by Ali Valdez
Does the world need more words put on page? It seems in our Instagram era* it’s truly the picture that’s worth a thousand words. So why are some so eager to blog and think through expressing their ideas and opinions when everyone else seems to want to selfie and move on? Are we to share the journey of yoga through just imagery or do words still have their place?
Can one to continue to post and wax poetically, and still assume their opinions even matter when either up or down on the feed one photo is what will seize one’s imagination?
I find myself struggling with the Instagram, having meekly posted one or two pics in the past week, easily uninspired at the prospect of having to take a selfie; doing what hasn’t already been done better before. But I suppose I will get the hang of it soon.
Maybe it’s time to cull the archives and start rocking paschimottanasana.
Many of my incredible friends are inspiring me though; I would much rather use their photos for this blog than my own. They do it beautifully and effortlessly, and I am still in the midst of finding my voice: the vox of a visual kind.
My picture place has always been in the field of my imagination; nurtured by the synthesis of words. I loved reading cover to cover books without pictures as early as seven years old. I love the idea of words. As an art collector and former gallery owner, I also appreciate imagery so am not put off by the visual representation of ideas. I am just not sure what that means to me when my foot seems so comfortably settled in the old boot of writing.
It took decades to step away from stationary, paper and pen to take to email for friendly correspondence. It is 2014 and I am now just downloading books to read on a tablet device. Saturday mornings while my brother was glued to the television, I was in my room reading.
In yoga practice, we see Instagram admittedly as a perfect venue for showcasing poses. I have friends who are creating beauty with their bodies and how they are being staged against nature, buildings, how shapes and forms in movement through yoga can be as impressionable as any classical work of art.
Newspapers used to be just text; maybe this started from the original ‘gram’: the telegram. Then came the the picture. For those in our increasingly busy lives that didn’t have time to read, or with increasing competition on the news stand, it was the photo and headline that seized your second of attention, provoking your hand to the paper off its stand.
Our newspaper is now a feed, a scroll and a tweet. There is no time in yoga, or life, to weave a fabric of words or to sit under its spell, to seep in its meaning. Or this there?
My teacher says even water takes time to boil. I take this as my cue to slow down and observe. We can apply word vs image idea to the practice of yoga. Is yoga the pose itself, or the language of observation from which its form derives? The longer we steep in finding the depth of meaning in an asana, with our delicate unraveling to its mystery, the greater satisfaction we feel at the end of it. We seek the yogic experience to transcend the shapes of the body as played out on the mat to the shaping of the mind into a place of contentment in the midst of daily life.
The truth of the pose doesn’t live in the seer observing it from afar, but feeling it palpably as it is written across the body, available only to the imagination of the one embodying it.
Our desire to self-express moves past the snapshot of the moment, its detail and design in composition, its shaping with cropping, color and tints; our voice is birthing something from deep within that only words or the steadiness of breath can express. Use the image, or the asana, as the motivation for action. But insist on taking pause and time to integrate, and find the language written within.
For me, my preference is to express my love in yoga through words augmented with images. I hope this works for everyone because it is how I am designed. There are unlimited ways to express; yoga is a great teacher for this.
The writing and pictures, the asanas and the breath, create something wholly beautiful together. But for now, let’s step back from the computers, put down the phones, and get back to the art of the practice.
*Re: Instagram, tiresome old dinosaur that I am, you can now follow me at sattva_yoga_online thanks to the encouragement of my friends, fellow yogis and marketing team.