This is one of those posts that I actually wrote a while ago and I’m about to re-visit, re-write and finally post. It is about yoga and Instagram and the whole culture around it, which I’m in between two minds about.
I warn you now, it is a pretty long post, sorry about that! It has two parts: the old one, where I go on my personal doubts and experience on Instagram. And the new one, where I explain the reasons that have made me dislike the Instayoga world the most during the last year – mainly led by the ideals and images that many of the so-called “yoga celebs” want to portrait.
Instagram, yoga and I
As mentioned two posts ago, since moving to the new flat I’ve struggled to document my yoga practise (which was the main reason I used Instagram for). Because there are not good angles to film myself while doing yoga now, I quickly gave up on trying. Seeing myself busy testing corners and shoots, rather than focusing on my actual practise, made me realise how pointless the whole situation was.
Focusing on the camera and the looks while doing yoga, kind of defeats the purpose of checking in with my own mind/body and introspecting. So, after a couple of attempts, I decided it was just too complicated.
Then, doing yoga in public (outside my home) made me feel uncomfortable and, again, I find it quite unnatural and narcissistic. Neither I wanted to be the weirdo in the yoga studio, playing with postures and my phone before or after the yoga class. It just all felt a bit ridiculous to me and I didn’t want to be that “yogi”.
Yes, I still have many cool pictures I never posted, but they are too old, and the whole thing just felt a bit fake. I did enjoy my Instagram page, but my “Instayoga” was about real-time practise, not poses from months ago. So… long story short: I stopped updating my page on yoga related stuff unless it was genuine.
Social media ego
Then there is the social media ego. After having had the page for a few months, I learnt what drives new likes and followers and what doesn’t. Building up your page requires time and commitment, as this is something that needs to happen naturally for me. Otherwise it just starts to feel like a duty, and that is not what I want.
Getting positive feedback can be quite addictive in a negative sense. After reading books such as Affluenza, where the author warns us about how pursing popularity, social recognition or money (for the sake of it) can quickly lead to unhappiness and frustration, I asked myself: what do I want to invest my time and efforts in? And why?
Yes, I do love positive feedback as much as everyone else. But it scares me to depend on something so much out of my control. Somehow, I felt that giving power to something so external to me was actually not going to benefit me long-term.
Against the sexy, multi-tasker, have-it-all yoga girl
The reasons above summarise my personal experience on this popular social network. However, what has put me off the most about some of the big instayogis, is the image they aim to portray on their pages. To the extend that I actually stopped following them and only kept the ones I found more genuine and aligned to the type of yoga and person I want to be exposed to.
Here is the summary of my recent unfollows and the whys behind it.
The hot sexy naked yogi
I am aware that any slim, flexible and pretty girl is going to look great doing yoga and will catch attention. We want it or not, that is normal and expected in our current society and beauty standards. I don’t have a problem with that. However, what I disliked more and more were some of semi-naked yogis that somehow end up showing their audience parts of their bodies that are completely unnecessary for us to see. Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t see the point of doing yoga in a thong, not to mention how uncomfortable that must feel, and I understand even less the need to broadcast the show to thousands of people. Why?
Everybody is free to do what they want, of course, this is just my opinion. And then, there is the whole (real problem) thing about sexualisation of women. But one thing is sexualising any woman no matter what her intention is, and another is showing and “social-media-selling” parts of your body that are normally kept covered, at least when you practise yoga. In fact, I do think that sexualising yoga this way detracts the attention from the amazing yoga abilities that some of these insta-celebs do have. Not the “inspiration” I’m looking for, unfollow!
The multitasker yogi
When I talk about this I think mainly of one video I saw: a mother/yogi was helping her children do their homework in the kitchen all cosy and cute, then moved and did an amazing handstand, then moved back to the table to continue helping her children while they all talk and smile. Just like that.
Okay, “what is that about?” I thought at the time. Are you having some family time, or are you doing yoga? What are you trying to tell us?
I think I was specially critical about this because I know the logistics behind the yoga filming maneuvers and I know how aware you are about where the camera is, when to start/stop moving, press play/stop, etc. Therefore, I found that cool-casual-looking video, completely unnatural. Nope, that is not the ideal (fake) weekday evening I want to aspire to. Unfollow.
The have-it-all yogi
Finally, another yogi I stopped following recently posted a video about a speech on “having it all”. Yes it was very inspiring and, in a way, we all aim to have it all. However, I think that selling these unrealistic expectations aka #lifegoals can lead to exhaustion and actual unhappiness.
The main person criticising this is actually the over-achiever in me. Being too much of a perfectionist, or wanting to excel in most of the areas of life is a recipe for unsatifaction.
I want inspiration yes, but not pressure. No unrealistic ideals about the perfect career, the perfect yoga practise, the perfect couple, family, body…. Uf, just the idea of it stresses me out. Makes me feel worse and focus on what I lack, instead of the amazing things I have. So thanks but no thanks – I do not want to live feeling disappointed because I didn’t manage to “have it all”. Unfollow.
If you understand Spanish and want to read more about it, here is a good and funny article from Yoguineando: