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4 Common Postural Patterns That Cause Yoga Injuries



Plus, how to fix each to stay safe when you practice.

Posture and injury are closely connected. Here are four common postural habits that have the potential to cause yoga injuries, plus the simple fixes that can help keep you safe.

Recent research suggests that yoga injuries are on the rise, but even the most devoted students among us practice for a mere fraction of the day. What we do the rest of the time—our posture and movement habits—has a far greater impact on our joints, muscles and fascia than our yoga practice.

So, while yoga might get the blame, sometimes a yoga pose is simply the straw that breaks the camel’s back, highlighting long-standing biomechanical imbalances created in our lives off the yoga mat.

Here are four common postural patterns to look out for, the poses or practices where they might set us up for increased injury risk, and some tips on how to re-create balance in the affected area.

See also Inside My Injury: A Yoga Teacher’s Journey from Pain to Depression to Healing

Postural Pattern No. 1: Upper Cross Syndrome and biceps tendonitis.

Ever felt a nagging ache at the front of the head of your shoulder after a few too many sun salutations? This could be related to a common postural habit known as upper cross syndrome.

The Anatomy:

Many of our daily activities, including driving and typing, involve our arms working in front of our body. This pattern tends to shorten and tighten our anterior shoulder and chest muscles (including pectoralis major and minor plus anterior deltoid) while weakening our posterior shoulder and mid back muscles (including the rhomboids, middle trapezius and infraspinatus). This imbalance pulls the head of the humerus forward in its socket.

When we take this altered position into weight-bearing poses, especially when our elbows are bent and gravity adds to the forward pull on the shoulders, we tend to lay on the biceps tendon (the tendon of the long head of biceps brachii) over the front of our shoulder joint. With repetition, the extra load on the tendon could create irritation and inflammation, leading to a niggling pain on the front of our shoulder.

Due to its repetition in yoga classes, Four-Limbed Staff Pose (Chaturanga Dandasana) is the most obvious pose to be aware of. Bent elbow arm balances can also be an issue, including Crow Pose (Bakasana), Eight-Angle Pose (Astravakrasana) and Grasshopper or Dragonfly Pose (Maksikanagasana). Even Side Plank (Vasisthasana) can irritate the biceps tendon if we allow the head of our weight-bearing shoulder to displace forward toward our chest.

See also Yoga Anatomy: What You Need to Know About the Shoulder Girdle

How to reduce shoulder injury risk:

Humble Warrior arms in Warrior 1 Pose

• Soften chronic tension in your chest and anterior shoulders by incorporating both active and passive stretches for these muscles, such as humble warrior arms, reverse prayer position, or lying supine with arms out in a T-shape or cactus position (perhaps even with a rolled blanket or mat under your spine to create extra lift for your chest).

Reverse prayer position in Horse Pose

• Awaken your posterior shoulder muscles by utilizing arm positions that require active shoulder retraction or external rotation, such locust pose with T arm or cactus arm variations.

Chaturanga Dandasana

• Develop a more central weight-bearing position for the head of your shoulder in Chaturanga Dandasana by broadening your collarbones and turning your sternum forward. This position will be much easier to maintain if you stay higher in the pose, keeping your shoulders above elbow height. You might also consider skipping Chaturanga at times to build more variety into your yoga practice.

Postural Pattern No. 2: Lower Cross Syndrome and hamstring tendonitis

Another common yoga injury is pain in the proximal tendon of the hamstrings, where they attach to the sit bones at the base of the pelvis. This appears as a nagging, pulling pain just below the sit bones that often feels worse after stretching or sitting for long periods.

The Anatomy:

Most of us spend hours of each day sitting, and our soft tissues adjust to this habit. One such adjustment is the common muscular pattern called lower cross syndrome, where the hip flexors on the front of the pelvis and thighs (including the iliopsoas and rectus femoris) tend to become tight and the hip extensors on the back of the pelvis and thighs (including gluteus maximus and the hamstrings) tend to weaken, tilting the pelvis forward.

In yoga we often exacerbate this pattern by stretching our hamstrings far more often than we strengthen them. Over-stretching these weak muscles has the potential to irritate their tendinous attachment to the sit bones. The position of these tendons underneath the base of the pelvis also means that they are compressed every time we sit, potentially reducing their blood flow and making them slower to heal.

