What a year! Even though I was out of the blogging loop for the first half of 2011, I was still paying attention to the yoga bloggers to watch. I think I’d say that 2011 was the year that yoga blogging came of age. There were many new voices, many new conversations, and a mature look on some old topics (teaching standards, politics, commercialization, etc). These are the posts that stood out for me, in no particular order (well, there is an order, it’s just not in order of appearance).
This is only a highly subjective taste of a very lively year in the yoga blogosphere. As usual, it was hard to narrow it down to just 15 posts…
Chelsea Loves Yoga, Sometimes it is Not “All Good”: How Yoga Teaches Me to Speak My Truth ~ When I started to think about which notable blog posts stood out for me this year, this post was the first that came to mind. The writing is honest, raw and confrontational. It’s unfortunate that it’s the result of the kind of altercation which exemplifies the worst of online communications, but Chelsea handled it with grace and strength. The best thing about that ugly affair is that it led me to a talented new voice.
Yoga Modern: The Sexiness of Seva ~ Chelsea Roff was another exciting discovery this year, and I always looked forward to her provocative writing on Yoga Modern. This piece, with it’s questioning and incisive analysis of the growing popularity of service in the yoga community, was one of my faves. Chelsea had the nerve to stand up and ask why seva is becoming synonymous with fundraising – a question that had long been on my mind, too.
Shambhala SunSpace, Remaining Human: A Buddhist Perspective on Occupy Wall Street ~ OWS was one of the most fascinating and important stories of the year, and the yogic response to the movement was also quite interesting. It took a while for the yoga community to jump on it, but once it happened, it inspired some great blog posts. YogaDork and elephant journal led the pack with strong writing about the movement, but this piece by Michael Stone was one of my favourites. Even though it’s technically “not yoga,” as he’s writing from a Buddhist perspective (hence the title). This piece turned up all over the place (including IAYB) but I’ve linked to the Shambala Sun version for variety.
Huffington Post: Lululemon’s Tea Party and A Yoga to Fight About ~ Another hot story and fascinating conversation in the yoga world was lululemon’s “Who Is John Galt?” campaign, which garnered coverage on almost every single yoga blog, along with major news outlets and PR/marketing blogs (it also may have marked the beginning of a “lululemon backlash”). There was plenty of great commentary and conversation, but this piece by Derek Beres on HuffPo stood out for me for its balanced perspective and lived experience. I love: “‘Yoga’ has needed to come down off the mountain ever since Thoreau wrote about the Bhagavad Gita. Self-righteousness may have worked for John Galt; what we need is self-investigation, as well as social investigation. Striking this balance is crucial if we really want to create a better world for everyone.”
Think Body Electric, It’s All About ME: Yoga Journal Mission Statements, 1985 vs. Today ~ It’s no secret that I am a big fan of Carol Horton. I had a hard time deciding which of her excellent blog posts – on her own blog or elephant journal or Yoga Modern – to include on this list. I had fun revisiting some of my favourite reads from the year, but reading this one after the lululemon/John Galt debacle (which highlighted the self-absorbed, individualistic tendencies of the yoga community) makes it feel especially resonant.
Tikkun Daily, Yoga for War: The Politics of the Divine ~ 2011 will go down as the year that yoga got political. One of the people doing this right is Be Scofield and his consistently good writing on the Tikkun blog is proof. As a yoga teacher, activist and “Dr. King scholar” (how cool is that?), Be covers a range of topics, with exemplary writing on the politics of yoga. In this intelligent post, Be questions an assumption of many yoga and spiritual practitioners: “that spiritual liberation is inherently socially or culturally revolutionary.” Anyone who addresses how “cultural context shapes one’s understanding of spiritual transformation” gets my vote.
Recovering Yogi, Kinogate: snobbery and the 1% theory of Ashtanga ~ While I generally find that RY falls into the “it’s all about me” category (just from the satirical self-absorbed POV, which is a little more bearable), this post is one of the instances where a writer is able to respond to something happening in the greater yoga community. I wasn’t privvy to the Kino McGregor drama until I read this, but it’s a great perspective.
YogaDork: A Word On Tara Stiles, The New York Times and Yoga Snobbery ~ How many times did the word “snobbery” turn up in yoga blog posts this year? A perennial fave (and daily read) is YogaDork, and again, I had a hard time singling out my top read of the year. So many groundbreaking stories! So many hot conversations! However, I love the understated and reflective nature of this post. It happened during my six-month hiatus, but still managed to catch my eye even though I wasn’t paying much attention to the yoga blogosphere.
Y is for Yogini: the 12 days of yoga ~ Another fave is Lo Yogini, the silly and creative mind behind YIFY. Really, don’t think I’m lazy for listing her in-progress “The 12 Days of Yoga” series here. But even though Lo has given us many fun and zany posts this year, she’s seriously outdone herself with this adorable series. Festive yoga dioramas made out of candy?!? Yes, please!
Yoga 2.0: You Too Can Own This Holy Bikini! ~ From quirky yoga images to a critique of our image-based culture… the Yoga 2.0 peeps might just be The Yes Men of the yoga blog world. Their writing disrupts and puts into question many of the conventions of yoga culture, and yet they make us smile. And look at things differently. PoMo yoga writing at its finest.
Eco Yogini, Endorsing a Yoga Mat as Spiritual: Mr. Friend and Manduka ~ As usual, there was plenty of conversation about the commercialization and marketing of yoga in 2011. There was also no shortage of Anusara scandal (although none as large, perhaps, as the mass exodus led by Elena Brower and others). Eco Yogini nails it with this analysis of the flaky “spiritual marketing language” of John Friend’s Manduka yoga mat, and points out the similarities between that and JF’s earlier endorsement of the Prana Revolution. Yep, it all made me throw up in my mouth a little, too.
Yoga in the Dragon’s Den: What is the blogosphere for? ~ As a blogger, I think it’s important to periodically step back and reflect on what I’m doing and why. Nobel at YDD does just that in this great post, and he outlines some interesting archetypes in the yoga blogging community. YDD was another delightful new yoga blog discovery this year.
Curvy Yoga: Pressing Through My Feet While Losing the Ground Underneath ~ Sure yeah, it’s good to get meta and look at yoga through a cultural lens and all that stuff. But at the end of the day, what really matters is how our practice and community helps us cope with the challenges of life. What matters is how we put our practice into action when dealing with the mess of real life. Anna shows us how to do it in this powerful reflection on grief and the passing of her father.
elephant journal: Why Lying Broken in a Pile on Your Bedroom Floor is A Good Idea ~ When this post was first published, I had been spending quite a bit of time lying broken in a pile and it really helped me put things in perspective. I think it’s also emblematic of the rise of EJ over the past year. While not without its problems (penchant for cheap controversy, overuse of sex and nudity, inconsistent editorial vision), elephant has stepped up and harnessed some talented writers, improving the whole experience. This is EJ at its best – there’s a reason why it’s one of the all-time most popular posts on the site.
Linda’s Yoga Journey: babies teaching babies ~ Considering the number of yoga bloggers and readers who are also yoga teachers, it’s no wonder that the blogosphere becomes a place to examine the profession. In this interesting post (and enriching, respectful comment thread), Linda responds to a John Friend video on the state of yoga teacher trainings in North America.
Oooh, it’s good to be back in this lively community! I missed you guys while I was gone. And what have I missed here? What were your most memorable blog posts of 2011?