New York City actress Rachele Brooke Smith has become the target of the yoga community’s ire after striking a pose on a building ledge 25 stories off the ground.
In an anxiety-inducing video posted on Facebook, Smith practices several variations of the one-footed Dancer’s pose on a thin beam high above the Manhattan streets while leaning dangerously over the building's edge.
While the cityscape looks gorgeous in the background and supporters praise her focus and fierce willpower, her risky actions have garnered some backlash. One commenter wrote, “This is pure ego, not yoga!” Another, claiming to be a nurse and yoga teacher, says that all she saw when she watched the video was "a person who is willing to risk their life for their ego."
Smith's caption read, “I dare you to push yourself further tomorrow than you did today.” One critic countered by pointing out that, “’Pushing yourself harder’ doesn’t mean risking your life for shock value.”
While Smith’s posing is extreme, other yoga practitioners post photos of themselves in strange, and sometimes dangerous, places.
Not only do practitioners worry that these yoga-extremists will encourage amateur copycats, they also think these photos and videos lose sight of the spiritual, present, and selfless nature of yoga. “Yoga is personal, not showy,” one commenter explained.
The Yoga Alliance—a nonprofit that represents yoga teachers, schools, and studios—declined to comment on Smith’s video.
Yoga is a healing process for your mind and your body. Yes, the things your body can do are awesome after years of practice and hard work, but that is just a bonus compared with all the mind and body benefits yoga provides. Carson’s site said it best: the snaps can be beautiful, but “our power is not in a picture. Practice for practice’s sake.”