Website Link

Hey there!

Follow the link and find out how Everyone Can Be a Yogi.

This website is dedicated to fostering knowledge and confidence so that users can feel empowered to begin their own at home yoga practice.

Enjoy!

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Some Site Analysis

While doing some research for my own website I decided to see what would pop-up if I searched for “beginner yoga poses”…

First hit on Google was the Yoga Journal, which I invite you to check out for yourself as it is an excellent resource for a wide variety of yoga knowledge.

To the best of my understand, the purpose of the online Yoga Journal is to provide a platform for users to find articles regarding a wide variety of different topics relating to yoga. In technical terms this type of site is known as a hypertext as it is a “system of interconnected writing/text/knowledge, that expands knowledge through connection” (quote from my college professor).

Since this site is so successful I want to take some time to understand some to the tools and tactics it uses to achieve this goal.

Access: The Yoga Journal is extremely accessible to anyone with a computer and internet connection.  Google almost anything about yoga and the Yoga Journal will be one of your top hits.

Circulation and Economics: The Yoga Journal is both an online and printed magazine. When you first enter the site there is a pop up for a subscription that they hope you will buy. There are also advertisements along the side of the scene which is another source of revenue for the organization based on how much virtual traffic is on the page.

Identity: The website and overall company have a clear brand that they do not waiver from, thus creating a consistent identity for the user of the site. This brand is both consistent with and perpetuates what you would expect on a yoga website as far as the content included and pictures used as the covers of articles.

Media: There is a small section of links to videos, but besides that pretty much the only media used are links to articles. Within specific articles themselves there may be other forms of media, however on the site as whole there are only pictures and then a title with a description of the articles.

Navigation: The user is completely responsible for finding and selecting which articles they read. There is no specific direction or location that the site leads you to.

Absorption: Since it is solely up to the reader to decide which articles to read the experience of every person the site will be unique based on which articles they choose to click and read. These fragments of information that each users absorbs are then compiled into a knowledge base about yoga that is unique to each individual.

Interaction: This compiling of information is the only clear interaction that users have with the site as there is no comments section or chat rooms for discussion that are easily accessible.

Signing Off…

As a site and company, the Yoga Journal does a great job at putting a large range of information all in one place. I love the general themes and categories that they focus on, however I think that for my own site that I would like to make the experience more interactive for the user and a bit easier to navigate. Once again, be on the look out my site will be up and running in the next few weeks.

New Yoga Website

Hey there online yogis!

I am currently developing a yoga website and wanted to share some of my  ideas with all of you.


The Vision…

This site will be a tool for people looking to gain a strong understanding of the basics of yoga. It will be the most beneficial to people who are brand new to yoga, however it will also be a great tool for seasoned practitioners who want to go back to basics and strengthen the foundations of their practice.

One section of the site will be solely dedicated to the Asanas. Here there will be step by step direction for how to get in and out of poses and which poses are easiest to flow together into a full sequence. There will be pictures, videos, GIFs, and written descriptions for the poses.

Another page will be called Yoga Lifestyle. This section will be a resource for readers to learn how to implement yoga into their daily life. Some topics covered will be conscious eating habits, how to begin an at home practice, and how to stay mindful in a fast moving and technology obsessed world.

There will be a discussion area in which online yogis can interact with each other. This area is meant to create a mindful space in which fellow yogis can join together to form an online community.

The purpose of this site is to both educate and bring together different people who all share an interest in yoga. It will be both a primary source and a portal for users to find further information from other sources.



I’m really excited about this project and couldn’t help but share it will all of you so be on the look out and more information will be coming soon!

 

A Story About Lululemon

While I do not entirely agree with the image that Lululemon has created about what a yogi should look like, I do buy their clothes and thus help represent and advertise for them when I’m on my mat.

When I was entering high school I remember when yoga pants became the major trend for women and girls. Lululemon became a household name and I used to ask for Lululemon gift cards from my family for every birthday and holiday gift.

While some would criticize the company for how expensive their products were, the majority of people supported the overall themes of the company, which center on holistic health and mindfulness. This image was eclipsed, however, in 2013 when one scandal after another led to Lululemon losing its ‘yogi mind’ reputation.

Take a look…

A Story of Scandals

 

 

Let’s Take a Break and Play Some Games

For this post I am going to discuss the Yoga portion of Wii Fit U. I think that this game is a bit of an unorthodox way to become connected with yoga, however it is a valid place to start if you are uncomfortable going to a yoga studio.

 

The setup of the game…

If you have never played a Wii Fit game before, the general gist is that you as a player are standing on a Wii balance board facing your television screen. A camera on top of your TV is able to pick up your general motions and, along with the input from the balance board, determines exactly where your center of balance is. From a list on the screen, you select a pose and the yoga teacher avatar demonstrates the posture while a voice narrates the positioning.