Every time we flex our hips, especially with straight legs, we lengthen the hamstrings. This makes the list of yoga poses to be aware a long one, including standing forward bends, seated forward bends, Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose (Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana), Pyramid Pose (Parsvottanasana), Splits (Hanumanasana), Standing Splits (Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana), Head to Knee Pose (Janu Sirsasana), Supine Hand to Big Toe Pose (Supta Padangusthasana), Downward Facing Dog, and others.

See also Get to Know Your Hamstrings: Why Both Strength & Length Are Essential

How to reduce your hamstring injury risk:

• Focus any hamstring stretches on the belly of the muscle. If you feel a stretch tugging on your sit bones when you stretch, move away from that sensation immediately by bending your knees or backing out of your full range of motion.

Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)

• Work on strengthening your hamstrings as often as you stretch them. Incorporate Locust Pose (Salabhasana) and Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana) variations into your practice more often. You could also try stepping your feet a few inches further away from your torso in bridge pose to highlight hamstring contraction instead of glute contraction. Finally, keeping your hips square to the mat when you lift a leg behind you in Downward Facing Dog and the kneeling Balance Bird Dog Pose will highlight hamstring (and gluteus maximus) contraction.

Balance Bird Dog Pose

Postural Pattern No. 3: posterior pelvic tilt and lumbar disc injuries

If you’ve ever had a lumbar disc rupture or protrusion—or been one of the 80% of adults that have experienced any kind of low back pain—you’ll remember how vividly aware you became of the movements and positions that put pressure on your spine, and how many of those appeared in the average class.

The Anatomy:

Our column of vertebra is connected by two moveable facet joints at the back of the spine and are sandwiched together by intervertebral discs at the front of the spine. When we lean back or take the spine into extension (a backbend), we load the facet joints; when we lean forward or flex the spine (into a forward curl) we load to the discs. If we fold more deeply forward, add weight by reaching with our arms, add sheering force by twisting the spine, or alter our pelvic position by sitting, we significantly increase the load on our discs.

Not all of us experience Lower Cross Syndrome; for some, slouching in our seat creates the opposite postural pattern, sending our pelvis into posterior tilt. The altered pelvic position has flow-on effects, one of which is to flatten the natural curve in our lumbar spine, bringing it out of extension into slight flexion. This means that in what we perceive as our neutral posture we are already adding extra load on our intervertebral discs, before we even start to fold forward, add weight, or alter pelvic position.

In healthy discs, adding load isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but if our discs are damaged or degenerating, the extra force we exert in a yoga practice could be the last straw that leads to disc injury, causing the jelly like protein filling of our disc to leak out, potentially irritating neighboring nerves as well as reducing spine function in that area.

Any poses or movements that load the spinal discs are worth paying extra attention to. This includes seated forward folds like Paschimottanasana and Head to Knee Pose (Janu Sirsasana), Seated Twist (Ardha Matsyendrasana), as well as yoga transitions to and from standing like those in sun salutations between Mountain Pose (Tadasana) and Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana), and between a Low Lunge and Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I).

See also What You Need to Know About Your Thoracic Spine

How to reduce your disc injury risk:

The overall theme of reducing risk injury is to use your yoga practice to develop keener awareness of your posture. Once you know what a truly neutral lumbar spine and pelvis feel like, you can make a deliberate decision as to whether to add load to the discs by flexing the spine, rather than allowing your posture to make the decision for you.

Warrior III (Virabhadrasana III)

• Using mirrors, photos, help from a friend, or the tactile feedback of the floor, wall, or a dowel stick behind your spine, practice creating neutral lumbar spine and pelvis in various orientations to gravity. Start supine (as in Savasana), progress to standing upright (Tadasana), then explore other standing poses like Extended Side Angle (Utthita Parsvakonasana) or Warrior III (Virabhadrasana III).

Paschimottanasana prep

• Pay particular attention to what is required to create a neutral spine and pelvis in seated poses; that might include propping your sit bones on the edge of a blanket to lift them away from the floor and guide the pelvis out of posterior tilt into a neutral position.

• Learn to maintain a neutral lumbar spine in movements that load the discs as well. The transitions between standing and folding forward, and vice versa, place particular load on the lumbar; using your core muscles and legs to share the workload is hugely supportive for the spinal discs – a helpful habit to take off the mat as well.

Postural Pattern No. 4: “tech neck” and neck injuries

Smart phones and other devices have become a dominant part of our lives, but the hours spent looking down at a screen can have unintended side-effects. Forward head carriage, also called text neck or tech neck, is a common pattern these days, thought to be driven by the habit of looking down at phones and other devices for hours of every day.

