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Journal of Inspired living

3 inspiring yogis share how they bring truth and realness to their social feeds


3 yogis share how they bring truth and realness to their social feeds

Credit: Lara Zilibowitz

In yoga, asmita is the concept of creating a self-image or ego. Here, we ask three inspiring yogis how they bring truth and realness to their social feeds, despite the demand to create an online persona.

Lara Zilibowitz

Byron Bay, Australia

Why do you use social media as a yoga teacher?

For me, social media offers a powerful opportunity for me to express my passions and share my teachings and my practice. This includes some asana, but mainly my yoga of “being in the world”. Yoga is creativity, immersing myself in nature and the thoughts and reflections that accompany these extraordinarily ordinary moments.

As a travelling yoga teacher, artist and retreat facilitator, these platforms have been the most powerful tools for connection with my global community, for meeting kindred souls across the seas as well as spreading the word about upcoming events. Over the recent years, I have been blown away by the depth these relationships can have and the opportunities and collaborations that are born from them. 

How do you maintain integrity in your yoga practice as a student and teacher in this age of glorifying yoga on social media?

This internal conversation is very alive for me every time I share a post. I’m finding the balance between expressing my truths and explorations on the path, without portraying a skewed vision of who I am and what the practice means to me. On social media, I share very openly about my constant quest for health, happiness and personal evolution, as much as I do when I teach in the flesh. I aspire to uphold my integrity by sharing insights into the full-spectrum of my aliveness; as a teacher but also as a fellow human being looking for answers.

How do you juggle the sacred elements of yoga when posting to social platforms such as Instagram and Facebook?

At the heart of my teachings is that every waking moment has the potential to be profoundly sacred – even sharing on social media! In many ways having such transparent platforms to communicate and connect with the rest of the world encourages a level of self-reflexivity and accountability, which can be profoundly positive and evolutionary if we approach the task at hand with that level of awareness and purity of intention.

With an expanding online yoga community, do you think social media positively or negatively portrays an authentic message of yoga?

I think on the whole, the essence, the beauty and the benefits of the path shared on social media triumph over any negative undertones. Sure, I think there are people out there whose views on the topic don’t align with my own, and practitioners that are sharing imagery and words that I would not, but there are many teachers and students sharing from a place of authentic exploration and open-hearted vulnerability.

Often, social media feeds are filled with images sharing physically strong yoga poses. How important is it to also share your vulnerabilities on social media?

I rarely post photos of myself in advanced asana as, for me, it’s the quality of expression that speaks to the heart of my message. Colour, texture, beauty in nature, body language, facial expressions – these are more aligned with my purpose than perfect alignment or balancing on my hands. On sharing about vulnerability, my journey of yoga has run parallel to the challenges I have faced (and still face) with sleep-related anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms from a single-event trauma that occurred when I was 17. So, I share about the mystery, the magic and the struggle that comes from choosing to walk the road less travelled.

What are your predictions on how social media is going to influence yoga in the future?

We’re living in an age where the power is in everybody’s hands to share their stories and influence others with their media-making potential – I think it’s amazing. Yes, there are influencers out there whose message is not aligned with my beliefs but let it be the people’s republic of yoga! We all need to find our own teachers and navigate our own way through the confusion and overwhelm of information. There are many different paths that lead us through the woods. The fact that yoga and meditation has made its way into the backyards and conference rooms of homes and businesses around the world is extraordinary and I think this will only increase with the more sharing via these platforms.

Who are your favourite yogis or yoginis to follow on social media?

My business partner and best friend, @brookeellistonyoga, who blows my mind every day with her wise insights and poetic reflections. @shivarea108, my main teacher and constant fountain of inspiration. @meghancurrieyoga, the musings of this shaman-cross-pixie are very aligned with my own and I’m always deeply moved by her authenticity and vulnerability and the beauty of her embodiment. And @yogabeyond, a dear friend of mine who teaches me how to choose joy and orient towards the light.

Lara Zilibowitz is an internationally touring yoga teacher and artist with a long-standing passion for creative expression through the body. She has become renowned for her fluid and dynamic teaching style delivered with heartfelt poetic prose, as well as her cosmic creativity and mandala art, which can be found on handmade, hand-carved ceramics, as well as large-scale murals and body art. Zilibowitz is the co-founder of Back2Roots Retreats and presents at numerous international yoga festivals, conferences and events. When she isn’t teaching, globetrotting and empowering others, you’ll likely find Zilibowitz making her signature ceramics and artwork in the beachside town of Byron Bay, NSW, Australia. Find her on Instagram, @larazilibowitz.

Patrick Beach

Los Angeles, USA 

Why do you use social media as a yoga teacher?

I use social media to share my life. I don’t feel any pressure or specific need to post anything related to my practice, but it happens because it is one of my biggest interests. I want to inspire people to live full lives and believe that yoga is part of our individual processes to finding out what makes us click. I want to teach people how to become more connected to their bodies and how they move them in space, which initially drew me to create my Awakening Yoga practice; to help people move away from traditional yoga asana just because they have been done before. Many asanas weren’t built for the modern body, yet they are still practiced regularly. We need to find practices that make us more receptive to all that is happening, so we can be truly connected to be a participant in our own lives.

How do you maintain integrity in your yoga practice as a student and teacher in this age of glorifying yoga on social media?

