I have not been monitoring this website and the number of bad links has bloomed to 45. So far tonight, I’ve corrected 10, but I can see that I really need to rewrite some content because some sites have disappeared from the Web, others have undergone technical changes (conversions to WordPress, mainly) and still others require greater research and explanation.
It’s been a while. I have not posted anything here for three months, the longest period I have ever gone without blogging since 2000 (before this blog started in 2004, I had another blog at Peruvian Graffiti). Moreover, I have not written anything substantive since last year, just a couple of quick shots from the hip and photos.
Why? The yoga scene has changed
When I took up yoga, pranayama and meditation, there was only archipelagos of content online across the Internet. I had my list of a handful of blogs, instructional sites, and, of course, Yoga Journal. Now there are abundant resources available on the Internet, from streaming classes to forums, so many that I have given up trying to track them. Any yoga instructor worth their salt has a branded blog, with an apparel line, DVDs and books. More importantly, regional portals are providing local coverage of the yoga community, and diverse special interest groups (Yoga Service Council and International Association of Yoga Therapists, to name just two) are coalescing around yoga issues.
Even in the early 2000s, the mainstream media rarely covered yoga and related stories so I found it helpful to draw attention to major news stories and commentary that showed the spread of yoga in American culture. I get Google alerts about yoga news stories everyday, and coverage ranges from quotidian (new studio opening on Main Street, park classes on Sunday) to PR (the fascination with yoga pants) to major (yoga macho Bikram Choudhury loses his copyright trial and the running suit about yoga in California public schools). We even read about how the Indian government and Hindu culture is reacting to the assimilation of yoga within American society. We even see yoga postures showing up in commercials and meditation getting billed as the latest productivity enhancement.
Yoga is moving beyond novelty and trendiness. Increasingly voices are coming forward to ask questions about broader issues, to interpret major challenges to how yoga is practiced in America (insert links here when I have time to dig them up).
Given these shifts over the past decade, I find it hard to register in my two cents in the blogosphere.
Why? I’ve changed
Last Friday, I took my first restorative class in three months. I’ve not taken a hatha class this year. That does not mean that I don’t practice yoga. I do everyday. I’ve intentionally down-throttled my practice from “trying-too-hard” to just trying to master one pose, savasana.
When I realized that I did not want to keep up a running commentary of yoga events in the news and elsewhere or try “big think” on yoga in America, I thought I could stay focused on my own practice, an aging, white male in search of the double whammy of physical exercise and mindfulness, with healing his subtle wounds as a bonus. But if my own practice is lying motionless on the floor, there’s not much to write home about. Of course, there’s a lot more going on under the skin, but that comes with its own risks.
I’ve also become more agnostic about yoga since about four years ago and even more so since I finished my yoga teacher training two years ago. Patanjali does not make easy sense for me; releasing the tension in my myofascial system does.
In a different vein, my wife dislikes that I reveal my inner life on the Web. I’ve become more aware of how the Internet gives unfiltered access to anyone who wants to search for dirt. I think twice before revealing my private thoughts. I’ve already written enough about my physical and mental health for a prospective employer to hesitate before hiring me. With a name like mine, though, I have a degree of deniability or security in numbers. But just knowing my LinkedIn or Facebook page would be enough to dig up my personal history or commentary about my former bosses or whatever.
Even making quick posts to Twitter or Facebook or Instagram makes me feel scattered all over the Internet.
So my original motives for blogging about yoga have faded, leaving me with the need to find another reason for writing. It’s going to require me to write my way forward.
It’s the last day of February. I’ve made four entries into this blog and probably gone to four yoga classes too. I’ve gained five pounds, setting off personal health alarms, which contributes to not getting to the yoga studio or the gym. The weather has been chilly, if not frigid for most of this month, with a few balmy breaks, so I have not been lured outside. My wife is away visiting her family in Peru, and I am home taking care of the dogs.
And of course, there’s the job. Things have been going great at DMI. I feel privileged to be clearing a new career path at this stage of my life. My work as a technical proposal writer strikes the tricky balance between exploiting my skill set and experience and making me stretch to complete the assignment with the quality needed. If I run into difficult, I don’t get down on myself because I know I have a team backing me up. I’ve also noticed that I am more resilient — when I run into a problem, I usually bounce back with a solution the next day, after sleeping on it.
Writing responses to Federal requests for proposals (RFPs) and similar documents is not going to win me a Pulitzer Prize, but it is disciplined writing. Lessons can be applied in other formats. The assignments require sprints of one or two weeks to finish. I am being given more independence, not having to check in with my boss. I’ve even been asked to teach a young copy editor how to write, mentoring him for the day when he can take on proposals himself. It’s harder to find solutions architects (the professional who pulls together the parts of a proposal) that can write than it is to find writers who can handle IT subject matter, according to one of my supervisors.
Now the bad news
Becoming so absorbed into my work has meant that it is hard to get myself to a yoga class or to the fitness club. I put in longer hours to meet deadlines. I even work on weekends. I find it hard to go to the fitness room on the first floor of my work place. At the end of the day, I am emotionally and physically squeezed dry. If I go home after work, I can’t get myself out again. The convenient location of my job, only a 15-minute drive from home, means I don’t have a long commute, but I don’t get the benefit of walks to and from the Metro. The more out of shape I become, the harder it gets to get back in shape, the slower the recovery.
