Doing it for the ‘gram.

Give me a second while I explain just exactly what I’m going to be talking about here for anyone not familiar just based on the title.

“The ‘gram” is Instagram, a social media platform that allows users to easily share pictures with friends and family to tell the story of their lives as they’re living it. Also referred to as “Insta” or “IG.”

The concept of “doing it for the ‘gram,” as defined by Urban Dictionary (which, if you ever decide to use this dictionary to find out what the cool kids are talking about, proceed with caution), is doing things in real life with the intention or motivation of taking pictures to post on Instagram to show off.

To some extent, we all do this.

As a mom, I try to capture “nice” pictures of my kids while we’re doing stuff to share on Instagram. But to clarify, there’s a difference between taking a picture for Instagram and actually doing the thing for Instagram. For example, I take my kids to the zoo because we want to go to the zoo. But I capture pictures of moments that will share to social media.

But the trip to the zoo, the setting my kids in these chairs to watch the elephants was not and is not motivated by a desire for a picture to post to Insta. It was motivated by being with my kids at the zoo where they wanted to pause and watch the elephants. And because the moment was sweet, I captured it for my own memory’s sake and to share with my loved ones on social media.

Actually “doing it for the ‘gram” would be more like taking my kids to the zoo, posing then in these chairs, with the explicit intention to take this photo solely for Instagram (or Facebook or whatever) and getting ‘likes’ and engagement.

You see this less with average moms like me on the ‘gram, but you will see this often among some of the most popular Instagram yogi accounts. Which is fascinating and so disappointing.

Yoga often encourages us to push passed our comfort zones and to find the edge, but this might be taking it too far and definitely too literally.

Probably one of the most important pursuits of ACTUAL yoga (‘actual’ meaning the spiritual discipline and philosophy of yoga), is the process of ridding ourselves of our egos, our sense of self-importance.

Those who take the practice seriously take issue with many things we do with yoga in western culture, like having strictly asana practices (yoga for exercise alone). Or even our kitten yoga, goat yoga, and pig yoga. These are, in fact, cheap, gimmicky versions of a very sacred thing.

Now, hear me out: I’ve done pig yoga. I’ve done kitten yoga. And I’ve practiced a ton of times where it was just about my body.

And I’ve loved every second of those practices. But I did them because I love cats, and pigs, and because Yoga has taught me how to love my body.

Not for the Instagram likes.

I think the moss egregious offense we commit against what Yoga actually is, is doing it for Instagram likes.

At best, these stunts are a display of a severe lack of common sense, am I right? I don’t care how solid my handstand is, I’m not doing it on a cliff at all, let alone to be impressive.

Often, these pictures are advanced in inversions and they are, pretty frequently, in very dangerous places.

Sure, these yogis might be very strong in their practices of such poses, or maybe they just got lucky, but either way, there’s really no way to justify these pictures that doesn’t include self promotion and attention seeking, neither of which fall in line with the sacred intentions of yogic philosophy AT ALL. In fact, it flies in the face of humility, egolessness, and modesty – all of which should be encouraged.

The other big issue I take with these things, especially as a teacher, is who they’re promoting to and what they’re encouraging.

8/10, I’m willing to bet these posts are ads for some sort of company that pays these people to be “Influencers” on social media. And a large portion of their followers either 1) don’t practice yoga or 2) are new to yoga.

If it is an ad, it’s using danger and risk to sell a product. And I’m not interested in products that can’t stand on their own merits.

Sometimes, seeing advanced yogis doing their thing can be really inspiring and even introduce us to new postures. But things like this, this attention-grabbing, danger-seeking yoga leads such a bad example.

Really, think about it. If people are discovering yoga through these accounts, how motivated do you think they’re going to be to take a class if they think everyone there is in a handstand or arm balance? That’s not what yoga is about! But that’s what these pictures communicate.

But, honestly, I think my biggest beef is that they encourage the ego, they encourage self-promotion and absorption, and that goes against everything that yoga stands for.

They do not accurately promote what yoga IS.

And, just like when you have little kids looking up to you and you want to be a good role model, influencers should remember that it’s possible others will try to emulate them. Possibly without an instructor present, which could lead to injury if the poses are practiced too soon or improperly.

And that’s not even including the dangerous locations many of these are shot in. Are they beautiful settings, and lovely photos, sure! But should any of us really be doing that? The strong/flexible/athletic or otherwise? The answer is no. Hard no. All day long, nope.

As with everything in life, I’m finding, our heart condition is more important and telling than our actions. And I apologize for probably being judgey in the writing of this post.

But I wanted to point out the hypocrisy in Instagram Yoga, and to encourage you in your own practice.

You don’t have to handstand. You don’t have to have an 8-limb arm balance in your practice. You don’t even have to “successfully” forward fold (I use that word loosely because it’s not like there’s any such thing).

You just have to show up.