Just yesterday, I came across one particular post another day titled “About Time: We Stopped the Yoga Selfies“, and to be honest, it is a really thought provoking piece. I have always been participating/hosting yoga challenges on Tumblr and Instagram, and the post really made me reevaluate how I approach daily yoga challenges and what I want out of it.

There has always been debate about whether yoga selfies take away the philosophy of yoga and the key teaching underpinning yoga. Ultimately, I really think that it depends on individual and what you make out of the yoga challenges. It can be a way to improve yourself and inspire your own practice, but it can also demean the purpose of such challenges when you treat it as a form of competition and as a way to feed your own ego. As the article very aptly puts it, yoga is about removing the ego from our practice and even daily lives, and sometimes yoga selfies can feed that very same ego that yoga is supposed to remove.

I have hosted quite a number of yoga challenges on tumblr (#sassyyogachallenge, #AugustYogaJam, #joytotheyogis, #lovingyogis, #blossomingyogis, #AprilIntentions, #popupyogis), and have taken part in quite a few Instagram challenges as well. As some of you guys may know, I am in the midst of #summersplits2014 hosted by @kinoyoga and @beachyogagirl, and I have been having so much fun with the challenge. <:

So, I decided to share some of the reasons why I enjoy yoga challenges, and why I will still continue to participate/host such challenges:

1. Yoga challenges inspire my own yoga practice
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One of the poses for #decbendychallenge2013 with @beachyogagirl!

Looking at all the fellow yogis taking part in the challenge and getting a glimpse of their practice is nothing short of inspiring, and sometimes when I see more advanced practitioners rocking their poses, they definitely give me something to work towards to. Especially when I don’t have many friends in real life who practices yoga, their practice keeps me motivated and inspired to work towards these poses.

2. It cultivates a daily practice

Yoga challenges help me practice daily, even when I don’t take photos of these poses all the time. They provide a guide for me to base my practice on. Some of these poses can be peak poses for my daily practice, and some poses can be incorporated into my warm-up routine. Sometimes, these poses may not be one that I practice often, but that gives me something new to work with and keeps my practice fresh and interesting. I think it’s a great way to start with having a regular home practice especially if you don’t have access to a yoga studio.

3. It helps me track my progress and celebrate little victories
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Compass pose between November 2013 (left) to March 2014 (right)

Because of these yoga challenges, I get to keep many photos of myself in yoga poses, and sometimes I would stumble upon two dancer’s pose taken a few months apart, and there is almost nothing more encouraging than seeing yourself improve in these poses even though you may not feel that you have. These yoga photos help me to track my own progress and I always look at them whenever I feel discouraged in my practice, to remind myself that I am constantly progressing even though I may not feel so sometimes.

4. It helps me check and correct my form

Yoga challenges also help me to check my form that I may normally not pay attention to or may not realise. Sometimes I may not realise my back is curved in a forward fold, or if my back leg is straight during a crescent lunge. So, taking yoga photos is like looking at myself in the mirror – it helps to check my form but at the same time still focus on my yoga practice. And there are many occasions where I was able to make adjustments to my form thanks to these photos.

5. Yoga challenges make my practice a lot more introspective

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I take part and have hosted many different yoga challenges, and one of the most memorable yoga challenges I have hosted would be #AprilIntentions with 5 other lovely ladies. It really inculcated the habit of setting intentions for our daily yoga practice, and allowed me to be constantly grateful for the good things in life, work on my insecurities, and made my yoga practice a lot more meaningful than simply physical movements. This would be something that I would not normally do without such a yoga challenge. Therefore, yoga challenges can help to deepen your practice, if you keep an open mind to learn from other yogis.

6. Yoga challenges allow me to get to know new friends from around the world!
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One of the many posts from the #popupyogis challenge last month!

Participating in and hosting yoga challenges on Instagram and Tumblr has allowed me to make so many friends around the world, whose yoga practice inspire me daily. I think the yoga community on Instagram and Tumblr has grown tremendously, and sometimes I simply love scrolling through all these yoga posts and have a glimpse of their yoga practice. No matter whether they are beginner or advanced yogis, I always get so inspired by all these yoga poses, and it really deepened my love for yoga.

7. It allows me to step out of my comfort zone

Not all poses in these yoga challenges are accessible to me. Sometimes some poses are pretty advanced and is something that I have never tried before. But that also means that I get to try out new poses and see where it takes me. Stepping out of my comfort zone in yoga would make way for greater improvement. That’s why I like yoga challenges so much, it allows me to understand the limitations of my body better and work towards improving them.

8. It makes yoga more accessible to everyone

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I always believe that yoga challenges allow yoga to be more accessible to everyone, because now everyone can practice yoga in the comfort of their own home without having to go to a yoga studio. It also allows beginner yogis to learn more about different asanas every day without it being too daunting. For those who may be self-conscious and afraid about going to a yoga studio, beginner yoga challenges can be a great way to get acquainted with yoga because of the accessibility of information. 1 asana a day is also something that is very manageable for those who are just starting out on yoga!

9. It inspires people to get on the mat

Because of point 8 above, yoga challenges have inspired many people to start yoga and get on the mat. I have received several messages from various yogis, who shared that they were inspired by the various yoga challenges that they have seen and that was what first got them on to the mat. Daily challenges on social media can help to demystify yoga and make yoga a lot less daunting, especially since yoga has always been perceived as an exclusive club to enter, which is totally not the reality. This is why I always thought that yoga challenges are ideal to get someone started on yoga.

10. It provides a pictorial documentation to my yoga journey
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#Yogratitude last September!

Last but definitely not least, yoga challenges and taking yoga photos have helped me document my yoga journey, which I’m sure will be something that I will cherish a lot in the years to come. Sometimes I look at my old yoga photos and it’s uplifting to see how much I have progressed in my practice both physically (strength, flexibility) and spiritually. It also allowed me to see clearly the wonderful changes and positive influence that yoga has in my life, and that is something that has grounded my yoga practice immensely.

As I’ve said, every person’s motivation to take part in yoga challenges is very different, but to me, what’s most important is what you make out of your own practice. After all, it’s your own practice, not someone else’s. Yoga challenges can only impact your yoga practice as profoundly as you allow it to be. Having an open mind to these yoga challenges and being reflective of your own yoga practice would help immensely if you’re looking to deepen your yoga practice.

Do you take part in yoga challenges? What makes you continuously take part in these challenges? Share them with me below!

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