No pictures please

Let’s imagine something: you are in a plane, or a train, or lying on the beach and you take a nap. The pilot, flight attendant or lifeguard snap a picture of you and post it on social media. He (or she) is proud to show the world how relax people are when they travel (or sunbathe) when he or she is in charge. Wouldn’t it be weird (if not creepy)? How would you feel?

Let’s imagine another thing: your kid is at school, working, and the teacher takes a picture of your kid, post it on social media as a proof of he or she being a good teacher, the kid looking like he (or she) is really focusing on the exercise. How would you feel about it as a parent?

Now imagine (or remember if it has happened to you) you are in a yoga class, and the teacher takes picture of the practitioners, are you staying totally natural, focusing on your breathing, staying in tune with the sensations in your body, or are you trying to go a little bit deeper to look better, or because your neighbor goes deeper and you don’t want to stand out you’re forcing a little bit more even if it hurts, and even though, as your teacher probably told you, each body is different and you should left your ego aside.

Speaking of ego, what are the teacher’s motives? Is it keeping memories of a good class, or is it something different?

Now let’s imagine one last thing, you are let’s say in headstand your balance starts to feel precarious, how is your teacher going to help you while holding a phone or a camera?

I know I’m not gonna make a lot of friends with this article, but I don’t have a good opinion of teachers who are taking pictures during class, specially during savasana, and who post those pictures on social medias or on their website. In fact I avoid going to their class. I recall someone in particular, a famous yoga teacher from LA. I really wanted to take his class but I never did because he was posting videos of his students in savasana.

What is savasana? A moment of profound relaxation, where you are supposed to let go of everything and release all tensions to allow your body to benefit of the practice that just happened. So you are eyes closed lying on your back and relaxed, don’t you think it’s creepy that people take pictures of you in that moment? And post them? Don’t you think it’s somehow a violation of your intimacy? Because that’s how I feel, and I couldn’t completely relax knowing that while i’m vulnerable lying down, eyes closed, somebody might film me.

Yoga is supposed to be a sacred moment, and the teacher is supposed to hold a space where you feel safe. How can you tune in yourself when someone snaps pics of you? Are you really gonna stay focus and natural?

And you, yoga teachers, are you 100% sure your students are gonna stay focus and not trying to go deeper (and potentially hurt themselves) because they know you are going to publish pictures of them? Do you really think they are totally letting go in savasana knowing you’re probably holding your phone and making videos? And most importantly are you really sure you are doing your job of teaching yoga while filming, or may be more the PR part of it? May be ask yourself: Why is it you’re doing that? Isn’t that ego?

I understand taking pictures or videos in a workshop, or festival, or training setting, with everybody’s consent. I also understand filming and promoting an event, you gather people that totally know why they are here, it’s a promotional class, and films and photos will happen.

What I don’t understand is when it happens during regular classes. Students deserve respect, their practice deserve respect, we live in a world that emphasizes so much on how we look like, can’t we, as yoga teachers, provide them with 75 minutes where appearance has no importance, where the inside is more import than the outside? And where smartphone and cameras do not belong? Isn’t that our job in the end?

May be, if as a teacher you really feel you have to take pictures, ask some volunteers after the class, while they are still warmed up to do a couple of poses? Just a thought….

3 years of daily meditation

Today it’s been 3 years I meditate every single day. I haven’t skip a day, even when I’m traveling, even when i:m at Burning Man! I meditate for 5 years, but I was not regular until November 20th 2016.

I can definitely see the change in the way I think, in the way my mind works, and that’s the reason why I want to share my experience with you: because it works.

I’ve started practicing only 5 to 8 minutes every morning. At first i was on my own, sitting on my bed in silence, but after a while a friend of mine talked about an app named insight timer, so I’ve started using it.

I have to say that it made my practice easier, because it gave me some guidelines. I didn’t know exactly what to do before, i was just sitting and trying to quiet my mind and stop thinking.. And I also like that it keeps tracks of my practice (that’s how I know it’s been 1095 days in a row today).

Let’s be honest with the « stop thinking » thing , it’s hard and I’m pretty sure no one (except may be some sadhus in India, or some monks in the Himalayas) stop thinking for hours. What I usually do is observing my thoughts, try to reduce them and may be stop them for a few seconds so I can fully be in the present moment, and as soon as I realize I’m thinking again, I make peace with it and try again.

I tried guided meditations, and some of them really work. I’ve really appreciated one about forgiveness, and a few about anxiety.

Speaking of anxiety, it’s an issue I have and meditation really helped me with that. I’m not saying that I’m not anxious anymore, and that I’m the most zen person in the world, but it helped me put thing in perspective. And trust me the past 3 years have been an emotional rollercoaster so I’m really glad I hat my meditation practice to help me practice mindfulness and detachment.

Month after month I’ve managed to increase the duration of my practice, and to identify what kind of practice benefits me the most. But as I’m a little bit adventurous I still try new things once in a while.

Meditation definitely helped me to see life from another perspective, I feel more detached from all things, and I also live more in the present moment (which helps decrease my anxiety crises). It also helps tremendously to quiet my mind, specially when I wake up in the middle of the night and that my mind wanders towards the dark side lol. I can now manage that pretty well, and the quality of my sleep increased.

I now meditate between 20 and 30 minutes every morning, sitting comfortably on my bed (this is my next goal, to sit in a more ‘yogi’ way), sometimes with the music of singing bowls, sometimes with a guided meditation, rarely in silence (may be another step to reach?) and I’m ready to start my day.

There are many different apps and they help to know what to do at first. If you haven’t meditate yet, try, and do not hesitate to leave a comment, so we can all discuss and share our experiences.

My favorite yoga related stores

I have to confess, i used to be a major shopaholic. (and a party animal, but that’s another story!)

Since I practice and teach yoga I’ve become more conscious of the consequences of massive consumption, therefore I don’t shop as much. Every time i’m in front of a new item i like, I ask myself a few questions: Do I need this? Do I have something similar at home already? Does the fabrication of this item involves suffering of a living being (and yes that includes animals)?

I try to avoid those brands that make clothes that last one season and then you have to throw them away, and when I travel I buy from local manufacturers or designers.

I’m gonna share with you a few brands that I like and I think are eco friendly (or at the very least more eco friendly than the big names of the fashion industry)

I’ve discovered a nice little ethical web store with the cutest eco yoga mats, various decoration items, even jewelry from local manufacturers. The owner brings some of them back from her travels, or from France where she lives, and make sure everything sold in the store is ethicality and locally made. And she has great taste! (Did I mention you can book a yoga retreat and/or trainings through her site as well?)

It’s not a secret that I’m an ambassador for the brand for years now. I simply like the fact that their yoga pants are made of recycled plastic bottles and have original designs. (you can use the code Cheyenne when you order for a discount)

Also, as a yoga teacher I carry a few things around when I go and teach privates and to carry those things I use my backpacks, when you buy a bag they give 1 kilo of rice to a family in need. I can’t wait for them to create a yoga mat bag! Their bags are SO cute!

I hope that this (short) list will inspire you before Christmas, but don’t forget, the supplies provided by mother Earth are limited.

Namaste y’all.