Over the past year, Laura and I have been very active in the Instagram yoga community. We’ve hosted some of the very first yoga challenges offered on Instagram, and we continue to remain active in hosting and participating in challenges today.
Since our early days of posting very detailed step-by-step picture tutorials, we’ve watched thousands of people connect and grow a virtual Instagram yoga community just by attempting the daily pose of the day and posting a photo of their attempt to a designated hashtag. What an overwhelmingly positive experience to watch Instagram yogis grow, inspire, and BE inspired!
If you have not yet given a challenge a try, I suggest that you pick one and get involved today. Here are my top reasons for participating each month.
It Creates a Daily Habit
A daily yoga challenge makes you commit to a daily practice. Let’s be honest—it’s hard to commit to a daily hour-long yoga session. We are all tired and busy, but, I assure you that it feels much less overwhelming if we believe that we just need to stretch and warm up for one yoga pose. This is a great way to take baby steps toward a longer more meaningful daily practice. Get in the habit of rolling out your mat daily by participating in a challenge.
Everyone loves a good challenge. I still remember the first time I saw a photo of an arm balance pose on Instagram. It looked incredible. How was it even possible to balance in that way?!!! I was fascinated and excited to get on my mat and try. Perfecting the pose was not the goal. The goal was to try, and practice, grow and play. As adults, we rarely play. Practicing new yoga poses each day awakens our inner child, and it’s just downright FUN.
Do I have to say more? It’s free. Free instruction, free participation, free fun, and often, you can even score a free prize! Not everyone has the money to take a yoga class in a studio. By participating in an Instagram yoga challenge, you can get your yoga fix without shelling out the big bucks.
It’s incredibly inspiring to look through a yoga challenge hashtag and see thousands of yogis from all walks of life doing the same pose. These yogis are different ages, races, sizes and nationalities, but they have all come together to participate and grow in their practice. Seeing a yogi that is twice your age is inspiring. Seeing a parent and child together attempting a pose is inspiring. Seeing yogis that are overcoming sickness and pain by using yoga as a healing tool is inspiring. All of this inspiration will make you want to come back day after day and practice with the Instagram community.
It Can Be Done from Home
Some people don’t have the money to take a yoga class, and others don’t have the time to take a class. As a mother of young children, it takes a village for me to be able to leave my house to do basic things—like shop for groceries or get a haircut. Traveling to a yoga studio does not happen often, and it doesn’t happen without planning in advance for babysitters. By getting involved with Instagram challenges, I can practice at home whenever it’s convenient—even if that means taking photos of poses at midnight.
It Documents Your Journey
For better or for worse, if you participate in a daily Instagram yoga challenge, you will have a visual record of each pose that you attempt. In the beginning, seeing your poor form or lack of flexibility may be discouraging, but as time passes, you will be grateful for these photos. It amazes me to look back at my old yoga photos and see how far I’ve come in my practice. My posture, flexibility, strength and form have improved dramatically, and I am aware of the progress that I’ve made over weeks or months.
It’s a Great Way to Meet Yoga Friends
The Instagram yoga community is an amazingly supportive group. Everyone is encouraging and supportive, and that is a great kind of environment to learn and grow in your practice. When you join an Instagram yoga challenge, you get the feeling that you are a part of something greater than yourself. As soon as you join a challenge, you are no longer alone. You have joined a movement, and it feels amazing to get caught up in the positive energy and practice (virtually) alongside your new Instagram yogi friends.
It Creates a Well-Rounded Practice
We all have our strengths. We all also have our weaknesses. I’ve found that when I practice yoga on my own, I have a tendency to work on poses that come easily to me, and I avoid working on the poses that target my weaker/less flexible body parts. The wonderful thing about Instagram yoga challenges is that the pose of the day forces you to work on body parts that you might otherwise completely avoid. If the challenge pose is a backbend, you will work on backbends, even if you dislike them. If the challenge pose is a deep hamstring stretch, you will spend time stretching the backs of your legs. I’ve found this aspect of the challenges to be very beneficial. Rather than focusing on just the poses that I enjoy, I also work diligently on the poses that I don’t enjoy so much. By doing this, I’ve become much more well-rounded in my practice than I otherwise would be.
It Exposes You to Different Types of Yoga
I used to think that there was one type of yoga—the kind where you sit with your hands in prayer and maybe do a warrior 1 pose from time to time. The idea of doing yoga used to bore me to tears. I had no idea that yoga could be a challenging, sweat-inducing workout. There is a type of yoga for everyone, and the world of Instagram yoga has opened my eyes to it all. Who knew that yoga could include inversions like headstands and handstands or arm balances that tested your strength, balance and flexibility? Take a look through all of the available challenges this month and you will see how much variety yoga has to offer.
Enjoy the Non-Physical Benefits of Yoga
If you join an Instagram yoga challenge and you’ve never tried yoga before, you might start out just enjoying the physical benefits of the poses. That’s definitely the experience I had. I would stretch, strengthen, sweat, take a photo of the pose of the day, and move on with my life. Over time, however, I’ve noticed that my body has loosened up to the point where my practice has truly become a moving meditation. I can find peace in each pose, as the poses become more accessible. I am now able to focus on the present moment as I’m living it, and THIS is an invaluable skill on and off the mat.