The Academic Yogi and Instagram – My Truth on Authenticity

Happy Aloha Friday,

I recently shared with you that 95% of my time was spent catering to my academic career. Writing, researching, reading papers, reviewing papers, meeting with students (masters students I mentor, undergraduate students, and fellow PhD students). Aside from all of this and the massive amounts of time spent conducting research in the lab, there are other details that aren’t permitted to be shared on social media and typically require 30% of my time, overall. I’ve decided that rather than strictly keep my Instagram account professional yoga business details, I am going to make it real. Much more real. By extension that means all things social (Facebook, Blog, and Newsletter) will all be more real. In other words, my Instagram account represents all of the social media avenues through which I share myself with the world.

Figuratively speaking, I am taking back ownership of this account. I will share with you the real process of all things beyond the yoga mat, which is simply life really, and frankly much more juicy and interesting. I will still share yoga announcements, but I am finding these perfect little IG squares to be increasingly incongruent with my own life.

With every passing year of my PhD program, I’ve moved further away from this perfect little yogi, who lives her carefree life, as she frolics this beautiful island. Don’t get me wrong, I am enjoying the process (as best as a PhD student can), and I do love this island. However, in an effort to live my values, I feel the need to make a shift. I want to share a more authentic view of my life as I know it. A life in the present that looks very different than the life of three years ago. It is much more mature. It is much more scholarly. It is much more awesome.

Now, as I look at my feed, or where I’ve left it (I rarely post actual photos anymore), it has morphed into a stream of solely superficial shares. Partially, this was due to lack of time, but more likely it was reticence on my part to share the real struggle of life.

Recently, I realized that I felt totally detached from IG. I didn’t even enjoy popping in to see others photos. I was critiquing in my own mind what felt like inauthentic shares by others, yet, I look at my own shares and see that there is little representation of struggle or hardship. Additionally, what is present (mostly yoga) only comprises 5% of my life! I realized that the only way I would continue to use Instagram would be if I were willing to share an accurate representation of my own life.

When we are quick to judge others, it’s usually because we are also quick to judge ourselves.

So if you are reading this, and thinking, oh darn I just shared a non-deep post about an apple, you do you! My point is not that we should all strive for this vulnerability and be open to sharing, my point is that I was unknowingly uncomfortable by how my IG mirrored my own inability to effectively collide these two worlds (academics and yoga).

I am giving myself permission to share the details; because life is messy, hard, frustrating, but also beautiful, brilliant, and even spectacular in its mundaneness. I want to help my worlds collide and in doing so, share my process.

I want to add value. Be of service. Be a light. Be a teacher. Be a role model. And that starts with owning my own truth. It’s nothing radical or life changing, simply more real.

I no longer feel the same exhaustion of teaching thousands of yoga classes, I feel the brain the fatigue of staring at this computer. When I first became a yogi and IG was in its infancy, I was so raw and authentic in my sharing. Yoga opened my heart to a way of living that I had never experienced before and I was singing it from the rooftops, it was my own real life happiness and growth being depicted via these squares. I stopped this when the popularity of IG blew up, because it felt too vulnerable. And then I went back to school and I had a permanent excuse not to post! I told myself ‘I am a professional’ I can’t!

As you can see, with my stack of journal articles 5” thick, on most days I feel like my brain might spontaneously combust. Because I am pulled in so many directions, and this dichotomy of subjects/business was overwhelming me in its differences. I want to give 100% to each of the various hats I wear, as I know we all do. The reality is I am an academic and a yogi and a dog mom, navigating through real life struggles, and honestly ready to share this perspective. Spoiler alert, it is very difficult. But I hope to share some of my yogis tricks of the trade.

Writing the truth in my newsletter the other day - 95% of my time is spent on things other than simply yoga – I realized, it was no one’s fault for not realizing this but my own. It highlighted that I’ve only shared pieces of my life on this account with you, in a way that is wholly inaccurate.

Real talk – my academic life doesn’t care about my yoga business, and my yoga business doesn’t care that I teach and research at a University. I think my own inner frustrations at both sides not realizing this is ultimately what made me acknowledge that I have these two careers – side by side – but no one (other than my husband) knows about it!

I realized that I hold the key to making my own shift, to ameliorating problems, to living more authentically, to truly unlocking more happiness and growth.

In my teaching of yoga classes (see? I always have to specify if it’s academic or yoga teaching), I often share the struggles of academic life. But by no means do I share the nitty gritty, the daily grind, the sheer frustration (Why isn’t this analysis running? Ah there is a data entry error! Where is it? Not sure, let’s go through 1,000 files and find it.)! Likewise, in my academic life, I never fully share the role yoga plays in my life. Cue me sitting in a meeting thinking but not verbalizing, ‘well meditation would help calm the nervous system down.’ My IG account – as an extension of my life - will be that new living truth.

Writing the truth the other day also felt damn good. It was like a big exhale. Because, here is the thing, I do think these little squares can be of service. I do love the platform it offers: to share a window into our own world with a simple photo and the power of words. These little squares are extremely helpful resources and sources of community.

Anyways, thank you for reading this far. I definitely plan to continue to update you with all things yoga offerings (and there are plenty!), but I want to invite you to join me on this new journey that is much more a balance of teaching yoga and navigating my way through the world of biomechanical research. I want to invite you into my world as an female academic, who practices yoga off the mat and in her life. I already feel excited about this new chapter. Maybe I should run a biomechanical analysis of the alignment of handstands? That would be fun! Any volunteers? See? I am stoked!

Lastly, HUGE mahalo to my Goal Chasers Summer 2020 cohort for helping me realize my own potential. I am hearing my own voice more clearly, trying to practice being above the line, living my legacy, and focusing on my values. I am so grateful to these women for being a part of this program that I offer. I said on the first night of lecture, that I’ve opened this work again because I myself need to DIG IN to the heart of the matter and figure my sh*t out. As we progress through the series, I keep finding more clarity, more ah-ha moments, and more hell yesses.

With so much love and gratitude to you,

LM

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