Let me start by saying that I don’t have anything against the Instagram Yoginis Trend. In fact, I myself put some yoga related pictures on my own Instagram and follow a few yoga teachers that are active out there. The reason I decided to write this post wasn’t to criticize the way other people express their passion, but to bring an awareness of a few important issues that can be overlooked when following Instagram’s yoga goddesses.
There is nothing wrong with sharing your love for yoga on social media as well as using it to find potential clients or business partners. I believe that yoga teachers, as any other kind of teacher, want to spread the love for what they do and invite others to join them. And that’s amazing! The problem starts when people who follow and have no in-depth knowledge about yoga practice and purpose try to practice without any supervision or guidance and end up frustrated, disappointed or even hurt. Why? Because…
1. Getting into a complex yoga asanas can take years of practice
Have you ever got excited seeing a Yogini doing a mountain pose (yes, it looks like someone just standing)? I don’t think so. Have you ever got excited seeing someone doing a handstand or a scorpion pose? I bet you did. And the moment you see those lovely yoga girls, wearing perfect outfits and doing all those exciting, almost acrobat alike asanas you feel like trying them as well. Badly. Right now! The problem is that you have no idea where and how to start… so you just go with the flow and do what you can. And you hurt yourself. And you get frustrated, disappointed and perhaps you think that it’s just a big scam.
Well, let me tell you something here: yoga is an integral practice and asanas are just one of the parts. The “less impressive” asanas are nothing but as important as the fancy schmancy ones and before starting your yoga journey, you should really understand what, and most importantly why, you are doing this. There is nothing wrong with challenging our bodies into more complicated poses, nothing wrong with getting stronger and being more flexible, but without a good foundation of what yoga really is, it is completely pointless.
So next time you get inspired by some Instagram Yogini and you decide to try some new moves, just please remember that getting there may take you a lot of time and effort and there are no shortcuts on the way – whatever you do, you have to start with nothing but a sexy mountain pose.
2. Your level of flexibility has nothing to do with the quality of your practice
I’m the best example of a not really flexible person who tries really hard to get somewhere close to a decent forward fold or even half (!) of a split. Regardless of what many think, having long legs and arms doesn’t help at all, and although I’m a quite fit person, my flexibility is really limited.
I used to believe that this is a big NO for practicing yoga – after all, how can someone who cannot even touch her feet with her fingers when bending do the simplest sun salutation? Watching super bendy people on a yoga class or online didn’t help – I gave up on yoga for a few years until I found an amazing teacher who convinced me that that’s not an obstacle, and showed me how to properly work on my flexibility.
Now, most of the yoga gurus on Instagram, with a smile on their faces, will try to convince you that in order to have a meaningful practice, you have to break yourself in half, then knot yourself, then do the split and then…let’s be honest, you gave up even before trying. And that’s a big mistake!
You have to believe me – you can surrender only when you combine mindfulness, breathing, and the posture. The quality of the practice has nothing to do with your flexibility and you have to remember about that at every point of your yoga journey.
3. The fancy yoga clothes cost a fortune…and you don’t need them
Yes, yoga clothes are very pretty. And make you look like a pro. And perhaps when you put them on you feel more motivated to practice but…the truth is, that you don’t really need them! Now, not that I invite you to practice yoga completely naked (although I think it is pretty awesome), but I’m just trying to say, that whatever you have at home will do. You only need some comfortable clothes to be able to move freely – that’s it!
It’s really sad to see that the need of looking good and sexy got such a comfy place among yoga teachers and students. Focusing on the look is exactly the opposite of what yoga is about – instead of looking inside ourselves, we buy all these unnecessary clothes so maybe we can cheat someone into thinking that we are advanced yoga practitioners when we actually don’t have a clue what we’re doing during our practice. Don’t get yourself fooled by the look and don’t get upset if you can’t afford “yoga clothes” because it’s just taking your awareness of what’s really important. Put on comfortable clothes and surrender; the rest doesn’t really matter.
4. Being photographed when doing yoga feels very awkward
Have you ever experienced being photographed during your practice? If you did, then you should know how uncomfortable it feels and how unnatural it is. When practicing yoga, you should try to disconnect from the outside world and focus on your interior, but being photographed won’t really allow you to do that. So, unless you have no idea that you are being an object of a photo shoot, you will feel extremely uncomfortable.
Most of the yogi pictures on Instagram are spotless and, as I know a little bit about photography, I can tell you that in order to get one decent shot, you have to take dozens of them. That means that those people are not in the middle of their practice but they participate in a photo shoot when they have a lot of time to make themselves and the pose perfect. That’s not a real life scenario and you should remember that when looking at all those “oh so lovely” and flawless insta yogi pictures.
5. Instagram allows you to see only one side of the coin
There are two sides to every coin they say, right? Well, blindly following yoga goddesses on Instagram allows you to see only one side of the coin. Nobody likes to show stuff that is not pretty especially not on social media such as Instagram where any mistake can cost you to lose followers. However, you should be aware that yoga practice has its own dark moments as well.
As we all have some good and some bad days, we also have some good and some complicated yoga practice. It’s not always easy and it’s not always perfect so blindly believing Instagram’s yoga gurus that try to convince us that they have only good days and awesome practice will not do any good. Sometimes the pictures are Photoshopped and sometimes the smiles are faked so we really shouldn’t let the illusion of perfect yoga practice fool us.
Instead, you should try a more human approach because at some point, yoga will make you sweat and perhaps will also make you cry (have you ever seen a sweaty, crying Yogini on Instagram? I haven’t). There is no need to let the illusion of that perfect body, perfect pose and perfect clothes fool us into thinking that our own yoga practice is not good enough. No matter what kind of body and limitations we have, what kind of clothes we can or can’t afford and whether we look good in Photoshop or not, we should just focus on our inner world and try to do our best because after all, this is what the real purpose of yoga is.
Namaste my dear yogis and remember, we are all perfect just the way we are!