So, there’s this Instagram and yoga thing going on. Maybe you’ve heard about it, or even seen it? Perhaps you even participate in it? In case you don’t know, here’s a little glimpse into the strange world of Instayoga. I hopped on the Instagram train a couple of months ago in preparation to launch MOJO Yoga. I created the MOJO Yoga account only to be promptly pulled away to a more important task for about an hour or so. When I returned to create my first post, I already had 3 or 4 dozen followers on my empty account. A little freaked out by this, I ask a friend of mine who’s already in this scene what might be going on to prompt such premature engagement. She says simply, “Anything yoga on Instagram is a hit.”
It seems to have proven to be the case. I’ve dabbled in nearly all the major social media channels for years now and nothing has returned an engagement rate even close to that of Instagram. People are just ALL over it, at ALL hours. I put up a post and instantaneously someone likes it. That like is followed by a hundred more and some gushing comments. And I’m a small fry. The biggest, most well-established yoga accounts I’ve seen have hundreds of thousands of followers. It’s a narcissist’s wet dream.
Like anything that’s worth discussing, people talk a lot of trash about Instayoga. The shit slinging seems to range from “ego-driven show-offs” to “anorexic models” to “meaningless fluff” and even to “dangerous and irresponsible.” From the outside, I would totally agree. I’ve seen blogs in the past dissing the Instayoga phenomenon, and handily agreed that it seemed fairly worthless. That was until I jumped in the fray.
The thing that got me frothing on Instagram was these yoga challenges. The concept goes like this: a couple of accounts “host” a challenge, put up a pose of the day, and everyone participating in the challenge posts a photo of themselves in that pose. Now, I joined my first yoga challenge because I immediately saw it as an account building strategy - a way to get more followers and more likes on my posts. You see, when people participate in these challenges, the social media mores dictate that you should like other people’s posts in the challenge and follow them. It’s something of a community building exercise, if you will.
And though that’s had some measure of success, the yoga challenges have turned into something more for me. Along the way, I’ve encountered poses of the day that I’ve long forgotten and even a number of poses that I’ve never done before. After years of doing sort of the same old set of practices and sequences, I’ve actually found new life and fresh dynamism in my practice from doing yoga on social media. If I’m really honest about it, Instayoga helped breathe new life into my practice. There, I said it.
It’s not just me, either. Comments from fellow instayogis make my efforts to post so worthwhile, and confirm that I’m not the only one getting some insta-inspiration around here. Like these:
“I have enjoyed following you this challenge!!! I loved your perspective with the poses - so very inspiring!”
“Reassures me that focusing on foundations is worth more than reaching the ‘peak’ of the pose when I’m just not ready.”
“Thank you @mymojoyoga - you inspire me every day!”
“Did this with camel tonight in a class - felt awesome - thank you for your ongoing inspiration xoxo”
Is some of the yoga on Instagram ego-driven? Yeah. Have I seen some people attempting poses that they have no business doing in their present state? Yeah. Have I encountered gawkers and even fetishers? Yup. But have I seen so many more people genuinely working on their practices and striving to evolve in a community of other inspiration seekers? You bet your sweet insta-ass. I’ve been able to draw fresh inspiration from this space when my own practice was suffering from stagnation, and that makes the whole thing beyond worthwhile: it makes it invaluable. Like Mr. Iyengar says, “If there is no wind in our sails, the only way out is to row. This means to reapply ourselves to zealous, effortful, sustained practice, to lay down a new challenge.” (Light on Life, p. 58)
In that light, I’m committed to keep on trying new things. Let me take a deep breath here… We’ll be running our very own Instayoga challenge soon! We’re thinking of calling it the Fun With Yoga Challenge (or in Instagram speak, #funwithyogachallenge). No need to worry about perfection: we want to see you and your raw yoga glory, having fun! The idea for this challenge sprang forth from the dearth of blooper footage I’ve collected already in my young instayogi tenure, and the fun I’ve had with some of my fellow instayogis in sharing our bloopers. You see, one could get the idea from so much of the yoga on Instagram that it’s all sunshine, flattering angles, and perfect hipster facial expressions. Yet, we all know that’s not what yoga really looks like most days. We want to see your real yoga - the raw, unfiltered, joyful mess that is the true path to ultimate freedom.
So, stay tuned for the Fun With Yoga Challenge, and join us in the fray at Instagram!
Jean Marie is @mymojoyoga
For added fun, Scott is @mixmastermojo1
And because it just wouldn’t be fair to not share some of the aforementioned bloopers:
Finally, this week’s video of the week is a quick tutorial on a pose I recently did (in the reclined variation) on Instagram: Virasana, or hero’s pose, and specifically how to make it more comfortable as a seat. As always, if you like this video, there are tons more available to you 24/7 as a MOJO Member, so join us today!