yoga teachers

I've Got a Beef with Instagram Yoga Challenges

I’m a little bit fired up. Well, maybe more than a little bit. Over the past year or so that I’ve been on Instagram, I’ve seen many unsafe, even dangerous, Yoga Challenges. But this week I saw the Challenge that broke this Yogi’s back (figuratively, of course). What is an Instagram Challenge? If you’re new to Instagram, you may not know what a Yoga Challenge is. Allow me to explain. One or more Yogis (typically, but not necessarily, Yoga teachers), and usually one or more corporate or small business sponsors, get together and plan out a calendar of one Yoga pose per day. They announce the Challenge and then every day the Yogis post a picture or video of themselves doing the pose of the day.

All the Yogis (let’s call them Challenge Leaders) encourage all of their own followers to do the Challenge with them and incent them to post pictures of themselves doing the poses by gifting the sponsor’s donated merchandise to a few lucky winners at the end of the Challenge. And they ask their followers to hashtag everyone involved, in order to increase visibility and their numbers of followers. But this isn’t what I’m fired up about.

The reason that I’m fired up is that 9.9 times out of 10, these Challenges are way too challenging for the average Yogi, and straight up dangerous for a beginner who’s trying to learn Yoga through these Instagram Challenges (which is very often the case).

Risky vs Safe

Yoga Teachers Teaching Dangerous and Risky Poses The Challenge Leaders by and large are teaching fancy, upside down, handstanding/arm standing/finger standing, back bending, contortionist-type Yoga poses (because these make cool photos that draw people’s attention), and their followers are trying to replicate these risky poses.

The inherent problem with Instagram Yoga Challenges is that the average Instagram Yogi is not physically prepared to do these kinds of Yoga poses. They may lack the body awareness, core strength, arm strength, and/or flexibility to do the pose safely.

But often the Challenges are called “Beginner” Challenges, and usually they are hosted by a big name, popular Yoga teacher, who *appears* to be an expert on Yoga (because they post high quality photos of themselves doing fancy Yoga poses while wearing cool Yoga gear), and the Challenges are sponsored by a company with high value merchandise, so people follow.

Non-Yoga Teachers Teaching Injurious Misalignment Making matters worse, now non-teachers who have big Instagram followings have attracted sponsors and are leading their own Challenges and “teaching” Yoga. They are not trained Yoga teachers and do not know how to teach Yoga safely, yet they are demonstrating and teaching advanced Yoga poses to hundreds or even thousands of online followers.

Often non-teacher Challenge Leaders “teach” risky poses and bad alignment, a dangerous combination which can easily cause injury to a person who doesn’t know better. I cringe at the misalignments of the neck, shoulders, spine, and especially low back.

Challenge Followers Propagate the Cycle Sadly, and dangerously, the thousands of Instagram Challenge Followers are propagating the cycle. When they post their hashtagged photos, their own followers see them, become intrigued, start following the Challenge Leaders, and a whole new crop of Yoga Challenge Followers is born.

Risks of Learning Yoga Through Social Media To give you an idea of the kind of risk we’re talking about, let’s consider one popular type of Challenge Yoga pose: the backbend. A Backbend is any sort of pose in which the practitioner bends their back - they could be standing on their feet, on their hands, on their hands and feet, or even balanced atop another person.

When it comes to backbends and social media, people seem to think “the bigger, the better.” And that is so not the case. Sometimes a teeny tiny backbend is more than enough work for a person’s body because it’s critical to make sure one’s core is strong enough to support their low back in a backbend. When we see a person in a handstand, touching their toes, or worse, their butt, to their head, it’s important to know that this kind of pose is not safe or even appropriate for every body.

It takes a specific anatomical structure, the right training, and years of experience to even think about getting into a pose like that. And more often than not, a person’s body is not even meant to make that kind of shape.

Regardless, when it comes to “advanced”, risky poses, it’s best to practice under the careful guidance of a skilled instructor. And you simply cannot get that kind of instruction from a photo or a 15 second video and a short written description.

