The Dos and Don’ts to Grow Your Instagram Following With Hashtags

When I meet with yoga instructors to discuss their branding or marketing strategy on social media I see the same mistakes again and again. I’ve decided to share what I’ve learned over the years, so you and other yoga instructors can quickly learn how to grow your Instagram following without wasting valuable time like I did.

best tips to grow your instagram following

1.  If you don’t use hashtags, start now.

One thing I have learned over the years is the importance of using the tools Instagram gives you. One of the most important tools to use on Instagram is the hashtag “#”, or “pound sign” if you’re old school. Hashtags sort and group like images and make Instagram images searchable. Your yoga students are likely using these hashtags to look up inspiration for their own practices, so it’s in your best interest to be there!

I see talented instructors failing to use hashtags on Instagram all the time. If you aren’t using hashtags your images will only be seen by your followers, people directly searching for you or by people snooping your feed. This isn’t good if you’re trying to grow your following, especially if you’re already putting a lot of time and effort into creating quality content.

2. Choose your hashtags wisely.

100 best instagram hashtagsDon’t use a bunch of random hashtags. Each hashtag you choose should be intentional. Also, check to make sure the hashtag you’re using is still active. No sense in using a hashtag that no one is using. Instagram has also been known to shut down hashtags that are overused or misused.

Some unexpected hashtags Instagram has shut down or restricted are: #goddess, #instagirl, #killingit, #shesquats, #booty, #curvy, #publicrelations, #stopdropandyoga, #sunbathing, #woman, #womancrushwednesday, #women, #cheeky, #desk, #everybodyisbeautiful, #bikinibody, #bombshell, #adulting, #happythanksgiving, #newyears, #newyearsday, #freethenipple, #girlsofinstagram, #instabody, #instababe, #loseweight #popular, #thinspiration, #thinspo, and #wtf. Just don’t use these or any other more scandalous #hashtags and you’ll be fine.

What hashtags should you be using as a yoga instructor? Here is a curated list of just over 100 popular hashtags specifically for yoga instructors and yogis.

3. Don’t be spammy.

You will not grow your Instagram following by spamming on Instagram. Don’t post to the same hashtag group in back-to-back posts or multiple times a day. If you must post multiple images in a short amount of time from a specific event, use Instagram’s slideshow feature, so you’re not filling your followers feeds with your pics… Do not spam, period!

4. Don’t abuse your hashtags.

Don’t stuff your Instagram captions with hashtags. If you use hashtags every other word in your Instagram caption it is difficult to read and appears spammy. Here is an example of what I mean:

I’m so #excited! I went to a #yogaworkshop with #dylanwerner in #Bali and I can #finally get into #handstand on my own. #Practiceandalliscoming #yogalife

Instead try:

I’m so excited. I went to a workshop with Dylan Werner in Bali and I can finally hold handstand on my own! Thanks @dylanwerneryoga!

#yogaworkshop #handstand #practiceandalliscoming #yogalife

This is a mistake I see commonly with yoga instructors that are new to Instagram and are just learning to use hashtags. Keeping your captions clean, uncluttered and easy to read should be part of your strategy to grow your Instagram following.

5. Grow your Instagram following by engaging with hashtag users.

Like and comment on the most recent posts in the hashtags you are using. If you catch someone while they are still online, and your comments are authentic they will check out your profile. If your profile resonates with them then they will likely like, comment and follow you too.

Like I said before, make sure your  comments are authentic and not just a ton of emojis or generic comments like “Cool”, “Love it”, etc. Use generic comments minimally. Pro tip: Comment on what they say in their caption, not just the image. It shows genuine interest.

6. Store hashtags in a note app or in Google Keep

Save yourself time and keep your hashtag groups organized in a notes app. I like to use Google Keep personally, but use whatever works best for you. Once you have your hashtags stored in a notes app you can simply copy and paste them into the first comment. I like to have 5 dots, one on each line, before my hashtags start. By using the dots I can hide my hashtags and it doesn’t look spammy or desperate.

7. Have two to three sets of Instagram hashtags.

Grow your Instagram following by creating two to three sets of Instagram hashtags for each type of post. For example, if you mostly post yoga asana pics create two groups of hashtags. With two sets of hashtags you won’t burn out or spam your hashtags and you won’t be competing with yourself for featured posts.

If you also post delicious vegan food create one or two hashtag groups for this topic. If you post travel pics, create one or two hashtag groups for this post type too. And then don’t use the same hashtag group in back to back posts (unless they’re a day or two apart).

