A Modern Yoga Dilemma

Yoga on social media is great in so many ways, but it will never allow you the tangible sensation of smelling the crisp air after the first snow, holding your love's warm hand, or breathing deeply and fully into your center.
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Yoga on social media is great in so many ways, but it will never allow you the tangible sensation of smelling the crisp air after the first snow, holding your love's warm hand, or breathing deeply and fully into your center.
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by Jessica Abelson

Last week, yet again, I found myself tangled in the social media web. Without even realizing it, I had spent over an hour with iPhone in hand browsing through hundreds of Instagram photos and videos of amazing yogis doing amazing feats. It was inadvertent, I swear. It was one click that led me to the next and after that, who can remember? I sat with jaw dropped seeing my favorite teachers demonstrating beautiful poses that I can hardly dream of doing yet. When I looked up, everything around me looked the same, nothing had changed, but my mind was buzzing. I had seen so much, but still, I was sitting on my butt.

For us yogis, I see social media as being both a blessing and a curse. The blessing of course is being able to actually follow our favorite teachers as they spread the message of yoga all over the world. We get to see demonstrations of powerful sequences all from our phone. We know about yoga events happening everywhere; even if we don’t show up, we still get to see the evidence all over the web. The spread of the yoga community across social media has been a really cool thing to witness.

But it also scares me. It's too easy to get caught up in the world of virtual yoga and float farther away from where we should be: on the mat.

Even worse, I find myself comparing. Ugh, that horrible word: compare. That is exactly what yoga teaches us not to do, but it’s hard, especially when I see evidence of those “better” than me every time I click on the computer. I always try to see these images as sources of inspiration, not jealousy. But, again, it’s hard. I’m only human, after all.

There is no rolling back on this social media stuff. It’s here, and it’s going to stay. But, just as we practice on the mat, I’ve realized it is important to stay mindful when using social media. When I see a picture and start comparing, I now try to immediately step away, put down the phone, and connect to something real around me, like talking to friends or walking my dog.

Yoga on social media is great in so many ways, but it will never allow you the tangible sensation of smelling the crisp air after the first snow or breathing deeply and fully into your center. It’s a beautiful thing to share and stay connected. But the true beauty comes in the connection you have with yourself.

 Jessica Abelson is a former associate online editor with Yoga Journal.