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Where Did All the Yoga Blogs Go?

in YogOpinions

socialmedia

by J. Brown

The internet is changing.  As access becomes more and more ubiquitous, established norms are quickly becoming outmoded.  The usefulness and appeal of social media need to be reexamined across all sectors of culture. And the yoga world provides an interesting example.

The first time I ever shared something with others via the internet was in 2002.  It was a short essay entitled “Notes From a Concerned Practitioner” and was sent to somewhere between forty and fifty email addresses that I had saved in an America Online contact list.  One of those people happened to be a guy named Leslie Kaminoff who had created esutra, a much more impressive mailing list of thousands of people who were working and interested in the yoga profession.  At that time, there were no blogs and people were still only barely embracing email as a regular way of communicating.  A list of that size was unheard of and Leslie actually had to make special arrangements with America Online so that they wouldn’t keep shutting down his account.

My essay got redistributed through the esutra list and, in response, l received the largest number of emails in my inbox at one time than ever before, the first inklings of what we now know as a comment thread.  By the time I wrote another essay that I wanted to share, lots more people had email accounts and the invent of email newsletter services had been born. Over the next few years, I distributed three more essays to a mailing list of several hundred people that I had compiled through friendships and work relationships.

Then WordPress hit.

By then, my list had grown and I was putting out a well-received monthly newsletter.  I remember someone saying to me,  “Your newsletter is really great. But you know, email is dead.  You need to start a blog.”  So in 2007, I set up a WordPress blog and began putting my monthly two-cents’ worth from the newsletter up on the site for safekeeping. Within another two years, the yoga blogosphere started to take off.  I remember when Elephant Journal went from being a magazine to a website and I discovered a blog that was aggregating yoga specific content called YogaDork, which became and continues to be an extended home for my musings.  Also around this time, Facebook became a thing.  We were all having a mind blowing time going online and seeing pictures of all those people we knew in high school and hadn’t thought about in so many years.  It was fun and the internet felt like an amazing and powerful new tool.

By 2010, there was a really exciting thing happening on the internet in the yoga world.  People were writing all kinds of interesting stuff and the comment threads would get long and have actual exchanges of ideas.  The Babarrazzi emerged to expose the same old scandals in new ways.  Twitter arrived on the scene and we began to add followers along with our Facebook friends as a new measure of independent reach.  I had a few posts go viral and remember spending hours responding to the comments and just amazed at how many people had actually read something I wrote and took the time to write something back.

But its not like it was on the internet anymore, is it?

The majority of yoga blogs that proliferated in the boom time of the last few years have dried up.  Surfing my once extensive blogroll affords me little more than nostalgia, as many of the once great sites haven’t posted anything new since sometime in late 2012 or early 2013.  There was never any real money to be made from having google adwords in your sidebar and “sponsored content” has gradually squelched the momentum of creative excitement that the technology spawned.

And the platform that Facebook and Twitter afforded us is slowly but surely being co-opted by marketing forces and the bottom line for shareholders.  Our communications no longer reach our diligently amassed friends and followers unless we are willing to pay for the privilege, which turns us all into unwitting advertisers.  In the “connection economy,” effective marketing is now talked about as “creating community.”  As we learn that even our unpublished posts are being recorded and used as metadata, and companies attempt to offer online coupons that also click away your rights to hold them accountable for falsely advertising their products, the loss of privacy and coercion start to no longer feel worth it.  The free market appropriation of digital life that we have enjoyed in its infancy seems to be maturing into a less than neutral cyberspace.

The heyday of Facebook and blogging happened for an internet generation that is growing sour on the changing rules and features.  Community is not created with Facebook “likes” (see Yoga in a Digital Age.)  It emerges from the gravitational pull of unifying ideas and shared common experiences.  And perhaps the social media platforms started out as vehicles for unifying ideas and shared experiences, but as our exchanges have increasingly become a way for marketers to monetize our engagement, any sense of community is being sacrificed to the sneaking suspicion that someone is taking advantage.

But all is not lost.  Because as the internet continues to go the way of capitalism, a grassroots groundswell inevitably emerges.  I can only assume that all the eager yoga teachers who have abandoned their blogs have simply moved offline.  And its a vastly better situation that, instead of getting swallowed by the infinite scroll, we focus more on real world contacts with real world friends.

~

J. Brown is a yoga teacher, writer and founder of Abhyasa Yoga Center in Brooklyn, NY.  His writing has been featured in Yoga Therapy Today, the International Journal of Yoga Therapy, and across the yoga blogosphere.  Visit his website at jbrownyoga.com

22 comments… add one

  • S.

    Hi J.
    Although it seems like many major yoga blogs are changing or closing down, but there hundreds more “shards” of microblogs on WordPress and Blogspot. The problem is finding a quality and consistent blog writer. Most blogs on WordPress are 20 year old girls doing selfies. One woman had a 60 day goal of doing “the splits.” As expected, she stopped writing after a month. Hamstring injury perhaps?

