LONDON — Not a day goes by without seeing countless selfies of super-supple yogis channeling their inner “om” on Instagram and Facebook. Given the serene poses and remarkable lack of perspiration captured in these photos, anyone unfamiliar with yoga could be forgiven for thinking the practice somewhat effortless.

In reality, yoga is a sweaty business. Whether you find yourself in “downward facing dog” or “destroyer of the universe,” it’s pretty much a given that your brow will need a thorough mopping. One photographer has had enough of the preened Prana photography pervading Instagram and has taken matters into his own hands.

Jonah Sargent, from Minnesota, has produced a book capturing the gritty, sweaty and arduous reality of yoga. Sargent photographed over 60 people around Minneapolis and Berlin for a coffee table book entitled Faces of Yoga; a comical response to the hyper-glamorisation of this ancient practice.

FacesofYoga (52 of 54)
Channelling her inner ‘om’: a yogi captured by Sargent mid-pose.


“I made this book because of an experience I had one day at an upscale yoga studio in uptown Minneapolis,” Sargent told Mashable.

“Every Tuesday morning I worked as a cleaner at a corporate yoga studio. In exchange I was allowed to attend yoga classes for free. This arrangement worked well because I’m a former fat kid turned starving artist, constantly in fear of gaining weight. It was like having an unpaid internship at a buffet, but the opposite.

“While cleaning at this studio I occasionally overheard yogis being up-sold expensive yoga pants, mats and designer headbands. One day a woman came in and bought nearly $500 of yoga clothing because the yoga instructor was telling her she looked sexy in it. During class the instructor kept complimenting her, and the yogi kept looking in the mirror and readjusting to look more picturesque. It all just made me feel like there was something funny with the glamorisation of this ancient discipline.”

FacesofYoga (11 of 54)
How’s it hanging? Red faces, protruding veins and beads of sweat are all out on display.


Sargent, 25, has launched a Kickstarter campaign for the book in the hope that the project will debunk the unrealistic portrayal of yoga on social media.

“Maybe it’s the cynical fat kid in me coming back but I feel like Faces of Yoga is both simply comedic and a critique of our obsession to look good,” continues Sargent.

FacesofYoga (44 of 54)
Pure concentration: the reality of yoga


“It’s a reminder that we all look bad when we do yoga, so we should immerse ourselves in it and forget the rest.

“Yoga seems like a safe place where I should realign with myself, breathe, etc. but when I see those posts it puts me back in my skin and makes me less inclined to practice. I’m not a die hard yogi or a purist or anything like that but I do think it’s strange how many people tie their practice’s success to how many ‘likes’ they get on social media.

“Why don’t these people sweat? Or at least show the internal struggle not to let out some gas? It makes no sense. You’re not fooling me. Sometimes I practice yoga on my own but to be honest it’s a bit out of my price range now. I love the effects it has on my mood, especially during the winter here.”