The yoga hashtag is approaching 80 million posts on Instagram.
Inspiring posts from yoga teachers, practice tips, exciting challenges, sustainable fashion, healthy nutrition, beginners, and experts side by side. It’s a wonderful way to connect.
But every Skywalker has its Vader and Instagram’s dark side is a potentially harmful impact on our spiritual growth. It can be extremely difficult to stay mindful on social media. I know it was for me.
I had a yoga-dedicated account myself, where I posted poses almost every single day and met countless inspiring strangers. They were often more experienced and soon the inspiration turned into competition. Scrolling photos of seemingly flawless yogis every day has, in the end, urged me to go over the edge and injure myself.
I was close to the front split, but not entirely there. I forced myself in the pose anyway, all within the 10 seconds my camera’s self-timer allowed me. I did achieve to go all the way to the floor. But then I heard a cracking sound followed by excruciating pain just below by right glute. I strained my body far over the edge and the pain persisted.
I was unable to practice for over six months.
This is an extreme example of how the necessity to satisfy a fabricated social media standard can ruin our real practice. I was more worried about feeding my ego than I was for my body, and I’m now happy that karma came back to bite me right away. I learned a lot from that experience, and after a while, completely stopped my Instagram craze to dedicate myself to a more mindful, intimate practice.
I don’t want to discourage anyone or say that you shouldn’t share your yoga journey online.
By sharing these tips, I want to help you avoid my mistakes and use the frantic world of social media for good.
Show your real practice.
When you see flawless yogis in their full, King Pigeon and Elbow Stand, you may feel inadequate to share beginner poses. But yoga is not a sport. It’s a way to explore our bodies and unify our actions with our minds and souls. Yoga is unity, yoga is a path, yoga is a self-care practice. Yoga is a lot of things, but competition is not one of them.
Inspiration is great, and you can work toward achieving more advanced poses if they would help you get out of your comfort zone or if you enjoy a challenge. But instead of forcing the pose for that perfect shot, share the process. Chances are, your post will be seen by someone who’s just getting into yoga and you could encourage them to keep going when they feel insecure. And that’s much more fulfilling than being flawless for a second.
Don’t go over your edge.
I’ve tried it, it’s not worth it. If you can’t do or don’t feel good in an asana, don’t feel like you need to go there just for Instagram’s sake. If you love doing headstands, but still prefer the Tripod version—show that. If you love stretching for splits, but your hips are miles away from the floor, make a laugh out of it.
It doesn’t have to be perfect, it has to be healthy for your body and enjoyable for you. That’s what people recognize and appreciate, and that’s what can really help both your journey and theirs.
Always warm up.
Maybe you don’t feel like practicing today, but you want to stay consistent with your content. Or you want to do a quick snap while it’s still bright outside, and you tend to practice in the evening. Please, don’t repeat my mistake and go into a pose with no warm-up whatsoever.
You don’t have to do a full practice before you take a photo or video, several sun salutations will do. Also, stretch specific body parts that will work the most in the asana you want to show. If it’s an arm balancing posture, make sure to warm up your shoulders and wrists. If it’s a backbend, do Cat-Cows.
Spend a few minutes or more preparing your body for what’s to come, and then create your content. Your body will be thankful and you will be in the right state of mind to share.
Write meaningful captions.
Captions are a beautiful way to humanize yourself to your followers and cultivate deeper connections. If you snap a picture of an advanced pose you took long to achieve, write up your journey. If you post a side by side progress pic, tell people what the obstacles were you had to overcome and how it can be easier for them.
Share your favorite citations from gurus, or a meditation you love. Share the impact yoga had on your life, or a veggie recipe you’ve just discovered. Make every post meaningful.
Thinking about what to write in the caption will help you become more introspective, and the effort you’ve put into your post will achieve a more yogic, holistic way of connecting, sharing, and growing with others.
Fashionistas and fitness gurus can get away with presenting themselves only in their best, photoshopped and staged selves. I’m not saying that’s okay, but I can understand their motivation. I’ve been there.
However, we yogis should strive to remain honest. Social media makes lying and deceiving attractive and easily achievable. Let’s create a counterculture of truth! It is challenging to be candid online, but that makes it a gorgeous way to work on Satya (Sanskrit for “truth”), one of the five Yamas described in Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.
The practice of truthfulness doesn’t mean you should be blunt and insensitive, neither toward others nor yourself. In its highest essence, the Satya principle means you should strive to align your thoughts, actions, and words in every aspect of your life.
Satya practice can prevent ego from taking over. It helps you use social media as a way to meet and fall in love with your Truthful Self, expand your awareness, and emit love toward all the beautiful souls who will pass through your profile and be inspired by your posts.