If you’re on Instagram and practice yoga, it’s likely that you’re at least somewhat familiar with Instagram yoga challenges—where participants post a video or photo of themselves attempting a designated daily asana, tag the challenge sponsors and "hosts" (typically well-known Instagram yogis who demonstrate each day's asana while offering tips and encouragement), and connect with other participants via a common hashtag (usually the name of the challenge itself).
Maybe you've even thought of trying one yourself. Thanks to their current popularity, you have a lot to choose from! The website IGYogachallenges.com and its corresponding Instagram account, @IGYogachallenges, repost new challenges so that you can see a bunch of them in one place, making it easier to choose a yoga challenge for beginners that works for your level, interests, and desired time commitment.
Thanks to their current popularity, you have a lot of challenges to choose from!
This February was my first attempt at a challenge. I chose the #openyourheart challenge hosted by @hoopyogi. I didn’t know much about Instagram challenges going into it (as with most internet trends), so I tried to wind my way through the maze as I went. Here are a few helpful tips I picked up along the way:
1. Find a challenge with poses that are comfortable for you (but remember that it's okay to skip or modify a pose).
Once I decided to try an Instagram challenge, the first step was to find one with poses that I felt comfortable doing (and sharing). Some of the challenges that I came across included poses that were a little too advanced for me, so I didn't really consider them, even if they looked fun or interesting overall. In the beginning, I was hoping to do every single pose, but by the end, I only ended up doing eight out of 25 asanas. I realize now, though, that I could have just skipped the poses that I couldn’t do! Or I could have modified. Many challenge hosts even offer modifications or alternative options for poses that are especially difficult. And if not, you can always share a variation of your own on that day.
2. Take a screenshot.
After choosing a challenge, I took a screenshot of the pose schedule so that I could reference it every day. And I'm glad that I did. Were it not for my screen shot, I'm not sure how else I could have known what poses were coming up. (Note to challenge hosts: There really needs to be an easier way to find the challenge picture once the challenge has started!)
3. Like other people’s photos.
It was really encouraging to have others (both friends and people I didn't even know) like and comment on my challenge journey. Even the host of the challenge liked one of my pose photos! This positive reinforcement is one of the rewards of participating in a challenge. And the more you offer sincere, kind feedback and "hearts" to other Insta-yogis, the more you'll receive in return.
4. Download a camera timer app.
I like the idea of these challenges because they provide a digital platform for exploring asana and for sharing experiences and encouragement with practitioners from all over the world. What I found most impractical, however, was the difficulty of getting the picture itself! I had to get someone else to take the picture every time. It became very inorganic as I never got a picture of my actual yoga practice. It was more like, “Oh, it’s 8 p.m. and I still didn’t do my yoga challenge. Quick, can you take a picture of me in this pose? Thanks!” I've learned that using a camera timer app can make it a little easier to snap a pic solo. There'sa bunch of free versions available in the app store, and it's definitely something to consider if you don't feel like bugging a friend every day!
5. Snap and share your challenge photos on your own time schedule.
Honestly, a couple times I did more than one pose at a time and then just uploaded them on their designated days. (Anyone else with me on that?) And sometimes I forgot to upload the right ones on the assigned day! I've discovered that Instagram challenges are fun to follow when I think of it and have time, but the experience didn't really help me with my actual yoga practice. So, my advice is just have fun and don't worry if you're off schedule.
You can't fail at something that's just for fun!
All in all, I found my first Instagram challenge to be a lot of fun and a great success because, let's face it, you can't fail at something that's just for fun! If you've been hesitant to try a challenge, I say go for it! You might explore a new pose, make a new friend, or learn something about yourself in the process.