The Diary of a Yoga Instragramming Newbie
It all started over a month ago, when a friend posted on Facebook that she would be participating in a month-long yoga challenge on Instagram. She seemed excited (I believe the word YOLO was mentioned) and was looking for some friends to join in.
I was intrigued. A yoga challenge on Instagram? I had never heard of something like this before.
Honestly, I was a little skeptical—I doubted those brief 15 seconds of Instagram video could teach me very much. And I had other concerns: Would it be authentic or was the whole thing an advertising gimmick? I didn’t know. Plus some of the poses in the calendar looked pretty advanced and I wasn’t sure if I would be able to keep up.
But I loved yoga. I had an Instagram account. So I decided to give it try and incorporate the poses into my yoga practice because I was curious and yeah, YOLO.
I immediately completed the instructions to join in: Follow the instructors and the sponsor, make your profile public (something I hadn’t done before), and post a photo every day with the challenge’s hashtag. If it seems simple that’s because it really was.
In my first post, I put up the calendar of poses that was being used to advertise the event with a warning to my friends, “I apologize in advance for all the yoga posts for the next 31 days!”
The journey started easily enough—day one just had me holding a book over my head—and the fear that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the pose schedule ebbed away when I learned that one instructor would be demonstrating the advanced poses while the other would do modified poses for beginners, so I could choose which I thought looked best for me. Whew! They also included links to YouTube videos that gave a little more guided instruction with the poses.
Believe it or not, my biggest initial challenge was figuring out how to get pictures of myself doing the poses. Yep, definitely a newbie. In the end, I perfected a system where I would video record a whole session and then take a screenshot. By the end of the first week I fell into the routine of things and the month flew by in a haze of Instagram filters.
Though the instructors made it look so easy in the videos, some days were incredibly hard, like day twelve, when I had to walk backwards up a wall three times. I did my best, but it wasn’t pretty. My arms were shaking and I hardly made it halfway up the wall.
Still, through it all, my iPhone was capturing the action in a time-lapse video.
Though it may sound mortifying to post a picture or video of you struggling that is surprisingly what was so encouraging about the challenge. When I looked through all the challenge posts, I saw all kinds of real people doing their best to improve themselves. Sure there were some gorgeous and experienced yogis taking part too, but I was awed with how many people were similar to me. On the days when I struggled, I was not alone. The hashtag #progressnotperfection became a powerful statement on why we were all doing the challenge and I clung to it as the month went on.
However, I dealt with some moral reservations about the challenge. I couldn’t ignore the fact that it was put on by a yoga clothing company whose leggings alone far exceed my budget. I couldn’t ignore the fact that the instructors looked styled to perfection in their videos. And I definitely couldn’t ignore that weekend contests hosted by the sponsor, where the winner would win a $250 gift certificate, explicitly emphasized photographic quality rather than yoga. I understand that is all being done through Instagram, a photo sharing app, but the shameless advertising aspect seemed at odds with the true aim of yoga—the unity of body, mind, and spirit.
I began to wonder–can you remain a humble practitioner while posting photos of yourself every day? Does using social media to share your yoga practice instantly deem you inauthentic? Does the social aspect conflict with the internal meditative aims of yoga? I think these are questions that each person has to consider for themselves and their own practice.
In the end, I changed my stance on using technology to further one’s yoga practice. It’s the 21st century! Though of course we would all love have an instructor with us every step of the way, the price tag for yoga classes makes that simply impossible (most start at $15 a session). Platforms like Instagram or YouTube help those who want to practice consistently and authentically. Online resources make yoga more accessible to more people and help people practice in whatever way is best for them.
Still, if you are thinking of joining an Instagram challenge, approach it with caution. Know your capabilities. Don’t try something above your skill level. And above all, stay grounded in the practice by not letting the amount of ‘likes’ affect your mindset.
For me, the challenge ultimately proved to be beneficial, despite my annoyance with its commercialism. My commitment to the challenge ensured that I made time for yoga #everydamnday when I had not been as consistent before. And I ended up loving the community aspect of sharing my progress with people working towards similar goals. The positive feedback I received by interacting with other users made me feel more confident, a surprising change from when I take a yoga class, where I sometimes feel intimidated.
I felt free to share exactly where I was—no matter what it looked like—and as a result became more focused on my individual journey.
By the end of the challenge, I felt stronger yes, but the journey had also reaffirmed the place of yoga in my life and inspired me to keep practicing.
image source: www.instagram.com
feature picture sourced: https://www.pinterest.com/emathiason/the-history-of-yoga/
Pic #1 – Image Source:http://bit.ly/1EsGEci