Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth yoga, fitness, & nutrition courses, when you sign up for Outside+.
It seems like a new “yogalebrity” pops up on Instagram or Facebook every day, using the medium as a teaching tool. We asked a few teachers on social media—and one abstainer—what we can learn about poses and yogic philosophy from our feeds.
“Einstein said, ‘It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge,’ and many teachers, myself included, use social media to do this—to post helpful and inspiring insight to yoga poses and philosophy. But, if social media is your only experience with yoga, it’s like looking at a box of cookies and trying to understand what the cookies taste like. You have to open the package and taste one to really know.”
Dylan Werner , Vinyasa yoga teacher (approximately 211,000 followers on Instagram and Facebook), Manhattan Beach, California
“Much yoga-based social media rejects the philosophical underpinnings of yoga— presence, clarity of mind, loosening the pernicious grip of ego—in favor of glitz, glamor, and, in some cases, a “cult of personality.” The proliferation of such social-media images distracts from the essence of yoga. Perfect bodies in expensive yoga clothes posing at dawn in the surf at some exclusive retreat center do not provide legitimate instruction.”
Marthe Weyandt, Hatha yoga teacher (not on social media), Indiana, Pennsylvania
“Teaching yoga, and in particular asana, through social media is dangerous and irresponsible. It is impossible to learn the depth of a pose from just a picture! Practitioners need to be properly warmed up to enter the pose, which a simple social-media post is unlikely to do. I believe that social media can be great for inspiration, and is responsible for getting thousands of people to their mats for the first time, but teachers need to be careful when it comes to giving out instruction in such a brief format.”
Rachel Brathen, a.k.a. Yoga Girl, International yoga teacher and author (approximately 1.7 million followers on Instagram and Facebook), Aruba
“As YOGANONYMOUS’s social- media director, I believe that social media can be a valuable tool—as a complement to your practice or a place to find tips or inspiration. It can also be an invaluable tool to market oneself as a yoga teacher or brand. But it is not the most effective platform for teaching. Countless InstaYogis have risen to fame and encouraged followers to try postures they aren’t ready for.”
Sara Fruman , YOGANONYMOUS social media director (approximately 343,000 YOGANONYMOUS followers on Instagram and Facebook), Boulder, Colorado
“You can effectively teach a yoga pose through social media, but teaching a full practice, which includes philosophy, breathing, sequencing, and more, is a completely different matter: It can’t be done across a social-media platform. But Instagram, for example, can help users learn poses through repetition. By repeatedly watching a short video clip of a teacher performing a yoga pose, a viewer can develop an understanding of alignment cues and techniques.”
Masumi Goldman and Laura Kasperzak , Co-founders of Two Fit Moms (approximately 1.3 million followers on Instagram and Facebook)
Something on your mind? Send us your questions to start the discussion at firstname.lastname@example.org