Are the yogis of Instagram doing more harm than good?

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24 April 2017

Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms for Yoga.

But what impact does one’s ability to browse photo after photo of perfect Yoga poses, with seven filters applied, have on one’s Yoga practice?

Social media can help us become more aware than ever before of how we can extend our Yoga practice.

We are more tempted to try challenging poses, but without proper instruction and preparation this can lead to greater risk of injury.

It’s not always clear how and for how long the yogis of Instagram have honed their practice.

The average yogi is never going to reach the flexibility of an ex-circus performer, gymnast or contortionist who has spent years training their bodies.

Every body is different and it takes a skilled yoga teacher to be able to identify your body’s limits.

To an untrained yogi, holding onto your ankles in Wheel Pose (Urdhva Dhanurasana) looks achievable if you just keep pushing your body.

In reality, bone-on-bone compression will make it impossible for some bodies to ever achieve that range.

But without an understanding of anatomy, the quest can become a frustrating and futile exercise that could lead to an injury or long term damage and chronic pain.

Social media also normalises our perspective of certain images – creating a desire to look a certain way, wear designer active wear and generally live a fabulously stylised life.

This is in contrast to the fundamental teachings of yoga that we should avoid mis-identifications with the way we look, what we own, how we earn a living and our relationships.

But for every warning about the perils of the yogis of Instagram, there’s a strong case in favour.

There are a lot of great yogis posting some wonderful, and encouraging, instructional videos and photographs of how to improve your practice.

There are lots of body positive yogis de-mystifying the perception that Gwenyth Paltrow type figures are the only body shape welcome in a Yoga studio or capable of practicing Yoga.

Here are a few of my favourites: @catbradleyyoga @yogoskenz @yogidunx @beachyogagirl @yogagirl @mynameisjessamyn

If more people lived yoga philosophies, the world would be a better place.

So spreading the word and encouraging people to use Yoga as a vessel to create positive change in their life can only be a good thing.

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