See also Yoga We Know You Need: 4 Smartphone Counterposes

The Anatomy:

Tech neck is a common scenario where the weight of our head tilts forward from its natural weight-bearing position. Like all the postural habits discussed here, it can alter the biomechanical patterns around the spine, in this case placing additional load on the discs in our cervical spine. This could be an issue in any yoga pose but the stakes increase dramatically when we add body weight to the equation, as we do in certain inversions including Headstand (Sirsasana) and Shoulderstand (Salamba Sarvangasana).

It’s challenging enough to create a neutral spine when we turn the world upside-down for headstand; the challenge increases hugely if our perception of neutral is skewed to begin with. Taking forward head carriage into Headstand means carrying our bodyweight in a way our body—including our vulnerable discs—isn’t designed to do.

Shoulderstand is another controversial pose, taking the forward head position of text neck and adding bodyweight to it; given how common tech neck is in yoga students, some argue that the therapeutic benefits of this pose may no longer be worth the risk of it reinforcing existing dysfunction.

How to reduce neck injury risk:

As in posterior pelvic tilt, the core of neck injury prevention is re-education: learning anew what a neutral head and neck position look and feel like so that we can choose when and how we load the structures of our neck, rather than allowing unconscious habits to do that for us.

• Practice finding and maintaining neutral head and neck in various orientations to gravity, from supine using the feedback of the floor, to upright with a wall behind the back of the head, then progressing to unsupported positions like Tadasana, Triangle (Trikonasana), Downward Facing Dog and Dolphin Pose (Ardha Pincha Mayurasana).

• If you do wish to practice Headstand, invest time and effort in building improved muscular stability in your shoulders so that (while neutral head and neck position is still crucial) you are able to efficiently carry the bulk of the load in your arms instead of your head.

Supported Shoulderstand (Salamba Sarvangasana)

• If you enjoy practicing Shoulderstand, experiment with stacking blankets under your shoulders to reduce the degree of neck flexion required to create a straight line in the remainder of your body, or stay flexed in your hips so that you are able to support more of your bodyweight through your arms and hands and carry less in your head and neck.

Any physical activity has its risks and yoga is no exception. However, the recent rise in reported yoga injuries may be less a reflection of the practice, and more related to the habits we take into it. One of the great benefits of yoga practice is the opportunity it creates for reflection; rather than giving up on our practice because of the risks it could entail, we can choose to use it to become more aware of our posture, and more mindful in the way it influences us.

See also Yoga to Improve Posture: Self-Assess Your Spine + Learn How to Protect It

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One Yoga Teacher's 3 Lessons We Could All Learn About Making Money




Yoga and abundance don’t always feel like they belong together. One yoga teacher shares the lessons she learned about accepting wealth and tearing down financial barriers that weren’t serving her.

As I watched the snow fall into the hot tub at the retreat center I was visiting, nestled in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, I found myself thinking, How did I get this luxury?! Taking four days off to indulge at a hot springs in the mountains while learning from my yoga mentor seemed like a far cry from my start as a yoga teacher. Being underpaid was a regular occurrence when I first started teaching. Struggling to buy groceries, trips to the gas station hoping that I didn’t go over the twenty dollars I had in my wallet, and not being able to afford health care (gulp) were discomforts I grew strangely accustomed to.

I was extremely passionate about teaching yoga and I loved doing it, but my bank account did not match my passion as an instructor. As much as I would like to blame corporations, point my finger at capitalism, and gnash my teeth at the unfair nature of my soulful work being so undervalued, the truth is that my value as a teacher was already at a deficit before I even stepped foot into a yoga studio.

See also 10 Business Secrets to Starting a Successful Yoga Career

When I followed the thread that led me to being a “poor yoga teacher,” I could trace it all the way back to the old sayings that were instilled in my absorbent young brain as a child: “Money doesn’t grow on trees.” “You have to work hard for money.” Or the most insidious, “Good people don’t need money.”

These seeds grew in my subconscious at a slow and steady rate. Over time, they became my reality, and as my yoga career developed, so did my belief that money meant struggle.

See also A 5-Minute Meditation To Relieve Financial Stress

I said “yes” to unpaid yoga gigs. I constantly bustled across town from one teaching job to the next. And I watched as my own practice fell to the wayside because teaching at a high volume was siphoning all my time and energy.

