#365yoga: Day 188 (?) I’m Too Sexy

In the last couple of weeks there has been a slew of posts about the importance/role/influence/definition of yoga bloggers.  Most of it frankly has not really inspired much thought on my part despite the fact that some of the writers are ones whose blogs I follow.  But the recent build up and continued conversation about the upcoming Canadian yoga conference and the inclusion of a panel discussion about the importance of yoga bloggers has irked me.  I wanted to sit back and let it all simmer out in cyberspace, but frankly I had to speak up about where I fit, or don’t into this conversation.

I started this blog, my third actually if you count my first now defunct one and my former book club (Namaste Book Club) one, to write about MY experiences with yoga. I currently also co-run a second site that is a blog for yoga teachers by yoga teachers.  My goal was not to change the yoga world, to ruffle any feathers or to create chasms in canon of yogic practices with my musings.  To be totally honest it was more a way for me to talk about yoga to someone other than my guy, the elves and my amazing crew of yoga friends where I live. I needed to get my thoughts off my chest!  I wanted to write about what was happening on and off my mat, and really I did not care too much about what was happening on the yoga “stage” per se.  Luckily through my blog I’ve gotten the chance to connect with a cyber sangha, have had readers who have been inspired and inspiring, learned from my new community and also had some serious doubters.  The comments have flowed, slowed, and flowed again, most positive and some just not really that nice.  I have shared them all (of course except those damn spammer ones) because that is what I consider blogging to be:  free press and speaking your mind.

Have my posts rocked the yoga world?  Some perhaps have stirred some heart and controversy and others have fizzled out like an open bottle of seltzer.  I have blogged here and at several other bigger, more trafficked sites and always with the number one goal of sharing my opinions and not influencing yours.  I love reading yoga blogs and several that have been not mentioned in the whole “yoga bloggers” hoopla are gems in the midst of this silliness.  There are blogs that spark conversation by approaching yoga in fun and smart way, ones that deepen our knowledge of the practice and yet others that just invite you onto the mat of their writers.  All are unique and wonderful just like the many different styles of yoga, and each offers something special I treasure.

As much as I admire many of the bloggers who are pushing for the importance of yoga bloggers in the world of yoga, I think it might be time for us collectively to take a step back and remember something:  Just like Right Said Fred was nobody without Mick Jagger’s help (yep, he was his personal trainer), we are not yoga bloggers without the practice.  To suggest that we are changing something that has existed for hundreds, even thousands of years DIFFERENTLY on each mat is really a bit too presumptuous for me.

Let’s face it, Fred himself was not too sexy but his story  and connection to Mick sparked interest for  brief and fleeting moment.  Neither are we bloggers ever going to have the primal power to initiate cracks in yoga  with our words, we are merely riding along the waves the practice has created for us.  To suggest we have the power to do otherwise is really not addressing the vastness that yoga holds for each of us individually and internally.

We collectively need to take a big bit of our own advice and step away from our blogs and connect with our own breath for a few.  I personally have used this discussion to remember why it is I blog, and to feel so thankful for my practice, my community, my students and my readers.  My blog is my other yoga mat:  it is supportive and grippy and some days I cannot bear to come to it.  Without yoga however, I have no blog and merely a rectangular piece of rubber on which to stand.

Bloggers cannot change yoga, period.  We can however change how we individually practice, share and connect about it.  To assume more than that is well…. to make us all look about as hip and cool as Right Said Fred.

39 Responses to #365yoga: Day 188 (?) I’m Too Sexy

  1. love. excellently and wisely stated dear N.

    Y I’m too sexy for this blogD

  2. Ugh, the very fact that YJ called it “yogging” makes me distrust anything else that follows in that article.

  3. Thanks for this love — wow there is some stuff bein’ stirred out there! I so appreciate your openness and using your blog as a reflection of your journey :) Much love.

  4. You rock, Nancy. :)

  5. always enjoy your blog

  6. True words. Yoga will never ever be universally the same for every person. Our yoga journey is ours. People who try to persuade, or put themselves on a pedestal forget that key concept.

    good stuff :]

    • thanks for the reply and now I have had time to check out YOUR blog which is terrific! keep on keepin’ on

  7. Love your blog and read it daily. And in no way mean to detract from today’s topic — but Mick Jagger was Right Said Fred’s personal trainer? Never would have guessed that!

  8. Right freakin’ on, lady! Blogging is just another way to get the words out there. But the act of blogging itself changes nothing about yoga and the wisdom it conveys.

