The idea of doing yoga in front of a camera may fill some with horror, but sometimes a video of your practice can just spur you on to the next level. By Victoria Jackson
Do you ever video your yoga practice? With all the enthusiasm of a beginner I started doing this early on in my yoga life. I would eagerly watch the playback, convinced (every time!) that my sequence would look every bit as beautiful, expansive and graceful as I hoped.
Of course it never did! Instead, I was confronted by all the wobbling, skew-whiff alignment, and poor control that a yoga newbie is likely to show.
It was pretty humbling, yet it was also strangely inspiring: at least I could see clearly what I needed to work on. Despite the initial disappointment, I learned so much that I was always happy to get out the camera again on another day.
I’ve been videoing myself for so many years that I don’t give it much thought now. But whenever I recommend this to my students they look totally horrified. Is it because I’ve taught them so well that yoga is an internal practice not an external performance? Or because they’ve picked up the teachings of the Baghavad Gita that we should not be concerned with the fruits of our actions, but that the act itself is inherently enough? Whatever the reason, you can imagine how much more aghast they look when I further suggest that they share the video with me, so we can watch together and discuss what we see!
Video editing software and filters can of course cover a multitude of asana-related sins if you want to share your video with the world despite any perceived imperfections.
I’m not usually into that, but I did have some fun recently playing a video backwards and forwards, watching the movement pattern in two different directions. I can lower down quite slowly from a handstand position now, but there’s no way I can pike lift into it — until the magic of reverse-play! It made me giggle to watch and to dream.
But there’s actually a more serious learning point in this — I really started to imagine my body performing this movement.
While there are many difficulties with my handstand practice (just ask my teacher for a list!) one of them is a lack of faith that I can actually do it. This silly video gave me just enough suspension of disbelief to keep trying not only with a fresh perspective but also a much-needed sense of fun — and I’m sure ‘fun’ would be high on my teacher’s list of areas for improvement.