Yoga and Social Media Identity

Nude Yoga Girl

Yoga is probably one of the most ancient words in human language, it dates back to more than 3000 years. It has been mentioned in ancient texts like the Bhaghavad Gita and the Upanishads. The teachings on this sacred writings that might be ancient are still relevant in today’s world. In the Gitas yoga is treated as the art of achieving the integration of your spirit and body. For the ignorant and unaware, duality is the normal state, spirit and body are separate, it is a state of confusion, fear and identification with your physical being.

Through yoga, the ancient Hindu mystics, meant the integration of your spiritual essence with your physical actions. It is the manifestation of your true self, Atman, in this world. In this sense, yoga is not only doing Asanas during a yoga session, but it is the selfless action that is not seeking gratification or an outcome.

The image we have about yoga around the world and mainly in social networks seem to be the complete opposite, they have become a repository of human identification and exhibition of the ego. By ego, I mean the selfish state in which one is seeking gratification, and physical or material reward.

In this article, we will try to dive deeper into the essence of yoga beyond what the identity that has been created of in social media.

Yoga is not just about the body

In today’s world, Yoga has been more identified as a discipline where the body is the focus, through mastering poses, development of flexibility, strength and endurance. However, how the ancient Hindus saw it as explained in ancient scripture, it is more of a meditative connection of your body and mind experience. The word yoga in Sanskrit means unite, I like to see it more as an integration of the body and the mind.

We arrive to this world and the only thing we think we have is our body, something we identify a lot with in recent times. Our physical appearance, youth, strength, and beauty are attributes of high value in society. We think we are that, and no wonder why, modern society has put the body above every layer of human existence. Just scroll a couple of posts on Facebook, Instagram or TikTok. Most of what you see is a cult to the body and material achievements. Very little you will see posts that show the true self of the people behind it.

De-identifying the yoga identity

@nude_yogagirl

One of my favorite yoga accounts on Instagram is @nude_yogagirl a beautiful blonde woman posing nude in exotic places all over the world. The fun part is that she has never shown her face in the shots. Check here on Instagram

I have nothing against this, although it is sexy and inspiring it is a bit far away of what yoga really meant with its initial philosophy. Since this kind of portrayal can create false identifications with beauty, youth and physical ability.

And this is a pattern that is seen all over social media accounts. Things that come to my mind are fit and sexy girls, Bali, financial freedom and lifestyle.

Yes, behind all these images you can relate these personalities with health, wellbeing and fitness, but all of these are identifications with the body. Which is mainly what Yoga is trying to stay away from. Social media has allowed a cult to identity, creating a false and ideal image of what yoga really is.

I do not disagree at all with how yoga is being popularized today, because it can be inspiring for many people. The problem arises when yoga starts to become identified with the body and a separation from the mind and spirit is created. Yoga is about true spiritual connection with everything your human experience can connect with, and they include, doing Asanas, meditation, mindful living and eating, etc.

Tapping into the essence of yoga

Just before 2020 I was planning to go to India to experience yoga in the source, but the pandemic hit and all my plans had to be cancelled. My only source of real yoga connection was through books and a couple of yoga retreats I was able to assist. For the last 5 years I started joining regularly yoga retreats that, although had always been focused on the physical aspect of yoga, managed to connect me with something beyond the physical.

Retreats gave me the opportunity to focus on the practice, doing Asanas several hours a day puts you in a zone of mental focus and inner peace. Yoga retreats were the closest I could get to a spiritual connection with the practice. I realized how the practice itself increased my mental focus and relaxed me. It is a feeling of centeredness, emotional fulfillment and bountifulness. I call this being in the zone. I have been able to tap into that zone just surrounding myself with the vibration the whole yoga experience brings with it, deep and calm breathing, meditation, focus, incense, music, everything. It is being able to create that field, so you can create that zone.

Staying in the zone

The entire purpose of doing yoga for me is to reach the zone, which is that energy field with that frequency that promotes inner peace and calm. Finding a space of calmness, having time to practice yoga or meditation, having a clean nutrition, breathing, relaxing, doing sports, reading mindful books, watching mindful movies all this contributes to create and maintaining that zone.

The zone for me is that space of centeredness, where I can concentrate a couple of hours and write this article. Staying in the zone is feeling light, full of trust and self-confidence. It is a feeling of relaxation in your whole being, some people call it inner peace.

On the other side, not being in the zone makes me feel more like smoking, drinking alcohol and dating women. I become less productive, have bad sleep and have this sensation of uneasiness all over my body. It is this sensation of uneasiness that wakes up my alcohol and tobacco cravings. It is like whenever you have a beer or glass of wine you get to relax and calm that uneasiness but just momentarily.

Disidentifying the social media identity

If it were for the spirit, social media will be completely unnecessary. True and selfless actions from the true self do not need validation, followers nor likes. It is an honest integration of what is in the material and spiritual world. Social Media won't be able to thrive without a desire to praise identity. Identifying with expectations, aspirations and ideas of your self can generate frustration, uneasiness and even depression.

Unfortunately, social media networks were not created to promote inner peace, the whole algorithm is design to generate a dependency and addiction. Studies have shown that using social media activates de dopamine circuit generating a loop of dependency. It is a pity that spiritual and mystical wisdom like yoga has fallen trap into this, I believe it is incompatible. However, it has created some awareness for some people who had no idea about yoga.

The yoga experience is less about identity and more about integration, it is less about duality and more about unity. It is the true art of integrating your human bodily experience with the spiritual one. And the spiritual experience is something you can hardly receive through social media.

If you have any comments about this article, please do not hesitate to dropping me a line.

Existential meanderings on Eastern and Western thought. Psychologist living in Barcelona. Writing in English and Spanish.

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Anthony Tatekawa

Anthony Tatekawa

Existential meanderings on Eastern and Western thought. Psychologist living in Barcelona. Writing in English and Spanish.

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