Monday, August 13, 2007

Blogging as a Yoga Practice

I’ve been a self-publisher from an early age. In fourth grade I put out a monthly newsletter call Brenda’s Bugle that featured such goodies as book reviews, 4-clue crossword puzzles, some cartoons cribbed from the New Yorker and a contest that my grandmother always won (I knew she wouldn’t collect the prize money—usually a dollar). There was also a two-issue modern dance “magazine” that I forced my sister to subscribe to and a fanzine some friends and I intended to start in high school, but just ended up borrowing some disks from the campus record store with the intension of reviewing them (I wrote the reviews but never got around to printing them…or returning the records).

There were legitimate ventures, as well (journalism wasn’t just a way to scam money from people). In high school I wrote for the school paper and yearbook and even majored in journalism in college, until I decided art history seemed more dignified. So when I decided to start a blog, the writing came quite naturally.

Thank God for Blogger and TypePad and all the rest. I love the potential of each blog and the ease with which one can put together information, upload images and have a nicely laid-out post available to anyone with an internet connection. I appreciate the sense of obligation a blog provides; the discipline required to keep writing when you aren’t getting paid is hard to maintain on your own, but a blog’s audience, even if just a few readers, is enough to keep you on task. It is so great to hear from people out there and know that your musings are being read and thought about (even disagreed with).

Now that I’ve been at this for almost 15 months, I’ve noticed other benefits, as well. Originally my intension was simple; I wanted to provide my students with some additional practice sequences and information. However, trying to post every five days kept me thinking about yoga in my “off hours”—what would make a nice 20 minute sequence, what would be appropriate for the weather, how was something I had recently read applicable. I had to sharpen my descriptions of poses so that I could explain Adho Mukha Svanasana (Down Dog) with only minimal visual information. I also became more aware of how I demonstrated asana, so that my photos would be correct and useful, instead of revealing bad habits. My copy of B.K.S. Iyengar’s Light on Yoga became even more dog-eared, as I tripled-checked the Sanskrit spelling of poses under discussion.

In a way, this blog has become my yoga journal. Instead of writing for myself, however, I spend a lot of time thinking about how my practice and teaching can be useful and interesting to my readers. I find I get the most response to posts that are “thinky” rather than just a description of a sequence. I hope both are helpful, but it seems that people who read yoga blogs—and respond to them—are interested in the more contemplative parts of the practice. So I contemplate more that I used to and I suspect this is a good thing. It is not quite so inner-directed, but it is very simpatico with the way I like to express my feelings about yoga.

I’ve been talking about journaling lately and so I wanted to draw the act of blogging into the mix. I’m afraid my feelings about private journals are more in line with Kristin’s (see last week’s comments), but I do think the regular exercise of having to write carefully and concisely directly affects the rest of your yoga practice.

So, I’m not holding my breath until some one sends me some yoga books to review or sticky mats to try out—never the intention of this blog, despite my past history. I can’t even think of what an appropriate contest would be (sorry, Grandma). But the benefits to my personal practice and teaching have been far above and beyond what I ever expected. How’s that for a Yoga Thought! ©Brenda K. Plakans. All Rights Reserved.


Nadine Fawell said...

What a thoughtful post. You are right, I for one am more interested in the 'thinky' parts of yoga. There is only so far asana can take you. And past a certain point, who honestly cares whether you can do the splits?

I think my yoga blog has been serving much the same purpose for me as yours for you - I often clarify teaching points for myself by blogging them.

Keep going, you have a loyal, nay, devoted audience of at least one!

Brenda Plakans said...

Thanks Nadine...I could pretty much say, "back at 'cha." Another benefit of blogs is being able to keep tabs on the yoga world in So. Africa!


Michelle said...

I too read your blog Brenda. I am struggling now with working through my own practice without always thinking about my students. Does this ever happen to you?

Yoga Witch said...

I love your blog! I'm going through the archives and really appreciate the details on poses.

This is my favorite post, so far, though. I, too, was a young self-publisher, and still can't stop myself from writing!

Thanks for sharing your insights.