In recent years, taking yoga pictures has become kind of a thing. And I for one, am all about it. Yes, there are some “naysayers of the activity” on the internet that blog about how yogis sharing pictures of themselves in “bikini and asana” goes against the very grain of what yoga is all about.. and to them, I say.. “Whatever. Namaste.”
Not only do I participate in the practice of sharing yoga photos and making them as beautiful as possible, but I find it totally inspiring when I scroll through my Instagram feed and see others doing the same. In each post, someone is sharing their own yoga journey, their own sense of fun and passion for life, and there is a sense of respect and encouragement throughout the Instagram Yoga community that supports all levels of yoga and yogis of all shapes and sizes. The posture doesn’t have to be difficult and the body does not have to be perfect for a beautiful yoga photo. It just has to be you. I actually think it’s one of the most creative ways to share your practice, experiences and self-expression in a fun and sometimes daring way. And when you really get into it you’ll start to view the world and your surroundings in a new and adventurous way.
Image 1: Strike A Pose… Beach Path Rails: Perfect for 3-legged dog.
#1 – Choose Interesting Places, Outside of The Studio
This is the whole point, right? While your yoga studio may have a mirror, a level floor or a beautiful wall mural, I find that it’s just not as fun to take yoga pictures there. Get outdoors and perceive the world through yogi eyes. The beach or any body of water is an obvious choice that’s usually ideal for yoga photos, but really look around. Maybe there’s something unique about the pathway to the beach, or the sand dunes that could be equally as beautiful as the ocean. Are their any interesting signs? Lifeguard houses?
For those of us that live inland… look for interesting wall murals, parks, gates, fences, fountains, monuments, outdoor gardens, staircases, street signs, look for spaces or areas with interesting floors, go to the top of hill, find a fair, a waterfall, a chairlift, try the mall, the airport, go to a pool, the zoo or a golf course. As you start seeing the world through these eyes, every space becomes an opportunity to strike a pose and as you start to notice places that are visually appealing or seem unique, you’ll ask yourself…”I wonder if I climb on top of that and do a Dancer’s pose up there?” The answer is.. Yes!
Image 2: Tealish mermaid pants by Goldsheep against a neutral background
#2 – Wear Something Awesome
I don’t have any major rules for what you wear, and sometimes the opportunity to #strikeapose comes about in whatever you’re wearing in that moment. But if this is a planned yogi photo sesh… I have a few thoughts on the color of what you wear. Choose colors that contrast with the natural colors of where you’ll be taking photos. I find that pinks, reds, oranges and yellows work really well at the beach and in parks, where blues and greens (as much as I love them) just aren’t as striking in beach photos but better suited to a more neutral background space.
Consider accessories. Hats, wraps, flower crowns, mala beads, bracelets, flash tats, flowers, your pets (woof!) a hand-written mantra card can all add something special to your photos.
Also consider. A spray tan. Especially if you’re going to the beach and your skin is more prone to a sunburn than a golden glow (like mine). Spray tans are amazing for getting that glow without the time or the burn, and they also hide cellulite. In Atlanta, I go to Alicia Wente at Spray Studio Atlanta. She’s the best in the biz.
Image 3: My incorrect Dancer’s Pose.
#3 – Have Your Omie or Instructor Be Your Photographer
This one is BIG. There is an increased degree of difficulty doing yoga in the real world. The ground is not always level, and there’s usually not mirrors. In order to get a great picture you want to get your best version of the posture. Your omie-slash-photographer extraordinaire will cue you into your best posture, because they know the posture and know how to cue for it. Your boyfriend or Mom probably won’t.
I have a picture I posted of myself in Dancer last year, which is a pretty great photo, other then the fact that my hand is in the wrong position around my foot. The “yoga instructor in me” cringes at this. (I’m not saying I would cringe at another’s mis-posture but I can’t help but to cringe at my own.) So something to be aware of. If you’re not friends with yoga instructor, make friends with one, I’m sure they’d love to take cool and fun pics with you!
Image 4: Take many, then crop and choose.
#4 – Take Tons of Photos & Choose The Best
I’ll come right out and say that sometimes when I’m taking photos with my sister – who is so very patient, that we can take up to 50-60 photos of one shot to get just ONE good or favorite photo. In public places, yes people may stare. Let them.