Image result for wii yoga

For most poses, there is a yellow circle located somewhere on the avatar where you are meant to keep your center of balance. A red dot within the circle tracks your balance and at the end of the pose you are given points based on how well you kept the red dot in the same place. Depending on the number of points you receive you are given a one to four star rating. As you gain more points and more stars you are able to unlock more poses.

 

What this game is teach us…

There are some aspects of this game that I really like and others that I do not. To start, I would like to critique the purpose of the game being a stationary center of balance.

In my own yoga practice, even if it is a Yin one (in which you hold the postures for a prolonged period of time without ‘moving’) I am rarely completely still. In order to continuous move energy throughout the body I am constantly making micro-adjustments. Thus, although I appear to be still I am usually slightly moving, relaxing, and activating different muscles.

This approach to poses is crucial for reaching a deeper position within the posture. It is impossible (or dangerous actually) to immediately go to the full expression of a pose. Instead, I start by entering the pose with care until I feel I have reached a stopping point at which time I use my breadth and slight muscular adjustments to deepen the posture. Wii Yoga lacks any of these aspects within postures. It teaches students to rush into a pose and to hold it as still as possible. This causes a stagnation of energy and a build of tension. The complete opposite effect of what we want while practicing yoga

Contrasting this critique, I like how the game is set up to reward players who have mastered certain poses by unlocking new poses for them to practice. This is a class structure that should be practiced more readily by modern yogis. When yoga was originally practiced, students would be unable to even attempt the next pose in the sequence until they had completely mastered the previous pose. Now, we have people who will see an acrobatic pose on Instagram and immediately try and replicate it without taking the steps to strengthen and stretch their muscles with the preceding poses. This is downright dangerous and undermines the humbling practice and journey that is yoga.

 

Signing Off…

In the end I would say that if you enjoy practicing Wii Yoga and you use it as a stepping block to starting you practice then go for it. However, I would warn you that this game has some aspects that do not align with classical yoga teachings. This does not mean that it is invalid as a yoga platform, but is something that you should be aware of.

 

Creating a Wikipedia page for Jessamyn Stanley

Why Jessamyn Stanley deserves a Wikipedia page…

This past week I attempted to create a Wikipedia page for Jessamyn Stanley. For those of you who do not know who this goddess of a yogi is, Jessamyn is a plus-sized, African-American yoga instructor in North Carolina. Over the past couple of years she has become an online celebrity in the yoga community for her digitally documented practice and body-positivity advocacy.

A week has not gone by over the past couple of months that I have not seen a video of her practice or an article about her work on the various yoga social media pages that I follow.

 

For some more of her inspirational work check out her Youtube channel or follow her on Instagram @mynameisjessamyn

 

I believe that Stanley deserves a Wikipedia page because she is leading a new movement for the western world of yoga. She teaches students to priorities “how they feel” over “how they look”, a message that in my opinion has been lost in the capitalist takeover of the yoga image.

My experience creating the page…

I have created one Wikipedia page before and I can tell you it isn’t easy. A great deal of research has to go into the preparation and then time for formatting the information to the Wikipedia standards.

The most important part about creating a page is justifying why this person matters to the greater encyclopedic community. With this article I am unsure whether or not it will go through to publishing because of the nature of Jessamyn Stanley’s fame. Her contribution to the yoga community is less based on books and new sequences and more centered on principals and inspiration. This was challenging for me to convey and I think it will be challenging for the Wikipedia editing team to confirm.

It takes about three week for Wikipedia to process newly submitted articles so keep on the look out for a new one coming to the internet near you.   

 


Just for you…

Here is a copy of my article so you can read and decide for yourself whether it is Wikipedia worthy. [Leave me comments with any recommendations that you have for improvement, they are greatly appreciated]

Jessamyn Stanley is a plus-sized, African American yoga instructor at the Durham Yoga Company in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina. Through social media, she has gained a great deal of popularity for her pictures in various yoga poses and body-positive advocacy.

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Stanley is a self-described “fat femme” and working to change common misconceptions about beauty within the yoga community[1]. Her interviews, blog, and social media teach readers about the fundamentals of yogic beliefs, as well as redefining stereotypes for plus-sized, African American women.

Work

Jessamyn Stanley first began to gain attention in 2014 for her Instagram documented yoga practice. Since then, her following has grown to include, as of right now, over 231,000 followers. She currently teaches Vinyasa yoga in North Carolina and travels across the country teaching yoga and body-positive workshops.

Stanley first started practicing yoga in 2011 at Bikram or hot yoga studios.[2] When the cost of going to studios became too great, she started practicing at home and documenting the progress of her practice online. With her Youtube channel and blog, Stanley advocates for students to gain access to yoga without spending a great deal of money, showing her followers how to start an at home practice and use household items as props.