    For all the duds, there are still some gems out there. The Confluence Countdown is a great Ashtanga blog. YogaSpy is very well written from an Iyengar teacher who is also a travel writer. There are scores more Bikram bloggers who are proving to be a hearty bunch despite the scandals. I have even perused Buddhist, philosophy, psychology, religion and Christianity blogs as sometimes they have relevant ideas for the yoga community. For example, it seems like pastors go through a similar process than yoga teachers in terms of staying true to their teaching, but having to deal with the “business” of running a church. And the intrapsychic phenomenon of a group psychotherapist would be very relatable to a yoga class with strong personalities. Good yoga blogs are out there, you just have to dig through a lot of trash.

  • I’m with S. I’m hungry for meatier yoga blogs that do more than just share selfies, but it’s tough to find that amidst all the riff-raff… especially ones I can relate to. For me, community is a huge part of yoga, and I’d like to build a community beyond the local yogis I see in person on a regular basis. I managed to build a healthy online writing community, and I feel it only enriches my life. I crave the same thing with yoga.

    Thanks for sharing some of your faves, S!

  • Sue Ellen

    Because blogs are so yesterday. Everything that needed to be said on yoga has been said and nothing new is being offered. Elephant Journal is a joke and except for the occasional yoga scandal, the yoga news cycle has run dry. Just like look at Yoga Journal or better still, don’t because they haven’t come up with anything of interest in 10 years. The original yoga bloggers have moved on and all you are seeing are copy cats who think they offering something unique. Even Yoga Dork has gotten pretty long in the tooth and lost her punch awhile ago. I want to agree with person above that people doing selfies is what passes for cutting edge electronic yoga communications these days. There are a couple of blogs with original content left but the vast majority of them, including the popular ones are simply cut and paste jobs, regurgitating content from years ago.

  • Hi, J. Interesting perspectives. Thanks for writing.

    When I was Yoga Editor for elephant used to have a surprising number of the best yoga philosophy writers all writing and commenting on each other’s articles. For several years, elephant itself was a vibrant yoga philosophy forum. There is so much great articles and conversations there from those years that I’ve thought about collecting and reposting all the best stuff, or creating an online book or something. Might still do it someday.

    When I re-entered the online yoga philosophy world after some time away last year, I found everything as you describe above–some good stuff, mostly scattered among smaller blogs, less robust discussion, and many of the best articles appearing on unusual non-yoga sites.

    So I decided to create Best of Yoga Philosophy to collect some of the best articles in one “online magazine”. So today one can see over 250 of my choices from the past year, an average of 2 per week. I don’t pretend to have posted everything. But looking over the collection as a whole, you can see that yoga philosophy writing is alive and well on the Internet. You just have to hunt for it. (I follow 90 blogs to watch for things to post.)

    http://www.pinterest.com/yogaphilosophy/pins/

    Bob W.

  • Sam Louise

    Great website Bob. I have bookmarked it and will check it regularly. Thanks for taking the time to collect all these articles.

  • Thanks, Sam. Glad you enjoyed it. You can also subscribe to Best of Yoga Philosophy on facebook or Twitter, if you prefer to be notified when there is a new post.

    Bob

  • Sorry, posted that last comment without checking that first paragraph. You can still get the jist, but sorry for the grammatical errors. Editor, please correct if you can. Thanks.

    Bob

  • hoss

    Write valuable content and the world will beat a path to your door. Or be a hipster with “Facebook envy”.

  • when i started my yoga blog a couple years ago, it was because i couldn’t find many personal yoga blogs out there (or ones that weren’t written by yoga teachers for the sole purpose of growing their client base). it was pretty much just the big webzines like elephant journal. i agree with S. they’re out there but not easy to find ones that are updated regularly or have a real perspective.

    i’ve enjoyed “meeting” more yogis through my blog and social media, and i am super thrilled when i run across a new blog. i went to the ashtanga yoga confluence last year, which i actually wouldn’t have known about it if i hadn’t come across the confluence countdown blog.

    if anyone has other blog suggestions to add to my blog reader, share the URLs!

  • I feel I have read this at the perfect time. I have been very much at a crossroads as to what to do with my site. I have spent a lot of time writing about life, parenting, healthy living, gardening, beekeeping, yoga, etc.. and I actually enjoy writing a lot. But, I look at the articles that seem to be getting the most traffic, and mine just doesn’t quite fit. I have to admit, I didn’t know people could “buy likes” on facebook until quite recently. I have sent some of my work to some sites and have had it largely rejected. I have looked at other more successful samples and tried to change the way I write. But I can’t change my writing. I don’t want to. Thank you Yoga Dork. This was an important reminder to me, to write from my heart, about what I want, when I want…~T

  • Hey all you blog-hungry yogis! While it’s not a “blog” per-se, I run the articles/content side of a website called yogatraveltree.com. I work my tail off to curate great content that’s related to yoga, travel, wellness, mindfulness, meditation, and other similar topics. There are many authors, but all contribute worthwhile information to the site. So if there’s a gaping hole in your online reading list, I sugest checking out the articles tab of this lovely website and reading some of the great pieces there. http://www.yogatraveltree.com/article/category/articles/

