From yoga selfies to grassroots community - the benefits and DANGERS of Facebook for Yoga teachers

Take a look at a typical yoga teacher's Facebook page – what are you likely to see? Perhaps the controversial 'yoga selfie' - a photo of the teacher wound into a knot, a pose that has taken years to master, against the backdrop of a beautiful foreign location. What kind of message is being communicated? Is the photo likely to come across as elitist, egocentric, or even off-putting to new students who have no hope getting into such a pose, or who might injure themselves trying? Or is it inspirational – something that shows us the beauty of the practice and the human body?

Surprisingly, I have received both answers from my students. But it raises the question, 'How are we using social media as Yoga professionals? What is our goal? What will be the likely consequences?'

For some teachers, Facebook is simply the means of publishing information about their classes to students – class dates, times and prices. At the other extreme, you have teachers who have created a 'personal brand' – an image of the perfect yoga lifestyle, sometimes combined with products and advertising. For me, both ignore something fundamental, and I want to propose a different model:

Yoga by the community for the community.

As a yoga teacher you surely have begun to develop a vision of what yoga is for, and hopefully a passion to share it with others. The challenge is to develop participation and interaction with your message, using social media as a means to connecting with others and growing a community from grassroots. Here are my guidelines:

- Create content of value, focused on your students' interests and needs. Do they want advice on a healthy lifestyle? Or perhaps instructions on how to brew that Kombucha you brought to class!

- Stimulate dialogue and discussion. Encourage people to comment and share their views, especially on controversial topics. Try polls and quizzes, and give feedback on peoples' answers.

- Regularly update your page so that people will return. Nothing is worse than a static page with poor design. Make it fresh and interesting!

- Provide diversity, from articles about health and nutrition, to guided videos and photos.

- Grow your page organically, sharing content in forums and blogs.

- Use paid advertising on Facebook (it's cheap!) to reach new users who will start to follow your page.

If you do it right, you can get people participating in your page and uploading their own content. You become the hub for community interaction. There is nothing to stop you using Facebook as a powerful platform for your own vision as a teacher. The question is, what are you communicating with that vision?

If you liked this article, why not check out our course for yoga interns and develop your own vision as a teacher. We provide a structured program in two studios to help new teachers gain teaching experience and learn valuable new skills: contact us for more information. Or sign up to our newsletter below for more articles as well as updates on our courses.

Facebook as a yoga teacher