On November 12, 2016, Stanley will be teaching a body-positivity workshop at YJ LIVE in Florida[3]. Articles about her work can be found in the Yoga Journal, Bustle, Lenny Letter, Mind Body Green, Bust, Cosmopolitan.com[4] and more. She has also appeared on Good Morning America[5]New York Magazinethe Huffington Post. She was recently featured in the October 2016 Special Edition Newsweek “Yoga Life” magazine and in the June 2016 issue of Glamour magazine[6]. She has also launched a new app through Cody entitled “Everybody Yoga”. This app gives users access to Stanley’s yoga classes online and is geared toward beginner practitioners.

 

References

  1. Jump up^Staff, WITW. “Self-described fat femme and Instagram star talks about “fat yoga””. New York Times: Women in the World. New York Times. Retrieved 10/25/2016. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  2. Jump up^Susan, Rinkunas. “A Prominent Yogi on Fat Yoga, Instagram, and Changing Stereotypes”. The Cut: New York Magazine. New York Media. Retrieved 10/25/2016. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  3. Jump up^Alpert, Yelena Moroz. “How Jessamyn Stanley Is Erasing Yoga Stereotypes”. Yoga Journal. Cruz Bay Publishing, Inc. Retrieved 10/25/2016. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  4. Jump up^Koman, Tess. “This “Fat Femme” Yogi Is Changing Lives With Her Gorgeous Instagram Photos”. Cosmopolitan. Cosmopolitan.com. Retrieved 10/25/2016. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  5. Jump up^Prisco, Joanna. “‘Fat Femme’ Yogi’s Instagram Mission: Yoga Is For Everyone”. abc News. abc. Retrieved 10/25/2016. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  6. Jump up^Levy, Sara Gaynes. “Instagram Yoga Star Jessamyn Stanley Shares Her Headstand Secrets”. Glamour. Condé Nast. Retrieved 10/25/2016. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)

 

 

Reconnect by Disconnecting

What is your “True Self”?

In Buddhist teachings, your True Self is the innate light within every single one of us. This light is naturally filled with kindness and compassion for both ourselves and those who surround us. This is what the term Namaste refers to.

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Our Ego is the part of our mind that gets in the way of our ability to connect with our True Selves. It constantly chatters at us as we compare ourselves to others, succumb to envy, grow in anger, and many other negative thoughts and emotions that we experience in our daily lives.

 

It is extremely hard to quiet the Ego

“Your thighs jiggle too much.”

“She’s so much better at standing splits than you are.”

“You don’t deserve to do a yoga practice today.”

All these thoughts and more flood our mind, frantically jumping from one to another. If we are not careful these thoughts are what dictate our reality. When listen and believe in our Ego we lose connection with the glorious beings that we really are.

Why it’s so hard to ignore our Ego?

In our current consumer and technology driven society, it becomes even harder to sift through all the status updates and advertisements to reach our inner gurus. Our lives are driven by status updates,

I learned this the hard way when I was a freshman in high school. The summer before starting at my brand new school I made a Facebook account. This was the first time I had ever invested myself into the world of social media.

Those first few weeks of school were extra exciting because I was meeting hundreds of new people in real life and subsequently had hundreds of friend requests in my virtual life. Every day, after school, I would immediately run up to my room and log on to my account to scroll through my timeline. For hours I would become consumed with pictures of food, group selfies, and status updates.

The excitement I felt during this time soon died away and was replaced with self-consciousness. I began to constantly compare myself to others. The online versions I saw of others as popular and social compared to my own as shy and invisible began to replace the perceptions I had for real life. I was starved for validation and couldn’t understand why the positive feedback I was receiving on my profile wasn’t enough to fill this need.

At this point, I had enough sense as a 15-year-old to realize that something was not right. It was unsustainable for me to determine my self-worth based on how others saw me online. This person that I had created on Facebook did not really exist and did not define who I was as a person.

Thus, I decided to create “The Photo Wall”. I went to Walgreens and printed every picture I had that reminded me that I was loved and took them home. Next, I used Scotch tape to individually position each one until I had created a huge collage of photographs. Sitting on my bed staring in rapture at this real-life Facebook album, I removed myself from the virtual world and returned to the real world.

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This Photo Wall is still in my room at my parent’s house today. Being able to touch and see the pictures in my room instills a sense of ‘realness’ to them, more so than the pictures I see through my computer screen.

It works as a guide for me when I become a bit lost in my internal journey. It reminds me of all the people and places that I love in my life, guiding me to turn that love inward toward myself.

 

Why this matters?

