May 12, 2016

The Instagram of Yoga.

yoga class
Ever get the feeling that you are the only one not rocking a handstand? Or doing the splits on a giant rock near the ocean?

Social media envy can get the best of us.

I got into yoga accidentally. It found me and we couldn’t quit each other. Even though I didn’t want to get serious, yoga did, and we soon found ourselves head over heels.

I quit my cozy corporate job to become a writer and a yoga teacher. I retired my high heels and suits to move into my Uncle’s attic and woke up on my 30th birthday thinking, “What did I do?”

So I rallied. And I know I’m not the only one. I saw tons of teachers becoming beautiful examples of the human form and the settled mind. We all inspired each other. But then Instagram entered the scene.

The yoga scene changed with this social media tool. The hashtag #yogaeverydamnday couldn’t accompany a child’s pose, it seemed. We better as hell love arm balances and inversions. We better rock crop tops as if the 90s had never left. Studios started to ask, “How many followers do you have?”

And I thought again, “What did I do?”

The question could also be “What did we do?”

Where did we stop leaving room for the individual practice, for the quiet practice? When did yoga get so loud?

It behooves us to keep up, so we do. We take handstand workshops. We arm balance. It is what you do, right?  Former cheerleaders compete with middle \-aged meditators. Who is going to win?

Why are we trying so hard to keep up?

A question that I recommend other teachers ask regularly is, “Why do you love yoga?”

You might not be flashy. You might not have abs for days. You might love savasana the most—even though you aren’t supposed to have favorite children. You may not think that a kale smoothie classifies as food porn. Maybe meditation is your jam. Maybe some days you want to get upside down, but you more often than not you want to see what it’s like in triangle pose. That triangle pose might not even be isosceles but you feel good doing it.

Turns out I needed six years of teaching to remember that who I was on the first day was good enough. My Instafeed may not have a ton of followers but when it comes down to it, my slow and steady style is my way of helping students come back to themselves.

Social media gymnasts: you look great, you really do. We will continue to “oooh” and “aah” at your Gumby prowess. But even if we don’t have lots of followers, it is most important that we are following our own path.

Now excuse me while I settle into a nice long restorative pose.

Author: Courtney Sunday

Editor: Sarah Kolkka

Image: terri_jane / Flickr

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