Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Reflections from an Old-Timer

A. Durer, St. Jerome in his Study, 1514

...well, not that old. But the combo of Carole's question last week about long-time blogging, coupled with my 44th birthday on the 3rd (officially in my mid-forties, whatever that means), I've been thinking about what I've learned over the last five years of GTTSB.

It seems there are two levels of change: macro and micro. Macro is the level of
sophistication in the process-both in the software and the bloggers themselves. Vlogs, audio, video, beautiful graphics, bold templates; everything looks and runs so professionally (remember how long it use to take to just get one dinky photo uploaded?). And the authors: marketing savvy, cross-platforming, multiple technologies. Tweet, tweet. People are much more skilled at drawing attention to their work and themselves (for good and bad). Reading blogs is much more of an event, and I like all the interaction across these platforms and the humor and wit that bubbles up to the surface. Writing them seems to be a lot more work, tho, to stay abreast of all the technology.

The micro is how I've changed. It's funny to look back at the oldest posts--so earnest and helpful. More didactic than personal. I thought this would be more of an infomation clearinghouse: sequences, explanations of poses, lists of resources...a place to refer students who were asking for suggestions. I got a chuckle out of a post from November '06, when I speculated about the possibility of yogis all over the world communicating on the internet. Who knew?

The first few months I pined away for comments from non-relatives (altho I was very grateful for relatives who were actually reading), and finally figured out how to hook up with statcounter to measure hits and see where people were coming from. I began writing for Yoga (Thank, Erica!), which was a wonderful opportunity to take a closer look at some topics I'd written about and also interview various notables about said topics. This also increased readership and invited more commenting.

In March of '07, I started to include more links on the page (good ole' Yoga Dawg gets a mention), which encouraged me to interact more with other bloggers. Son #2 was born in August of '07, and this seems to have given me a more personal focus. Maybe I was tired of "teacher voice" and wanted to start using my own "writer voice."

By '08 the topics sound more like what we're all used to: teacher training, hot bods vs blissed-out bods, what's authentic, etc etc. I can't go back to my "old" blog rolls, but it would be interesting to see who was on the scene at that point and how that affected the conversation (Y. Dawg, Nadine Falwell and Linda S. all commented, so that crowd is very familiar). In February of '09, I joined seems wild that social networking wasn't really on the scene until three years after I started. I project all the back and forth onto earlier memories.

By the middle of '09 the conversations were just that--chatty, sharing experiences and ideas (I cracked up re-reading a discussion of some one's "problem student" who always ended up with an erection during savasana. Gracious!) By October of '09, we were venturing into more controversial territory and many of the same conundrums (conundra?) that face us today; more people were responding on their own blogs and it was nice to read carefully thought-out arguments. By 2010, it was all-out, perhaps culminating in l'affaire toesox.

So I like this new vein that we seem to be in--the evolution of yoga and how it serves us on an individual basis. Maybe we can finally put the "maybe you just need to do more yoga" suggestion for those who question hierarchies and tradition out to pasture. Waaay out. Do away with angry, ungrammatical commenting. We are thinkers who write (obviously) so of course we want to explore these ideals out loud. I'm all for it. Svadhyaya is its own niyama, after all, and even the ancients encouraged some self-reflection.

That's what I see from my perch of a half decade. But enough about me...what do the rest of you oldies have to say? What do you think is the biggest difference? The best improvement? Worst development? What's next? What have you learned during your tenure on the blog rolls?


Carol Horton said...

Interesting that it seems that yoga blogging has perhaps become more commercial (or at least professional), even as the conversation that it got rolling reached a fever pitch over issues of commercialization! My sense however is that that debate peaked and in a sense concluded last summer - which was only my starting point, so I don't have the long-term perspective - but I wonder if others agree.

Jenn said...

Happy Daisy Yoga - alive and kicking since February 2008. How can that be? I, it sounds like you, had started my yoga related blog so innocently...just wanting to put little useful information out there. Unlike you I couldn't hang with all the discussions over the past several years. At a time when my family was experiencing our own personal upheaval, the last thing I wanted was to face controversy in the discussions of the practice to which I turned for reprieve.

I still enjoy writing my blog and reading a few of my long standing favorites, but find myself visiting fewer and fewer yoga related social communities. I guess honestly part of me likes living in my own little bubble. Doing my study. Teaching my classes. Occasionally sharing my thoughts. On the other hand being selective with my readership/involvement has been about finding balance in life between a life online...and a life.

Maybe the journey my blog/practice/teaching business has taken is just the natural course of such an undertaking. Maybe it's a reflection of finding peace with a truer sense of myself over the years and searching for less outside validation. Whatever it is I am but one small pixel in the whole picture of the online yoga community. The discussions will continue whether I choose to participate or not. And I will continue to study/practice/teaching and occasionally share my thoughts (or not) on my blog. And the world will keep spinning.

Thanks for being one of those voices I've always enjoyed hearing through the years!

roseanne said...

I would love to see some kind of timeline or infographic for the evolution of the yoga blogger. I think the "old-timers" voices are important and they offer perspective. One thing that I've noticed after my 6-month hiatus is how there has been an explosion of new yoga blogger voices (and, tbh, many many of them sound the same). It's nice to see, but at the same time, it's a little overwhelming.

All I can say is: keep it up, Brenda! I love what you have to contribute! :)

roseanne said...

btw, I really agree with Carol that the commercialization conversation peaked last summer. It was an interesting time to be involved in the community, and I think everyone (not just bloggers, but marketers and teachers and product companies) learned a lot. I'm hoping the conversation isn't over, but it's definitely evolved.

Brenda P. said...

Thanks for you thoughts. Let's hope something was learned--I wonder, tho. The rest of the world still seems in the thrall of reality TV, Snooki and "celebrity" this and thats. Maybe the News of the World hacking scandal will inspire some introspection or at least a bit of awareness of the shamelessness of the 24-hr news cycle, but I doubt it.

However, it does seems like the conversation is getting a bit more interesting yoga-wise. I'm ready for something different and more thoughtful...something you all provide!

Linda-Sama said...

I was recently interviewed for a book and the author found me via my blog -- turns out he is a long time reader (and writer/photographer.)

One of the topics we talked about was yoga blogging and it was his opinion that like in everything else pop culture, there's a lot of yakking out there, but not very much substance. lots of knowledge, not too much wisdom.

In our interview it was his belief that what separates the good yoga writers from the bad, so to speak, is whether a yoga blogger makes the readers think or whether it's just another post about trying to get a leg behind a head. He felt there was a lot more of the latter than the former.

We both agreed that blogging is the new journaling or diary -- and we both did not want to read everyone's diary.

Actually, Brenda, I think the yoga world is also enthralled with its own celebrities -- we are lulled into the belief that somehow just because it's yoga, that we are immune from that. uh, not. look at John Friend, Tara Stiles, etc. there is a dearth of commentary on my three post series of trauma sensitive yoga -- not sexy enough -- but plenty of comments about Tara Stiles.

Yogadawg said...

March of '07...ahh, the good ole' days when there were only a few yoga stars to pick on...:)

Linda-Sama said...

I started writing in March of many other yoga blogs were around then, seriously? who really IS an old-timer?

so I'm calling out Roseanne and Carol regarding the yoga blogging thing in Canada: where is their discussion going to start from? from the past or the present?

inquiring minds want to know....