YOGA: Instagram vs. Reality

Is Social Media Ruining Yoga?

By Coach E

I’ve been dabbling on Instagram for just over a year now, mostly lurching (aka wasting time) but with the occasional post.

Based on what I’m seeing, I have no plans on trying to build a presence on Insta because it’s just too damn sexy.

Plus, it’s injuring bodies.

At Precision Movement we do well with longer, more in-depth articles and videos then posting them on our blog and YouTube and I assume it’s because people who appreciate learning the WHY behind the what tend to Google or search YouTube to find that info.

While I’ve found useful content on the platform (mostly related to learning new hockey skills) I feel that the cons far outweigh the pros.

For example, seeing pics of perfect models in skimpy clothes or sticking their butt out while looking at me with that coy look in their eye can’t be good for me, or anyone else for that matter. [This is but one reason I’m going to keep my kids off Instagram. Forever.]

Even if you only follow cats, sooner or later your feed will get hijacked once the cat people post their content based on the analytics.

When I first jumped on Insta I followed a bunch of different fitness people from all fields – rehab, fitness, sport and movement practices like yoga – just to see what was going on.

But I had to unfollow most of the fitness and yoga people because the majority of what they posted a) was making me feel bad about myself because I couldn’t do all sorts of crazy things with my body or wasn’t getting the gainz they were or b) was basically soft core porn and was messing with my perception of what real, beautiful humans look like.

In my eyes, the yoga world is the one that’s gotten the farthest away from what its initial intention was.

From my limited knowledge of yoga, it’s a practice to help you focus on what’s going on INSIDE your body and control your mind. Poses (asana) and breathing are the modalities used to help one develop this focus and control.

However, when you swipe through the most popular Yogis on Insta, you invariably see sexy people doing moves more akin to contortionism than yoga, pining for the almighty like.

I’ve said enough about the psychosocial issues this presents, but it can also do a number on our bodies, if it influences how we go about trying to get more flexible, mobile and moving better.

When you see pics of people in crazy poses, the natural reaction is, “I wanna do that!”

And the natural course of action is to get your body to resemble the pose as best as you can, then use blocks, straps or reefing on limbs to try to get “deeper”.

What you don’t see is that a lot of the people doing this are in pain, especially those doing it for show.

When you fight for greater flexibility without developing control of the full range, whenever you move, your joint structures basically rattle around like a marble in a pop can and over time, the development of a repetitive stress injury is the result.

Or, in more dramatic fashion, you get to end range and try to get deeper then “POP goes the weasel” – you dislocate a joint.

Aggressive passive/static stretching is like holding a baby on a treadmill and ramping up the speed to get their legs moving fast… before they can even stand on their own two feet.

Any shortcuts or “hacks” on the path to mobility and movement longevity will eventually turn around and bite us in the ass through pain and injury.

Instead, if we’re to do this properly, we must come to grips with the fact it’s going to take a lot longer and a lot more effort than we want.

Trust the science and the process (don’t trust me!), keep putting in the work and reap rewards that last.

Coach E

P.S. The idea for this article first bubbled up in my brain after consulting with a yogi who contacted me about chronic shoulder pain she was dealing with, then, after I read this email from Jackie I knew I had to write it to you:

“The reason I decided to invest in the Hip Control course is because I have suffered with pain in my right hip for about 5 years. The pain as cleared and I now have more mobility in the hips and a better understanding of how the joint work. I have visited physiotherapist in the past which helped a little but never really resolved the problem. I found all the exercises very beneficial and now use some of them in my yoga practice. I feel much more confidant and have a better understanding of how the hip works.

Can’t wait to start the next course.”

If you’ve got a bum hip from too much passive stretching, then following Hip Control is a very good idea.

About the Author

Eric Wong (aka Coach E) is the founder of Precision Movement and has a degree in Kinesiology from the University of Waterloo. He's been a coach since 2005 and spent his early career training combat athletes including multiple UFC fighters and professional boxers. He now dedicates himself to helping active people eliminate pain and improve mobility. He lives in Toronto (Go Leafs Go!) with his wife and two kids and drinks black coffee at work and IPAs at play. Click here to learn more about Eric.