Lack of Accountability No one is going to come back to an Instagram Challenge Leader and say, “Hey, I did your Challenge and I got hurt!” Usually the person would assume it was their own fault for not being strong enough, practiced enough, skilled enough, etc. It wouldn’t even occur to them that the Challenge Leader was being negligent by encouraging their Followers to practice risky poses on their own without supervision and without having any knowledge of their health or fitness level.

There is no accountability. It would be pretty difficult to successfully sue a person for providing bad Yoga instruction on their Instagram page.

I have started to unfollow Yogis on Instagram who are leading or participating in this type of risky and dangerous Challenge. As a Yoga teacher whose teaching philosophy is customizing the Yoga practice to be safe and beneficial for each of my students, it really stresses me out to know that people are leading and participating in these Challenges and very likely getting hurt.

Call to Action But rather than just bury my head in the sand, I’m going to do something about it, in my own small way. And I hope you will join me.

Next month I’ll launch my own Instagram Yoga Challenge, the #yogaforeverybody #yogachallenge, with the help of my friend and our Director of Teacher Training, Emily Loupe, and my friend and our Director of Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training, Stacy Wooster. We’d love if you’d follow along on Facebook or Instagram.

This Challenge is not about fancy yoga poses, increasing our number of followers, or gaining sponsors. It is about practical yoga poses that are appropriate, safe, and beneficial for EveryBody. Yoga that will help you manage your stress, reduce your aches and pains, and increase your ease and energy. It won’t be flashy, but it will be awesome, and it will provide you tools that you can use in your real life.

Here’s how it will work. Every day Emily, Stacy, and I will post a photo or video showing our own versions of the pose of the day. In the comments, Emily and I will include several options and modifications so that you can find a version that works for your body, and Stacy will demonstrate and comment about how to do the pose safely during pregnancy.

We’ll do some popular poses like down dog and triangle, we’ll do some restorative poses that will be beneficial when you’re tired or sick or achy, and we’ll do some chair poses for when you have no choice but to sit (like at work).

We’d love if you join us - you can follow along on our Facebook page, our Instagram channel, Emily’s Instagram channel, and/or Stacy’s Instagram channel.

You’re welcome to post your photos of your own version of the pose of the day (if you do, please tag and hashtag so that we can follow you and provide additional guidance to you if you have any questions about the poses), but you absolutely don’t have to.

We do encourage you to actually *try* the poses (rather than just read about them) so that you can experience them in your own body and figure out which poses feel most beneficial to you. You can even take notes about the poses if you’d like so that by the end of the month you create your own customized guide for your home Yoga practice.

I’d love to hear your thought about all of this! Please feel welcome to comment or email me, and I look forward to seeing you online in August.


XO, Zelinda

Meet the Teachers

This is week 2 of our 3 week blog series all about therapeutic yoga. Last week I told you what therapeutic yoga is and who it's good for. This week I'm introducing our therapeutics-inspired teachers and sharing an overview of their styles and specialties, and next week we'll award a $100 gift certificate to the winner of our Yoga Success Stories contest. There's still time to register for the contest - just submit the story of your yoga win via email, a comment on our blog, a comment on our Facebook page, or drop us a note at the front desk in the studio. You can submit any kind of win at all, any improvement you've experienced in your life or body since you started practicing yoga.

So let's get into this week's topic! Every teacher at The Yoga Room has had extensive training, lots of teaching experience, and is warm, welcoming, and kind, but since we're in the middle of our Blog Series on therapeutic yoga, I wanted to make sure to introduce our therapeutics-focused teachers and their areas of expertise.


Angela2Angela has been teaching at The Yoga Room pretty much since the time we opened. She is a sweet and fun lady who loves learning and teaching about breathing and anatomy. Angela's therapeutic classes include Gentle Yoga and Chair Yoga. She teaches Gentle throughout the week and Chair Yoga on Thursdays at 10:30 a.m.  In addition, she also offers private lessons for

            • Improving breathing
            • Recovering from joint or back injury or surgery
            • Reducing joint or back pain

Here's a video we recorded in Angela's Chair Yoga class this morning. It gives you an idea of what a Chair Yoga class looks like. The poses shown in the video are all sitting poses, but often Angela teaches standing poses that use the chair as a prop or for balance.

