The New Age of Yoga
An Ancient Practice with a Modern Twist
(page 3 of 6)
Looking to add some spunk and color to your newsfeed? Look no further than Stephanie Gongora’s active account, @Casa_Colibri. A gymnast turned yogi, Gongora began sharing her stretches on Instagram a few years ago. Since then, her account has reached over 61,000 followers, and she’s expanded to other social media platforms while making countless friends and connections along the way. So how did this begin?
“Casa Colibri means Hummingbird House. I’ve always admired the tiny little birds, who, despite their size and delicate appearance, can accomplish some amazing feats. When I grew up, my grandmother in Mexico would often call me her little ‘chupaflor,’” said Gongora. “My Italian grandmother, on my mother’s side, once referred to me as her little hummingbird. It wasn’t until years later that I learned chupaflor was another word for colibri, also meaning hummingbird. The Casa Colibri name was born from my love of flight. I love being upside down, and I’ve always loved pole and hoop, so by the time yoga came into the picture as my main physical passion, the name had stuck and still seemed appropriate.”
Gongora now has Casa Colibri (@Casa_Colibri) accounts via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and Periscope, all under the same tag. She captures her photos either through self-timer or her husband, Ben House (@Apache_Athlete) stands in as her photographer if he has the time.
Gongora’s method is that if you post a beautiful king dancer pose that gets all the likes, don’t be afraid do a follow-up video post that is two minutes of you wiggling and wobbling to get into the deepest expression of the pose for three seconds so you could snap a picture.
“Be genuine,” Gongora says. “That is the key, and I mean be genuine in all senses of the word.”
People like to hear that every handstand isn’t perfect, that even the experts fall constantly, that it’s not uncommon to neglect your weak side (hence one of Gongora’s first signature tags - #weaksidewednesday). She’s learned that using the @Casa_Colibri account to demonstrate transparency and share her struggles is one of the reasons followers can appreciate her success.
Gongora also stays true to herself by posting other tidbits of her life, such as pole, lyra, her dogs, and living in Austin.
“I’ve found that showing little glimpses of my life outside of yoga actually makes people happy and relate to me more,” said Gongora. “I’m genuine in what I post about, regardless of whether or not certain people or groups will disagree with or unfollow me. I am not a vegan or vegetarian, and I don’t pretend to be. Sometimes, I have a beer or two. Sometimes I miss a practice because I want to watch Netflix all night with my husband. And that’s OK.”
There are myriad small businesses on social media, especially in the world of yoga. Gongora believes in only representing products and brands that you believe in and would personally buy items from, whether the items were gifted to you or you actually purchased them.
“Accepting any free handouts in exchange for posts will swiftly turn your account into an infomercial,” she advised. “Purchase a few things that you love from companies you support, and then post some high quality pictures wearing the gear on your account. If you tag them, most companies will return the favor with a repost down the line. But always make sure it’s something you want to be associated with.” Gongora believes that you should be yourself, and share what you like. Not everyone will respond to it, but they have to respect you for it.
So what’s the future like for Casa-Colibri? Gongora plans on continuing her social media-centered sharing, as well as a 300 hour yoga training. She plans on developing a branded website, as well as engaging new followers through her latest hashtag, #AustinYogaMeetUp. In the meantime, she’ll continue using social media to develop her own yoga practice, to encourage others to try yoga or other forms of physical fitness, and to help raise awareness and funds for charity organizations she supports.
Everyone has a different way of sharing their passion, and Gongora’s came in the form of unintentional leadership on social media. While she can’t ever see herself teaching 10 classes a week at a set location and time, she keeps finding and building upon opportunities to cultivate community, in and outside of Austin. After all, that’s what this union is all about.
“Yoga is the impossibly intricate yet surprisingly simple web that is woven with every thought, movement, emotion, intention, and deep inner summoning,” said Gongora. “And we are all weavers.”
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