BY: TRISHA CURLING
Ok, I get it! There are many within the yoga community that are up in arms about the “Commercial Side Show” that they feel yoga has become. There is an opinion that yoga has lost its meaning and tradition. I can understand, especially when unlikely themes paired with yoga are popping up on our timelines. Where’s the connection or purpose of these types of yoga? We are also bombarded with offers of pricey yoga retreats in far away places. We receive constant visuals of both women and men with “perfect bodies” performing these, what may seem like impossible movements and positions with their bodies. What we need to remember, is that there is a positive and a negative side to everything. It’s also important to understand that society evolves and other influences begin to have an impact on things like culture and traditional values.
If we follow the “Instagram Famous Yogis” we will most likely see poses and/or flows that may seem ridiculously impossible to recreate ourselves. This can be extremely discouraging. There is another perspective, however, that we can adopt. One of the first things yoga teaches us is the ability to focus on our own practice. We all come to and practice yoga for different reasons, so comparing ourselves to someone else does not serve us at all. We can also look to these yoga practitioners online for inspiration. There is a wealth of knowledge about yoga, its’ philosophies, and its’ physical practice circulating on social media. This is the way of the present world and if this platform is going to reach a larger community of people and may potentially help someone for the reason they are drawn to yoga, then I say this is a positive and powerful tool.
When I first began to post on my Instagram page @anioyoga I was, first of all, horrified at the thought of making it public, but I had to in order to follow the rules of a yoga challenge I was going to participate in for the first time. I quickly learned that recording my progress and sharing it was extremely helpful in developing my personal practice. I also looked to my teacher @lamjessfit for inspiration. Hers and other accounts like @jayatom, @yoga_at_a_glance, and @koyawebb among other accounts provided me with tips and insight to consider while I progressed in my understanding of what yoga was to me. I came to yoga for many reasons. I was desperate for peace of mind, I had many injuries that needed healing and yoga is a powerful tool to begin that process. I also wanted to feel strong in my body. These were my reasons and they continue to be fulfilled every day.
Social media was really the catalyst for my yoga and fitness journey again. Had I not seen my teacher and what she was doing, I may have stayed in the rut I was in. Seeing Facebook and Instagram posts in my feed were constant reminders that I could do something to change the way I was feeling. It provided motivation rather than discouragement. I thought that with all of the injuries I had sustained, that there was no hope of healing for me. I learned and watched the transformations that these “Instagram Yogis” had made in their lives, which made me see the possibility of myself.
I love the quote “What we focus on, expands. So, focus on what you want, not what you don’t want.” Esther Jno-Charles. Social media is not the only platform to gain understanding about yoga, but it is certainly a powerful one that should not be overlooked.