Finally I hit a bottom. I was fed up with scraping by, and I knew something had to change. I realized that if I wanted abundance, I needed to make a choice. That choice was to start shifting my perspective around money so that that I could not only heal my relationship with money, but also welcome prosperity into my life.

See also A Katonah Yoga Sequence To Live A More Abundant Life

There were three critical things that shifted the tide for me, and I know they can help any teacher looking to give themselves a raise.

1. Realize that spirituality means abundance

When you go into class and speak the word “abundance,” can you honestly say that you are feeling it in all areas of your life? Chaining yourself to the idea that being spiritual means financially struggling can disrupt the abundance that is waiting for you. When you accept that financial abundance and spirituality can have a thriving working relationship, it will reflect in your spirit—and your bank account! Take it from visionary Maya Angelou, who said, “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive”.

See also The Yoga of Money: Take Wisdom from the Mat to Your Finances

2. Get crystal clear on your teaching intention

For some people, teaching a full load of 15 classes a week can strain your health and your capacity to serve. As in any other business, it can take time to build a network and establish a presence in the yoga space. Figure out a teaching strategy that will fulfill you and help maintain your sanity—not detract from it. Do you see yourself teaching full time? Does having a full-time job while teaching two to three classes sound fulfilling? Get clear on what is right for YOU. The way I figured this out was by getting support from a business coach and community I trusted so that I could navigate how to market myself and speak effectively about my services.

See also Live + Practice From the Heart: Identify True Intention

3. Seek great mentorship

One of the most pivotal steps you can take to open to financial abundance is to seek guidance from other successful yogis. Learning from others who gained wisdom and experience from walking a path before me allowed me to understand the paths available to me. Just like your daily local teacher, learning from someone who knows the ropes is so much easier than trying to figure it out yourself. I also sought guidance from business mentors and like minded women who were committed to living on purpose that could teach me how to offer my gifts, live my purpose, and get the structure I needed to financially sustain myself. Look for local clubs, meetups, and other networking opportunities in which you’ll be able to make valuable connections in the community.

See also A Yoga Teacher’s Guide to Social Networking

Just like yoga, stretching your financial container can cause some discomfort. Just like the journey of yoga, the path to feeling ease and grace with our money values starts from within. With a clear vision and the right tools and support, knowing and claiming your worth as a yoga teacher is totally possible!

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5 Lessons I’ve Learned Teaching Yoga to Senior Citizens




After one yogi took her 200-hour yoga teacher training, she decided to volunteer at a senior citizen home instead of finding a paid job teaching yoga. Here’s how it’s changed her practice—and her outlook on life.

Since I started working with these senior citizens, I’ve learned some invaluable lessons about teaching yoga—and about life itself.

Three years ago, I was walking in Santa Monica and noticed a senior center and for some reason, I felt compelled to walk inside. Maybe it was because I’d just finished my 200-hour yoga teacher training with Annie Carpenter, who urged all of us new teachers to volunteer before trying to find a paying job. Maybe it was because shortly after that teacher training, I spent some time with my grandmother just before she passed away.

I wasn’t looking to volunteer, but my intuition urged me to walk into that senior center and ask the woman sitting behind the front desk if there might be an interest in having me teach the center’s residents yoga. The woman’s eyes lit up. She said they’d love to have me volunteer, and for the last three years, I’ve taught yoga and meditation to a group of seniors at Sunrise Senior Living Center every Monday morning. Since I started working with these senior citizens, I’ve learned some invaluable lessons about teaching yoga—and about life itself.

See also 5 Signs You Have a Yoga Teacher Who Empowers You

Lesson No. 1: The smallest movements can sometimes feel like the most advanced.

I work mostly with seniors who have memory impairments, and most are bound to wheelchairs—so we don’t do traditional yoga. I lead my students through seated yoga, which means we sit and breathe and then we do some minimal movements. Sometimes my students fall asleep. Other times I can tell their minds wander off. But I always try my best to keep them present in the moment, because even just a few moments of presence can have a profound impact.

Lesson No. 2: Life is fleeting.

Teaching my amazing senior students has taught me that age isn’t going to get away from any of us. We are all going to be older and slower one day, and when we get there, we may not like the fact that we’re older and slower. Spending time with my students is an important reminder to enjoy my life now, and it’s helped me recommit to my yoga and meditation practices over and over again, since those are the practices that help me get present.

