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Yoga and Social Media

Are You Down, Dog?

Yoga has come a long way over the last decade. From traditional Indian culture introduced to us in the 60’s, with the likes of The Beatles, we have seen a boost in more modern forms of yoga, including Power to Yoga Fusion and more. In fact, in the past 10 years, yoga has become a 10 billion dollar industry that has blown up retail and fitness platforms all over North America.

 

With the onset of social media, yoga has been transformed from a personal, spiritual practice to a series of promotional photo ops, with both positive and negative effects on how yoga is appreciated in our society.

 

For the most part in our modern world, yoga is a practice of breath and postures that have been scientifically proven to contribute to physical and mental well-being.  Researchers have found though, that using social media can cause anxiety, depression, and even loneliness. How you compare your life with others you see online can create feelings of happiness, but is often a trigger, creating jealousy, resentment and self-loathing. 

 

According to most recent Instagram posts, the gurus of the past have been replaced by a stereotypical modern yogi who can bend to pretzel type perfection.  Some might argue that social media and ego are affecting and even damaging the practice of yoga, not only creating a false image, but creating egoism and narcissism in the yoga community. Instagram is filled with photos of people achieving ambitious or unattainable poses. The hashtag #yoga has more than 12 million posts and #yogaeverydamnday has more than three million.  Some posts play on our insecurities such as body type, flexibility and skill level. Not to mention the pressures of squeezing ourselves into a pair of yoga pants promoted online. The question is - have we lost the humility in yoga in order to make a buck?

 

There is a dichotomy, however, in that social media can also aid in boosting self-employed yogis, promoting retreats, classes and retail products. Yoga is also now more accepted in our fitness world, and not considered some ethereal, spiritual practice that we will never have time to learn about, let alone sit and breathe with. We now accept these rituals as a part of our own personal wellness regime. Posting inspiring quotes, and positive mantra has had a positive effect in boosting our own inner dialogue, and meditation has also reached a new level of popularity through social media, tying technology and spiritual practice.

 

The bottom line is that Yoga is not about an image on a screen, and it is not about the 2 second hold it took to snap the pose.  It is about humility, self-love, calming the mind, community and the breath. The yoga community can be one of support and inspiration if presented properly.  You have the power to scroll through what enhances your life. You have the power to click ‘follow’ or ‘like’ on what empowers you. Take it back.

 

Julie Watson co-owns Afterglow Studio in the Beaches, Toronto. While juggling 3 kids, a dog and her business, she strives to keep herself sane through yoga and meditation. Most days she succeeds.You can check out the schedule for Julie’s energetic Vinyasa Flow classes at www.afterglowstudio.ca