Recently, J. Brown, a Yoga Teacher, blogger, and all around question-asker wrote an incredibly insightful blog post on the current state of Yoga. This one asked the question of whether or not we are actually creating community through our online interactions. I agree with most everything in the article. But upon reflection, I’ve realized that in a somewhat twisted way, this last year, the internet has been my greatest Yoga Teacher.
A year ago my husband and I moved from New York City to Austin, Texas. After 7 years in New York City, I had collected a large network of Teachers, Therapists, Mentors, and Healers that I revered and looked up to. After moving to Austin, I felt automatically out of the loop. The Austin Yoga community is HUGE. In fact, there are more Yoga teachers in Austin per capita than in any where else in the nation. This is staggering. I felt like everywhere I looked, there was another Yoga teacher, or someone going through or starting a teacher training. I reached out to several studios to see if I could find a home similar to what I found in the Breathing Project in New York. Although there are many amazing Yoga studios in Austin, there is no Breathing Project. Because, woefully, for me, it is still in Manhattan…and I am in Texas. I yearned to continue my Anatomy Nerd studies. I longed to question the Yoga community at large and wondered about the deeper questions about where Yoga is headed. I felt overwhelmed by recommendations of which teachers or studios in my area might resonate with my feelings about Yoga. I’m happy to say I’ve found several peers and teachers in Austin who I admire. But in the search for a community, a home, and new teachers for me to trade ideas with, I found great comfort in the unlikeliest of places: Twitter and Facebook.
I joined Twitter in January of this year, and I now have 450 followers. What’s been most exciting is the abundance of Teachers who have ideas I hadn’t heard much about until I got my Twitter education. I studied for two years in New York City with masters of Yoga Anatomy Amy Matthews and Leslie Kaminoff. When I got to Austin, I missed my teachers terribly, and I’m not ashamed to admit that my favorite thing to do on Monday is to grab a cup of tea and watch the promotional videos they send to me via e-blast. I learn and re-learn from these videos. They excite me and reinvigorate me and challenge me to keep actively learning in my teaching. When I’m not going through anatomy books or old notes from workshops at the Breathing Project, I turn to my good friend Twitter, who tells me that J. Brown has put out a new thought provoking post on the future of Yoga. When I had an actual community in New York, all I knew of J. Brown was that he was the teacher of several of my peers, the brilliant teachers of Abyhasa Yoga in Brooklyn. Now, he is someone I look to to help me formulate the way I feel about my teaching. He’s become one of my virtual teachers. But Twitter told me about more than just one teacher. Twitter introduced me to Yoga Dork, and It’s All Yoga Baby , blogs that are asking some AMAZING questions about what Yoga is today. Twitter introduced me to Carol Horton, a brilliant PHD Yogi, who wrote one of the most thought-provoking pieces on the Ego of a Yoga teacher that really made me think. I’ve also found a hero in Matthew Remski, who is diving head-first into a very well informed conversation about Yoga Asana and injuries. Facebook kept me in touch with SmarterBodies, who are anatomy nerd Yogi Trainers in NYC. I’ve discovered new and intriguing people I look to for ideas and inspiration and others just who allow me to question my own beliefs. I’ve discovered the Yoga and Beyond, On Being, and Liberated Body Podcasts, as well as learned more about the work of Tom Myers, Jill Miller, and Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen. The internet this last year has definitely provided me with a sense of community. And I am lucky to be continuing my education through it. J. Brown is right. It’s not a substitute for the kind of real-interaction community. Especially because, as person who practices Therapeutic Yoga with my students, I feel that experiential anatomy and a hands-on approach are of the utmost. But when you are grieving the loss of a community that took you years to construct, the internet can give you a high-speed connection to more ideas and more people, and I do feel a genuine sense of connection because of it.
The internet is like the Force. It can be used for good or evil. I’ve found it can be a place where sparks turn to movements, and experiences turn to inspiration. It’s a place where you can stay connected to those you are apart from, and it tells you when and where you can next connect. It helps you get clear on your ideas, even when it pisses you off. The internet is not a person, but it is a meeting place to share ideas. It is not a teacher, but there are many teachers actively teaching through it. It is not a place to find community, except, sometimes, when you are out there all alone, you do.
So, I am incredibly grateful to the internet and the community and networks I have found there. I hope I get to meet everyone of the teachers Twitter introduced me to. In the meantime, if you’re one of them, please know I’m hanging on and growing from your every word. And my students and I are receiving the wisdom of your teaching. We are part of a new age of ever-changing ideas about where Yoga is headed, and I’m so beyond excited for the community this era has created. I am a part of a new lineage of teachers, where ideas are shared, controversial topics are discussed, and the everyman can be the Guru.