    • Indeed S.. for me blogging can be as cathartic as a good Kapotasana holding. But the real truth is found deep inside and through the practice. I guess you’ve nailed exactly why I felt compelled to write this

  9. well done. well said. shanti

  10. I’ve been away and minding my own business so have only a slight idea of what you are referring to, after catching a few things here and there on Twitter.

    My blogging about yoga – when it is the topic, which isn’t always – will not change the world. It might have a few people calling me up to see if my offerings will be what they’re looking for. They might be more interested in my schedule than by what I can be rambling about though.
    My blogging may not be changing the world. It may be the doorway for me to help them change their world though. Off line.

    • True words E… opening doors on and off line and these doors are both communicative and possibly practical as well.

  11. Hi Nancy – I’m sorry that this conversation (which I’m obviously centrally implicated in) has irked you. I hope you know that I think that your online work is incredibly valuable and was not in any way meant to be excluded from claims that “yoga blogging matters.” Perhaps it’s easier to swallow if we step back from grandiose language about “evolving yoga” and just focus on the here and now. If we ask, does this blog, Teachasana, and the whole community that’s created matter to people’s lives – including their yoga practice? I think that the the obvious answer is “yes.”

    Personally, I do think that something like blogging everyday about being a yoga practitioner/teacher who’s also very much a hands-on Mom is, if not “changing yoga” in some fundamental sense, bringing something new and important to the practice. If something like that has ever been done before, I’m not aware of it . . . at any rate, I’d be happy to continue the conversation and try to build bridges, as I don’t want to form separatist cliques, but rather co-create one big conversation that’s hugely diverse – and even full of civil disagreements (because if we were all the same and always agreed on everything, think how much less we would learn!).

    • Hey C… I was not for a second worried that I was not included in the list of yoga bloggers and actually my post had really nothing to do with that. I know that my blog, my comments and my opinions are respected by you and the rest of the crew leading the conference panel. Really it was more to address the grandioseness that has be put on the whole idea of yoga bloggers changing the course of yoga. Maybe this is an idea that you personally did not push, but the implication is there for sure by some of the other posts on the subject.

      And yes, being a mom and a yoga teacher and a mostly daily blogger is a novel idea perhaps, but being two of those things is something at least one yoga teacher at every gym and studio is. What I am doing is not new, nor is it Earth shattering (and I don’t hope that it will be), but it is what feels right for me. If it calls attention to the balance some of us try (and often fail) to acheive in our lives on and off the mat then cool. But to suggest that it is transforming someone’s idea of yoga seems wildly speculative if not highly optimistic. Although I do feel honored you think so ;-)
      Yoga blogging is a great way to spark conversation, to create community but not really a way to transform the canon of yoga which is kind of what I was trying to say. I also did not feel like there were “groups” being formed amongst ourselves, rather I wanted to highlight some bloggers I feel were not included in this discussion but should be.
      I celebrate what you are sharing, but just wanted to offer some caution to you all and to others who think that we can rock yoga with our words.

  12. Thank you for sharing, great thoughts Nancy-and timely for me as well. I had a Hindu woman from India in my class last night, she was visiting family here in town. She approached me in her traditional garb after class and we had a conversation (that was at times lost in translation), but the clear message was “our yoga is different”. She was kind and respectful with her words, and when she said the salutations were very different, I clued in to what she was talking about- that Ashtanga/vinyasa of jumping up and back. Additionally, I had rounded the class off with a few yin poses. I smiled and shook my head and encouraged her to practice HER salutations as it is her yoga practice. She smiled broadly and a sigh of relief released from her body. I hope she comes back…whatever we write about or whatever other styles of yoga that have evolved through the 20th and 21st century will never change the primal essence of yoga.

    • Good for you Sondra! I think there are so many classes that are rigid and don’t offer students the chance to find their own spaces. I work really hard on creating a permissive environment in mine and I think it allows students to grow in their own individual ways.