Here’s what you need to tell your photographer before you start to have them take your pictures.
- Show them the space you want in the photo, and note anything you don’t want included whether it’s something specific like a pole, or passersby. The more specific you are the better.
- Ask them to cue your posture if you’re off and to keep taking pictures… only the space on your phone will limit how many you take, so I say the more the better.
- Stop after the first few shots and GO CHECK YOUR photographer’s work and re-communicate the shot you want if necessary. This is also great for you to see how your posture is looking and maybe you can tweak something there too.
- Check the zoom. I can’t speak for Samsung phones but I know that using zoom on an iPhone will take the quality away from your images. (At least with my iPhone 5). It is better to have your photographer leave the zoom alone and step forward and back to get the right distance. It is better quality and will give you more flexibility to crop the photo, if they just take it from further away. Examples above show what I think the perfect distance is for a close up and for more of a regular shot.
- Note the horizon. If shooting at the beach, note where the horizon is falling in your photo, photos with lots of blue sky are usually prettier, which means your photographer needs to step in, kneel down and shoot up slightly so that you’re horizon line is falling about half way in the photo or even less.
- Also note the sun. Try different times of day, where is the sun facing. Overcast days can also provide the best lighting for great photos.
- Lastly, know which postures you want to do before you get started. Don’t make your photographer wait as you decide. And definitely get your body warm, strong and open before you go.
Image 4: Simple Postures for the win! Horizon Lunge, on a tree, on a beach, with a dog.
#5 – Best Postures and Postures Best Avoided
These are based on my own trials, some of which were in a bikini and let’s just say that the look was not good. I’ll start with the less photogenic postures or the ones to avoid first:
- Warrior 2
- Warrior 1
- Horse and / or Goddess
- Crow (exception if a really solid from the side angle).
- Malasana (I wouldn’t even attempt)
- Chair (doable, but wouldn’t be my first choice)
- Happy Baby
Now for some of my favorite postures that are great for yoga photos.
- Lotus (front, back or side facing)
- Mountain Pose (I like this from the back)
- Tree Pose
- Side Plank or Side Tree
- Wild Thing
- Camel Pose
- Funky Camel (hands at heart, one leg extended out in front of you)
- Handstand or Headstand
- Extended Side Angle
- Reverse Triangle
- Reverse Warrior
- Half Moon Pose
- Reverse Prayer
- Horizon Lunge
- Supported or Tripod Headstand with Eagle Legs
- Warrior 3
- Extended Hand To Big Toe Pose
- Revolved Extended Hand To Big Toe Pose
- 3 Legged Dog
- Sugarcane Pose
- Crescent Lunge
- Kneeling Warrior, Palms to touch overhead
- Revolved Crescent Lunge
- Eight-Limbed Staff Pose
- Wheel – advanced try straight legged or raised leg
- Bridge -with one leg raised
- Upward Facing Dog
- King Pigeon
- Forward Fold
- Seated Forward Fold
Image 6: Underwater Yoga with a Go Pro. Aum-mazing!
#6 – Selfie Sticks and GoPros
If your bank account will allow it.. I say do it. Really the hardest thing about getting good yoga pictures is finding someone to take them for you. If you can take them yourself, you’ll never find yourself without a photographer.
GoPros are also amazing for getting superb photos, I love how much more they capture then my iPhone, and the way they create distance within the capture. They are also amazing for underwater yoga which I’m still figuring out. So far… I can only suggest Dancer’s and Camel or Floorbow for underwater yoga. The challenge is not floating to the top, and you also have to completely hold your breath because bubbles out the nose doesn’t look hot. I plan to work on this over 4th of July weekend and will hopefully have more thoughts on this for you soon.
Image 7: Edit away. Rainbow Added with Rainbow Love Deluxe App.
#7 Edit Away
It is NOT cheating to edit your photos, and who cares if it is! Using filters and art, and even just adjusting contrast, brightness, saturation, cropping and straightening it a little can add oh so much! I often use VSCO app as well as my own app, Rainbow Love to enhance any image I post to my liking.
Happy Summer. Get out there and Strike A Pose #YogaEverwhere #YogaForEverybody
Rainbows & Namaste