talkin’ about yoga & bloggin’ for montreal girl geek dinners

Me, girl geeking it up! I talk with my hands, apparently. (image via Alexandra Dao)

Last week I had the massive pleasure of talking about “The Yoga of Blogging” for the September Montreal Girl Geek Dinner (since I’m a girl and a yoga geek). I was amazed at the number of people who turned out, most of whom weren’t even my friends. About 50 geeky and yogic girls (and a few boys) showed up in the cozy basement of Brutopia for my talk (and I will never cease to be amused by the fact that I talked to a bar full of people about yoga).

The only way that I can describe the talk is that it was like a blog post come to life. It was even structured like a blog post: I talked for about 30 minutes, and my talk was followed by a Q&A period (just like a comments section). I started off by introducing myself and it’s all yoga, baby, my reasons for starting the blog and how I made the transition from editing a yoga magazine to blogging about yoga (which wasn’t too difficult, actually).

As I was preparing for my talk, I realized that blogging is part of my spiritual practice. My asana practice is a process of self-investigation, fueled by a desire to connect with myself and other people. Blogging, for me, has become an extension of this investigation. It’s also become a place to investigate yoga itself, and its permutations in North American culture. I think that I do this because I have a tendency to view most things in life through a cultural lens (I enjoy doing this, btw, it gives me energy and a sense of purpose).

The greatest rewards of this blog are the conversations and the sense of community. Blogging has been a tool for finding and building community. I’ve discovered an online network of people who are writing and thinking about yoga; they’re questioning and debating, exploring and engaging, and the conversations have pushed my concepts of yoga. These people are also fun, witty and entertaining, and they enrich my life.

To illustrate how conversations and community have appeared on this blog, I discussed the Adidas Yoga trilogy and what has affectionately become known as “Toesoxnudegate.” These are both actually pretty entertaining stories, full of passion and drama and intrigue, and they got a few laughs out of the crowd.

I concluded by saying that what matters in my yoga practice isn’t what happens on my mat; what matters is that I am more compassionate, caring and open-hearted in my everyday life. Similarly, as fun as blogging is, it has to benefit my practice in some way, it has to make me feel more connected, whole and engaged. What happens on the blog is amazing and wonderful, but the greatest gifts have taken place outside of the blogosphere: the email and “real world” relationships that I have developed through this vehicle, and the expansion of what I believe yoga can be.

And like a good blog post, the event wound down with a lively question period and discussion. I was impressed and inspired by the questions the crowd asked. I was expecting questions about the process of blogging, and there were a few about monetization and SEO (of which I know nothing other than it’s supposedly important). But people wanted to talk about yoga! They had observations and concerns about the direction of yoga. They were informed and curious, skeptical and hopeful.

After a good 45 minutes of inspired discussion, I started to close things down and said I’d take one more question. A guy (who had actually talked to his friends through most of the presentation) put up his hand and said, “I don’t mean to be provocative, but isn’t this contributing to the commercialization of yoga? Like, aren’t you commercializing yoga by being here tonight and talking about it?” I started to respond, diplomatically  ~ when a woman who I didn’t even know jumped in and pointed out that it was a free event, I was speaking as a volunteer, and that I wasn’t actually selling anything. I just stood back while they exchanged words (well, argued, actually) and then I declared that this is what I love to see happen on my blog: when readers engage, dialogue with each other (not necessarily argue, but debate is good! Even if it is a little heated).

I wanted the attendees to leave with more than just an evening of entertainment, so I also shared some of the secrets of it’s all yoga, baby‘s success. Here are what I hoped to be the takeaways…

The elements of conversation:

  • There’s no formula, but there is a way to find a balance between strategizing and just doing it ~ find that balance, be authentic, have an opinion but be open to others’ views.
  • Good content generates conversation ~ write thoughtful, easy to read posts, something that touches people and speaks your truth.
  • Align with what you’re good at and interested in.
  • You have to love receiving comments – each comment notification is like a Christmas present to me. I also stream recent comments in the sidebar, as a symbolic gesture of appreciation. (Another super secret: I keep this blog open in a browser tab at all times, and look at it adoringly throughout my day. Sometimes I even blow kisses at it.)

Creating community: niche as neighbourhood. One of the basic tenets of blogging is “know your niche” and how you fit in there. I prefer to think of my niche (yoga, duh) as a neighbourhood, and the ways that I encourage community within this space are pretty similar to how I find community in my offline life. They are:

  • Leave your house – read other blogs, follow them obsessively, pay attention to what’s happening in your ‘hood.
  • Talk to your neighbours – comment on other blogs, offer value, email bloggers that you find inspiring, create a blogroll
  • Get involved – respond to interesting posts from other blogs, pick up the conversation on your blog; get on Twitter, create a FB fanpage (obv).
  • Be nice – pretty basic, but express yourself with respect and intelligence; in my case, I work on being critical but not mean. I avoid personal attacks and aggressive acts – I also don’t accept negative or aggressive comments.
  • Express gratitude – thank readers’ for comments, send private emails or tweets if something touches, give away prizes and stuff.

