Year in Review
Elephant Journal asked me to share reflections of 2009: inspirations, celebrations, and ways to close the year. I thought about events of the year, and the interesting anniversaries of political and cultural changes, from the 20th anniversary of Tianamen Square, 30th anniversary of US embassy takeover in Iran, 40th anniversary of Woodstock, Sesame Street and the Moon landing, 50th anniversary of Tibet National Uprising Day when His Holiness the Dalai Lama fled into exile coinciding with the 60th anniversary of the Chinese Communist party. So many major social events happen as years shift into new decades…has this year changed us more than we realise?
Personal Take on the Year
For me, this year began with the historic inauguration in leadership diversity in the free world. Inauguration day has always fallen on my birthday, but other than the year I was born (JFK inauguration), I have never been excited about it. This year the whole world watched as we swore in a multi cultural president. The US elections were an incredible demonstration to bring government back to the public, influencing and bringing people out using the mediums of a new generation – Youtube, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Ning, blogs and other virtual communities
The global economic shift became a giant “reset button” for most of the world’s spending, and traditional media shifted to pave way for new channels of communication. As giants of American industry were threatened and brick and mortar businesses changed to online fulfilment centers, we all had the opportunity to “reset” our own consciousness.
This year, we bid farewell to Sri Pattabhi Jois, who forever changed the way we practice Yoga in the West. I will leave it to others to recap the passing of legends like Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, Walter Cronkite and other celebrities, but we also lost Marilyn Chambers, the Ivory Snow baby who became a porn star, Gidget the Taco Bell dog, Robot from Lost in Space and Maurice Jarre who influenced soundtracks from Lawrence of Arabia, Dr Zhivago to Out of Africa. These icons played in and out as images in my life, and they were always “over there”…somewhere separated from my personal life. These “icons” were images rather than people (or in Gidget’s case, a chihuahua!)
Best of the Year
One of the most memorable parts of this year has been the development of an online cyber sangha. Youtube allowed anyone to be on the air and along with Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and other social media became an umbilical into popular consciousness. Magazines like Elephant Journal went online and are able to reach wider audiences and report events as they happen.
The Elephant and I
My own relationship with Elephant Journal began with the passing of Sri Pattabhi Jois. I heard about Jois’ passing in the morning through an email from India, assumed everyone knew and posted on Twitter. Little did I realise that this tweet would bring me into a whole new world of sangha संघ, the Buddhist concept of community with a common goal, vision or purpose.
Yoga in the World
Contemporary Yoga has many different schools ranging from the fire of Bikram, grounding of Iyengar, flow of Ashtanga, spirals of Anusara, yin of Vini and many others. We have identified ourselves within these schools, and in some ways separated ourselves within the Yoga community by these titles. Much like the media icons of my childhood, I began to see the different schools of Yoga as separate and distant, and didnt associate or socialise with them. In actuality, I didnt meet many yogis in other traditions. I simply didnt go to other types of Yoga classes.
The online cyber sangha of Elephant Journal, Integral Yoga, Yogadork, Yogadawg, Twitter, Facebook and others has developed into a global forum to exchange ideas, share information, review classes, teachers and most of all Laugh! At ourselves, at the situations we so humanly share, and with one another. Where else would practitioners from Anusara, Ashtanga, Bikram, Iyengar and Viniyoga all get together and discuss an asana, the Baghavad Gita or a Yoga sutra? How often do the Jnana and Bhakti yogis chat with Hatha and Raja yogis?
For this old hippie, the new cyber sangha is just another way that we have changed the world of Yoga, and beyond… For if Yoga is from the Sanskrit योग Yuj – to yoke, to unite – aren’t we uniting as a universal connection to one another through these mediums? Are we not moving from Icon based media to people based media? The human approach of people wanting to communicate, to share, to connect with and support one another?
As in the basic Yoga asana Tadasana, Mountain pose, standing upright on your own feet,Tadasana is the foundation where we begin and return, available to all, regardless of Yoga style, pace or tradition. As in practice, moving from Tadasana into Sun Salutations and standing poses, the sangha can be our Mountain pose, the place to begin. Here to embrace us, as a forum to exchange ideas, to weave traditions together, to gather wisdom and support for one another. And the sanctuary to return to, filled with laughter, appreciation and acceptance!
Developing and supporting cyber communities allows us to continue evolving into new ways of thinking and linking. The interchange and interweaving of ideas through “people media” awakens a new dimension which can affect change into our practice, community, politics and in our lives.
Perhaps as we move into the Teens of the new millennium, Yoga and meditation can work through the web to continue its true path of liberation, not just exercise, but a practice which transforms and illuminates us to become brighter lights in the world. Virtual communities are forums for us to spread this message – rock the cyber sangha and spread insight and inspiration on the web…
So for my inspiration, celebration and way I wish to close this year, I humbly thank you all for being my community and a place to share smiles! May Peace ring through your heart loud and clear on this New Year!
Mountains can never reach each other, despite thier bigness. But humans can. – Afghan proverb
Peace IS possible
with love and laughter,
Cora, the Yogacrone!
CORA WEN has taught Yoga since 1994 and apprenticed extensively with America’s most influential Yoga lineage. She blends Iyengar alignment with a playful, active, and flowing style. ERYT500 Yoga Alliance, CYT Internatianal Association of Yoga Therapists
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