If you are a domesticated pet enthusiast, you’ve probably seen those cute articles about “pet shaming.” They are usually full of pictures of dogs or cats who have done something terrible, like destroying the couch cushions, with a sign nearby that says something like “I thought my mom’s favorite pillow was strawberry flavored.”
If today you could see a picture of my ego, it would probably have a handwritten sign next to it that says “I take myself too seriously to participate in Instagram yoga challenges.”
Yoga challenges on Instagram are one of the first connections I ever had to a broader yoga community. For the first several years of my practice, I was a home yogi, learning from the internet and books, trying to make sense of the great big world of yoga from my computer. Instagram opened up my practice into something bigger than it might ever have been otherwise.
And then I started to teach. And then I got certified.
It’s a very natural transition, I think, for a yoga instructor who goes through the grueling 200 hours of training to look at Instagram yogis with a little bit of concern. I have blogged before about the phenomenon of judging Instagram Yoga as not “real” yoga, but as some form of appropriated contortion that doesn’t even scratch the surface of what real yoga is supposed to be. (Spoiler alert: that perspective comes from the ego too.)
These days I struggle to get back into Instagram yoga challenges. I want to push back against the commercialization of yoga, and promoting big brands on my Instagram feed when what I want to do is teach yoga feels counterintuitive.
But I know from experience that participating in these challenges opens me up to the broader community, allows me to be a part of something in a way that my natural lone-wolf personality doesn’t do very well.
I need community. So do you. It’s a fact of human existence. And at a time in my life when I spend my days in my home by myself or with my daughter, Instagram yoga challenges would be a great way for me to connect with other yogis and share my passion.
Maybe I can even do some good for other baby yogis like I once was, and expand their horizons beyond the beautiful shapes we make with our bodies into the beautiful shapes we make with our souls when we truly practice full, holistic yoga.