Confessions of a Yoga Teacher is an ongoing series about my personal experiences in the yoga world. Some are more light-hearted, while others are more serious. Here is the whole feed, if you're interested.
A few months ago, during our yoga retreat in Kenya, one of the participants asked what yoga people I follow on instagram for inspiration.
It took me a painstakingly long time to respond because, confession, I couldn't think of one off the top of my head that I followed for inspiration.
Now, to be clear, I think everyone is inspired by different things, different photos, different people. There's an Eleanor Roosevelt quote I love that says: Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent, and I fully believe it. That is, I might see one photo and feel discouraged, while others may see that same photo and be inspired. We all process information differently based on our own experiences and thought processes. And it isn't right or wrong, it just is what it is. The thoughts and stories I tell myself are born from my own insecurities and other issues (and believe me, friends, I've got more issues than Vogue!). But let me back up a second.
A few years ago, I followed all the Who's Who in the yoga world on social media. But one day, after a really awful Master Class, I went home and took a long, hard look at my instagram newsfeed. Looking through a new lens (I had a sour taste in my mouth after the Master Class), I realized I wasn't feeling inspired by looking at my feed filled with all the Who's Who in the online yoga world. In fact, it was the complete opposite.
I was feeling cynical. Jaded. Critical. And the ultimate kicker, I was feeling jealous. When I'd see these people post pictures of their workshops, the rooms would be packed from end to end and instead of feeling inspired, I'd feel discouraged because I was so far away from getting those kind of turn outs. I'd see them post about getting ready to do a Good Morning America segment about their new book and feel discouraged, thinking I'm not big enough (read: important enough) to get the same kind of exposure for my own book. I'd see them share news about their own projects and dreams coming true and it all just made me feel like even though I have the same abilities, I'd never get where they were. Their picture of success did not look like mine, and it was glaringly obvious to me. I felt so small compared to them, and their feeds were not inspirational to me, but rather, alienating. I'd waste thirty minutes here and an hour there, going down rabbit holes of social media, each photo and video making me feel more and more awful about my work. It made me second guess my purpose and my dreams. I fully understand that I brought these thoughts on myself. Not one of the posts said anything like, "Ha! Look what I'm doing that you're not!" They were simply sharing their own experiences and I was negatively interpreting them.
Despite knowing this, I hated feeling that way: unsuccessful, alienated, so far behind, and less than. And further, I hated the subsequent guilt I felt from feeling jealous and insecure. A part of me felt like a fraud. Like, yoga is all about being inclusive and kind, and yet here I was feeling alienated and, well, unkind. What does that say about me?
I needed to do something about it. When I paid attention to what others in the industry were doing, I lost sight of my own goals, interests and dreams. I needed to refocus if I was ever going to get any real meaningful work done. So I hit the unfollow button for nearly all of them and never looked back.
I know that there are some people out there, who have looked at my own feed and felt discouraged. Every once in a while, someone will say something like, "This makes me feel like I have so far to go in my practice, like I'll never get there." Or sometimes it's less about them and more about me, "Why don't you ever wear a shirt?" I used to take it personally, and hem and haw over whether I was being braggadocios or whether I was simply sharing my experiences, practices and work through my feed. But just as I knew that my own insecurities were influencing how I interpreted the content from the Who's Who accounts, I knew that the followers who were feeling discouraged from my own feed were simply digesting it based on their own experiences and issues.
I guess my point in talking about all of this is that we don't have to suffer. Social media is a hotbed for breeding insecurity and self-doubt, but only if we allow it. This is discussed in great detail in The Four Agreements, which essentially argues that we interpret information based on our own experiences and that nothing is ever personal. When you understand this, you get to take the power back. What someone else posts really has nothing to do with you or me, and truly has no power over us. If you find that a feed constantly brings up feelings of insecurity, jealousy, or any other ugly emotion you want to limit in your life, simply unfollow. It's so easy. It's so freeing. And while yeah, I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I only follow a handful of yoga accounts because most of them remind me of what I've not accomplished both personally and professionally, a larger part of me just feels so good that I no longer feel bogged down by the negative emotions that bubble up for me when I see those feeds. I've now got more space and energy in my life to focus on my own work, my goals and my dreams.
Below is a list of the few yoga accounts I follow:
- Bad Yogi Official - Erin is honestly as kind away from the 'gram as she is on the gram. She's referred Lyme sufferers my way, and has been a strong supporter of YBC for a long time. In addition, she keeps it freakin' real. Her whole message is that yoga is for everyone no matter your socioeconomic status, race, religion, or diet. I love her!
- Erin Kelly Art - Erin is crazy strong. And there's something about the way she shares her flows that always inspires me and motivates me rather than makes me feel less than. She seems sweet and knowledgeable and badass all at once, and I'm dying to take a class with her.
- Meghan Currie Yoga - Meghan has been an inspiration of mine for ages. She is just 100% authentically herself all the time, and she has this sage-like wisdom that she seamlessly weaves into her teachings. Taking a class with her is pure magic. You have to go if you ever have the chance.
- Dice Yoga - Dice is an incredibly talented teacher. I had the pleasure of taking a few classes with him when I lived in LA, and he was so kind, humble and knowledgable. He and his wife run teacher trainings all over the world while raising their two kids, and I enjoy watching them manage it all. Huge fan.
Other accounts that really appeal to me and inspire me from an entrepreneurial standpoint:
- Teni Panosian - I don't follow her so much her instagram account, but she has a wildly successful YouTube channel and she is fantastic about getting back to you if you ask her a question on twitter. I've asked her about green screens and editing and make up hacks and she has answered every single question. I just admire that, when people share their knowledge and are kind to others.
- Marianna Hewitt - Marianna is a successful blogger and influencer who has a background in PR and communications, so I really enjoy following her from an entrepreneurial standpoint. I pay particular attention to things like her aesthetic, and how she curates her Stories. She also has a second account that's all about blogging filled with tips.
- Jen Gotch - She's the co-founder of Ban.do, and I love watching her and her company grow. I also love that she keeps it freaking real on instagram, often talking about her battles with anxiety and depression.
- Jen Atkin - From a marketing perspective, I love watching her instagram feed and Stories. She's paid exactly zero dollars in marketing since starting the Ouai haircare line, often relying on social media and her connections to big name celebrities. At the same time, she is always supporting others in the same industry, which I think sets her apart from so many.
- Mattie Rogers - This 22 year old is such a huge inspiration. She is hard work, dedication and focus personified and reminds me that anything is possible.