I have always seen social media as an extended kula/community. Maybe that is polyanna-ish. Yes, I have always used it to market but I never saw it as simply a marketing tool. I use it to market because it is the easiest way to tell everyone I know about what I am doing. However, I don’t go around following people simply because they would be good to market to later.
I have enjoyed the friends I have made and have met a few in real life which is always a blast. It felt so good to have people around me in Mysore who I felt comfortable with simply because of our Face Book or Instagram relationship. I have also collaborated with people on social media and helped them to get their dreams off the floor which is rewarding.
I am a firm believer in sharing articles, from other writers, on my Facebook. Helping each other to grow, prosper and get information out is how we change the face of yoga.
I am getting to the point. Hold your horses LOL.
As you may have noticed, the algorithm for Face Book and Instagram has made many of your friend’s posts disappear while other posts are showing up repeatedly. You may be following 500 people but are seeing post from like 20. This is happening to me too. I decided to clean up my Instagram and Facebook so that I could increase the chance of seeing posts from my friends. It was a simple idea. I would just unfollow people who were not following me. In my mind, this would be profiles for like celebrities, beauty bloggers, restaurants, complete strangers and people I pissed off. Boy was I wrong and boy were my feelings hurt.
I started with Instagram this week. I have not done Face Book yet so if you are not following me and want to follow real quick, you have a day or two LOL.
You guys, I was so excited. I was over the moon about cleaning up my profile and increasing my chances of seeing posts from the Ashtanga community. I was excited to get to know new people that may have gotten pushed down and out of sight by Kanye West and Madonna. I downloaded an app, paid my 3 dollars to remove ads and for premium and opened that bad boy up.
Shock and awe. Feelings so hurt. The list not only included celebrities, hair gurus, and total strangers but people that I had actually helped and worked with in the past. People who have written articles for Ashtanga Yoga Project. People who I have promoted. People that I have sent customers to. People who I have helped fill up their workshops. People that I have gone out of my way to help and support. I am not talking about influencers or authorized teachers who I have never met before in my life. You can only follow so many people and they want to be able to interact with their friends and not have their feeds flooded either. I get that. I am not talking about Sharath or Sadhguru LOL. Not those types of people that are only on Social Media because that is what you do now a days. I am talking about people I have had interactions with. Yes, i know my Instagram name, wellness_yogini, is different from this name but these are people who know what I look like. It could totally also be me reading too deeply into it. It is definitely not the Self that is upset. The Self remains unaffected.
After I got over the initial shock, I had to admit, there were signs. Signs that the relationship was a business transaction. Again, though, I am a little polyanna-ish. I don’t treat humans as business transactions. I am interested in true connection. After I got over the shock, it felt good to watch the app delete those people and make room for those who really and truly wanted to connect.
The lower ego was like, “see, you need to treat this like a business. Get what you can from people. These people are not your friends. They don’t care about you. You betta get yours.” The higher ego said, “Wow, how empty would your life be if you saw everyone as a business transaction? Joy is in full involvement. Guarding your emotions also keeps out the good ones. It keeps out the true connections. ” I looked back at my life and thought about the people that I truly felt connected to and who were not interested in having that connection with me and how it made me feel. Did I want to make anyone feel that way? I thought to the connections that I made and that I loved and how wonderful they made me feel. Did I want to miss out on that? Then, I thought about what yoga is. The ultimate goal of yoga is the embodiment of connection. How far would I be moving away from that?
This is always an important question to ask when you are in your feelings and you are tempted to act on it. “Will this action take me towards what I want in my life or away from it?”
The excitement of meeting new people is starting to come back. This will be a totally new adventure. I am unfollowing some pretty big names here. Like the types of names that pop up when many people say the word, “ashtanga.” It is freeing to me. Not that I am a great teacher or ever will be, but I am reminded of people like Jesus whose work was with surprising members of the population. Jesus went around healing lepers and prostitutes. He was baptized by John the Baptist who was seen as a crazy fringe teacher. He was a Jew and they were not down with what he was teaching at the time. He went on to do amazing things. He connected with people that the elite members of his community thought were not worth connecting with. He connected with the people who were open to receiving. It didn’t matter if they were seen as the lowest of the low. Didn’t matter that they were not influencers.
Jesus was constantly telling people, that he healed, go and tell no one. I wonder if Jesus would even have had an Instagram account lol. I suspect he wouldn’t need one. He existed way before social media and his story lives on to this day. His ability to connect hearts still lives on. I wonder how long our stories will live on? Are we connecting on a level deep enough to warrant it? Is our connection superficial and soon to be forgotten a few years after we disconnect from social media? Will today’s top Ashtangi books be on the bargain table at Books A Million in a few years or or will they be like the Yoga Sutras or the Bible, something that people pick up for inspiration hundreds of years later?
Not that a yogi cares about that. The point is, is it popularity, or connection? Do we know the difference? Perhaps, you are a teacher and you have had this wake up call. Your classes are packed. People love you. You move to another yoga studio about 15 minutes away and very few of those students continue to study with you. You are easily replaced by another teacher at your old studio who doesn’t have half the experience you have. That is popularity. Sharath often talks about how he knows that, a lot of the people who are coming to practice with him, are not interested in learning Ashtanga. They are there because it is the popular thing to do and to get authorization. He understands that the crowd is not there for him.
Jesus also knew that the crowd was not there for him. It still did not keep him from being sad in the garden of Gethsemane right before he knew he was about to die. In Matthew 26, Jesus asked a couple of his disciples to stay with him in the garden because he was sad. Then he went to pray and asked God to please not make him have to die. He even asked why was God forsaking him. Before he died, the crowd and influencers had one more opportunity to aid him. They could pardon either Jesus the healer or Barabbas the murderer and they chose Barabbas. Barabbas wasn’t going to threaten their way of life. He was not going to make them feel uncomfortable or question their beliefs. Jesus was and “ain’t nobody got time for that”. The crowd crucified him. The crowd was not there for him.
Thank goodness Jesus wasn’t looking for the crowd’s approval. Think if he would have sold himself out for them and still gotten crucified? What if his message had not gotten out? At the end, one of his disciples even turned on him. At least he died knowing that he lived according to the calling of his soul.
I will say this and wrap this long winded thing up. I have sold myself out many a time and it is never worth it. That is one of the biggest lies every told. That if you give people what they want, that you will eventually be able to get what you want. Bullshit. You just wake up doing things you never wanted to do and being a person you never wanted to be. Your body may not be crucified but your heart is. Yoga goes through the heart and into the soul. If your heart is shut down or blocked off, the yoga cannot work on a deep level. The light of yoga will not penetrate into you. The word “sri” can be translated as, “the light that touches all hearts.” That is what I am after, not just for me, but for the whole world.
Shanna Small has been practicing Ashtanga Yoga and studying the Yoga Sutras since 2001. She has studied in Mysore with Sharath Jois and is the Director of AYS Charlotte, a school for traditional Ashtanga in Charlotte NC. She has written for Yoga International and the Ashtanga Dispatch. Go here for more information on AYS Charlotte. For information on workshops, please e-mail email@example.com.