The reality is that we’re all aging. People don’t like to talk about it, but it’s the truth. At the ripe age of 40, I feel some creaks and can’t do things I did at 30. Teaching my senior students has taught me to be more gentle with myself as I get older, so I’m able to practice as long as possible. Tiffany Russo, my SmartFLOW teacher here in Los Angeles, says you want to practice today so you can practice into your 90s. When I teach these seniors, it’s a reminder that I really can practice for the long haul. My students love being in their bodies and gently moving with the breath, and they’re a beautiful mirror of how I will hopefully be practicing one day.

See also 19 Yoga Teaching Tips Senior Teachers Want to Give Newbies

Lesson No. 3: Everyone has a story.

The seniors in my classes have incredible pasts. One was a well-known cardiologist at UCLA; another was a famous architect in North Dakota. I’ve taught former social workers and dental hygienists, teachers and musicians. All too often, we disregard our elders and focus instead on our peers. Yet what I’ve learned is that my students once had thriving careers and interesting lives and experiences that teach me so much. It’s an honor to help bring them to a place that helps them feel truly seen, which I’ve come to realize is all that any of us really crave.

See also How to Create a Solid Yoga Practice At Any Age

Lesson No. 4: Sticking to the basics can feel like the most advanced practice.

I try to have my students focus on following their breath while doing some sort of movement. When they inhale and raise their left hand, I show them how to move their arm in a way so they feel internal and external rotation and ask how it feels in their shoulders. We’ll do that five to 10 times with the breath on one side, then move to the other. When I do this with them, it helps me feel embodied in a way that I may not access when I’m practicing on my own.

See also Why is Yoga Needed in All Communities?

What I’m learning is that the basic movements are actually the key to helping students get truly present. I’m reminded of one moment early on, when I started practicing meditation with the group. I started out instructing them to keep their eyes open while I showed them colored paper, and asked them to imagine the colors on the in and out breaths. I brought in mala beads from my Five Star Hippie collection and taught them use the beads to repeat simple mantras as they meditated. Then, around three weeks in, I asked them to place one hand on their heart and one hand on their belly, and then to close their eyes—something that feels especially scary for many of my seniors, who struggle with memory problems. I asked them to just relax, keep their eyes closed, and to follow their breath.

Watching them in this moment—two dozen seniors in the room, all in wheel chairs, and everyone in complete silence—took my breath away. They were the most present they could be, which in turn created this overwhelming feeling of presence and joy in the room. I still get the chills thinking about it. To see something so basic have such a profound effect was the epitome of yoga to me.

See also How to Be a Yoga Leader in Your Community

Lesson No. 5: Connections through yoga can be made any time, and at any age.

I started with two students and now I teach two dozen students every Monday morning. Yoga brings community together—no matter what age, race, or gender. It’s been a beautiful thing to see my students get a little bit stronger every week, and a little more able to drop in and get present after every meditation session. And what’s most amazing is how these students have become a cherished part of my life. 

About the author

Janine Forte was born and raised in New York, where she comes from a lineage of jewelers. She started out designing fine jewelry in 2007 and then segued into the world of fashion jewelry with a focus on eco-friendly materials. She currently lives in Los Angeles where she designs and creates in a studio by the beach. Her company, Five Star Hippie®, is an eco-friendly, spirit-inspired jewelry collection and each piece bestows a positive message that is meant to illuminate your body, mind, and soul. You can follow Five Star Hippie on Instagram and Facebook.

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The Business of Yoga: Follow This Advice for Social Media Success




Eight tips that’ll help you knock it out of the park when it comes to Instagram, Facebook, and more.

Posing in a San Diego alley, yoga and breathwork instructor Ava Johanna quips on Instagram: “Will the Instagram Yogi Gods shun me for not being on a picture-perfect beach?”

We’re sure she’s absolved; her Handstand in the photo is impressive. But, she raises a good point: When it comes to appeasing the Instagram gods—a.k.a. the all-important algorithms responsible for prominently placing you in followers’ feeds—what works? Nailing this is important because social media done right can help yoga teachers make a name for themselves and engage with their students, all while announcing class schedules and demonstrating techniques.

See also 10 Inspiring Instagram Quotes We Couldn’t Wait to Re-Post This Week

For Ava Johanna, who has amassed nearly 28,000 followers on Instagram, harnessing social media goes beyond pretty photos posed on beaches. She’s authentic with her followers, sharing behind-the-scenes glimpses into her own life. There’s the ups, like her recent bachelorette party in Tulum. And, the downs, like a post in which she shares what it was like to be homeless as a teenager.

