For the last eight weeks I’ve been in what felt like a black hole where my main contact with the world was through Instagram.
It sounds sadder than it really is. First I was in Mysore, studying yoga with my teacher R. Sharath Jois, at the Ashtanga Yoga Institute.
I completed the challenging Ashtanga Yoga Fourth Series and the process was so powerful, deep and transformative that I literal fell into a quiet, introspective space within.
Somehow the only bursts of attention that I could really manage were posting yoga videos and photos on Instagram.
Then, I was in Goa teaching for two weeks at Purple Valley Retreat Center, where I return nearly every year with my husband to share the yoga that is my life’s work. Aside from slow, sporadic internet I was suffering from a teaching crisis in Goa where I felt a major paradigm shift inside of the way I related with myself, my practice and ultimately my teaching.
From that tentative place, the only thing I felt able to do was teach and post a few videos on Instagram.
Five days in Delhi helped me scrub off the accumulated dust that edged its way into the cracks in the soles of my feet and the corners of my mind. (For all the people that say I never take I break, believe me I took a massive break for these last seven weeks. Multiple projects that I was going to work on while in Mysore sat untouched; I’m just starting to dig them out now.)
I love Instagram—it gave me a voice that was exactly in between all the work I normally do.
It wasn’t long enough to be a full length article or blog and it certainly was not as big of a commitment as my third book, which I was supposed to be working on and it wasn’t as long as the videos I make for my YouTube channel.
On Instagram, I discovered a flourishing international community of instayogis. There are people of all ages and walks of life who are practicing yoga, inspired by yoga, interested in yoga, interested in cute yoga girls and everything in between.
I’m amazed at how much love there is for yoga on Instagram and how authentically everyone there is sharing their experience both good and bad.
Whether people are sharing their photos from a local yoga studio like FitQueenIrene or different locations all around the world like I do when I travel, there is so much yoga and so many talented yoga practitioners on Instagram that it makes me happy every time I sign on.
Photos and videos are a window into the journey of yoga—they are not an end, but a little sign post along the way.
A friend of mind recently told me that she actually started Ashtanga Yoga because of watching an old video that was posted of me on YouTube. She is a former gymnast so she said she wasn’t actually impressed with what I was doing but she was impressed with how happy and peaceful I was while I was practicing.
The inner journey is reflected through the physical body and emanates outward. The Yoga Sutras say that after many years of practice, the happy disposition of the yogi’s mind glows from within.
I hope that all the photos and videos on social media inspire people to do the inner work of yoga because that inner glow comes from years of disciplined practice.
One of the things that I love about yoga on Instagram is that people from all styles of yoga are inspired by each other.
Yoga is bigger than any one discipline, any one teacher or any one style.
My teacher Sri K. Pattabhi Jois recommended students of yoga to choose one style of yoga and move deeply into that. When we find that root within ourselves, it creates a spiritual center for our practice. But it doesn’t mean that there isn’t space in the forest for other types of roots to grow and flourish.
Whatever style we practice, we need a source of yoga and inspiration along with daily discipline and dedication to nourish the roots of our practice.
Some people might say that posting yoga on social media is superficial, but I disagree; there is magic wherever we find inspiration and joy in our lives, even if it’s a 15 second Instagram video.
By reaching out on Instagram, I found two new friends, Kerri Verna (Beach Yoga Girl) and Laura Sykora who encouraged me to post even more on Instagram and continue inspire me every day. For February, the three of us are doing a Yoga Challenge called #inversionsmakeyouhot so please join us if you want to do yoga every day in February—there’s still time to catch up if you want.
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Editor: Bryonie Wise
Photos: courtesy of the author