The personal habits and patterns that served me well over the past 10 years or so are broken, and the end result is good, but I’ve got to find a way of readjusting my life so that it’s physically and emotionally sustainable. Otherwise, I will fall into the mold of the American office worker — drives to work, sits in front of a keyboard, eats more than his body needs, develops a paunch and fails to get enough exercises. After three months on my new job, I realize that I could end up that way.
Sorry, folks, but some major upheavals in my life are in the making and they are sapping all the creative energy out of me. My yoga practice is mainly used to fuel survival mode.
Sometimes you just have to go with the flow.
I had planned to fit in more yoga and aerobic exercise today before starting my 40-day program tomorrow. But getting lost in Northern Virginia while running an errand in the morning, taking my wife to a lunch on the town and welcoming a rare visit from my son came between me and over-reaching intentions. I needed the rest anyways. Besides, I still fit in pranayama, meditation, and restorative yoga before the day was over.
WordPress (or the theme or a plug-in) has the annoying habit of inserting hyperlink formatting in a first paragraph if it contains a link, from the link to the start of the paragraph. But it does not function as a hyperlink. This has forced me to avoid putting in links in the first paragraph or do a kind of dummy paragraph (as above) to prevent the bug from happening.
I finally realized since converting to WordPress I have not include a way of contacting me. that’s one of the “Blogging Fundamentals No-Nos” and I’ve none that for 10 years. About a month ago, I installed a plug-in that allows me to have a simple contact page in the menu bar above, but I never got around to implementing it. With so many things that I wanted to do with the site, I pushed it to the bottom of the list, even though it took minutes to set p. Well, I’ve now remedied that shortcoming.
I’ve also seen that comments are not working even though I have them turned on. I don’t know why and it’s going to take time to get this fixed. Because I am the owner of the site, it’s hard for me to notice that comments are not working.
it’s all about the yoga, baby (aka, rosanne) just honored me by designating my History through the covers of Yoga Journal as one of the top 15 yoga posts of 2010. Just imagine the company that puts me in: YogaDork, Namaste, Bitches, Think Body Electric… and the list goes on. That’s a lot of prana following through those pages. I haven’t had this kind of honor since Yahoo put my gci275.com on the site of the day list bacvk in 2003.
While we’re on the subject of Yoga Journal’s history, you can see the full archive at Google Books, with the last issue being December, 2008 and the Practice at Home Guide (2009). Truly amazing! I have not check each and every one, but there they are, with all their content and in full color (except early issues when it was black and white, plus a color cover). Is this legal?
Last week, I switch this blog from chronological listing to category because it was supposed to be friendlier for search engines (read Google) and more meaningful than just a chronological list. I did not know what I had unleashed. Aside from the fact that I should have done it when I switched from Blogger to WordPress, I found that I had 275 entries that were not categorized, mainly older blog entries. Plus, there are an untold number of my 700-some entries that have two or more categories ticked off (a no-no). Category is for navigation or a kind of filing system, so you should use only one per entry and keep the structure pretty flat and concise. To add insult to injury, I have not been using tag to clarify content and allow cross-referencing (and also missed a chance to convert my old categories to tags, which might have saved me some work).
So for the past week I have sorting through my journaling of the past six years and classifying them into categories, and when feasible adding tags. I will eventually enabled tags for visitor exploration so it’s benefits will not be visible for the time being. It has been an educational experience because I see where I’ve come from as a yogi and a blogger. I’ve also been able to correct frequent spelling errors. But it has also meant that I have not been adding new content. I’m kind of numb from the repetitive, unstimulating exercise. I’ve broken a bunch of links that I’ll have to go back and correct. I am comforted by the thought that I am doing the “right thing.”
To my shame as a web developer, I found out that the new site had a total of 180-plus broken links. Most of them were created by the switch-over from a static site to a dynamic site, but others were dead links to external pages or sites that no longer existed. Many internal links, like pointing to other blog entries, images, etc., were broken. Over the past two weeks, I’ve cut them down to practically nothing [Update: now two.]. It’s a slow and boring job. I am constantly tempted to detour to other tasks, like generating new content, adding links to resources, making comments or correcting misinformation. It’s hard to know if it improves the user experience (many pages are buried deep in the chronological order), but it still has to be done. Luckily, WordPress has some plugins that make the exercise a lot less painful than in the old days by compiling a broken link list and giving me direct access to them through the WP dashboard.
Over at Huffington Post, Sadie Nardini makes an excellent point in her Om Scampi: A Top Yogi Comes Out of the Meat-Eating Closet in which she discusses the cultural quicksand of vegetarianism and self-righteousness of many US gurus.
One result of this is that yoga is getting a bad rap, as a culture of Yogier-Than-Thou, which has people running back to the gym in droves. No one wants to be made to feel like a lesser being, especially while already lurching around in Tree Pose like a drunken sailor. And I’m sick and tired of seeing it happen again and again in studios across the country, proving to potential students that they are not welcome as they are…but will be only if they plan to change.
As my personal eating habits have evolved, I no longer eat much red meat, but am far from being a vegetarian. This article looks at a lot of angles of the issue in yoga studios. It may go on beyond what’s needed to get its message across, but it does paint an insightful picture of the yoga scene.