April 20, 2015

Does Instagram Make Us Better Yogis?


Yes, Instagram makes us better yogis. Hear me out.

Something my sage of a 25-year-old artist/bartender brother said recently really stuck with me: “social media is embarrassing”.

Dead on, Harry. Social media is narcissistic and manipulative. It allows us to control exactly what we present to the world — photos of ourselves looking fly and doing really cool things in exotic locations with other attractive people.

Embarrassing as it is (or should be), social media is unavoidable.Everybody does it so we have to do it, too.

The amount of time we spend on our phones and computers is staggering–– at work, on the subway, in the car (you know you do it) and even in bed. Businesses and entrepreneurs must maintain a solid media presence to compete with one another. Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and the like allow us to connect to a vast number of people with little effort. Social websites and apps help us get jobs, make money and meet our next romance.

I personally started an Instagram account a year ago. It seemed cooler than Facebook because my parents didn’t have it (yet). My account began with silly photos and of course, pictures of me doing cool stuff. Everything changed when I discovered Kino MacGregor, a beautiful Ashtanga yogini who posts photos of herself doing handstands and advanced backbends all over the world.

Her photos are yoga porn –– stunning, bright, inspiring and seemingly effortless. You see her photos and you want to be exactly like her.

Kino hosts monthly yoga challenges on Instagram with thousands of participants. It’s simple: post photos of yourself doing the pose of the day and link your photo to Kino’s account or to her sponsor. Every week, a participant wins money from her sponsor to spend on the brand’s clothing.

The real goal remains the same: to look like a badass.

I started posting yoga photos a few months ago to connect with other teachers in NYC, build my brand as a teacher and show off my spine. Last month, I completed my first Kino MacGregor challenge, #JourneyToHandstand. My indulgent roommate took daily photos of me around the city. We hit up Central Park, Times Square and Madison Square Garden because yoga in an urban setting looks incredibly cool. The postures started out easy and got increasingly difficult–– the end goal was a solid handstand.

Despite its vanity, #JourneyToHandstand totally worked for me. Its public nature held me accountable for practicing daily and building the muscles to hold a handstand. It kept me in touch with friends who participated around the world.

Instagram also helped me professionally. As more students followed my page, my class attendance increased and students started asking great questions about yoga. These photos show them that I walk the walk and challenge myself, as I ask them to do. Now, I work harder than ever on my personal practice because there’s an audience.

I’ve come to believe that the good in social media is its potential to inspire, push and connect us — as long as we remember we’re vain while doing it.


Author: Kate Davies

Editor: Alli Sarazem

Photo: Courtesy of Author

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Kate Davies