July 14, 2011

Yoga Blogging Chronicles of Brooks Hall

Brooks Hall blogging after yoga at the Chicago Public Library.

Hello, I’m Brooks Hall, and I’m a yoga blogger. Other than that I am a yoga practitioner, yoga enthusiast and a yoga teacher.

Yoga, yoga, yoga…


I published my first blog on July 29, 2008. At first I thought it was going to be a blog just for me and my thoughts. And if others read it, well great! Then a writer friend convinced me that if I was going to spend the time doing this that I might as well make sure that other’s read it, too. So I registered my blog at a couple blog websites (that I no longer pay attention to) and joined Facebook to promote my blog to other yoga-interested people. A bit later I joined Twitter to continue to widen my audience. I met our Waylon on Twitter, but at that time I didn’t feel ready to grow past my personal blog at that first Twitter-meeting.

Then, my blog was mentioned in the August 2009 issue of Yoga Journal. It was so exciting to be recognized by them. Wow! I was hitting the big-time. I was inspired to write, and write and write. People were reading my blog.

For about the first 2 years of my blogging I had the sense that I was writing to an intimate community of like-minded friends, even though I had a public blog. I received friendly and supportive comments. And I was writing about my personal experiences with yoga and my reflections on philosophy.

On April 7, 2010 I published my first article at Elephant. This time it was Bob Weisenberg who asked me, and when I saw that my blogging cohort, Jay Winston was doing it, I knew that I didn’t want to be left out. The much wider audience I received at Elephant changed my experience of blogging.

Writing for Elephant Journal has inspired me to write about things that go beyond, yet still include me and my experiences with yoga. I’ve written about the sex of yoga, suicide, sexy yoga, vaginas, mulabandha, slutwalking, pain, feeling like doo-doo, and everything from eating to pooping, and other unintended effects… (of course there’s more!)

In fact my original personal blog has become more of a launch pad for my writing at other places than a place to stop and read—except, perhaps, for the occasional haiku poem, or there is also the extensive archive. In addition to my writing at Elephant, I also have a separate mulabloga project and blog. And the exciting new thing I’ve been testing is video blogging: so fun!

Yoga bloggers are examining what we are doing right now due to a conference panel at the Yoga Festival Toronto (August 19th to 21st, 2011) called Yogging Heads Panel: “The Cutting Edge of Yoga” (…really don’t like the name “Yogging Heads”)

Carol Horton got the conversation going a couple weeks ago, to help her to prepare for her spot on the panel. She will be presenting along with Roseanne Harvey and Bob Weisenberg, moderated by Matthew Remski.

My opinion on blogging yoga exists somewhere in between Ben Ralston who believes that “you did not help yoga evolve” (even though he might not be talking directly about yoga blogging) and Carol Horton who thinks that “yoga blogging matters.” And I think it’s really a bit much for me to think that I might be on the “cutting edge of yoga” as Roseanne Harvey has stated the place of yoga bloggers. At the same time I find myself appreciating their bold expressions.

Ben Ralston sets up his piece to “smack us down”: I get that right from the title, You did not help yoga evolve. And so I disagree with the vibe of it, and sort of resent the assumption that he thinks that this is what readers generally believe—it just stirs the pot in an unpleasant way, for me. But I agree with the concept that yoga is bigger than the individuals that practice, so I can’t really own anything about the larger unfolding of yoga—none of us really know where this thing is going. Which is cool.

As individual yoga practitioners we offer the valuable resource of our time and attention which does contribute to what is happening in yoga. So I matter in the small way that I can: by doing yoga I participate in the process. Do I run the show when I practice? No. Clearly not. I might be able to use my body and breath in ways I intend, but even if I can do that, how the practice affects my consciousness is something that is not totally under my control. I can learn or understand a lot about the process, but it is alive and changing so any effort at total mastery is a false presumption.

Carol Horton and Roseanne Harvey are getting pumped to speak on the panel, so I can understand their—what seems to me to be their—somewhat inflated speech on the place of yoga blogging.

When I say, “I am a yoga blogger,” I consider this statement to align a bit closer to the statement “I have an obsession/addiction/guilty pleasure” than “I matter” or “I am on the cutting edge.”

Simply said: I love blogging about yoga!

I get a charge from doing it!

When I finish a piece I often feel excited, spent and quiet. And then a new process begins: I get to see how many people are viewing, recommending, tweeting and commenting on the blog. It is a rush and so affirming to be read. And the comments take me into new thoughts on the subject at hand—my world grows larger when I take in the views of others, and I love that!

If I am feeling irritable or blue, if I just apply myself to a new blog post I end up feeling excited, stimulated and renewed.

So blogging is super-personal for me. I feel it. It has helped me to feel much more connected with the world. Subjects that seemed too big to just start up a casual conversation about in the past, I might have just remained alone with, but now I have a forum: a place to speak about these things. And I’ve found out over and over again that I am not alone in my viewpoints and feelings. There are others who feel and think similarly to how I think and feel. Totally affirming for someone who hasn’t always felt like they “fit in.”

Yoga blogging has given a sense of purpose, stability and connection that I could not have experienced before now—because now I have access to a wide variety of minds, and stimulating, brilliant personalities.

Thank you, readers! And a respectful nod to Yoga Bloggers!

I’m just not sure that yoga bloggers are changing the world, or becoming better yogis. I’ve become a better writer and a more balanced and confident personality. But the way to really change the world is to love our neighbors, do righteous deeds, and enjoy and hear the people in our lives. Internet writing, like other writing, can be a bit isolating. And I become a better yogi by practicing: actually getting on the mat makes a real difference for me!

Brooks Hall practicing yoga.

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