Bend it, stretch it, it’s time to show-ga off – yoga gets competitive on Instagram

Read the Full article at the Standard

Stop and drop to the floor, you’ve been challenged to do a handstand – on Instagram. Susannah Butter strikes a pose

Published: 11 June 2014

Whether you’re in a meeting, on the bus or at your desk there’s no excuse. When you’re sent the hashtag #stopdropandyoga, there’s nothing that you can do other than get down and stretch.

It works in a similar way to the “no make-up selfie” hashtag that recently swept the nation. Take a photo of yourself doing your best yogic moves and post it to Instagram or Facebook with the caption #stopdropandyoga, and a nomination for the person you would like to pass it on to. They then do the same.

Ellen Walsh Moorman, of Indaba Yoga in Marylebone, says she has noticed a rise in people showing off their bodies’ bendiness on social networks, accompanying the picture with hashtags like this one, as well as #yogangster #yogaeverydamnday, #yogaanywhere and #inversionjunkie.

So is it just showing off? If you are proud of how well you have honed your pincha pose, what better way to increase the joy than to share it on Instagram? “It’s a performance,” says Moorman. “People who have mastered a position want to tell everyone. Although it’s funny sometimes when people take ages over the photo: they have a picture of them doing a perfect scorpion pose but it’s taken four hours to get right.”

But it’s also savvy marketing. Moorman says these hashtags create “massive appeal”. “Instagram is great for self-promotion. There’s a teacher called Rachel Brathen, better known as yoga_girl who has nearly one million Instagram followers. She ran a workshop at our studios for 100 students and it sold out in two hours.”

Brathen is the woman who started the hashtag #yogaeverydamnday. Her pictures show a range of handstands on city skyscrapers and idyllic beach scenes — including one of her and her fiancé bent over each other in co-ordinating poses so that their lips meet in a kiss. One of her disciples tells me that although she knows there’s a commercial aspect, she doesn’t care. “If I’ve had an exhausting day at work and can’t be bothered to go to yoga class, I will flick through Instagram and these photos will inspire me and persuade me to go. It’s a sort of support network. Somehow seeing pictures of other people doing good things makes you want to do them too, and the hashtag challenge is part of this.”

Namaste to that. Now consider it carefully — who will you send the hashtag on to?