I’m just myself; I am not trying to be anyone else. To me, it’s really that simple. Everything is sensationalised on social media; it is a tool for connection and inspiration, yet it can sometimes lead people to overstating who they are. People want to believe that life can be bigger and they often turn to social media as a place to find the adventure. It is easy to get caught up in likes, comments and shares, but I try not to. My interest is posting about things that happen in my life and if people find it interesting, great.

How do you juggle the sacred elements of yoga when posting to social platforms such as Instagram and Facebook?

My favourite thing to do on social media is to stay in contact with the students who come to my trainings. We all have the ability to keep building on the foundation of our personal experience. I want my teachings to help elevate the consciousness of others and so the language I use in my social posts relates to becoming more freethinking and open-minded. I hope to help people find their own truth and navigate modern society with respect for themselves, others and the world at large.

With an expanding online yoga community, do you think social media positively or negatively portrays an authentic message of yoga?

I think social media has blown the doors open for yoga. Years into my teaching career, my friends who didn’t practise yoga thought yoga meant just heated Bikram yoga. Now, we’re able to see the different sides of the physical and spiritual practice and how they lead to a deepening of the true self. The authentic message of yoga lives in the eye of the beholder. Yes, there are ancient texts, but everyone interprets them differently – even the greatest Sanskrit scholars see things from many perspectives. If people are inspired to practise yoga because of what someone posts on the internet and they come out of class a more kind and balanced person, isn’t that the point? We’re all here to learn how to coexist with each other and the world we live in and to become beings of peace instead of beings chasing power.

Often, social media feeds are filled with images sharing physically strong yoga poses. How important is it to also share your vulnerabilities on social media?

There are plenty of teachers, such as the well-known older teachers, who don’t post anything related to advanced asana. There are plenty of accounts that share only accessible yoga. Posting pictures of strong asana is inspiring to many people; the first step into the world of spirituality is committing yourself to something. It takes time and dedication to learn more challenging physical poses. As humans, it is our nature to grow and evolve yet fear change all at the same time. We want to grow, but we want our surroundings to stay the same. We seek control but the more we find the opportunity to trust our own work, the easier it becomes to navigate the rhythm of life.

What are your predictions on how social media is going to influence yoga in the future?

There seems to be a trend towards more authenticity on all social platforms. People seem to be more interested in raw family home video content then the overproduced unattainable reality that was popular for a while. Everything moves in waves.

Who are your favourite yogis or yoginis to follow on social media?

I love following the people close to me, so my lady @carlingnicole and some of my friends @carletonjames, @solar_yogi and @diceyoga.

Patrick Beach teaches Awakening Yoga, a vigorous and fluid vinyasa practice that builds strength, promotes flexibility and inspires play. His teaching goes beyond intelligent alignment, moving any willing student to an introspective, holistic experience. Beach is based in Los Angeles, California, USA, owns Commune Yoga in north-east Los Angeles and travels the world leading classes, workshops and teacher training programs. Find him on Instagram, @patrickbeach.

Dustin Brown

Melbourne, Australia

Why do you use social media as a yoga teacher?

Social media is a great way for me to connect with people, whether that’s in my community here in Melbourne or all around the world. There’s an amazing community of international yogis online that are really supportive, inspiring and motivating.

How do you maintain integrity in your yoga practice as a student and teacher in this age of glorifying yoga on social media?

My practice isn’t what you see online; my practice is really internal. I meditate twice a day, practice asana and am constantly enriching myself with reading so I have interesting things to teach my students. That’s my real practice — what you see on social media is just little snippets that will hopefully entice other people into yoga or perhaps inspire a conversation around the practice.

How do you juggle the sacred elements of yoga when posting to social platforms such as Instagram and Facebook?

The themes and words I put with the images on social media always come into alignment with the eight limbs of yoga and what I’m trying to practise: the niyamas and yamas [the first two limbs of yoga]. I try to incorporate elements of the eight limbs in my social posts to spread awareness; there’s so much more depth to yoga than just asana.

With an expanding online yoga community, do you think social media positively or negatively portrays an authentic message of yoga?

The more that people are aware of yoga, the more that people are going to find their own path. If people are on a path or journey that they’re happy with and it leads them to positivity, then that’s an amazing thing.

Often, social media feeds are filled with images sharing physically strong yoga poses. How important is it to also share your vulnerabilities on social media?

It’s so important to be vulnerable and real. For example, my handstand journey took me three years and even now I still struggle on some days. I’m really honest about that on my socials and in class as I know it’s always a work in progress. “Progress over perfection” — it’s not about looking a certain way, it’s about feeling good and honouring yourself.

What are your predictions on how social media is going to influence yoga in the future?

Just the other day, I was able to sit in on a Facebook Live meditation class with a friend in London and it was fantastic. Technology is connecting the whole planet and I’m excited to see where it goes as it continues to improve.

Who are your favourite yogis or yoginis to follow on social media?

@diceyoga, @patrickbeach  and @adellbridges.

Dustin Brown is the founder of Warrior One Yoga in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. He grew up on the Hawaiian island of Kauai and travelled the world as a professional surfer before settling in Melbourne with his wife, Nova. Brown is a dedicated yogi, meditator, teacher, professional black-belt Brazilian jiu-jitsu athlete, ambassador for Boys of Yoga and wellness warrior. Find him on Instagram, @dbrownyoga.

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Kate Duncan

Kate Duncan loves raw desserts, yoga and the outdoors. She’s also the Assistant Editor of WellBeing and Deputy Editor of EatWell.