Yoga has always been popular on Instagram. The iconic poses such as downward dog, bridge, warrior and crow are difficult to hold and make for excellent silhouettes. It's a small wonder entire industries and companies have risen off the back of glamourous shots of men and women in leggings holding yoga poses amidst beautiful scenery.
Retail company SportsShoes.com (opens in new tab) analysed data and hashtags on Instagram around 100 different yoga poses to determine which were the most popular, or most-shared, on the platform. The study found with a massive 2,460,154 hashtags, the headstand (or "Sirsasana" pose) is top of the heap.
The next most popular is the Crow Pose, with over 900,000 people sharing it with hashtags online. It's easy to see why these two are the most popular poses: both are impressive-looking feats of balance and upper body strength, and Instagram – a part of the internet in which bragging rights and gorgeous pictures meet – is the perfect place to show off your yoga prowess with these two cool moves.
After the Crow Pose comes the Tree, Wheel and Downward Dog poses.
Many yoga studios have closed, some temporarily and some permanently, as a result of the global health crisis. However, demand for yoga at home has surged: because all you really need is comfortable clothing and one of the best yoga mats, it's an ideal activity to learn in lockdown.
YouTube channels such as Yoga With Adriene have gone from strength to strength, and SportsShoes also found searches for "beginners yoga" has increased by 49% in the UK year-on-year. It's no wonder searches for the poses on Instagram have gained so much traction.
Trying to exist at home during a pandemic can be very stressful, with loneliness leading to anxiety and depression. According to Harvard University, yoga has plenty of proven mental health benefits in addition to its obvious physical ones, modulating our response to external stress and reducing our anxiety levels. Thanks to the stresses brought on by the pandemic, yoga for anxiety has never been more popular.
If you're interested in learning yoga for its therapeutic effects, you might also be keen to learn how to meditate. The age-old practice of meditation simply consists of finding a comfortable cushion, chair or floor-space and sitting quietly, performing one of many mental exercises depending on the discipline – but the proven benefits are very similar to the improved resilience and mood-boosting granted by regular yoga practice.
Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and News Editor at Fit&Well, covering all things exercise and nutrition on the Fit&Well website. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen runner, gym-goer, and infrequent yogi. His top fitness tip? Stretch.