Can a dose of Insta-zen do any real good?

Instagram is one of the greatest contributors to my yoga anxiety. Yogini influencers deal heavy blows to my self-esteem (yes, we already know I have issues).

I generally avoid social media to protect my mental health. While a lot of research suggests that social media can be harmful, there are also studies that are more optimistic about the effects of these platforms on our psychological wellbeing.

For example, a recent study showed that social media could provide a listening ear when you’re feeling down but don’t want to burden anyone with your problems. A social media post is a form of undirected communication through which we can express our feelings without bothering a particular person. No need to call up or text your bestie in the middle of the stressful work day, just send out a tweet instead. And though nobody feels obligated to respond, many will voluntarily check in with you if you sound distressed on social media. So you receive the social support you need that you might have been embarrassed to ask explicitly for. 

“Basically, I’m the unicorn of health.” Anybody who can utter those words confidently is a hero in my books. Jessamyn Stanley, who’s based in the US, started practising yoga just seven years ago, and never did any kind of exercise prior to this. A champion for the body positivity movement, she’s redefining what it means to be healthy.

Still, many of us spend far too much time on Instagram and Facebook, to the detriment of our self-esteem… right? Perhaps not. Researchers suggest that Facebook could actually boost self-esteem. Their rationale is that when we look at our own social media profiles, we are reminded of how we can control our public selves. In posting curated photos (with the appropriate filters applied) and carefully worded captions , we exercise complete autonomy over how our personal narratives are presented to the world. This feeling can be empowering, and that can boost self-worth.

Pinterest may be your go-to source for inspiration, but other social media platforms also serve as tools to develop ideas, express creativity and learn. A UK study found that teenagers tend to view social media positively because of the opportunities to connect with likeminded individuals and be part of an online community that could share their ideas with.

Gabrielle Mendoza’s posts are reminders that even the most experienced yoginis are human too. She shares about the struggles she faces when trying to nail difficult poses and also her triumphs when she succeeds. You can’t help but celebrate with her.

I’ve decided that the best strategy to being happy about my own yoga journey isn’t to avoid social media totally but to follow the right people, like Gabby and Jessamyn. That said, I won’t be posting a picture of myself in a yoga pose any time soon.

I confronted my fear of yoga head on in last week’s podcast. Listen to it here.

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