Sunday, April 3, 2011

America's Next Top Yoga Model!

YJ contestant Geri Girardin
The yoga community is all a-flutter about Yoga Journal's Talent Search model contest. In case you don't follow the on-goings of YJ, they asked their readers to submit pictures of themselves to be voted on to determine a winner, who will get to fly to California for a photo shoot.

Needless to say, there has been a lot of controversy about the contest. The lovely Anna Guest-Jelly from Curvy Yoga encouraged all the curvy yogis out there submit their pictures in an effort to show the editors that beauty can come in all shapes and sizes. Nancy Alder from Flying Yogi and Core Power teacher Sadie Nardini took exception to the "tighty brighty" wardrobe mentality and protested to the focus on external appearances by submitting their picture in seated meditation with their backs to the camera. Meanwhile, Yoga Dork is hosting a photo contest of her own in response: "For our version, it’s not so much a contest as a declaration of satya (truth): We ask you send a photo of who you are, as a yogi, a real person, in any shape, size, age, gender or color/clinginess of clothing. We’re not selling magazines. No fancy poses required, but by all means go for what speaks YOU."

Now that the photos have been submitted and the voting has begun, my inbox has been flooded with emails and Facebook messages (all from ladies who are more than deserving to be in a magazine) urging me to vote for them.

Whether they want to win this competition to challenge the status quo or just think it would be really cool to live the glamorous life of a yoga model for a day... everyone wants to be a yoga model -- or at the very least to feel represented in the yoga community!

Last week, I posted a status update on my Facebook page about how conflicted I am about voting--torn between so many deserving people who I also consider friends. Within seconds a teacher I really admire posted a response, "because yoga is all about being beautiful and modeling."  He deleted his comment before I could reply, but it made me think... Is yoga about being beautiful? No, of course not! But is feeling beautiful, accepted, and validated a part of the practice? I think it is! I know I always feel great when a teacher tells me one of my poses is beautiful.

I don't love the competition aspect of YJ's contest (because I don't think that's very aligned with yoga philosophy)... But I'm thrilled that I can look through all the gorgeous photographs that were submitted and rate every one of them as highly as I possibly can. Because seeing beauty in each other (no matter how precise the pose) IS what yoga is all about as far as I'm concerned.