Chair Yoga is great for people of all ages and conditions. If you have challenges with balance, if you don't enjoy sitting down on the floor, if your energy level is low, or if your body is really tight, Chair Yoga is an excellent choice for you.










To learn more about Angela, click here.


Vanessa has been teaching at The Yoga Room for a couple of years now. She is our expert on Yoga for Fibromyalgia because in addition to being trained as a yoga teacher, she has done a lot of research and used yoga to successfully manage the symptoms of her own Fibromyalgia and other chronic pain conditions. You can read more about Vanessa on her bio page. In addition, she offers private lessons for

            • Managing chronic pain (arthritis, fibromyalgia, lupus, etc.)

In this video Vanessa and I discuss her new Yoga for Pain Management class that she offers on Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. on an on-going basis and her upcoming six-week Yoga for Fibromyalgia series that will be Mondays from 7:30 - 9:00 p.m. starting August 18th.










To learn more about Vanessa, click here.



Stacy Like Angela, Stacy has been teaching at The Yoga Room since the beginning. Stacy is a very calm and peaceful lady and her teaching style is gentle and soothing. In addition to being a yoga teacher, Stacy is a massage therapist, doula, and herbalist. She has a great depth of knowledge when it comes to pregnancy and how to keep a woman's body healthy and easeful during the childbearing year.

Stacy teaches weekly prenatal yoga classes and has two unique workshops coming up... Birthing with Massage & Yoga is a comprehensive 3 hour training for couples who are interested in using the principles of massage and yoga for a peaceful childbirth. And Conscious Conception is a 6 week series that focuses on improving fertility with yoga. This series begins in September. In addition, she also teaches private lessons for

            • Easing common discomforts of pregnancy
            • Preparing for childbirth
            • Recovery from childbirth
            • Recovery from joint or back injury or surgery
            • Reducing joint or back pain
            • Yoga for Breast Cancer Recovery

In this video, Stacy and I talk about her upcoming workshops and what inspires her as a yoga teacher.










To learn more about Stacy, click here.


kali 2

Kali is one of the newer additions to our teaching staff because she recently relocated to the Austin area. She left her job in Corporate America to focus on teaching yoga and wellness full time. Kali teaches therapeutic Gentle Yoga classes and Yoga for Multiple Sclerosis. In addition, she offers private lessons for

            • Emotional eating issues (binging, overeating, and chronic dieting)
            • Yoga for Depression & Anxiety
            • Yoga for PTSD




ZelindaMy teaching style is very much influenced by the yoga lessons I received at the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram in Chennai, India. At the Krishnamacharya School they only offer private, therapeutic sessions, and my experience there became a huge influence in my style of teaching.

I teach mostly Gentle Yoga and Yoga for Multiple Sclerosis. I sometimes sub for Stacy and Angela in their Prenatal and Chair Yoga classes.

Our small class sizes allow me to check in with each student at the start of the class to get an update on how they're doing and what they're working with in their body. I design the practice to provide the maximum benefit for the people in attendance. I love this customized style of teaching.

I find private lessons to be an even more customized version of my classes, where I can really dial in and create a personalized practice that will provide the maximum benefit for a single person. I teach private lessons for

                • Recovery from joint or back injury or surgery
                • Reducing joint or back pain
                • Mental health issues (ADHD, Autism), especially for children and adolescents
                • Yoga for Multiple Sclerosis
                • Yoga for Cancer Recovery

If you're interested in more information about me, you can find it here.

Yoga for EveryBody

My intention with this long post is to really put it out there that Yoga for EveryBody is more than just our tagline. Yoga really is for every body.

I'd like to let the people of Round Rock and the surrounding areas to know that yoga can help them with whatever is going on in their bodies. Back pain, neck pain, hip pain, and shoulder pain are especially common issues that we work with every day in our Gentle and therapeutic classes.

The Yoga Room is an incredibly welcoming and friendly environment with a lovely community of yogis and our teachers LOVE to help people feel more easeful in their bodies. I invite you to come visit us soon and often, and please tell your friends and family about us! Zelinda Lots of love, Zelinda