Saturday, September 25, 2010

I met Carol Horton.

I met Carol Horton of the blog: Think Body Electric last night. We had food and drink at Mana, one of my favorite places right across the street from Yogaview-Division. It’s always so great to meet blog friends, and it was a delight to meet Carol.

Guess what we talked about??

Well, we talked about yoga culture and yoga blogging, Internet culture and relationships.

I heard Carol express concerns about how yoga is increasingly being taught as more of a workout sport, and less as a spiritual discipline. And I also heard her say that when she started yoga, she really wanted to stretch out, but she remembered that some of her earliest teachers said things about synchronicity and spirituality that made her stop and think in different ways at times. And at some point the yoga really hit home and became an important and safe place for her to nurture her authentic self.

I found myself identifying with what I heard her saying (I hope I got it right—there’s always the danger that I might have just seen my own projections.), and I found myself thinking that our early yoga paths may have been somewhat similar.

The image of yoga, as it is becoming more incorporated into American culture and advertising parlance, seems to be taking on popular notions about beauty and worthiness for women which means thin and physically desirable to men. This directly presents a deep and personal conflict for women (not unlike me) who through the process of yoga have found a connection to personal authenticity that went previously unrecognized by others, but now is seen and known, personally, by individual practitioners of yoga, possibly through a breakthrough experience during the practice.

I understand this. Our personal revelations about life are sacred and important. And worth honoring and protecting.

Blogging about yoga gives a forum for people who care enough about it to devote time regularly to writing about it to be read (or “heard”) by others, and there is an opportunity for feedback. This is the richness of this medium. Blogging has been such a blessing for me because of this. Through blogging I have learned that I am not alone. In fact I have discovered that others feel similar to me on yogic subjects. This has been very affirming.

Another richness of the feedback in comments is that they can contain viewpoints that differ from those expressed in the original post. If this is done in a respectful manner, it can be very helpful to readers and writers on the Internet.

What has sometimes happened (recently in my direct experience) is that someone will openly attack someone else personally (and/or behind their back). Personal attacks are not appropriate or helpful. I think that when people get into attack mode it indicates a personal issue getting triggered, and in that reactive or "triggered" mentality we might just want to make the other person “wrong” or somehow convince ourselves that they are insignificant (lesser than our higher or more relevant viewpoint).

Another option (rather than an automatic attack) is to take some time and process the anger through personal journal writing, or another private avenue like talking to a trusted person outside the direct conflict to gain clarity. Then, if you want to take on the issue or idea publicly, do it in a way that honors and respects all parties involved, but be heard. Allow your distinct viewpoint to get some air and eyes. It’s always a risk if you know or aren’t sure if others agree. But do it. I think it helps everybody to open our minds and hearts to understand multiple viewpoints.

Another response that I find suspect is just shutting someone out. If you are deeply disturbed by something someone has said try to find out more, possibly through personal email (or possibly through personal journal writing), if the subject seems sensitive. But if you don’t like something you read in someone’s writing after years of relationship, and respond by unfriending on Facebook or unfollowing and blocking them on Twitter, what message does that send?

It sent a confusing message to me when that recently happened. I just don’t know why two friends that I’ve included in my prayers, and helped me through some lonely times, particularly when I was new to blogging, have suddenly cut themselves off from my info. But I honor their apparent need to define a boundary right now.

That’s it in a nutshell (for now...): Yoga Culture, Blogging, Internet Culture, and Relationships.

I am getting an education.

Thanks, Carol! I’ve only processed a bit of our in-depth conversation. I really appreciate the opportunity (that we seized) to get together and share ideas.

What a blessing!


Bob Weisenberg said...

Two of my very favorite Yoga bloggers, blogosphere conversationalists, and all around human beings.

Read their blogs!

Bob W.

YogaforCynics said...

And you didn't invite me?!

Awright, Brooks, now I'm so pissed off at you and Carol Horton I'm gonna stop reading your blogs, unfriend you, unfollow you, block you, and let my pet marmot piss all over your respective front lawns!

Just kidding.

It's funny, actually, that back when I first started writing my blog, I thought people in the yoga world were too nice--ignoring what were obviously strong disagreements. Then I'd look at all the arguing in the Buddhist crowd and think "if only yogis could be so open with their conflicts."

Like they say, be careful what ya wish for...

Emma said...

Hi Brooks,
I read Carol's latest post and I find it brilliant. It didn't comment because to be honest, I'm still processing it :-)
The whole array of recent discussions has left me a bit confused, to say the least. Good thing about this though, is that it has given me food for thought and I've learned a lot, including about myself and my own reactions. So, yeah, again the new born Care Bear inside of me thinks that it's not all bad (or maybe the Care Bear wishes it isn't).

Lindsay said...

Thanks for this, Brooks! I have found that in written conversations like blog forums and even emails a lot gets lost in the translation. It's tricky and we do tend to project our experience on others' posts/comments.

When I write or comments I incorporate the yamas/niyamas. Satya and ahimsa are expecially helpful.

And I LOVE meeting my blog and social media friends in person. It's the best. :)

Christina Sarich said...

I can tell you that most people come to my classes to learn asanas. They really have no idea how much more yoga can offer them. It is only through a FULL understanding of yoga in its myriad forms that people can really receive its full benefits. After practicing for more than ten years and teaching for half that, I can promise that there is much, much more to yoga than just asana.


Frenzy36 said...

My only comment is that you do miss the one Yoga bias that almost everyone accepts without thinking. That is that yoga is primarily for women, or that women benefit from it in a different more spiritual way.

Now I don't mind that nor do I mind some of the yoga classes out there that mimic the old aerobics classes.

Just like in college, the lesson shouldn't stop when you leave the classroom - always seek knowledge yourself.

Leann said...


Sounds like a wonderful time. I've always wanted to try Mana!

I know what you mean about yoga turning into just another workout. There's something very special about this practice. My hope is that even if people are initially drawn to it for that reason, they'll soon reap the mental and spiritual benefits of the practice as well.

I recently posted about CorePower, a studio that can be accused of focusing on the external benefits of yoga. I think I can practice there at this point in my journey because I supplement their asana classes with my own meditation, pranayama, and spiritual readings.

Thank you for your heartfelt writing.


Laura said...

Carol sounds terrific Brooks, I'll have to look through her blog. My intro to yoga was very much as a spiritual journey (even though my first yoga class was technically a phys-ed elective in college-my teacher made it clear from day one that yoga was not simply a form of exercise!!!)

I'm sorry that you are feeling hurt/confused about being "shut down" from some online is very hard to know what's going on...and important to know that it likely has little to do with you and a lot to do with whatever is going on for them...perhaps now is an even more important time to hold them in your prayers than ever!

gentle steps sweet yogini warrior!

Pearl said...

How interesting! One of my favorite yoga bloggers, no doubt.