Very interesting topic, indeed. And a very prominent point of discussion in the yoga world... the yin/yang relationship of ego (outer focus) and yoga (inner focus). Not many yoga practitioners realize that yoga is an internal practice, and the outward expression of poses, although potentially well-intentioned and whoelsome, is not necessarily yoga. Yes, this comment might offend people! The āsanas (physical poses) are one small aspect of holistic yoga, and the poses we're so familiar with in the western world are actually designed to be preparatory in nature... with the aim to purify the physical body and heal it of ailments so it can be calm, steady, and strong enough to sit in a meditative pose for the real work of yoga, which is the work of the subtle bodies. Put another way, once the body is taken care of, the (more difficult) work on our emotions, our mind, and ultimately our soul can commence. I alluded above that ego is equivalent to anything we do that has an outer focus. This is not inherently a “bad” thing. We need ego in order to motivate us to do things in life… to take action, to succeed… until a point at which every single action we do is motivated by the desire to benefit all of nature. That point will come for all of us in the future. But most of us need the ego… it’s an important part of our existence. Something to think about … if there was no concern for outer appearances at all… no desire at all for what anyone else thought… chances are there would be no advertising industry, no social media, and very little suffering in the world. But, alas, advertising, social media, and comparing/contrasting/better than/less than all do exist.
So, considering all of the above, how do we do a yoga photo shoot mindfully, and from a yogic perspective? Simple. Examine your own motivation. And be honest with yourself. Only you can determine your reasons for doing the shoot, how you look, and what you’ll do with the photos. If your motivation is mainly ego-driven, you may realize there are subtle “conditions” placed on the photos, and the “performance” of those photos. In other words, you may feel happy/sad, excited/disappointed, superior/inferior, proud/ashamed based on a number of factors… how many “likes” and “shares” you get, how straight your top leg is in King Dancer pose, how your body looks or doesn’t look. On the other hand, if your motivation for the photo shoot comes from a higher place (a more pure, rarified, aware place than that of the ego), none of these opposites will color the photo shoot and the photos. Reasons for this type of photo shoot might be to share your transformation through yoga, to promote your yoga instruction, to decorate your home, to observe the progression of your practice or, perhaps to simply test yourself to see if you can do a photo shoot without any ego.
Are there an infinite number of motivations/reasons for doing a yoga photo shoot? Yes. Can the reasons be a combination of ego-driven and soul-driven? Of course. Who is judging you? It doesn’t matter. What does matter? …That you are aware of your own honest motivation… for doing yoga photo shoots, and for doing anything in life.