  13. hey nancy ~ i think it’s great that this discussion has inspired you to reflect on why you blog and to feel gratitude for the lovely aspects of the practice. in my opinion, that is the true purpose of the upcoming panel discussion at the yoga festival: not to pontificate on the “importance” of blogging about yoga, but to celebrate this movement and the diversity of voices that make it up.

    i just want to share something from the panel description: “Is yoga blogging the new jnana yoga? We think it might be. Never have so many yogis from so many paths with so many ideas dialogued so vigorously and spontaneously about life and practice. Yogging has democratized philosophy, opened up the ashram library, shown us our differences, and what we share.” i think that this highlights the underlying purpose of the discussion, and of blogging about yoga in general. it’s about life and practice ~ not self-importance or “changing the world.”

    i definitely feel gratitude for the courage and inspiration that you share on your blog on a daily basis. you were also one of the first bloggers i connected with when i started my blog. i remember joining the namaste book club in the summer of 2009 and being too shy to get involved in the discussions! i listened and learned and applied what i learned to my own life.

    anyway, my dear, keep up the good work here and please, know that the intention of this panel discussion isn’t to put certain bloggers on a pedestal or silence others. and come join us in toronto! it would be lovely to have you there! xoxo

    (ps, i also didn’t know right said fred was mick jagger’s trainer!)

    • Hey R.. see my reply to Carol above so you can confirm again that my intent by this post was not to suggest that my voice was silenced or that those of the blogs listed in my post were either. Rather I wanted to just say that sweet: we are opening some doors to conversation, but we are NOT changing yoga with our words. Maybe we have showed some new or different aspects, created forums for debate and shared our struggles and successes. But I am not comfortable with the idea that yoga bloggers (cannot bring myself to type yoggers seriously) are transforming the practice. I was merely stating that we are possibly transforming the PLATFORM for discussing, sharing and connecting about yoga.

      And yes, I remember the days when I offered to talk about yoga books and started the club. People were craving the conversation and the community became the biggest asset to being part. Times have certainly changed in that regard and I am happy that the sangha has opened a bit wider.

      I just hope that during this panel the conversation doesn’t give us too much credit for the spread or demise or change of yoga in America. Personally I would say that as individuals what we do on our own mats is way more important than any words a blogger posts. That’s all I meant.

    • Hi Roseanne,

      Re your comment: ““Is yoga blogging the new jnana yoga? We think it might be.”

      I respectfully and heartily disagree. Jnana is wisdom, not just knowledge gained via lectures and book learning. Instead, I think it’s gained by internal reflection. Anything that is then shared externally on blogs is cool and all, but it ain’t jnana. Just a reflection of it and a resource that might resonate with others. People still need to do their own work internally. That’s the truth of life in all respects.

      Over the years I’ve been given so many teachings but I haven’t really understood some of them until I was ready and able to inhabit the wisdom from my own experiences.

      Also, I know you guys are keen on it but I really can’t stand the term “yogging”. I don’t see a need to define yoga blogs like that and it seems just a little too… much.

  14. “I just hope that during this panel the conversation doesn’t give us too much credit for the spread or demise or change of yoga in America.” noted! i think it’s a good reminder. thanks for your response and for sharing!

    • Personally I would say that as individuals what we do on our own mats is way more important than any words a blogger posts. <– for me this was the more important part of that paragraph

  15. as a yoga blogger who started writing 6 years ago, long before there was the plethora of yoga blogs, I have found the entire discussion of this new thing called “yogging” pretty amusing. I mean, an entire panel discussion about it! AS IF yoga blogging was a recent invention that needs to be dissected and analyzed! really?

    so I find that my feelings are the same as yours on it — “continued conversation about the upcoming Canadian yoga conference and the inclusion of a panel discussion about the importance of yoga bloggers has irked me” — although I can’t put my finger on exactly why but annoyance feels like this….if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck….uh, yeah.

    “as I don’t want to form separatist cliques” — done a long time ago. isn’t the panel itself a clique?

    I’ve been tempted to throw down my two rupees about it (as you’ve done here), but why bother?

    • thanks for your input and for keeping the yoga blog scene cooking for all these years. i threw down my two rupees b/c I couldn’t deal but really in the same regard so many things I said were already unsaid out there in the ether. I just put them on the cyber page.

