Insta not what it seems
This has been on my mind for a while.
And it's hard to put it into words when it also makes me a hypocrite (some could argue) but to understand this journey we will have to jump back in time and maybe travel through it also.
When I made the choice to explore the idea of being a yoga facilitator ( this word is ringing much more to my truth now than teacher) it was a stone age in regards to social media. Instagram was only beginning to boom, with not many of my friends using it and I didn't even have a facebook account. I walked down this path due to a feeling inside, because when I was on the mat I was able to silence the pain, experience a glimpse of blissfulness. I felt free, and a small voice within would tell me this is what you need to do, that voice had been repeating in my head since I was 19. It took me 5 years to actually listen to it and trust that I was doing the right thing. This girl was also a girl who struggled daily with self image and eating disorders, taking photos of her was not allowed. She would step aside refuse or be the one taking the photo.
Over the next few years Instagram sold its soul to facebook, while at the same time I was moving into the world of teaching yoga. I felt the pressure to do something I did not want to do, take pictures of my self and post. It seemed that the only way to get a foot in the door was to be insta public. Posting the coolest asana (postures) in the coolest setting. It was uncomfortable and uneasy for me, but I recognised if I wanted to grow or "be seen" It was something I would have to do. So I did. Each morning I would wake and I would post. I will not lie when I say I received work cause I had cool photos and many followers ( at the time) and was even turn down for jobs because I didn't have enough followers..... but really what does instagram have to do with someone being a great yoga leader in the classroom, can you tell this through a picture?
I got sucked into the trap and I felt more and more pressure to post, It did help me get over the fear of allowing me to be seen, and I am grateful for some of the things that came my way through social media, but not for long. Sooner rather than later I began to get angry, social media began shaping and warping the idea of what yoga is.
Yoga is not for white people, in fact most people can't even tell you it came from India.
Yoga is not for women. Until the 3o's women where not allowed to practise.
Yoga is not for the rich. Unfortunately the rent of the studios is so expensive that it makes it inaccessible for those on a lower income, it is meant to be for every one, but yet somehow most places have forgotten this.
Yoga is not about doing handstand. Now this tickles me most.
Yoga is not about taking a picture of you in a posture in the middle of class.
Yoga is not a quick fix.
A Yoga class is not a workout. Now I love to sweat and push hard in a dynamic class, but its a work-in, not a workout. If you want a workout go to a cross fit class.
Yoga is about relationships. It is about how we treat not only ourselves but each other. Yoga is about love.
The modern day system of yoga mostly comes from the sutras of Patanjali and his 8 limbs. These are like 8 steps to experience bliss. Only 1 of these 8 steps is postures and he mentions them once in the entire 4 chapters of the book.
Yoga is the Yamas & the Niyamas: non- violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, moderation of energy, non-attachment, cleanliness, contentment, discipline, self- study and surrender.
It is mediation and breath control, it is removing the senses and focusing the mind, it is about leaving the ego and witness the true self. It's mindfulness, charity, love and devotion. It is about seeing God in everything and everyone. (Or take away the word God and use the word love)
I deleted my instagram account. I hated what I had become and what was happening in the yoga world. If you have been to my class then you know how much I love and emphasise the philosophy of yoga. I try my best to share what I have learnt, as it was not doing handstands that helped me heal, but the teachings I found in yogic texts. The work I put in off the mat, deep meditation, changing my habits, my thoughts and my way of life. As much as I adore the purifying effects of the yoga class on my body, if I had not learnt the deeper meaning behind it, I'm not sure I would be here today.
I get upset, angry and I get tired and feel like calling it a day when I hear that all people want to do is handstands, and believe me they do. When they just talk to me about how much of a workout a class is or how many calories they burnt. When I scroll through instagram and I see girls in thongs showing me their ass and no joke pretty much the entire vagina, great I'm glad that you are uber body confident, but also really, is that necessary? and what message is it spreading. Is it yoga or is it just a contortion of your body in a barley nothing outfit? I also will be the first to put my hand and say, ok I recognise that this is my reactions and I need to work on it. I'm human after all.
Back at the present day and I am back on instagram, yes making me a hypocrite, but I've hopefully changed my look and I feel much more comfortable and authentic in what I post, But I ask you, if you do practise yoga, and you are a teacher, to think about what messages you are sending, what lessons you are sharing and how can we all together teach the real teachings of yoga.
I have had many people tell me how social media has stopped them perusing there path due to feelings of inferiority, I also get down on images that I see, but I plead to you, that (especially in the topic of yoga) what you see on the social sites its not the truth and I know many teachers whom I admire for the work they are doing. They are out there, and they want to guided you in a safe, loving environment, free from the illusions that social media pushed on you and me.
I pray that the deeper teachings of yoga will not be forgotten, I pray that yoga continues to heal and help people as it did for me, I pray that yoga is not lost in a cloud of illusions.