In the past week the butts of two bearded Scots have been flashed the world over. In a video that’s been viewed more than 43 million times and counting, social media notables Finlay Wilson and Tristan Cameron-Harper have ramped up interest in an age old meditation method by giving it an Irishman’s twist. Welcome to Kilted Yoga.
“We were going to go for straddle,” Wilson told OUT about his viral video for BBC The Social. The clip sees Wilson, who is a yoga teacher, and Harper, who is a retired professional hockey player, cycling through a few poses before ending in an inversion, feet up, kilts down and bums out. “But when we filmed that we noticed that you could basically see right in our assholes and that wasn’t allowed; they drew a line. So we went legs together.”
I go to sleep after a whirlwind 6 hours, including teaching classes with a video sitting at 5.6 million views. @bbcthesocial thanks for letting me air my creative energies and showing me that what may seem like stupid ideas are actually worth something! @tristancameronharper here is to more filming. I have a feeling we may be made to wear kilts...
The video is the third that Wilson, who is more known online by his Instagram handle Finlay0901, has done for the BBC following one about his new year’s resolution and another about the adopting of his dog Amaloh. The partnership with the news organization came after they realized they wanted to tap into a new, younger Instagram obsessed group of fans.
“I got into yoga when I was 19, following surgery on both of my legs,” Wilson says of how he started his path to over 50k followers on the social platform. “The surgeries were about four or five months apart and I ended up with issues with walking for a good while after my surgery. I was advised that yoga was easy, which it wasn’t, and that it would be a good thing for me to do.”
Though that initial start was a bust (the type of yoga wasn’t a fit for the 30-year-old’s physical condition at the time), he pressed on, eventually finding forrest yoga, which is the style of yoga he employs in his daily practice as well as in the studio he opened in 2012 - that studio is the sole yoga studio in Dundee, where Wilson is based.
“One of the things that sets forrest yoga a part is it works from a place of sound theoretical basis so there’s a why and how for everything,” Wilson explained. “It works from this idea that there are 13 postural muscles in the body and that there needs to be work done on those. That’s something I’ve found in other styles that wasn’t addressed.” What that means in practice is that the structure of forrest yoga has been contemporized to fit our sedentary lifestyles. Neck stretching and abdominal work are placed at the forefront to combat the effects of being hunched over phones or crushing your lower spine through being at a desk for long periods of time.
It was about seven years into that practice though that Wilson began posting on Instagram. Soon, a reputation for posting photos and videos of himself shirtless in one of his 70 pairs of colorful leggings while performing poses that could be misconstrued as compromising positions, brought in droves of followers.
“Because I practice every day, I post every day,” Wilson said. He typically posts about two or three times a day including a combination of photo and video, often including a smirk or smile at the end of a clip. “If I don’t post people get in touch with me to find out what’s wrong.”
Admittedly, the followers have brought with them the good, the bad and the explicit. While on one hand the notoriety got him an offer last year to tour three Asian countries doing yoga workshops, it also has brought with it a much friskier side of social media.
“Every day someone sends me their dick pic, or asks to see my feet,” Wilson said. And although those aren’t the most frequent comments or requests—the number one question is about his leggings—they definitely take a bit of moderation. The yogi ends up deleting about 2 to 3 of the most extreme comments per post. “It depends on how ass-tastic the photo is.”
Eventually the notoriety too brought in the BBC who was searching for influencers in Scotland to reach out to a younger demographic. As a part of a new platform, the organization wanted influencers like Harper and Wilson to make content that was meaningful to them in order to be shared and hopefully go viral.
“The first idea I actually pitched was kilted yoga but it wasn’t the one they went for,” he explained. Wilson’s second video ended up going viral in a way, racking up over two million views about the adoption of his dog Amaloh that he got in September. “What’s really funny to me is the BBC said ‘[Kilted Yoga] will probably not be as viral as your dog video. Don’t be upset if it doesn’t get as much readership’ and they were very wrong.” So far the video is on track to rack up 50 million views and has been shared by the Today Show in addition to being mentioned in Scottish parliament and mentioned in news broadcasts in Australia as well as Belgium.
And the response has been overwhelmingly positive. “There’s a lot of people who have written to us from the States that have said with everything going on it’s been refreshing to have a little bit of levity,” Wilson confessed. We’re sure it did get a rise out of some.
Moving on, Wilson hopes the video reaches 50 million views but also hopes to parlay it into something bigger like an interview with Ellen or someone Stateside. Outside of kilted yoga though, he’s working on a book about emotional processing and muscles that he hopes to be out before the end of the year. Eventually he’d even like to release his own line of leggings.
“We’re not sure what doors it’s going to open but something has got to happen,” Wilson said. “40 million people have seen our asses; that’s got to be good for something right?”