8. Use hashtags with many posts and fewer posts.

Don’t just use the most popular hashtags. Use a variety of hashtags. If you only use the most popular hashtags you risk your images getting buried. If you also use smaller active (and more niche) hashtags you will be more likely to rank in the top nine and trend for that hashtag. You want this! It means more eyes are on you!

9. Keep it relevant: 2-3 topics.

This is just a general rule of thumb. Once you’ve decided on your brand image and what’s important to you and your ideal client/student stick with two or three relevant topics. If you’re a studio you could focus on your yoga community (both instructors and students), events and inspirational quotes. If you’re a traveling yoga instructor you could post yoga pics, healthy food, and adventure pics. These are just ideas. You do you.

10. Create a brand hashtag.

For example, if your business name is Ambuja Yoga your hashtag could be #ambujayoga. If people are snapping pics at your events, ask them to use your hashtag and ask them to tag you in the pic. You can even offer to repost/regram their pic to increase their exposure… it’s a win-win!

You may also want to create an event hashtag. This is a fun way your students can share pics and connect with one another.

Still have questions about using hashtags to grow your Instagram following? Reach out via my contact form. I’m happy to help.

100 of the Best Instagram Hashtags for Yoga Instructors in 2018

Instagram is one of the best ways yoga instructors can reach their current and future students. The social media platform lends itself well to the physical practice of yoga and provides a platform for yoga instructors to share their own personal growth, upcoming events and more. But how do you reach your yoga students on Instagram? One way to reach your students and increase your presence is through hashtags. I’ve curated a list of 100+ best hashtags for yoga instructors for 2018.

I scoured the most popular yoga Instagram accounts to find out what hashtags the top yoga influencers are using and pulled out the most relevant Instagram hashtags for yoga instructors and yogis.

I recommend using 20-30 hashtags per Instagram post. Use five that are specific to your post and the remaining 15-25 should be a set group of hashtags that you are active and engaged on.

Still not sure how to use hashtags to build your following and grow your brand? Read my post Grow Your Instagram Following With Hashtags. Here we will talk hashtag strategy and best practice. Tips for steady growth and more.

best-yoga-instagram-hashtags-for-yoga-instructors
#acro
#acroyoga
#armbalance
#armbalanceaddict
#asana
#asanajunkie
#ashtanga
#balance
#beachyoga
#beagoddess
#beginneryoga
#bhakti
#blessed
#bliss
#bodypositive
#bodypositivity
#crazysexyyoga
#devotion
#energy
#feeltheyogahigh
#fitfam
#fitmomsofig
#fitness
#fitspo
#fityogi
#flexible
#flexibility
#handstands
#healthyyogi
#healthybody
#healthylifestyle
#igyoga
#igyogafam
#igyogacommunity
#instayoga
#inspired
#inversion
#inversionjunkie
#learnyoga
#namaste
#namaslay
#namastayinbed
#meditation
#mensyoga
#mindbodygram
#motivation
#morningpractice
#movement
#myyogajourney
#myyogalife
#perfectlyimperfect
#practiceandalliscoming
#practicedaily
#practicemakesprogress
#practiceyoga
#selflove
#spreadtheyogalove
#strongyogi
#strength
#surrender
#transformationtuesday
#travellingyogi
#travellingyogini
#worldofyoga
#vinyasa
#vinyasayoga
#wanderlust
#yoga4growth
#yogaaddict
#yogachallenge
#yogaclass
#yogadaily
#yogaeveryday
#yogaeverywhere
#yogaeverydamnday
#yogafail
#yogafeature
#yogafit
#yogaflow
#yogaforeverybody
#yogaforeveryone
#yogaforlife
#yogaformen
#yogafun
#yogajournal
#yogajourney
#yogagirl
#yogagoals
#yogagram
#yogainspiration
#yogaislife
#yogalife
#yogalifestyle
#yogalooksgood
#yogalove
#yogalover
#yogamom
#yogaonline
#yogaoutdoors
#yogapants
#yogapose
#yogaphotography
#yogapractice
#yogaprogress
#yogaretreat
#yogastudent
#yogateacher
#yogatutorial
#yogavibes
#yogavideo
#yogini
#yogi
#(what you’re wearing)
#(location)
#(nameofpose)

A Mudra for Trust: Vajrapradama Mudra

hand mudra for trust

Vajrapradama mudra has been resonating with me deeply. Each time I practice vajrapradama a whole bunch of emotions well up from within. I’m currently in a bit of a life and business transition and there are many unknowns. It’s sometimes hard for me to admit that I don’t know what the next step is or that I don’t know if I’m doing things right. I’m not going to lie… I’ve been experiencing a lot of fear recently and my self-confidence has been lagging. I don’t consider myself to be that fearful when it comes to big leaps of faith or pushing up to my edges, but unfortunately I’ve also built a wall around my heart; a wall that I’ve been mindfully dismantling piece by piece. And it’s not always pretty!

