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...