It was bound to happen. I’m a yogi, a photographer and I Instagram (IG). Sooner or later I was going to fall into the rabbit hole of yoga photography and the 30 day challenges on Instagram. And fall I did.
I realized that everyone on IG who owns a pair of yoga pants, a smart phone and a respectable headstand is now also a yoga media maven. The quantity and quality of yoga expertise, not to mention the gorgeous yogis photographed and presented astounded me. But something about this phenomenon was troubling.
It seemed that the IG yogis have nothing better to do with their time than photograph themselves (preferably upside down in exotic locations), publish it to Instagram and then wait for the likes and followers to shower them with love and adoration. Why the drive to share themselves in countless IG albums? Was it a cry for attention, attribution, or belonging?
Recently I met Gordon Ogden (on IG) and he invited me to join one of the 30 day yoga challenges to see exactly how Yoga IG works. Each day Gordon and his buddies bust a pose and their followers post a photo of themselves in the same pose on their IG account. Each person is also encouraged to share the app they used to edit their masterpiece along with their thoughts for the day.
I learned Ashtanga yoga the old fashion way: one pose at the time by qualified teachers. In contrast, the 30 day challenges urge you to try advanced poses with only virtual instruction, which can become a petri dish for injuries for those less experienced. Or worse, it can give beginners a twisted (no pun intended) and perhaps superficial view of yoga. After all yoga is about self reflection, not self broadcasting.
Intrigued, I put my misgivings aside and posted a photo of myself doing side plank on a recent ski trip. After posting this picture, not only did my yoga community grow, but my studio expanded too. For me, Yoga has always been a union of movement and breath and IG yoga has extended that union to include my surroundings.
Now every sunrise, mountain, beach, snowbank, building and piece of furniture is a potential backdrop for the next photograph. IG yoga has inspired me to be outdoors engaging in nature in different ways and has also sharpened my senses for light and composition.
What’s more mind-blowing is that some of these yogis have thousands of followers. Gordon, for example, started posting on IG this summer and has amassed over 10K followers. Others have 600K followers (worth a click). As a digital media professional, I couldn’t help but notice the opportunities in nurturing a channel of followers and creating a personal brand. And no doubt some big yoga brand names will become sponsors of these channels. Make no mistake about it — this is social media marketing at its best.
In the Instagram yoga space where yogis come to the mat for different reasons and at various levels, it’s easy to throw caution to the wind for the sake of an incredible photo and risk injury. Despise the pearls, I’m going to gird my shorts with caution and test my skills in this worldwide studio for the sake of fun and camaraderie. I practice mostly alone and the opportunity to share my passion with others from all over the world is too hard to pass up.
I’m sure I’ll see you out there sooner or later. I’ll be the one upside down with the funky tights. Check it out!
Are you ready to share are your inner selfie?