I've done it too - yearned for the perfect image that would inspire a wider following ... But, at the end of the day, you're either living your truth or sitting with an iPhone full of fake-life images that smell like bullsh*t.
I had hoped to find some sort of profound something with this challenge. I didn't. I had hoped to find more depth in postures. Nope.
What I did learn is how to take a picture of a yoga pose that looks great. I learned how to tag a picture to solicit more likes. I also learned which poses in the challenge to skip, because after a full day of teaching and taking class - the last thing I want to do is another inversion. Coming to terms with my own ability to say no might have been the most useful lesson of the experience (which still has 8 postures to go... and let me tell you - they're doozies).
Is this yoga? No. Is it hurting yoga? Probably not. Is it helping yoga? That's hard to say.
On the one hand, beautiful postures are inspiring. Maybe another future yogi will lay down their mat after viewing an image. On the other hand, lighting, editing, take after take, these all cheapen the "moment" of yoga. Instagram is anything BUT in the moment. When we can filter our life, crop out the clutter and delete the uglies - we're manufacturing truth.
Trust me, I've done it too - yearned for the perfect image that would inspire a wider following. But what I've realized is this. As with many things, it all comes down to intention. Why we do something is equally important as how we do it. At the end of the day, you're either living your truth or sitting with an iPhone full of fake-life images that smell like bullsh*t. Authenticity is impossible to fake ... or tag.
This is the first of a two-part entry focusing on Instagram challenges. First, I'd like to visit their benefits as a student of yoga.
If you've been on Instagram (IG), chances are you run across a challenge (or two, or 20). IG challenges are designed to drive traffic to a specific hashtag and more often or not are created by a person or brand to increase their social media influence. As a yoga teacher, I am invited to participate in these - a lot! Many are topic focused, and offer the IG user discretion regarding content. However much yoga challenges are pose-specific in nature - i.e. each day of a month is assigned a different posture. Of the 30 or 31 postures assigned, a vast majority are pretty tough to perform. In my most recent challenge, I started to consider its affects. Here's what I've discovered, in a nut shell ...
DO a challenge!
Challenges in, and of, themselves are innocuous. They introduce you to new poses. They help you access your mat daily and they can be a lot of fun. Just like class, you will get what you want out of a challenge if you start with an intention that resonates with you.
DON'T obsess of a challenge.
They don't have the power to harm or help. But, like many things including a simple yoga class, challenges done filled with ego or for the wrong intention can go south - quickly. If you miss a day, don't stress. Instead, catch up the next day and move forward.
DO Warm up.
Challenges are (spoiler alert: Capt. Obvious) a CHALLENGE! There may be postures or expressions of postures that are highly energetic and require a decent level of warmth and preparation before an attempt. Asana roughly translates to "comfortable seat". A pulled muscle from entering a posture cold is anything but comfortable.
DON'T Compare Yourself to Others
It's hard not to covet another yogi or yogini's long legs, bendy back or strong shoulders. But, the practice of yoga should help us let go of our own insecurities and delight in the positive qualities of others. Let go of the negative and see the beauty in every posture - no matter what form it takes.
DO Share Your Accomplishments with Others!
Excitement from discovering something new in your practice does not automatically mean you're filled with an over-active ego. It's easy to keep our self-love dormant for fear of being viewed as self-absorbed. Not true. To love others you must start with a humble love of self which grows to touch those around you. If you are finding a new groove your practice, share that experience with others. Plus, it's a lot more interesting to view a picture of asana than another "duck-face" Facebook selfie ;)
Above all, challenge safely my friends with a light heart and have fun!
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