Upside, sideways and straight up twisted, yoga is often misconstrued in today’s social media landscape as mode of exercise for one type of body – if you aren’t doing the funky backbends or muscle-bearing handstands, your aren’t doing yoga.
As a certified yoga teacher with more than 300 hours of training, I often scroll through the Gram for inspo on yoga poses that might spark my students’ interest – “I want to do what XXX yogi influencer did.” However, I can undoubtedly report just like with many facets of social media, the online yoga world can often be a farce with misleading information, misguided instruction, and frankly, unsafe yoga poses.
As your resident certified yoga teacher AND Senior Social Media Strategist, I’m here to tell you yoga is for every body. It’s not limited to these Instagrammable photos or toned stereotypes that often are the face of this modern practice. In fact, I’m doing yoga right now as I’m sitting in my chair back-slouched (the irony), wearing athleisure (yay, permanent WFH), fully concentrating on what I’m doing in this present moment.
You might be asking “How is that yoga?” and “how is this relevant to PR?”
It’s all connected.
The word yoga is translated from Sanskrit as “union” or “yolk.” Connecting the mind, body, breath and spirit is doing yoga – when we come to realize our true nature and embrace our potential. It’s not just the yoga poses that were introduced to the West by yogi B.K.S. Iyengar, it’s how we focus on our breath and on the senses of now and how we trust in our personal role in the world.
As a yoga teacher, I often link being in the present moment with the action of doing yoga and say the words “just be” to my students. Though it’s natural to think about yesterday and tomorrow, observe your breath, be mindful of the moment and trust that the rest is exactly how it’s meant to be – just be.
When we look at our PR, social and digital campaigns, we can approach them as we would our yoga practices – we’re looking for union. What are the moving parts to any campaign or initiative? How can we connect the brand goals and initiatives with impactful and meaningful messaging to create brand awareness and drive reach? How can we encourage consumers to stop and be still with that messaging? How are they observing that message? As PR pros, are we relaying that message in a way that can authentically resonate with others?
Set an intention, have a purpose
I recently took a continuing education course with yogi Rachel Land who suggests yoga teachers take three main steps to creatively sequencing their yoga classes. When learning about her viewpoint, I quickly related her approach to the way we tackle PR, social and digital campaigns at our agency.
As yoga teachers, we should think of the students first and what would benefit them the most, same as we think of our clients. In all that we do, both in the PR and yoga worlds, we’re encouraged to set intentions– channel a single word or set of words, feelings or messages that carry throughout our practices; one that has a purpose and key takeaway(s) that we can bring beyond the yoga mat, or after we log offline for the day.
While you’ll have to take Rachel’s training yourself to uncover her full POV and tips/tricks on applications in yoga, I’ve shared below my takeaways on how it relates to us in the PR world:
Brainstorm – What is the theme for the campaign? Is there a target audience? Are there multiple target audiences? Is the goal overall awareness or a targeted message? Is that message appealing to the mind, body or spirit (or all three)?
Organize – Set a timeline for your campaign and leverage the ideas in your brainstorm to bring the campaign to life – how you envision executing it. Not all ideas in the brainstorm have to be utilized but are there for future reference or if you need a back-up plan. Strategically think of how you’ll execute the campaign in different stages (the warm-up, the build-up, the peak of the campaign and the slow down or sustained momentum).
Refine – once the brainstorm and an outline of campaign execution are complete, start to work through and refine ideas. Is the timeline actually realistic? Is that tactic the best way to implement and work towards the target? Are there ways to maximize the campaign (i.e., advertising, influencer amplification, etc.)? Are other team members needed for their expertise to enhance and elevate the plan?
It happens all too much in PR and is also something yoga teachers need to plan for as well: expect the unexpected. You might have planned an ideal campaign and, in the days leading up to launch a world event might occur that completely shifts everything. As PR professionals, we need to adapt and be flexible. Same goes for yoga teachers.
One might have a student come into a class who has an injury that is not amenable to the target muscle group you planned for the class that morning. Or the WiFi goes out and your playlist no longer works – yoga in silence it is. Or maybe as a teacher you forgot a few poses as part of a sequence and need to adjust the poses as you go based on the moment. Being able to go with the flow is critical for both roles and accepting that makes it easier to not only embrace the challenges but also flex our creative muscles.
Bring Yoga into Your Workday: Quick Yoga Tips
Get up and move! What’s stagnant physically in the body often is reciprocated in our mental state. Unblock energy pathways and let your Qi, or vital energy, flow. Whether quick chair yoga, a refill of H2O or a walk over to the couch to pet the dogs (again, yay WFH) – release the energy you’re creating for yourself throughout your workday.
Take a breath. Fully concentrate on the inhale and exhale, counting the breath in four parts (the inhale, the pause before the exhale, the exhale, and the pause before the inhale). Those who have done Meditation with Meg at Coyne know I often refer to the breath as an anchor – something to always keep you grounded, something you can always come back to when needed to re-center and recalibrate.
Mindful Meditation. Focus on what you are doing in the present moment (i.e., I’m typing an email, I’m doing research, etc.). Oftentimes, managing multiple clients, emails, media, influencers, etc. can be an overload of activity for your one and only noggin. Especially when you’re on the cusp of burnout. Write down your priorities, set them aside. Focus on what you are doing in the present moment and let the rest go. Know you have the capability to accomplish what you need to. Many times, its mind over matter.
And back to the original question: while writing this blog post I’m fully in the present – I’m doing yoga. And I can imagine, while you’re reading this, you may be doing yoga as well. Namaste.