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16 Comments

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  1. Hi, Roseanne.

    I was so sorry I couldn’t be at this event, but now I don’t feel quite so bad because your description is so vivid, with picture and all.

    I love this blog. Highlights for me:

    The only way that I can describe the talk is that it was like a blog post come to life.

    I realized that blogging is part of my spiritual practice

    (Another super secret: I keep this blog open in a browser tab at all times, and look at it adoringly throughout my day. Sometimes I even blow kisses at it.)

    Leave your house.

    At first I was worried that this last one, “leave your house” meant “leave your house”, which, as a yoga cyber-hermit, I rarely do except to play tennis, buy groceries, run errands, or fly off to visit grandbabies. I was relieved to learn that you mean “leave your CYBER-house”. That I can do!

    I’m so glad you took the time to share this event with us. We have all learned from your example all along.

    Bob Weisenberg
    ElephantJournal

  2. “I keep this blog open in a browser tab at all times, and look at it adoringly throughout my day. Sometimes I even blow kisses at it.” LOVE this!! I totally do it too :). Great post!

  3. You’re sort of the corner bar in my cyber-neighbo(u)rhood. Make mine a double! (P.S. Cute frock).

  4. What a fun opportunity! And a very lovely post.

  5. It has been a synchronous past few weeks! I had internally committed to starting a yoga blog as a way of sharing my frequent and detailed thoughts about yoga and modern society, and I came across your blog through the post about a YTT standards Town Hall hosted by YOCOTO in Toronto.

    I’ve since started my blog (akhandayoga.wordpress.com), written a few posts, and found out my closest friend started a blog on the SAME day I did. We had been talking about finding ways of joining the dialogue on yoga since before there were such things as blogs. But, what a perfect medium for sharing our reflections with a wider audience, and entering a dialogue. I love your comment about community!

    I always find September an inspiring month, the cool, crisp air recharging us with fresh prana each time we take a deep inhale, savouring the change of seasons. It’s been a great few weeks, and I’m thoroughly enjoying following your blog!

    Om! Chetana

    • welcome to the blogosphere, chetana! it’s a wonderful place to be. it’s also a great way to jump into the dialogue. i’m looking forward to reading your observations!

      • Thanks so much! It is really feeling like a community especially on your blog. The comments about YJ advertising post were so thoughtful and considered!

        OM!

  6. Yay! What a wonderful real-world way to support blogging. I love it – the conjunction of on and off the mat, on and off line! Keep spreading the love.

    Oh, and do they still have that gorgeous raspberry beer at Brutopia?? Oh, the memories… and sometimes lack thereof… 😉

  7. This sounds so great! “Similarly, as fun as blogging is, it has to benefit my practice in some way, it has to make me feel more connected, whole and engaged. What happens on the blog is amazing and wonderful, but the greatest gifts have taken place outside of the blogosphere: the email and “real world” relationships that I have developed through this vehicle, and the expansion of what I believe yoga can be.” I absolutely love this. What a great post. You are blogrolled, baby!

  8. Great post Roseanne, I would have loved to be there! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  9. I love the idea of blogging as an extension of your yoga practice. I agree. Of course, in some ways everything is part of my yoga practice… but blogging, as a form of communion, especially so. In some ways blogging is a parallel practice all its own, too….

  10. hey everyone ~ thanks for your support, and i’m glad to hear that the talk resonated with you. i got a friend to record it, but the light in the bar was so bad that you can’t see anything. i’m trying to get comfortable enough with technology to extract the audio from the video, so you can at least hear me, but i have some learning curves (and now my secret is out of the bag ~ i’m not that much of a geek! or least a techy geek. i’m geek in many other ways).

    @brenda ~ you’re welcome to hang in my corner pub anytime. i’ll give you a double gin and sarcasm. and thanks for appreciating my frock – it’s one of my faves.

    @lagitane ~yep, they still have that raspberry beer. mmm, trouble…

    @yogabird ~ thanks for the blogroll! i’m looking forward to exploring your blogworld, too!

  11. “Blogging is part of my spiritual practice.” Love it! And I couldn’t agree more. Blogging has enhanced my personal practice and my sense of community–both within my actual town and in the larger sense of the yoga community. Great post!

  12. “As I was preparing for my talk, I realized that blogging is part of my spiritual practice. My asana practice is a process of self-investigation, fueled by a desire to connect with myself and other people. Blogging, for me, has become an extension of this investigation. ”

    Yes, I think you hit it right on the button. Sharing all things yoga seems to bring joy into my life as well, and how wonderful of you to speak about it at a special dinner! It feels good to connect with others. I’m sure they all went away inspired. Good for you!!!

  13. Hey there, I really love what you’ve done with this site. You are so passionate about yoga, I can tell you really know what you’re talking about. Have you ever tried Thai yoga massage or featured an article on that? I love reading your stories because of your unique voice.

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