The Social Media Landscape: Helping or Hurting Yoga?

There are many ways in which the relationship between social media and yoga can be viewed as positive or negative. Some may argue that the use of social media has had a positive impact on the practice of yoga, however others may feel very strongly that this relationship has harmed the integrity of this sacred practice. Today, I am sharing my thoughts on what I see as some of the pros and cons of this association and I would love to hear your opinions on this topic as well!

When it comes to the positive results of this relationship, I appreciate how social media has the ability to connect our world and the people within it. By sharing yoga related content via social media, we have the opportunity to connect with like-minded people, whether they live in the same city or a continent away. It also allows us to build a community of people that we can learn, grow, and share our passions with.

In addition, social media posts related to the practice of yoga generate an abundance of positivity. I have yet to see a yoga related post on any social media platform that others have posted negative comments on. Instead words of kindness, happiness, or the praying hands/Anjali mudra emoji are often used as commentary. To have that much positive energy shared amongst others, is absolutely a great thing!

Although these are some fantastic things that social media has been able to offer the practice of yoga, I have also noticed some pieces that I feel are less than ideal within this relationship. The first being the glorification of the physical practice of yoga (asana). When I post content displaying the physical form of yoga they tend to be the most noticed and liked posts, in comparison to other posts that tap into the other 7 limbs of this sacred practice. And this seems to be the common theme in browsing other social media accounts. On one hand this can be beneficial because often we start the practice of yoga through the physical method, and then from there we learn how to tap into the other limbs to truly transform our lives. However, often what is displayed in social media posts are extremely advanced poses or postures, which by all means are beautiful to look at, but can also be viewed as unattainable by many people. This could deter people from trying the practice of yoga because their bodies are shaped differently or they may be unable to move in the ways displayed, whether due to injury, muscular dysfunction, or bone structure differences. This deterrence could then lend to a person never experiencing the transformative process of what yoga, and all of its 8 limbs has to offer.

Another negative result of the merging between social media and yoga, is the use of the tag #yogaeverydamnday in social media posts. This tag is used so frequently that when you type it into social media searches it results in a plethora of posts and images displaying the physical practice of yoga. Now I am all for people engaging in the practice of yoga everyday, whether it is the physical form, which is often what is being shared when using this particular tag, or practice of one of the other limbs. However, I would never say to someone, “Do yoga every damn day!” It simply seems so aggressive and would never be the way I would want to talk to others or even myself. Instead, I would be more than happy to tell someone, “It would be so great if you practice yoga everyday, but if you aren’t able to, know that’s okay,” #itwouldbesogreatifyoupracticeyogaeverydaybutifyouarentabletoknowthatsokay, think it will stick? I feel the use of #yogaeverydamnday simply lends to people feeling guilty if they miss their daily yoga practice, instead of approaching the practice and themselves with kindness and compassion.

The other tag that is used frequently is #yogainspiration. I personally don’t feel that the current use of this tag is the most beneficial to the practice of yoga. I am all for yoga inspiration, however most of what is posted with this tag is the display of highly advanced poses or postures. To some that may be extremely inspiring, but it simply doesn't resonate with me. It also may again, lend to the deterrence of others trying the practice of yoga, as previously discussed. Instead I find inspiration through seeing bodies of all shapes and sizes practicing the physical form of yoga. I am also inspired by seeing options provided for a pose or posture to support others with varying capabilities to feel successful in their own practice. And it inspires me when others share how the practice of yoga has transformed their life or how they have taken the practice off of their mats. That, in my book, is what I deem #yogainspiration.

In no way are these thoughts judgment towards those that use social media in the ways discussed. I always encourage others to choose what feels best to them, whether it be on the mat or in other aspects of life, such as using social media. Instead this is simply a discussion of things that I feel passionately about and how I choose and will continue to choose to utilize social media in relationship to the sharing of yoga.

Tell me your thoughts. Do you feel that social media is helping or hurting the practice of yoga?

Photo: Makenna Pope