Monday, September 29, 2008

Ambiently aware

Last week the "Build a Yoga Community" article came out on My Yoga Mentor. It is about the bricks-and-mortar relationships that come from belonging to a studio and/or practicing with other yogis. There are some useful tips (if I do say so myself), but I had to leave out any discussion of online communities because of space.

This is despite the fact that my online yoga community is the one I
am actually more involved in as a yoga practitioner. Sadly, I really only have time for asana in the classes I teach and there isn't another studio in town (the only other Iyengar teacher in Beloit teaches at the same time I do). So the yoga student in me has to be satisfied with the occasional jaunt to Madison--which is great--but not regular. I certainly miss the regular contact with a teacher and being able to lose myself in some one else's instruction.

I am exceedingly grateful for the interaction I do have with the yoga bloggers out there. There seems to be a number of us practicing and teaching in smaller towns with few yoga resources, and it's nice to keep up and compare notes--heck, it's nice to keep up with those in big towns with tons of studios. The online yoga crowd is not alone...apparently, this "ambient awareness" is a byproduct of all the social networking sites, and has become a subject of study among digital communication experts

Ambient Awareness is the "weak ties" you have between other people through the internet. These are not the face-to-face, more emotional connections you have with family and close friends. You probably haven't even met most of these people, but you still engage in their lives and how things are going by keeping track of them through their blogs, Twitter, Facebook pages, etc. And they keep track of you.

Many of the scholars studying these relationships suggest that they are actually quite healthy, and help you develop a sense of belonging and connection (as long as they don't replace your strong-tie relationships). In the NYT article, a number of people mentioned that keeping a running log of their day-to-day activities was actually very calming. They were able to step out of emotional situations and evaluate their behavior in a way that lowered the temperature and gave them perspective.

I think that's how this blog has become a major part of my yoga practice. It is not so physical, but by thinking about how to describe poses and clarifying thoughts for my essays is a way of getting inside my head and quieting the "monkey brain." Not exactly pranayama, but some of the same end results. And, as I mentioned, it's great to be able to check on other yogis out there every few days and see how the baby is doing/what's going on in Melbourne/how the trip to India went/who's being taken to task/has it snowed in Duluth,yet etc etc etc.

I almost want to get a Twitter account...


Jenn said...

Wow. It's interesting to know these "relationships" have a name. I've had conversations with my face to face friends about how interesting online relationships are. Those with people who you have never met, but you feel like you know because you read about their day to day life on their blog. For me it's interesting watching people's kids grow up, learning about moves, job changes, etc...and feeling all a part of it, without being ANY part of it. It also helps me to realize that in the end, we're not all that different, regardless of age or where we live or current life focuses. We're all people trying to move through this world the best we can and we can all use support while we're at it.

Thanks for posting this!

shinyyoga said...

tehee couldn't agree more! lovely post.. I especially felt a longing to be part of a regular yoga studio (as a student) with a regular teacher.. but my teaching schedule and full time work schedule just doesn't allow it, and like you - I get most of my asana practice whilst teaching.

However, the online blogs are really some of my best yoga friends right now! They give me inspiration, motivation and friendship : ) And yoga podcasts... I listen to them in the car, practice to them at home.. it's definitely an exciting, modern day relationship :)

Linda Sama said...

hey, sounds like a business opportunity for me in Beloit!! :) and I may do a workshop up in Madison!

but you are right about the blogger relationships that are created...they are "friends" but in a different way....I officially met one of my blog gal pals in India and another reader has also donated money to me for my India travel advice....

it's all good!

Jen said...

This post really struck home for me. After having a baby, I have a lot less free time and on the rare occassion that I do take a yoga class, I'm usually sprinting out the door afterwards so that I can make it home for the next feeding. And the two classes a week that I teach are in a studio where another class is scheduled immediately afterwards, so I don't have much opportunity for face-time with my students after class. That's why I really appreciate the online yoga community. When I'm up at 3am, I can find a little inspiration online.

Yoga Mama said...

This post was a sign of grace to me. As you know, I haven't posted consistently on my blog since having baby girl, let alone read my fellow yogi and yogini's blogs like your own. So this morning I thought, I really need to check out GTTSB.

As I began to read your post, I thought, wow, I do miss this community, knowledge sharing, conversation of the online world. And then at the end when I saw "see how the baby's doing" and I knew as I clicked on it I would be routed to my blog.

Thank you Brenda for this sign of grace - I loved catching up with your blog and hopefully this is the nudge I needed to "crawl" my way back to this community.

Big hug from Brijin and me!

Anonymous said...

Hey Brenda!

Can't believe I haven't commented on this yet! It's funny, I now spend a fair amount of time in a real-life yoga community, but in South Africa, I felt quite excluded from the yoga that was happening there - all power and performance - and I didn't feel I fitted, so this online community was my lifeline! Don't know what I would have done without you all! Thanks for this great post, and for your great YJ article, which I lapped up.