Is '#instayoga' Good for the Yoga Community?


You see it all over social media these days, yogis and yoginis appearing to contort and balance into the most difficult and stunning poses. If you check out my Instagram feed you will no doubtingly see such notable yogis @seanphelpslife, @dkyoga, @jared.fu, @kinoyoga @dylanwerneryoga, and @elleclio in some stunning photographs. Many appear to have been beautifully edited; having spot on lighting, appropriate filters, and the right setting of contrast and saturation. Each perfectly executing a pose taking place in some exotic or beautiful background. These yogis have followers ranging from 14,000 to 831,000.

As breathtaking as these photos may be, it has stirred up quite the debate amongst the yoga community. On one side, it is argued that it has taken people away from the true meaning of yoga, and instead made it more about the aesthetics and outward appearance. It ignores both the mental and inner journey/spiritual aspect. It gives the impression that yoga is all about the deepest and most difficult poses. Social media has turned yoga into a platform for self-promotion and a source for feeding the ego. 

On the other hand, others, as well as I, would argue that posting photos on social media is much more than trying to gain followers and popularity. For me, yoga is art, a form of self-expression. Besides the physical benefits you can receive from a posture, you can learn a lot about yourself as well. You learn to face your fears, your self-doubt, you learn about your strengths and take a journey into yourself. Through a single posture you can dive into self-discovery. Yogis put a lot of time, effort, and their heart into their practice; it goes way beyond the physical. For most of us, yoga is our passion. I am teaching and practicing pretty much every day. I left my previous job to pursue my yoga journey. If there is something that I feel passionate about and I want to share it with the world, why shouldn't I? Just as a dancer to dance at a recital or a singer to sing a song. There is so much heart and emotions under what you just see with your eyes. If you took the time to look deep into these asana photos, you can see much more beyond the physical appearance. 

When I see all the yoga photos on my social media feeds I am constantly inspired and amazed. It makes me want to try something new; to explore different method in my physical practice, which in turn will open new doors to my inner journey. Yoga means a lot of things to different people, I think to judge and to claim something isn't yoga goes against the true idea of the practice.  

What are your thoughts? Leave a comment below. 

Marcus TongComment