“While imagery is always important, vulnerability has been the greatest asset in connecting with my followers and growing a following on Instagram,” she tells us. “I share the good, the bad, and the ugly in an effort to remove the veil of the ‘highlight reel’ that social media can often create.”

See also 7 Things I Learned From Doing One of Those Social Media Yoga Challenges I Always Thought Were Obnoxious

Ava Johanna also shares yoga tutorials and videos, re-visits yoga philosophies through captions, and has an overall goal of empowering students outside the studio. Essentially, she says, her IG feed is a just one more way she can show up for her followers.

Looking to grow your own social media following? Here, we’ve got tips from Ava Johanna, other yoga instructors killing it on Instagram, and digital strategists to help you become successful on social media.

View the original article to see embedded media.

Tip No. 1: Post a few times a week.

First things first, there’s no magic formula that works for everyone on social media because you’ll develop your own brand and audience, says Valentina Pérez, who works in an influencer marketing agency, oftentimes with wellness and lifestyle brands. But, you should be posting at least three to four times per week, says Pérez, who has also built a large following via her online presence as Break Con Valen. “People want to see new content all the time, so being present is extremely important on social media,” she says.

See also 6 Most Inspiring Yogis on Instagram This Week

Tip No. 2: Remember to interact with your audience.

The goal is to craft a great post that generates discussions and prompts questions. Then, be sure to answer those questions and respond to comments, Pérez says. Not only will your audience appreciate it, but it also helps the algorithms work in your favor, she explains. Simply put: The more you interact with your followers, the more you’ll show up in people’s feeds.

Tip No. 3: Create a consistent color scheme.

Have you ever looked at an influencer’s Instagram feed and noticed how cohesive the color scheme looks? This is definitely intentional. Ava Johanna suggests using apps like Lightroom to create a preset (which is Adobe’s version of a filter) that you consistently apply to your photos. Doing so will help you develop a consistent aesthetic and color scheme that makes your grid look beautifully curated.

See also Tips from Social Media’s Top Yogis on How to Handle Haters and Trolls

Tip No. 4: Buy a tripod for your smartphone.

You can find some for less than $20 on Amazon, says Ava Johanna. That way, you aren’t dependent on having a photographer. “Set your phone on video,” she says. “Then, record a video and flow through different postures. Watch it back and pause in different poses so you can screenshot photos.” She also likes to make videos of the yoga flows she teaches in class so followers around the world can practice along.

Tip No. 5: Be real.

The most important piece of advice we heard is that you’ve got to keep it real with your audience. Kino MacGregor, an international yoga teacher and author who has garnered 1.1 million Instagram followers, says it’s crucial to not just do things for “likes” or get caught up in gimmicks. Rather, be real, she says: “The thing that you think is too real to share—share that,” says MacGregor, who writes often about her own struggles with body acceptance on Instagram.

See also 11 Best Yoga Podcasts Every Yogi Needs to Download Right Now

Tip No. 6: Add value to social media feeds.

In addition to connecting with your audience by being your true self and being relatable, it also helps to create content that’s shareable, says Erin Motz, the co-founder of Bad Yogi, which offers online yoga classes. Posting something that’s educational and super-cool to know can engage your audience. For example, in her highlighted videos on Instagram, Motz answers questions from her audience, shares stretches for runners, and points out a common mistake people make doing the Cobra Pose. Bad Yogi’s largest social media following is on Facebook, with 122,000 followers, but the most engaged audience is on Instagram, with 45,000 followers. It took her three years to build up those audiences.

Tip No. 7: It’s OK to ask for shares.

Your best bet is to be direct with your audience, says business consultant Nichole Elizabeth DeMeré. “You want shares? You want links? You want people to read your latest post because it’s the best thing you’ve written this year? Then it’s OK to ask, just not all the time,” DeMeré says. You’ll be amazed at how many people are willing to show their appreciation of your work by sharing it—but the key is to ask nicely.

See also Don’t Do It for the Gram: 18 Dangerous Instagram Yoga Photos

Tip No. 8: Avoid stock art.

You know the expression, “A picture is worth a thousand words?” It can also be worth a thousand page views, if you choose wisely, says DeMeré. So, don’t settle for stock photography. So many businesses do this, says DeMeré, which means you won’t be able to catch people’s attention. You’ll gain far more shares if you use your own images in a how-to post or to help illustrate a story.

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