Off the Mat Yoga Popular

Remembering Your Roots

#ProgressNotPerfection. We all know this, yet many of us still accidentally fall into believing we need to be perfect.

I enjoy seeing #yogaprogress pictures on Instagram, along with #healthjourney, #fitnessjourney, and whatever other journey or progress people are doing. The beauty of social media is seeing others reveal their raw and authentic selves and how they’ve progressed throughout the days, months, and years, as opposed to just the fancy pictures. But of course, among those who are genuine and sincere are those who have forgotten where they came from.

What prompted me to write this piece is from a meme I saw a while back. It was a picture of a heavy-set man on a stair machine with the caption along the lines of, “You can’t make fun of someone who tries.” Most of the comments that I saw were positive, and of course there were some that were negative. I couldn’t help but think how often this happens: people who have “achieved” a certain fitness/health goal or “advanced” in their yoga practice suddenly think they are above and beyond all others who try to improve their lives.

I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes about two years ago. I created an Instagram page to initially document my daily food, exercise, and blood sugar readings. I connected with other people who have diabetes – prediabetes, type 1, type 1.5, type 2, gestational diabetes, young, old, fit, not fit, parents of children with diabetes – you name it. It was so awesome to connect with those who understand what is really going on with us physically, mentally, and emotionally. Eventually, I started participating in yoga challenges because I became consistent with my practice shortly after my diagnosis.

Both the online diabetes and online yoga community have been super supportive for the most part. It’s really exciting every time I got a positive comment or a helpful tip. And then there are those that leave me scratching my head, wondering who asked for their unsolicited opinions:

“Lol no one wants to listen to our [usually fad] diet tips, they just want to continue taking their medicine.”
“If people just stop being lazy, they’d be fit already.”
“All that exercise and dieting and they still look the same.”
“This method worked for me so if you just do it too, you’ll really lose the weight.”

Basically the overall hidden message is really: “I worked hard to get to where I am, but you’re not working hard enough because you’re not using my methods and you’re not where I’m at.”

I applaud hard work, I really do. I am inspired by people’s progress all the time. But once we reach a certain goal, who are we to look down on those who haven’t reach theirs yet? What gives us the right to all of a sudden create an “us versus them” when it comes to our personal journeys, whatever that may be? How do we just get amnesia and forget that once upon a time, we also struggled to get to where we are? And that while we were struggling, there were some people who were negative towards our journey…so why would we do the same to others? As yogis and non-yogis alike, I think this is where mindfulness would be really helpful. I encourage you all to think before giving unsolicited advice or opinion and ask yourself if the tip you’re giving is actually beneficial for that person. But most importantly, remember that you too, has struggled in one form or another, so just remember to have empathy and compassion to those who are still struggling with whatever journey they are pursuing.

Thoughts, Bad Yogis?

10 Comments

  1. Amanda

    Amanda

    June 22, 2016 at 1:03 pm

    This is so important. The negativity is so uncalled for…and, I believe, just an indication of the person’s own dissatisfaction with their life or situation. The best we can do is to keep being positive, keep showing support, and hope that someday those people will realize via our examples that the positive, uplifting life is a lot more fun. 🙂

    1. Donna May

      Donna May

      June 25, 2016 at 10:08 pm

      Yes! Agreed. I often get negative comments for my choice not to drink alcohol excessively or eat junk foods excessively…but hey, they say when you’re doing something good, prepared to be mocked!

  2. Avatar

    Shawn

    June 22, 2016 at 2:31 pm

    Very well said. I went from 324 pounds to 170 over the course of a few years. I keep that starting point firmly fixed in my mind so I never go back to it and so I can help other people along that same path. Thanks again!

    1. Donna May

      Donna May

      June 25, 2016 at 10:06 pm

      That. Is. Awesome!! Good job. It really does take some time to make changes – especially lifestyle changes. “Quick fix” never works for me.

  3. Megan Reddix

    Megan Reddix

    June 22, 2016 at 2:47 pm

    Well said! I actually just deleted my Instagram profile and removed Facebook from my phone because of the constant negativity that seems to go hand in hand with social media. I love the connections we can make online and to be inspired by the progress of others, but sometimes people don’t realize that their “helpful hints” are actually hurtful.

    1. Donna May

      Donna May

      June 25, 2016 at 10:05 pm

      I don’t know why I’m still on Facebook – it’s so unhealthy! Not to mention Facebook keeps adding new features that are just blatantly intrusive on everyone’s life. It sucks though because I have found a “support group” on Facebook for young adults with diabetes…where no one tries to sell us pills or diets and we can just express our frustration with our condition, or celebrate our progress.

      1. Megan Reddix

        Megan Reddix

        June 26, 2016 at 5:34 pm

        It is definitely challenging from moving away from social media. I loved the atmosphere of yogis supporting yogis on Instagram, but even with that beauty, there were still such strong elements of competition and negativity. Not to mention how offensive some posts can seem to be just because of poor word choice, even if there was no malicious intent. Its so unfortunate that something that could be so good, has proven to be so impossibly negative. I am so glad you found a support group to be connected with through Facebook! There is still hope!

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    Steph

    June 26, 2016 at 5:24 am

    This is really well said. I’ve seen those unsolicited ‘advices’ on others Twitter, FB, IG accounts and that’s why I’ve never posted anything too personal about my own journey to health. I’ve been living with fybromyalgia for more than a decade and been medicated for a good part of it. When I decided I wanted to find an alternative to the meds and started setting up healthy habits, I thought of documenting the journey but all the negativity from the judgmental so called helpful health experts online detered me before I could even start. Not sure if I’m hiding behind the fact that I’m a rather private person or if I’m just lacking in self-confidence. In any case, I applaud your courage doing it. I’m sure it’s helping a lot of others without going to them saying ‘why can’t you do what I do?’

    That said, I’ve realised it’s sometimes hard not to want to give those unsolicited advices and I find myself having to actively hold back a comment and tell myself ‘they didn’t ask you anything, they’re not you and it’s not your journey.’

    1. Donna May

      Donna May

      July 4, 2016 at 9:15 pm

      Steph, thank you for your insight! We’re definitely not perfect and will bound to slip and give unsolicited feedback ourselves. I like your approach – if they didn’t ask for advice, but to find another way to support them. <3

  5. Pála Margrét

    Pála Margrét

    October 10, 2016 at 4:31 pm

    I started my yoga journey pretty much in pain every single day – diagnosed with fibromylgia – and simply put it, on MY rock bottom. I started, but 10 minutes a day was more then enough for me. A year later I had made some progress, but still I sometimes had times where I showed up for yoga class and mostly just laid on the mat the whole time. I´m not saying that I´ve struggled more than other people, all people have their struggles, but I believe that this really shaped my yoga journey and how I am today (and how I will be as a yoga teacher). Some other people have always been active and fit and never had those physical problems (whereas their mental health will be more affected by yoga). I´m sure that truly affects how people look at the world of yoga, especially how they teach yoga, based on how they started their own journey: Fit and happy, in pain and sad, obese and losing hope… it all affects how we will see other yogis. I always say that yoga is for everyone, and I know it´s true, so the group of people that need more time to start, who just need 10 minutes a day, they are my people 🙂

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