Instagram yoga has undoubtedly changed my life for the better. The daily inspiration and motivation to keep practicing and try new things is far greater than anything you can get from a yoga class or DVD, not to mention the incredible friendships I have made which I hold so close to my heart. But every rose has its thorns, and Instagram yoga is no exception.
In November 2015 I cracked a rib. ‘Ouch!’ you may say (quite correctly), ‘What happened? A car accident? A bad fall?!’ Nope, I was doing yoga.
I wasn’t even doing ninja style yoga, I was quite simply pushing myself further than my body was capable of. And you know why? Because I wanted a prettier picture for Instagram. Now in my own defense here, it turns out I have osteopenia; a weakening of the bones, so the fact my rib cracked is not entirely yoga’s fault, but regardless, I hold my hands up and admit it, I was pushing myself not because I felt I was at a point where I could go further, but because I reeeeeeally wanted to get my legs straight in a forearm wheel because that would be far more photogenic.
This unfortunate situation of mine highlights exactly what I believe to be the Dark Side of Instagram Yoga. We push our bodies far further than we would do, should it not be for the fact we are about to share the evidence with the entire of the Instagram world. Now like I said, this thorn does have it’s rose too. To a certain extent pushing yourself is what brings about the huge breakthroughs and achievements which you once never thought possible. But there’s a difference between pushing yourself outside your comfort zone, and pushing yourself into injury. A pretty picture is NEVER worth an injury.
Dark Side #2! A shared a snippet of this in a recent Instagram post of my own which centres around that evil little word ‘comparison’. Whoever said that famous quote ‘Comparison is the thief of Joy’ was a very wise person indeed. I practice vertually every day, I try hard and I don’t give up without a fight, yet there are so many things that I cannot do which many others who fill my news feed can. There are those that have been practicing less time than I who are light years ahead in terms of skill, there are people who have practiced about the same length of time as I have and are absolute ninjas already. And then there are those who have been practicing for YEARS yet I still find myself comparing.
It is only recently that I’ve been able to reflect on my feelings towards this. I compare myself and then conclude that I’m not good enough, there is a layer of jealousy which makes me wish I could do what they can without even bothering to think about my own strengths and how others may see the same in me. We are all so very very different, we all grew up in totally unique ways, our bodies have had a completely different experience from birth until now and all of that shapes our strengths, our weaknesses, and our abilities to take to one thing easier than the next. Being bombarded with pictures and videos of people who are bendier, stronger or more skilled than you can eat away at your contentment with your own practice. Most recently I have found myself getting angry and frustrated on the mat for not being able to do one thing or another, or for not progressing in a certain posture (ahem – splits!!). My practice was turning into one of anger and negativity rather than the positive, calming effect true yoga is meant to have. I have made a conscious decision to try and stamp these feelings out, remembering to appriciate the progress I’ve made already and the things my body CAN do but mostly, how achieving the splits, or a solid handstand, or a lolasana-to handstand press-to floating chin stand will not improve my life one tiny bit so why let it, or any other physical goal, bother me.
But would I ever have had these feelings in the first place if I didn’t participate in Instagram yoga… Who knows.
Now without sounding like I’m going on an absolute rampage, I have one final Dark Side that I’ve come across in the Instagram yoga world. Most of us Instagram yogi’s participate in challenges, but not everyone has the time everyday to fit in a proper yoga practice. Or maybe they just can’t be bothered. But I’m not judging! I have those days too! But the fact there is a posture or drill to show every day, there can be a tendency to just ‘whip one out’ and show the pose of the day without practicing at all. The not practicing part – that’s cool. The not warming up part – that’s not cool. I’ll be the first to admit this was often my trick in my early Instagram days when I didn’t practice daily; I’d set up my phone, try and get into the pose then chill out on the sofa as I posted it online. Luckily for me and my health those days are long gone, unluckily for my Instagram followers that tends to mean I spam them with a tonne of posts all in one go when I get around to catching up! But please, if this is ringing a few bells, please please at least take yourself through a few sun salutations before whipping anything out! If you don’t have time, the world will not end if you miss a post. Promise.
And because Instagram yoga has had the biggest impact in my life in a positive way there can be no other way I can end this post than to express my love and gratitude for it. For the encouragement it provides, the creativity it ignites and the friendships it has kindled which I know will live on much longer than the little app on my phone ever will ♥