So a couple of days ago, Terra at Schmetterling Yoga tagged me in another one of those award memes that float around the blogosphere. At first I was like, oh man, 7 more things about myself, 7 more blogs… I already did this exercise a couple of months ago. But when I looked back at what I’d written, I saw that a lot of things have changed. And I realized that this could be an opportunity to sort out some of my core thoughts and beliefs about this yoga stuff. Just so you (and I) know where I’m operating from. At least today. So here goes… some beliefs, some thoughts. Subject to change, of course.

1) The practice – I believe yoga is a powerful, transformative practice. Nuff said.

2) Where is yoga going? – For some reason, I’m obsessed with this question, and I’m obsessed with watching how it evolves and adapts to our culture. Obviously, I have pretty strong feelings against the commercialization and corporatization of yoga (this said, I’m not anti-business and I do believe that there can be acceptable commercial partnerships), and I’m not interested in self-serving yoga teachers who are promoting their own versions of the practice. But I also have to admit that I’m not a traditionalist, and I don’t believe in the concept of a “pure yoga.” I also think that there have been many positive forms of evolution in the past couple of decades: yoga programs in prisons, schools, hospitals; service-oriented organizations such as yogaHope and Street Yoga; acceptance and validation from the medical community. This is yoga responding to and reflecting modern life, and this is a kind of mainstream acceptance which is positive and powerful.

3) Accessibility – This is a word that I think gets thrown around a lot, and it’s almost becoming synonymous with “availability.” There’s this idea that the more yoga we see in our culture, the more people will become convinced to try it. I’m also seeing a prevalent belief that if there are more styles and varieties to appeal to every taste and every person, than yoga is more accessible. But my personal vision of accessibility is a little different: I’d like to break down the barriers of class, race and body type which prevent many people from benefiting from the practice.

4) Entry points – People begin to practice yoga for any number of reasons (weight loss, stress reduction, healing, community, flexibility, overcoming pain), and I don’t judge or criticize any of these. While my yoga practice is for my spiritual health (though I can’t deny that I love the hot biceps I’ve developed from inversions), I feel there’s nothing wrong with other people who do it for their physical health. There’s also nothing wrong with starting to practice yoga with a DVD or at a gym class. But my tendency is to step back and criticize teachers and organizations who exploit this or capitalize on it (for example, by offering substandard products and misinformed teachers, or by selling products which play on people’s desire to be thin/beautiful/etc).

5) Worldview – My views of yoga are informed by my experiences living and working in a karma yoga ashram, editing ascent magazine and studying Anusara. While I’ve only been immersed in the practice for 5 years, I feel like I’ve seen the whole spectrum ~ from seclusion and retreat (in a forest, on the edge of a lake, at the foot of a mountain), to running an urban yoga business, to straddling the contradictory worlds of yoga and media, to engaging with a very modern form of the practice.

6) Life – I live my yoga the way I live my life: with authenticity, integrity, quality, passion, enthusiasm, wonder and awe. With a sense of humour and delight. With creativity, curiousity and fun. With an independent, community-minded, anti-establishment spirit (and at times, critical and questioning spirit). And it’s all fueled by a desire to be of service.

7) Evolution – I love bantering and debating about the evolution of yoga, it’s fun and thought-provoking. But ultimately, I’m concerned with my own evolution and my own practice. While I spend several hours each week blogging about yoga and commenting on other yoga blogs, the majority of my time is spent practicing, teaching and just getting through my day, each day. This is really what matters to me.

So these are 7 things that I think about yoga. For now. Without being fundamentalist or rigid, but being firm in my beliefs. It’s a process.

And here are 7 yoga blogs that I’ve recently discovered ~ there’s no obligation to continue this meme, but if you decide to do so, please challenge yourselves to put forward your core beliefs about yoga. (And to all the blogs that I listed on my first 7 things post, I still love you, too!)

Bob! – okay, he’s not a blog (though he does whatever he does at the YJ community). But I always smile when Bob pops up in my comment feed, and I can always expect something enlightening, interesting, intelligent and supportive from him. I love what he’s brought to our little community of yoga bloggers.

Yoga Addicted – I  love Mandy’s enthusiasm for life and yoga. Also, she introduced me to the joys of grawnola bars!

Namaste & Knitting – I was super impressed with Jenn’s contributions to the great Adidas debate, and was delighted to discover that she blogs about knitting and yoga (my favourite things!). She’s only been writing this blog for a couple of weeks, but she’s already figured out what she has to say and is a wonderful contribution to the community. Welcome!

YogaSpy – gets the award for coolest blog name. Also love her sharp, incisive views on yoga and culture.

Wouldn’t Stop Picking at It – this Montreal yogi and writer shares her quirky worldview and perspective. And she looks just like Tina Fey ~ how cool is that?

My Embodiment – of course, it’s always fascinating to read about “the misadventures and adventures of a psychotherapist in yoga school.” Lovely writing, interesting views and penetrating thoughts.

Gwen Bell – I’ve been reading a lot of social media blogs lately, and Gwen Bell is one of the few yogis who is active and vocal in that world. Her blog is balanced and smart and girly and fun.

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