Instagram- Inspiring or Harmful?

Instagram started a whole craze of fitness oriented challenges, designed to motivate and inspire people everywhere! It has created an amazing network of fitness professionals and their followers to connect and rekindle the fire of being healthy. But as this world has become busier and busier, I've started to see and hear more negatives than positives. 

There are so many Instagram yoga challenges that are being run by uncertified teachers. I know they are coming from a good inspiring place, but I find this rather insulting as a certified and registered yoga instructor. I went through lots of training, not just 200 hours of yoga, but years in college studying anatomy and kinesiology. When someone steps in without the proper teaching and knowledge and are doing my job and sometimes not correctly, this is offensive to the practice, the body, and to those of us who are certified professionals. This insult gives us a bad name. Those who are doing this aren't helping the community, you are actually damaging it. Think about it- would you go to a geometry teacher to teach you English and grammar? No, the English teacher would certainly be offended that someone else is doing their job and not correctly. That goes the same way for yoga teachers, trainers, physical therapists, etc.  

These challenges are demonstrating poses without properly showing progressions or warm ups to that pose. It has become solely focused on the biggest, prettiest pose you can do, forgetting about form, it is all about ego. Guess what, yoga is not about the ego. Teachers ask you to check your ego at the door before entering the class. A good teacher will give you all the adjustments and props that are ideal for your body. 

I very recently had someone tell me that yoga is too hard and he won't try it because he's not flexible enough. I then went on a spiel about how yoga isn't about being flexible. News flash: yoga has never been about being flexible. It's about your body and bringing awareness to it. A moving meditation. He then proceeded to ask him if he felt this way because of Instagram. He responded, "yes!" Oy vey! This is becoming an increasing problem. What was once inspiring, has become detrimental. What could have been a potential student to any yoga class, was deterred away from over zealous Instagram accounts. 

On the other hand, just yesterday I ran into an old co-worker who said he still can't do the poses I do but he has been stretching a lot more. There is still some positives out of this!

Fitness now- all these selfies of girls flexing half naked... anyone else exhausted by these? I certainly am! I have caught myself looking at these pictures and then looking at myself and harshly criticizing myself. My inner critic tells me "Your muscles aren't big enough, your workouts aren't intense enough, you aren't doing enough cardio, you aren't lean enough." What horrible, self depriciating thoughts! Why put myself through that torture. So, I unfollowed or scroll past these posts. It's important to remember that everyone's body is different, everyone's journey is not the same as yours. Don't compare yourself to a picture. It's only a picture, captured in the perfect light, with flexing, in the right angle that probably took someone 50 tries to do. The body doesn't always look like that. Like you see on the left, my stomach isn't always flat. Love your body the way it is. Stop trying to change it into something it's not. Focus on being the healthiest, happiest version of you!

All in all, don't get swept up with the media. Seek out a certified professional to help you with any fitness goals you have. Do your research and make sure they are certified! 

Disclosure: Yes, I used to post a bunch of pictures in my craziest poses. I have since stopped. Due to many comments mentioned in this post.

Samantha RodgersComment