  • Well, the blog that I write with Dr. Baxter Bell, Yoga for Healthy Aging at http://yogaforhealthyaging.blogspot.com, is alive and well! We have no advertisers and promote no products, and our only agenda is to share information with the public about how we can all use yoga for foster healthy aging and to help address various medical problems. We have also have two scientists and a physical therapist on our staff. Dr. Ram Rao, who studies Alzheimer’s Disease at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging, says that his biweekly contributions to our blog is part of his karma yoga practice. So it’s not all over people. And I hope some of you will join our community.

  • Jerome Armstrong

    Thanks for the links. It probably all has been said, online, as it has offline, perhaps many times over, but things go down the internet.org tube of history. Also, a very interesting take in the article– something I’ve seen repeated elsewhere on the web it other verticals of interest.

  • Thank you for this. It’s always great to have a historical perspective.

    More and more I hear people converging on the same thoughts, that ‘likes’ and empty online communications just don’t cut it anymore. I can only hope, as you do, that there is a growing movement that will continue to support people making real connections.

    I blog at http://www.revolutionaryhabit.com because it feels good. To reflect, to share, to write about yoga in ways that both my advanced practicioner friends and my completely newbie or barely interested friends can relate to. I tried the yoga selfie thing and felt like a fraud, and the mindful social media thing is very hard to revert to.

    Rather, blogging in my own small way has helped me to grow as a practitioner, which is great, though even better it has opened up a lot of discussions among the people I know, and even some I don’t. I don’t know if that qualifies as a “good” yoga blog, but it works for me and I’ll continue to share.

    Bob – thanks for the links!

  • I love this article, as well as all the responses! I’ve been writing a yoga blog for a few years, and have really had a hard time getting a lot of hits, and I don’t know if it’s because I’m writing about things people don’t care about or what. I’m going to peruse everything linked to here to see if I can glean what it is I am doing “wrong”, so to speak. I’d love any of your feedback as well….what is it that people WANT in a yoga blog, anyway?

  • John

    The main problem is all of this stuff is meant to be something we do, not something we talk, read, or write about. The recent trend for encouraging people to post pictures of a pose or set of poses at least has the benefit of getting them to participate actively, rather than preaching at them. Let’s face it, a lot of the yoga “philosophy” out their is tripe. A photo of a handstand is at least proof some one’s having fun.

    As for twenty something women posting photos… well, philosophy, and yoga, have been in the hands of middle aged men for a while, and that wasn’t perfect. Splits in six months is perfectly reasonable, it used to be Kurz’s (of stretching scientifically fame) target time frame. Maybe the girl didn’t pull a hamstring but just got fed up of being browbeaten about how she was going to and how she ought to be focusing on cod philosophy instead…

  • It is hard to find the yoga blogging community. I googled “Yoga Blog Linky/Link Up” just the other day and couldn’t find any. Do you think Yoga Dork would consider offering a link up every once in a while? I’d be in on that.

    My blog is in the niche of Kids Yoga: http://www.YoungYogaMasters.com

    I’ve been writing about kids yoga since 2005 and don’t do adwords on my blog. I write interesting stories from my kids yoga teacher trainings and classes.

    If there are other yoga bloggers interested in a link exchange – let me know.

  • Wow!Your blog has every beat of information.The real meaning of yoga and how its important in our day to day lifestyles!!

  • Very informative article about blogging. It is true that the concept of blogging is no longer as exciting as it was since its inception, and perhaps blogging has passed its peak of popularity. However, I feel that this might mean that those most hungry for a Yoga community, and relevant information will be the ones that turn to blogs. Yoga blogs may die, but those hungry for knowledge will always be exploring online!

    Check out this blog about yoga/running a studio/and brand discovery! There are still helpful blogs out there for the yoga community!

  • Very informative article about blogging. It is true that the concept of blogging is no longer as exciting as it was since its inception, and perhaps blogging has passed its peak of popularity. However, I feel that this might mean that those most hungry for a Yoga community, and relevant information will be the ones that turn to blogs. Yoga blogs may die, but those hungry for knowledge will always be exploring online!

    Check out this blog bit.ly/3ojkuRc about yoga/running a studio/and brand discovery ! There are still helpful blogs out there for the yoga community!

  • Hypnotist Collector

    If people were still willing to pay professional editors and writers, there would be plenty of good content. Yoga Journal used to be good because it had excellent editors who were also committed and serious yogis, they paid writers well, and the magazine was independent (I wrote several articles for YJ in the mid-1990s). That’s no longer true. I believe Elephant is mostly unpaid writers (please correct me if I’m wrong on that).
    Yes, watching something you love and believe in be completely co-opted by a culture of mediocrity and amateurism and vanity is not fun; sound familiar?

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