The Evolving "Situationship" Between Yoga and Social Media

The Evolving "Situationship" Between Yoga and Social Media

It sounds so serious compared to what I normally write but I felt compelled to at least address it here since I basically LIVE on the internet. LOL

We have all seen the ridiculous feats of body contortion paraded across Instagram of countless yogis twisting and bending into an impossible pretzel. The rest of us are cool with sittin’ like a croissant. I see some photos and go “Where’s your body? Where’d your head go, sis?” I have QUESTIONS.

I admittedly have to include myself into the bendy yogi club because I post my own practice #everydamnday usually, so I get it. So what exactly is there to “get?” Lemme elaborate.

Aspiring yogis are supposed to practice “non-striving”, to move comfortably and steadily through each pose, but (as everyone can see) there are LEVELS TO THIS ISH. Day 1 yoga students aren’t putting their legs behind their heads, jumping into a handstand and then walking on their hands to the kitchen to make a saammmmich. That’s not real. That’s the scene of a very scary movie.

Yogis spend countless hours practicing the asanas (poses). It may take a while for some- maybe a few months of daily practice, maybe years following recovery from injury, maybe a lifetime. Eventually, you might start impressing yourself with your progress....and you feel compelled to share with the world (and you really start to impress others thus furthering your desire to share.) Before you know it you’re doing wheel pose in the middle of Time Square because.......just because you can. You take pride in your work. You snap your photo, #filter it into oblivion, and feed the ceaseless machine of social media. That’s our generation. That’s what we do. It’s a whole BOP.

“The Yoga Community” is now asking the same question that everyone else (who sees no value in sharing and oversharing on the internet) is wondering.....”WHY ARE YOU POSTING THIS?” The oldhead yogis are chatting amongst themselves asking why us young whippersnappers are half-naked in the Metro Station doing yoga poses and then posting it on the World Wide Webs. Modern-day minimalists are asking (in a monotone voice) “If it’s so “personal” then WHY are you sharing everything?”

For those of you who are not in the **Yogi Pink Cloud Woo Woo Glitter Hippie Realm**, understand that yoga practice is deeply personal.....or at least it should be. While photos of advanced poses are awe-inspiring, the journey into the mind required for the pose takes more than brute strength and flexibility. The stillness, mental/physical discipline, and interpersonal evaluation of ones true Self is like no other experience. You can’t capture that in a photo. I mean…maybe in a bada** caption, but I digress!

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But THEN there are other folks who post photos...and may not be on any sort of journey at all....and may just be posting photos to mimic others or solely “for attention.” I meeeaan...if it’s on the internet it’s for attention but...Y'all know what I mean! It’s one thing to post to share your journey and it’s another thing to say “LOOK AT ME! Look at me half-naked doing a cool thing.” Individuals within the yoga community can spot that attention-seeking behavior from a mile away, but for the everyday Instagram scroller, the true yoga practitioner and the “Check-out-my-Yoga-Booty-LOOK-AT-ME-Girl” appears to be EXACTLY the same on the internet. You can imagine how much that infuriates many lifelong practitioners. But it is NEVER our place to judge because I mean….who am I?!?!?

Here’s my actual opinion.

First of all *lip smack* our world is so deeply entrenched in technology that yoga SHOULD BE disseminated through those mediums. The spread of the practice should align with its evolution. You simply cannot encourage openness in practice but dismiss the changing yoga landscape. Additionally, to be frank, the new generation of yoga teachers gotta EAT. Marketing oneself is a craft mastered by those desperate to make their dreams a reality, and the internet is the tool to make it happen. Our version of success isn’t anchored to a studio, but to an experience. I see the new/future generations of yoga teachers taking their talents to the internet and out into non-traditional yoga spaces for the benefit of teaching without the burden of running an entire yoga studio. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

SECOND OF ALL...

Folks come to the practice of yoga in very different ways. Just as people turn hobbies into passions, folks have come to yoga for hundreds of years for whatever reason. One day they were shopping for something online and came across your perfect Garudasana pose. Maybe they wanted to learn how to meditate, maybe they are athletes who value the power of stretching those hamstrings, or maybe they just wanted to build a yoga booty like the rest of their sorority sisters. How they come shouldn’t matter. What matters is IF AND WHY they stay.

LET’S BE REAL FOR SEC. Yoga Gurus are perceived as unapproachable, yoga studios are not present in impoverished communities, and if you are not closely tied to a community that celebrates yoga practice (*ahem* black people and other minorities *ahem*) then it’s unlikely to pique your curiosity. Representation matters. You don’t see “US” in those spaces so it’s uncomfortable. You’re invading a space that you feel isn’t meant for you. Maybe you don’t want to feel apologetic about… ya know….EXISTING as a minority, and so its easier/cost effective to follow a Youtube video at home rather than going to a studio.....lemme get off my soapbox! I GET IT. I feel that on a spiritual level and I will address it in another blog post. I urge you to think beyond your own experiences.

Exposure breeds learning. I share my journey (my whole life actually) because it helps me process my emotions and simultaneously helps others. People like to read about others peoples journeys. Das it. SO IF IT INSPIRES SOMEONE TO START THEIR JOURNEY THEN ITS A GOOD THING. I have received countless messages from friends and strangers alike on Instagram and Facebook saying “Hey! You inspired me to try a yoga class!” and I LIVE FOR THAT ISH. When you share your story it allows others to feel comfortable enough to join in the conversation, ask questions, and try new things they wouldn’t feel comfortable doing otherwise. AGAIN…How they come shouldn’t matter. IF AND WHY they stay is paramount. Be on the right side of this evolution and set an open intention.

All in all, yogis...

TAKE YOUR SPACE.

Take your space on the internet.

Take your space in a studio.

Take your space, time, and intrinsic value wherever YOU are in YOUR journey.

Own it.

Then SHAMELESSLY post that pic (so I can go like it, #letsbetricky.)

You never know who is watching.

Namaste.


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