where am i? reflections on yoga & the evolution of blogging

I’m working on my essay for 21st Century Yoga: Culture, Politics, and Practice, an anthology about yoga and contemporary culture that I’m co-editing with Carol Horton. And I’m thinking about process, form and evolution, and how these all manifest on this space.

I’ve been blogging on It’s All Yoga, Baby for three years (including a six month hiatus in 2011). Before I started blogging about yoga, I edited a magazine about yoga (the magazine was called ascent and it closed in 2009). The magazine was also my introduction to blogging, as we installed a WordPress blog in 2006 and then, like every other magazine that had done the same thing, didn’t know what to do with it.

I quickly grew to hate the blog. It was this annoying thing that I had to add to my already huge workload. We spent a lot of time trying to figure out what to do with the blog and despite our best efforts, it never took off. Then the magazine went out of business and I found myself unemployed. With my abundance of free time, I decided to start this blog. I wanted to keep the spirit of ascent alive in some way, so the name – “it’s all yoga, baby” – is a reference to the main coverline of the final issue of ascent.

I started the blog because it was easier and cheaper than starting another magazine. I thought it would be a way to stay connected to the many teachers, writers and artists in the North American yoga community that I had encountered through ascent.

The blog ended up achieving this goal, and serving many other purposes: pushing my thinking about yoga, expanding my concepts of what the practice can be, sparking conversation, tapping into a dynamic and interesting community, and making new friends (and a few enemies…). Through the blog I’ve been grateful to discover a lively assortment of interesting people (some I’ve even met in RL!). I’ve also encountered impassioned discussion about all aspects of yoga practice. My community expanded beyond my home in Montreal, across Canada, around North America.

form and content

While I love the immediacy and relevancy of the online world, I also see the value in an old-fashioned book, which is why I’m so excited about 21st Century Yoga. Books are timeless and tangible. They’re a holding place for ideas and thoughts to percolate, to be easily revisited at a later date. The old-school publishing process allows for the gift of other sets of eyes, feedback and rigorous dialogue. The book form (paper or electronic) is a testament to the thought and process that go into good, intelligent, reasoned writing.

I see 21st Century Yoga as fitting somewhere between the scheduled rigor of magazine production and the fearless exploration of a group blog. The structure allows for editorial process and the refinement of ideas, supported by a collaborative, subversive, DIY spirit. And with no need to worry about huge upfront expenses or book sales because of the print-on-demand model, as editors we were able to encourage contributors to take intellectual and personal risks, to open and bare themselves, to help shape the writing into the best it could be.

yoga blogging then and now

When I started blogging, the yoga blogosphere felt like uncharted territory. It felt small, a little wild, intimate. It’s changed over the past three years, mostly because it’s grown. A number of strong, new, original voices have joined the mix, diversifying the conversation and widening the reach.

My own focus and intentions have changed. I get less pleasure from antagonizing yoga teachers and more pleasure from featuring worthwhile yoga projects (like The Yoga Poster and I.AM yoga mat bags). I put effort into developing relationships, rather than fielding comments and pushing buttons. It’s not as sexy and doesn’t drive traffic, but it feels better.

Just as my asana practice has evolved to accommodate changes in my body, my blogging practice (and my personal writing practice) has changed to reflect my views of the world and my needs. And, like everything else, it will continue to evolve.

Read the rest of my essay in 21st Century Yoga: Culture, Politics, and Practice, available June 2012. You can pre-order the book here.

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  1. Hi, Roseanne.

    I’m very excited about this book. It will be the first thing I read when it comes out.

    I’m particularly interested in your essay, too. I’m interested for a lot of reasons, the most important of which is that I’m interested in what you have to say about just about anything.

    But it’s also because we kind of grew up in this blogging world together. Our tenures here roughly coincide, coming from very different places, and my association with you has been one of the great pleasures of that journey through the Yoga blogosphere.

    I’m also interested in the questions you raise above about the differences between a book and a blog, and how to preserve and develop the strengths of each. It seems so retro for you people to be producing a book right now. So retro, in fact, that its seems surprising and almost radical.

    I know it will be wonderful, and I can’t wait to read it and to do whatever I can to spread the word through elephant.

    I’m in the middle of my own somewhat radical experiment with something other than the blog model. As I put it recently, I’m in the process of converting the best of elephant 18,000 articles from its beginning in 2008 into what I’m calling an “online coffee table book” (big, colorful, and fun to browse.) using Pinterest.

    I’ve had this dream for over a year, but no suitable tool until Pinterest. It always bothered me that even the most amazing articles on a blog are quickly buried by the rush of new material.

    It’s the same thing that motivated me to invite the caretakers of all your wonderful work at Ascent to publish the best of Ascent on elephant (which is going very well by the way).

    I really like the results so far, but only time will tell this will be just a fun project for me or a big new way to attract readers to great writing. (You can see what I’ve done so far at http://pinterest.com/bobweisenberg/ . You can even find a picture of yourself under “Personal Favorites”)

    Please let me know if I can help you in any way with the book project.

    With affection.

    Bob W.
    Associate Publisher
    elephant journal

    • thanks for the support, bob! your excitement and enthusiasm means a lot.

      yes, it’s true, we’ve “grown up” together in the blogosphere! you were one of the first people i connected with here.

      and it is crazy retro to be producing a book in 2012, i agree! but there is a time and place for books, and the themes that we’re exploring in 21CY work in the long-form essay.

  2. I am so happy you discovered the power of the yoga blogosphere! I am only just digging into the potential and trying to harness it 🙂 Love your site & unique style.

  3. Congrats on the book- I love have you have evolved and adapted. I am new to the yoga blog world & hope to launch a new site this fall that uses yoga (but isn’t a yoga site per se). I believe yoga has so many things to offer everybody & I have big plans for http://www.growsoulbeautiful.com