I practice the mudra for unshakeable trust in my heart meditations, in my asana classes and even when I have something important and/or heartfelt to say. Sometimes vajrapradama feels like the only thing tethering my mind to my heart and right now I need it. Vajrapradama mudra builds unshakeable trust, courage, and self confidence… we can always use more of these three qualities.

In Sanskrit vajra means diamond and thunderbolt. The diamond represents indestructibility and the thunderbolt represents unstoppable force. When you have unshakeable trust in your True Self (the one that is aligned with the divine) you become a force to be reckoned with and obstacles are overcome with ease.

I’ve also found Ganesha mudra helpful lately. Ganesha mudra is the hand mudra for confidence, courage, compassion and openness. Are you noticing a theme here?

How to Practice Vajrapradama Mudra

Practicing vajrapradama, the mudra for trust, is very simple: interlace your fingers, keep your palms open and rest your hands on your heart. Close your eyes and feel your breath and your heartbeat beneath your hands. You can use this mudra as often as you would like. Like I said, I’m currently using it all the time.

Positive Affirmations for Vajrapradama Mudra

I recommend using a positive affirmation that resonates with you. Here are some examples:

  • I am open to receiving divine guidance. I trust that I am exactly where I need to be right now.
  • “I open my heart to the Universe.  I trust the wisdom of a power greater than my own and accept its healing.” From SpiritVoyage.com
  • “I am a creation of the greatest omnipotence, whose strength and power lovingly support me at all times.” From Gertrud Hirschi’s Mudras Yoga in Your Hands.
  • “I am confident because I trust in myself. I am fully supported.” From Anita Goa.

Top Five Things To Do in Matagalpa, Nicaragua

Are you planning a trip to Nicaragua’s mountainous north? Awesome! You will be rewarded with cooler temps, green jungle, brilliant coffee and friendly locals. I’ve visited Matagalpa twice now, each time for about a week and both visits have been great. Make your time in the north memorable with our top five favorite things to do in and around Matagalpa, Nicaragua.

things to do in matagalpa nicaragua hiking

Here is the view of Matagalpa from Cerro Apante.

1. Finca Esperanza Verde

yoga-retreat-best-view-nicaragua-yoga-holiday

The view from the lounge at Finca Esperanza Verde.

If you’ve done any research about Matagalpa you’ve probably heard of Finca Esperanza Verde. Finca Esperanza Verde is a beautiful organic coffee farm set high on a hill with some of Nicaragua’s most breathtaking sunsets. Vivianne and her team of local staff are gracious hosts and will happily guide you on one of the many well-maintained hiking trails that criss-cross the property. The guides are excellent and will help you spot parrots, birds, monkeys, sloths, etc that you would miss on your own. It’s possible to enjoy the property  for the day or better yet stay a couple of days to take full advantage of the miles of trails, delicious organic food, and the cool crisp morning air (you’ll crave it after a week or two on the coast.) Book one of the Colibri Cabins for the best views.

You may be lucky enough to join a workshop or yoga retreat at Finca Esperanza Verde. The yoga experience at Finca Esperanza Verde is absolutely unique. During practice you may see toucans fly by or spot a sloth up high in the treetops.

The Finca offers guided hikes, organic coffee and meals, coffee tours, birdwatching tours, yoga and more.

2. Castillo del Cacao in Matagalpa, Nicaragua

chocolate in matagalpa nicaragua

My heaven!!!

If you’re a chocolate lover then a visit to Castillo del Cacao is a must (when I checked last they were closed on Saturdays). It’s possible to tour the facilities before stocking up on the best chocolate in Nicaragua. Their coffee chocolate bar with whole roasted espresso beans is seriously divine and is nothing like anything Hershey’s makes.

Castillo del Cacao is located just outside of Matagalpa on the way to Finca Esperanza Verde.

3. Mujeres del Plomo in San Ramon

nicaragua yoga retreats april 2018

Happy group after our jewelry making workshop with the women of Artesanias Mujeres del Plomo.

