The debate on yoga and social media continues, this time with a critical question: In the struggle to gain more followers and share of voice, is there a point where you begin sacrificing safety for shares?
Social media can be a powerful tool for yoga businesses. But is there a place yoga professionals need to draw the line? The yoga and social media debate began with the topic of yoga selfies and their predominant showcasing of thin, white women doing acrobatics. Do these photos perpetuate misconceptions about yoga, what it stands for, and who can participate? As diversity increases among yoga teachers and brands on social media, these issues are beginning to dissolve. We’re seeing a wider range of people of varying body types, skin colors and ages featured. But now we’re faced with perhaps a more serious issue: When it comes to yoga and social media, at what point can our shares present a danger to our students?
The most important job of a yoga teacher is to educate. Students look to their teachers, as well as industry leaders and yogalebrities, for guidance. But is it necessary to educate on social media, or is it just a place to play?
Let’s examine a scenario: Mary is a well-respected yoga teacher with a large following. She wants to give an “inside look” into her personal practice, so she posts a photo of her doing a headstand and simply captions it #lifeofayogi. Mark is one of Mary’s followers. He sees the post, thinks it’s cool, and decides to try the same pose to test his strength. He has a strained cervical spine due to years of poor posture, as well as high blood pressure. These are dangerous contraindications for this advanced pose, but Mark does not know that. He attempts the headstand, and injures himself.
Who’s to blame?
They both are. Yoga practitioners should know that attempting any new pose should be done in the presence of a knowledgable teacher. But yoga professionals must be constantly aware of the power and the risk associated with the content they share. It’s impossible to know who will come across your content and choose to act upon it, potentially without necessary preparation, research or precaution. So it’s important to properly educate within each post. Explaining contraindications is not sexy or fun, but ignoring the responsibility to educate and protect means potentially turning impressions into injuries.
A better choice for Mary would have been to include a link in her caption that leads to a full description of the pose, featuring both benefits and risks. Would this have fully protected Mark? No, it’s still his responsibility to practice yoga safely. But it would have warned him that headstand is not advisable given his strained spine and blood pressure.
When it comes to yoga and social media, yoga professionals need to educate as well as inspire. In doing so, they will keep their followers safe and build their brand.