Since I was a kid, I remember being inundated with “Before and After” pictures as a way to sell a product. It was always a grainy, frowny before photo followed by perfectly-posed and focused after photos of elated subjects pasted on the screen of a late night infomercial or in between soap opera scenes. The current trend, of the same aim, can be seen on social media as extreme metamorphosis photo collages. This tactic is meant to convince the consumer that it is as easy as going from A to B. I am guessing that this advertising approach must get results as evidenced by its longevity and consistent use. Even when the advertiser admits, “Results may vary” or “Results not typical,” consumers gaze in awe and daydream about themselves 6 to 8 weeks from now mimicking the model’s apparent transition. The story is simple. The results are measurable in pounds, inches, and pants size.
My question is, how can we create this same awe and interest with practices that result in long term improved overall quality of life? What does "before yoga therapy" and "after yoga therapy" look like? If you look at a picture of me before starting yoga therapy and afterwards, you cannot see all of the baggage I have lost (see thumbnail picture with blog). It’s not visible: anger, sadness, grief, grudges, unhealthy habits, constant worry, and self-created strife. No one can see this change from the outside in a quick snap shot. Those who are close to me know and I know that my relationships are healthier, my reactions to stress are intentional and healthy, and my ability to experience joy in everyday life is beyond measure. I have a self-care routine that creates self-healing when times get tough and resilience in the face of crisis and unexpected change. From a long term perspective, I know that my practice is resulting in gene expression to promote longevity and boosting my immune system to protect against acute and chronic illness. I know that by reducing my stress and practicing holistic wellness, I am reducing my risk for chronic and acute physical, emotional, and mental distress and living my best possible life. But in a world that equates physical appearance with happiness and relies on a single second captured in a photo to tell an internal, lifelong story, how can I convey all of that?
The truth is, I will never be able to take a single photo of all of the “before or after yoga therapy” results. As many of us keep the pains and trials of emotional distress and dis-ease on the inside, it is not likely that anyone could ever photograph an accurate image of the complex, debilitating, physical-health-degrading nature of chronic stress. In fact, most people would agree that they work constantly to keep it hidden; so, no before pictures can truly tell that story. Likewise, I cannot tangibly capture the after picture of wholeness, peace, self-regulation, health, or well-being. At the end of the day, my goal and my mission is to model and educate about the benefits of healthy and holistic remedies to stress. This is not a marketing campaign. This is the manifestation of my vision to bring long term health and healing and vitality to individuals. With healthy people, comes healthy families, healthy communities, and a healthy world; a story worthy of several photo albums, a digital photo frame, and 4 DVD set series narrated by Sir David Attenborough. I'm here! It's possible! Let's start writing your story!