With more than 1 billion active users, Instagram has become a go-to tool for keeping up with people, events and products that are of interest to its users. Yoga on Instagram has become more and more popular, but what is it doing for the practice?
Here are five stereotypical aspects of yoga that are being challenged by yogis on Instagram and how the social media platform is uniquely helping to change these views.
5 Stereotypes About Yoga and Yogis
Yoga is only for the strong and flexible
Strength and flexibility are two things that improve through yoga, but are not required skills in order to practice. The idea of yoga is to build awareness of the body and breath. With much practice and dedication, a yogi may be able to attain the full extent of poses, but every body is different. This change is inspiring those who have never tried yoga to start their journeys and experience the physical benefits of yoga.
(Yoga also improves Psychological Flexibility: The Other Type of Flexibility That Yoga Helps Improve.)
Yogis are young, slim females
People of every shape, size, age, color and gender can be yogis. Yoga does not discriminate against who can practice, and yogis who are challenging the “norm” are being celebrated. This has been inspiring to many who may have felt inadequate or unworthy of practicing yoga due to their age, size or gender. In fact, many movements have been created on Instagram to help inspire people of all characteristics to practice.
Yogis are all spiritual
Although yoga can be unquestionably spiritual, it does not have to be all about chakras and chanting. Yoga can be done for so many reasons including fitness, rehabilitation, concentration, stress reduction or to connect to oneself or spirit. Instagram is showing how and why people do yoga, each of them with different reasons. This is opening up the channels for yoga to be seen in a different light and encouraging those that are put off by the spirituality to practice.
Yoga must be practiced in the perfect place
The idea that you aren’t experiencing yoga to the fullest unless you are by the beach with a professional photographer has been dismantled. Countless yogis are sharing their practices from their living rooms with photos and videos taken on their cell phones. Although the idea of yoga as art is still appreciated, more and more yogis are posting their real practices from their own homes or studios. This is inspiring others to practice yoga anywhere they are able to, no matter how ordinary it may seem.
Yoga has stayed the same since it originated
Instagram has been an amazing channel to showcase the creativity of yogis all over the world. In fact, some new yoga poses have emerged because yogis are becoming more expressive and innovative with their practices. Numerous variations and modifications are created because these yogis are able to share their practices to millions of others. Poses like hollowback, super soldier and wild thing pose are some Instagram favorites that have been generated within the last 30 years. Many new poses do not even have Sanskrit names, but are very well known because of their exposure on social media.
How Instagram Changes These Views
Photos and stories
Instagram has made an incredible impact on yoga because of yogis and yoga enthusiasts who share their photos and stories. Every time a photo is shared on Instagram, it has the potential to be seen by hundreds or millions of people. The fact that everyone with an account has the ability to share their practice gives yoga the opportunity to be expressed and viewed in many different ways. The photos and videos that are being shared are made that much more interesting by the stories that follow. Yogis are sharing their abilities, limitations, creativity and reasons why they do yoga. The ability to share this information to a widespread audience has been very helpful in changing the stereotypical views of yoga.
Photos showing progression of physical abilities in asana from days, months and years have become more and more popular on Instagram. These photos are proving as a tool to help others understand that there is much practice and dedication that goes into each asana. This is helping many people appreciate that yoga flexibility and strength can be achieved with time.
Influencers and celebrities
Some Instagram users have dedicated their accounts strictly as an outlet to share their yoga journeys while others share their experiences with yoga to a smaller degree. Having high profile or popular individuals share their experience can have a profound effect on their following. Yogis of all shapes, sizes, ages and genders are seen doing many different variations of yoga, which allows their perception to be recognized by others. Many key influencers and celebrities are posting their yoga photos and experiences, which is helping to shape these new views of yoga.
Explore and hashtag features
Many accounts of curated yoga photos (by celebrities and non-celebrities) are all over Instagram. Some are dedicated to picturesque yoga photos and others are dedicated to helping with the education of yoga asanas. Each user has the ability to choose who they follow, but the explore feature allows them to be exposed to photos and stories that they would have never otherwise seen.
Using hashtags to look up different postures is also helping to change our perception of yoga because we are exposed to so much more than a Google search would offer. You could search for one pose and see thousands of different people, allowing a broader perspective on what kind of people practice and share yoga.
Instagram is changing how we view yoga for the better as it helps to enlighten the world on previously misunderstood views and characteristics of yoga and yogis. Social media is helping to generate awareness of the benefits of yoga and inspiring more individuals to start their journeys. By debunking many previous myths of yoga and the individuals who practice it, the way yoga is being perceived now has been changed forever — and I think for the better!
(Read on for a Q&A with another inspiring Instagram influencer in Talking Self-Development, Spirituality and Self-Love With Amanda Marit.)