I am a yoga teacher by trade, teaching before this “look at me” generation really got a foothold.
When I first started teaching, having a website was some serious forward thinking. There was no Facebook, no Instagram, no snappy chatty, crowdsourcing, no five minute updates on everyone’s last meal.
It was a simpler time
Makes me sound really old saying that, but it’s true. For many years my more tech savvy friends baited me into FB and IG , luring me in with promises of fame and fortune in the form of likes and comments.
I fought, they won.
Facebook came first; I called it the “marriage crusher.” There was too much access to too many people’s’ everyday lives. It was to easy to get lost in a sea of constant comparisons, FOMO, perpetual judgments of self and others, sharing of every moment, too much, too soon, too often. Privacy became a luxury for the greatest generation. Everyone else knew everything about everyone, 24/7/365.
Then came Instagram and the race for followers began. I was too late to the gate, still attempting to rage against the machine. And yet, social media had finally – unfortunately – staked out a foothold in my life.
On the upside, it was an effective way to keep in touch with my students near and far. To keep them aware of what I was up to, when I was up to it. Unfortunately these outlets also had a dark side. They were a nest for hungry chicks, chicks that were never satisfied. The more they ate, the more they wanted.
Why? Because collecting likes and followers can become a drug that drains you of energy, effort and creativity. Putting yourself out there – all day, every day.
I began to get sucked in. Every day I needed a new perfect picture that made me feel and look young, beautiful and fit. I pined over my comrades pages, comparing and contrasting, and usually to my own dismay. Hating myself for not getting enough likes. “WTF I didn’t get any new followers?!?!”
Day after day, months, years. Sucking, sucking, and more sucking.
It sucked a lot.
Honestly I don’t know how the light bulb finally went off.
I think I just asked myself if I really wanted what this could potentially bring to me if I put enough time and effort in.
Did I want to be a fitness model? NO.
Did I want to have my ass up in the air, breaking my back to get attention from people I never even met? NO.
So why did I do this to myself? Why did I force myself to put so much energy into something I really didn’t want?
I guess the easy answer was “all the cool kids are doing it.” Sounds juvenile, I know. But I guess I didn’t want be be left out.
And yet, what was I being left out of?! I’m not even sure. Honestly, I got a lot of wonderful feedback and encouragement regarding my posts (the writing aspect). That kept me involved on a different level. But the shameless plugging of my asana practice, it wasn’t doing anything good for me.
I felt like shit all the time. I felt “less than” others – inferior to my 20-something counterparts. It was a constant reminder that I was not THAT. It made me think that I needed to be THAT, Do THAT, show THAT, represent THAT.
Actually I don’t.
So I stopped giving a shit. I stopped looking, perusing, comparing, and competing.
I shut down the constant influx of stimulus that made me feel like shit. This included, FB, IG and the news (the news these days makes me feel like shit on a different level).
Now when I feel the urge to say something, I do.
When I feel like I want to show a picture or tell my people what I’m up to, I do.
When I don’t feel like it, I don’t.
I no longer force myself to take pictures for the purpose of creating a false image for myself, or make someone else feel like shit because of my projection. Even worse yet, luring someone to want me for something I’m not willing to give. Every day I have to pull myself out of the competitive ocean of Instagram Yoga.
Every morning I post – and I drop the mic.
Maybe I’ll flip through IG for a few minutes while my shower gets hot, but that’s it. It’s not because I’m not interested I what my peers are putting out there.
I just know that allowing myself to get sucked into the dangerous world of social media does not make me feel good. It’s like drinking too much – at some point you will feel like shit.
So I don’t.
Honestly I feel a lot better.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s WORK not giving a shit. I have to stop myself everyday, like a drunk looking at a bottle. I need to consciously put it down, put it away.
It’s a process of letting go, and letting go is hard. So now when my friends ask me,“Oh my god did you see what so and so posted?!?!?”
I say “No. I didn’t. And I don’t give a shit.”
Vanessa Van Noy has been teaching in the NY metro area for nearly 15 years. She has worked with pro and collegiate athletes , people with physical limitations, and everyone in between. She specializes in creating practices that are fluid, functional and fun. She encourages humor & compassion, perseverance & perception , love & laughter. Her training as a Certified Thai Yoga Massage Therapist allows her to be very hands on in her classes, using touch as a way to deepen a posture or just show a little love.
Vanessa’s classes are always a little bit different from the last. With music that motivates the body and lifts the spirit. Her class environment is conducive to laughing one moment, or discovering your true inner-self the next. It is always a flowing style, intelligently formulated to move toward some fabulous postures with comfort and ease. She will sprinkle some breath work, sometimes some Kundalini, being mindful of alignment and modifications to keep everyone safe while digging deep. Vanessa travels teaching workshops and retreats nationally, and world-wide. She also was selected for the Wanderlust festival in 2015.
Vanessa is the founder of “Headstands for Hunger “a annual yoga-based community event that feeds hungry people and homeless pets in Monmouth County NJ. Taking yoga off the mat is where its really at.
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