Looking for a fun workshop to do with kids or your girlfriends (my husband actually loved the jewelry making workshop too)? Mujeres del Plomo is a local women’s jewelry cooperative in San Ramon, Nicaragua. The group consists of about 4 women and their children. The ladies create jewelry out of seeds collected in the local countryside. You can stop in and buy a piece of jewelry or for $5-10 join for a short jewelry making workshop. Gain inspiration from the pieces they’ve already created and then create your own. The ladies are excellent teachers and will guide you along the way. Check out the pieces our group made!

4. Hike to Las Cruces and Cerro Apante

things to do in Matagalpa, Nicaragua

Virgin Mary statue.

If you’re like me, it’s hard to be still for too long. I recommend hiking up the trail to Las Cruces. The loop trail was moderately challenging and well maintained. You can park your car in Matagalpa and then begin up the hill. You will come to a “ranger station” of sorts. Pay your entrance fee here and continue up the path. You will come to an awesome viewpoint overlooking the city of Matagalpa, Nicaragua. Shortly after the viewpoint you will climb the stairs up to the statue overlooking the city for another view. There may be a couple of musicians playing up top and there will most certainly be couples and families enjoying this popular outing. Here is a funny little blog post about a couple that went the “wrong way” up to Las Cruces… don’t do what they did.

5. Visit Cascada Santa Emilia just outside of Matagalpa, Nicaragua

what to do in matagalpa nicaragua

Steve happily checking out the waterfall… and perhaps debating a swim.

If you have a car take the gorgeous drive out to Cascada Santa Emilia, also known as Cascada Blanca. Pay the small fee and begin the hike down the paved path. There is a large cave behind the waterfall. I recommend following the path behind the thundering waterfall and looking out at the river below. I believe you can grab lunch here as well. We ate in town and we weren’t hungry, so I can’t say if the food is good or not.

Enjoy your time in Matagalpa! And as always feel free to reach out if you have specific questions. I’m happy to lend a hand… and if I don’t know the answer I can link you up with someone who does.

Love and Light,

Autumn

Alignment Tips For Parsva Bakasana

alignment tips side crow

Side Crow Pose (Parsva Bakasana)

Side crow pose was my first arm balance pose. I first learned the “easy” version and honestly didn’t know there was another version for many years. I was pretty content with the version of side crow I had already learned and wasn’t much interested in learning another version. But I began seeing other yogis linking arm balances together using parsva bakasana and eka pada koundinyasa I as transition poses and my curiosity eventually piqued. I now teach side crow pose with two options depending on the students in class.

Alignment Tips For Teaching Side Crow or Parsva Bakasana

  1. From revolved chair pose, sit hips onto heels and bring hands to side of the mat
  2. Place hands shoulder width distance and spread the fingers wide
  3. Engage hasta bandha– fingertips press down into the mat, index finger and thumb press down into mat and lift through the arch of the hand
  4. Think “chaturanga arms” as the elbows bend and bring the outside of the thigh closest to the arms on to the tricep of the front arm.
  5. If possible, keep the hips lifted off of the back arm. This option will be more challenging, but it’s the correct posture. If side crow pose is new to you try the posture with the back hip on the back arm.
  6. Gaze forward and lift your feet up off the ground
  7. Find your balance here and breathe
  8. If the posture feels steady play with leg variations like transitioning into eka pada koundinyasana I.

Remember there are two options for teaching side crow.

For beginners teach side crow with the back hip on the tricep of the back arm. They will feel more steady. As the student builds strength and becomes comfortable in this version of the posture encourage them to try the second option.

For the second option of side crow the hip is lifted off of the back arm, so only the thigh is in contact with the front arm. This option is more challenging, but rewarding and empowering!

alignment-tips-side-crow-for-beginners

Side crow pose for beginners. (Parsva Bakasana)

Teach Side Crow With Modifications

  • Encourage students to bring their head down to a block and learn the muscular engagement to lift the legs.
  • For students whose elbows wing out to the side use a yoga strap to secure their arms to shoulder width distance. Slide the loop of the strap just above their elbows.

Teach Side Crow with Props

  • Use a blanket, bolster, or block underneath their face if they are worried about falling on a hard floor.
  • Place a block under their face to support the head, so they can focus on lifting their feet up.
  • Use a strap around their upper arms to secure the elbows above the wrists. Some students have a tendency to allow their elbows to swing out to the side or collapse inward. When the joints are stacked improperly and the weight of the body is distributed unevenly their is a risk of injury.
  • Use a block in the set up. Have them start with both feet on a block as they twist to the side and set up for side crow. This way their feet will almost be in position for side crow and they can focus on the arms and upper body.

Preparatory Poses for Side Crow

Contraindications:

  • Glaucoma
  • Wrist injury