When Instagram began back in 2010, it wasn’t intended to be anything other than a place to share photos. As people always do, they find ways to incorporate all of the trendy things into their own lives and that of their businesses. The yoga world wasn’t excluded from that hype. Now, it’s 2015 and there aren’t too many who won’t open their search feed and see people in various yoga “poses” among their “People you may like” feed.
On one hand, that is pretty fricken cool. On another hand, it frustrates me. I think since I am a yoga instructor, people just assume that I am super supportive of this influence in the yoga world…only, I’m not.
I have zero problem with people who want to share their yoga journey. I personally find great joy and happiness when seeing my students working through a flow sequence from their mats. My issue with what is happening on Instagram is that with all of the focus being put on taking amazing photos of ourselves in incredible locations, doing amazing and often difficult yoga poses, I feel that we are losing site of what yoga is actually about.[clickandtweet handle=”” hashtag=”” related=”” layout=”” position=””]Yoga is NOT balancing precariously on the edge of a high rise building or a cliff. Yoga is NOT about pushing the limits of our bodies to achieve one specific “pose”.[/clickandtweet] Yoga is NOT in any way about competition. It’s something a whole lot more.
I can not even begin to keep track of the number of times I have seen a post in one of the forums that I am a part of that goes something like this: “I am brand new to yoga and I have been working on headstand.”
In my head I am SCREAMING, If you are brand new to yoga, you should probably be focused on some basic alignment before you start trying to support the weight of your entire body with your head and neck!!!
As an instructor, I KNOW what misalignment can do to a body. I understand that there is a lot more to yoga than just stepping a foot back and lifting your arms in the air. The problem with the Instagram yoga movement is that not everyone knows THAT stuff. They just see someone, doing something cool and most think, “I can do that.”
How can we learn the lessons of listening to our bodies if we are focused only on being able to get our feet off the ground for this week’s challenge pose? How can we hear our inner breath if we are risking our lives for the sake of a “cool photo”? Where is the beauty of breath as we rush to get our photo with just the right lighting?
I don’t get THAT. I don’t want to get that. While I sometimes post photos of my playtime in fun places…that isn’t the focus of my social media. I love being able to discuss alignment or engagement for specific poses and that sometimes uses photos. Sometimes, we post photos of our classes and workshops on our social media pages…but again, that isn’t the focus. It is just a very small part of what we are about.
When we begin focusing only on the end result (getting a great photo) we forget about our journey…which is exactly what yoga IS about.
Social media has made it nearly impossible not to compare ourselves to others. We are inundated with status updates about the successes of our friends’ children. We see what everyone is having for dinner, where they are going on vacations. New cars. New homes. New clothes. Photos of our adventures…and photos of all of us in the most impressive of yoga poses. Our inner egos want to share those things too. So we share more.
I am thankful that social media yoga has begun to include people of all shapes and sizes. We are seeing men and women practicing now. We are seeing all ages of yogi out there. People from all over the world. Fit people. Fluffier people. I LOVE that there is some serious body loving going on as a result of the Insta-movement. But for me, personally, I am holding out more hope that this will evolve into something more. Something indeed better for the yoga community. An agenda focused more on learning, feeling and BEING rather than simply an agenda of showing off.