Is #YogaForEveryone? The idealised flexible bodymind in Instagram yoga posts

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Bailey, K. Alysse
Rice, Carla
Gualtieri, Melissa
Gillett, James
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Taylor & Francis

Research consistently demonstrates that media depictions of ‘the yogi’ are narrowly represented, erasing bodies of difference, and perpetuating an idealised form of yoga. We analysed 257 Instagram posts from the hashtags #YogaForAll and #YogaForEveryone to explore how these hashtags, which seemingly promote an inclusive yoga, are mobilised. Using reflexive thematic analysis and multimodal discourse analysis, we posed the following questions: 1) What discourses and affects circulate in and across these hashtags, and 2) How do seemingly inclusive hashtag constructions constrain and/or expand possibilities of yoga for a diversity of bodyminds? Drawing from post-structuralist and feminist theorising on biopedagogies, flexible bodies, and affect, we explored how yoga Instagram spaces represent a yoga that is ostensibly intended for ‘all’ and ‘everyone’. Our analysis generated the following themes: Flexible Bodyminds, Yoga as a Commodified Flexible-Aesthetic, Yoga for AbALLe (all-able) Bodies, The Yoga Bod, and Yoga as Promising Happiness. Overall, we confirm that Instagram comprises another medium where biopedagogies, or expert instructions for living, proliferate and come to ‘stick’ to idealised bodyminds through socially desired discourses (e.g. flexibility) and affects (e.g. happiness). Within these posts, neoliberalised gendered imperatives, such as individual responsibilisation and physical-mental-social-economic flexibility – what we call the flexible bodymind – are packaged as the ‘happy yogi’ and reverberate on a powerful sociocultural platform.

yoga, social media, biopedagogies, feminist affect theory, flexible bodyminds
Bailey, K. A., Rice, C., Gualtieri, M., & Gillett, J. (2021). Is #YogaForEveryone? The idealised flexible bodymind in Instagram yoga posts. Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health.