I began my yoga journey in early February about two years ago. I took yoga classes at the gym. People scoff at that, but I had the pleasure of learning from three amazingly different teachers who enabled me to have a firm foundation in the asanas. I then discovered Instagram (ig) and the awesome community of yogis on there. A lot of “instafamous” yogis post on ig and hold challenges for one week to a month at different levels of difficulty. I fell in love with this platform for pursuing my practice. It encouraged me to practice daily and helped to broaden my ideal of yoga by seeing many different people share many different poses. It most definitely is a community that is supportive and encouraging.
When I first started perusing ig looking for yogis to follow I noticed that there were two categories of posters; the showoffs and the authentics. The showoffs just did cool poses and used ig for marketing their classes, or their brand. You could eventually tell they didn’t care about anything else. The authentics cared. They explained the poses. They shared where they are coming from and their difficulties. They encouraged acceptance and peace within the yoga community. Those people I follow and the “friends” I’ve made I still follow and cheer them on as they continue to grow in their practice.
By taking pictures and videos of myself to post to ig I was able to see my practice as it is and tweak alignment or my perception as needed. At first my pictures were embarrassing, but I laughed about it and knew that yoga is a journey and I would grow and learn each time I practiced. I learned to love my body. I learned to accept my limitations. I gained a confidence and courage to try new things. Sometimes I nailed a pose and sometimes I fell on my face. Literally. I learned that there are poses you just can’t do (yet). No matter how many times you try to force it and as a result, I learned to let go. All on a social media platform.
The problem a lot of people seem to have with posting yoga pictures is that it makes other’s feel bad about their body. That is part of the yoga journey, in my opinion, separating yourself from other people’s idealism and seeing yourself for who you are and what you are capable of within your yoga practice. If you catch a glimpse of yourself in a yoga pose and you don’t like what you see? Evaluate. Tweak your alignment, recognize what your body can and can’t do. Accept your limitations. Make changes; changes to the pose, changes to your practice, changes in your perception. I would go so far as to occasionally take a picture or video of your practice intentionally, just to see what’s going on and better connect your mind to your body. I know yoga is about how you feel in the pose too, but sometimes it’s hard to connect what your feeling with what you are doing in your brain. Have you ever tried to wiggle your ears? Raise one eyebrow? It’s hard to locate those muscles! It helps to look in a mirror and it’s the same concept.
Here are pictures from some of my first challenges:
This is what bird of paradise still looks like for me (maybe a slight straightening in my leg after two years). It’s the same in boat pose. My legs will not straighten, no amount of forcing it will help. I just have to wait, continue practicing and one day I will get there. There is a girl in my yoga class that can rock boat with straight legs and I am so jealous. She is a reminder to me of humility, acceptance and patience. I can’t rock all the poses, but I can keep coming back to my mat and continuing to devote time and energy to my practice, to myself. Instagram does not take away from that.
As a bonus, taking pictures and videos of your poses allows you to look back and see the progress you’ve made. If you’re not into posting photos of your yoga poses, that’s cool too. For some, yoga is an intensely private practice. That’s one of the great things about yoga, it’s your practice. Rock it for you, share it as you wish. Unless you’re practicing naked yoga…maybe keep that to yourself. ;-)