  16. this is such a tremendous thing happening, a true conversation about what we mean, and what things, including yoga, mean for each of us

    i am particularly relieved to see carol and nancy conversing

    if even a similarity of this occurred among our local, state, federal, and world “representatives” – there would be change indeed ;-)

    i am, truthfully, still working through both all the comments, re-reading the article, and having to mull much over in my mind and heart – and in this, i truly believe, for me, both will have to, and will come to an understanding on this topic

    i’ve not hid, nor tried to, that i don’t hold “final say” in texts or personages, current or ancient, and that final says are within

    within that same thought and feeling, is that the term yoga itself, is included

    do i feel there are or is an essence immutable unchanging and unchangeable?

    yes, and it is, rare for me to perceive, beyond words, though words bring us as close as we can with “each other” – because we are this paradox of individualities within a oneness

    it would’ve reminded me of, and grieved me beyond what i want to imagine, of what i sensed happened in the 60′s and 70′s when the then spiritual push in the nation and world, splintered, and only recently, with the addition of fitness theory and practice (like it or not) that yoga has found the footing-strength to re-enter mainstream life in the u.s. (not that it wouldn’t’ve in our own lives because of internal impetus etc)

    does that make not respect carol? or nancy? or yogadork? or the hindu lady sondra mentioned in a comment?

    absolutely not

    but i don’t not respect myself either -

    do we, can we, or have we, as people, ever changed anything in history by our conversations and sharings?

    geez – the reformation, the rise of christianity, the french revolution, our american revolution, texas independence

    “religion” changed – “freedom” changed

    our constitution mentions rights, inalienable rights – so there is something we believe “does not change”

    but our concepts, our words, our feelings of what freedom, religion, yoga, fitness, wellness, love, changes, with time and experience

    if there is a “yoga” equal to what i can only imagine the core “love” or “freedom” is, i don’t know it, i don’t feel myself evolved to sense that to be true, i might one day

    putting “yoga” on a level with “love” or “freedom” or “god” is, for me, too synonymous with what’s happened with terms like religion, subject to rules and canons and unchanging rules and expectations that “someone” is willing to “let us know” what that is ;-) no thanks

    i also suspect much of what i’m saying, nancy and carol also intend – what doesn’t mesh, is, well, part of the conversation

    did i say i needed to finish this and that to get back to saying something on this? ;-) well i fooled myself ;-)

    thanks so much you guys, this was just not possible without smokey dark meeting rooms, in the past ;-)

    we are changing things, what exactly, i don’t know, but change there is -

    maybe towards the unchanging? ;-)

  17. Pingback: Yoga Festival Toronto

  18. i think that this very kind of post and the diverse conversation that it sparks is most definitely evidence that “we can rock yoga with our words”–and i think that’s awesome! so thanks for being a platform for this kind of exploration to occur!

    “we are not yoga bloggers without the practice. To suggest that we are changing something that has existed for hundreds, even thousands of years DIFFERENTLY on each mat is really a bit too presumptuous for me.”

    what is “the practice”? how can we define “the canon of yoga”? i think that we must always consider these terms in the context of the particular culture and the particular time in which they’re being used…hearing dr. frawley and mark singleton at yoga festival toronto certainly impressed this upon me.

    so when you say, nancy, that blogging can’t transform the practice or “transform the canon of yoga” or sondra, that “whatever we write about or whatever other styles of yoga that have evolved through the 20th and 21st century will never change the primal essence of yoga”, i wonder what you would say DOES change the practice and canon of yoga? because certainly, we can’t deny that there have been some changes here and there in the past 2000 years : ) perhaps “the essence” (whatever that means) hasn’t changed but certainly the expression of that essence, “the practice,” has transformed, evolved, devolved, changed…

    also, precisely BECAUSE what has been practiced over the past 2000 years in the name of yoga (whether on the dirt floor of a cave or on an eco-friendly mat atop cork floors, in the kitchens of ashrams, seated behind tablas or at a computer) has been so vastly DIFFERENT, it seems quite unfair to suggest that blogging (because it’s modern and doesn’t happen in a yoga studio?) doesn’t have the power to change how “yoga” is “practiced” in north america.

    svasti, if inward contemplation and reflection that gives rise to wisdom which is then offered and expressed outwardly through words ISN’T jnana yoga, then we are excluding many, many people from “the practice of yoga.” we are stripping away the possibility for each individual “to grow in their own individual ways.” and nancy, to say that “what we do on our mats is way more important than any words a blogger posts” seems to imply that a yogi who has a writing practice rather than an asana practice isn’t able to engage in the same kind of deep personal work that a yogi doing sun salutations is doing.

  19. Pingback: Yoga Bloggers Meet in the Flesh! They’re Alive! Alliiiive! | elephant journal

  20. hey flying, and commenters —

    thanks for your preview-interest in this event — this is how it turned out, from my point of view:

    http://www.elephantjournal.com/2011/08/yoga-bloggers-meet-in-the-flesh-theyre-alive–alliiiive/

    cheers…

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