialogue, stay open and even attempt to become part of that entity whilst still holding your own centre and integrity.
I’m entering the P.L.A.Y Instagram Competition because I want to show the kinds of images that I feel it’s important for people to see in order to make the media representation of yoga more inclusive, accessible and diverse.
But I can’t do this by myself.
For one, I’m a slim, middle-class, white woman so I don’t represent any kind of diversity on that level. And for two, there’s only one of me and I imagine hundreds of people are going to enter this competition. Maybe even thousands.
So I need you, The Yoga Lunchbox community, to come on this journey with me. I invite you to join the competition and submit your yoga images – as laid-back, chill, diverse, simple, complex, daring, or crazy as you like.
All I ask is that you don’t try and submit something to be cool, or to win, or to fit a pre-conceived idea of what you’re meant to submit.
I invite you to you show yourself, as you are, no bells and whistles.
I’m going to do the same.
In adding our perspective through the images we share, we become that which we’d like to see and so we see that what we are.
And I’m curious to see what might happen through this.
You can follow along The Yoga Lunchbox Instagram account here. And you can see all entries in the P.L.A.Y. Instagram Competition here at #modernyogachallenge. I’ll also be re-posting any and all images from the competition on The Yoga Lunchbox Facebook page & Instagram to show diversity and inclusivity.
How to enter the P.L.A.Y. Instagram Competition.
Competition will run from March 23rd -29th
Taking part in our #modernyogachallenge challenge is super-easy and lots of fun. At the end of the photo challenge people have the chance to win $2000 of P.L.A.Y dollars. But it does not stop there, we also be giving away amazing daily prizes, like Modern Yoga books, DVDs, meditation CDs, Liquido tights, Apivita lip balms and many more!
Remember, it’s about what makes you feel good, not how fancy the pose is. We want you to demonstrate a balance of sthira and sukha (a steady pose performed with comfort and ease) and most importantly show us your LOVE for yoga!
- Competition runs from 23 to 29 March 2015
- Take a photo of each of the 7 yoga challenges – upload to Instagram
- Follow and tag @powerliving
To be eligible to win the main prize you must enter a post for all 7 challenges (don’t worry if you miss the start of the competition, as long as you have completed the 7 challenges by the end of the week you’ll still be in with a chance to win).
- Day 1: favourite place to practise
- Day 2: favourite yoga buddy
- Day 3: favourite inversion
- Day 4: favourite balancing pose
- Day 5: favourite heart opener
- Day 6: favourite hip opener
- Day 7: favourite place to meditate
See you on Instagram!