It seems ridiculous to think that someone could determine their self-worth based on who they are online, but this exact experience is happening to people all the time.

The virtual self, or the representation that we create online of ourselves, can be more ‘real’ than our physical self. In this case I am defining ‘real’ as the version that we decide is the most valuable to us. The problem with this is that the profiles we see and create online consist of only highlight reels of our lives. They lack the substance and imperfections that make up the human existence. When we compare ourselves to these online creatures we create our own suffering as we continuously strive for an impossible perfection.

 

Just for you!

Feeling inspired?

Create your own version of a Photo Wall

And remember…

You are so much more than the number of likes you get on your profile pictures. You are a whole person, not just flashes of images on a screen. 

 

 

 

What is Yoga?

 

There are a lot of different opinions and controversy surrounding this topic. This post isn’t meant necessarily to answer that question, but rather to incite some critical thinking about it.

 

A Brief History Lesson…

Yoga is one of the oldest religious practices. Yes, for some people this might be shocking, but yoga is based in religion. In India (where yoga originated), artwork depicting ancient yogis have been found that predates Christ by thousands of year.

 

 

The first yoga text was the Bhagavad Gita, which is still widely distributed throughout the world today.

(I highly recommend reading this if you are at all interested in the topic)

 

This book describes in detail the yogic path to enlightenment. It define yoga as a spiritual practice towards immortality. Interestingly, this book has very little space dedicated to the physical practice of yoga and instead describes the lifestyle and meditation practices that enabled men of ancient India to come closer with the Divine.

 

Fast Forward Thousands of Years…

Today, yoga is still apart of Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism, but overall has become removed from its religious roots. Since entering Western culture, the identity of yoga has altered to become a mainstreamed representation of the original practice.

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Originally, yoga was a spiritual lifestyle practiced almost exclusively by boys and men seeking enlightenment.

 

 

 

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Now, yoga is mainly perceived as a physical workout practiced by Western women, and intertwined into capitalist culture.

 

 

The identity of yoga has transformed to include the clothing, the fitness, and the cultural persona surrounding it. Almost every girl in Western society owns a yoga mat and a pair of yoga leggings. Every gym now offers yoga classes which often times lack any incorporation of meditation or spirituality.

The physical practice of yoga was originally only a small portion of the overall spiritual lifestyle, but now dominates the entire meaning of yoga.

 

Some Thoughts…

If hundreds of thousands of people are going to yoga classes and wearing yoga clothes and posting pictures on Instagram in yoga poses, is that yoga?

If our general population believes that this is what it means to be a yogi, then in some ways the answer is yes. The mainstream version of yoga has eclipsed the original practice.

 

Thus, who is to say what ‘real’ yoga is?

                            Is it an ancient religious practice or is it a cultural fad?

 

To quote one of my Buddhist meditation teachers from a couple of years ago, “It is both and yet neither, at the same time”.

 

Both the original and newer variations of yoga are ‘real’ in their own right. Many people within the yoga community believe that ‘true’ yoga is based solely on the ancient yoga teachings.

My argument is how do we define ‘real’ yoga?

If the vast majority of the population identifies with the mainstream representation of yoga and are completely ignorant to its spiritual origination, then how can that version not be ‘real’?

Arguable it has grown to be the definition of yoga, more so than the original.

 

 

Signing Off…

I teach and practice yoga based on alignments of the chakras  and am not a fan gym-style-yoga. I personally choose to practice yoga for the spiritual benefits, but was originally attracted to joining a studio because of the physical ones.

This article is not meant to justice yoga being taught solely as a physical practice. Rather, I was inspired by the countless people I have discussed the mainstreaming of yoga with and who often have (in my opinion) snobby remarks about other people’s practices.

Who am I to say what the ‘real’ yoga is?

If more people perceive yoga from a certain perspective, then in theory that version has more validity than mine.

All yogis are entitled to their own practice since in the end it is their own spirituality and body that are at work.

Where to Begin…

 

In my opinion, these are the most common misconceptions about yoga:

  • You have to spend a lot of money

 

  • You must have a “yoga bod”

 

 

  • You need to be flexible

 

 

  • It’s only for rich, white women

 

I get it. Yoga studios and/or gym memberships are expensive (and usually over-flowing with wealthy, white women decked out from headband to mat in Lululemon). If you feel too intimidated or do not have the financial means to go to yoga classes, then I recommend exploring the many options available on the internet.

To get you started, here is a video from a Youtube yogini who is doing an incredible job at delivering her yoga knowledge to people of all backgrounds and identities.

 

Why this video is superb…

Presentation and Content: 

The success of this video can be attributed to both its content and its delivery. In all of her videos, Adrienne moves slowly and deliberately through poses (or asanas).  She presents herself as a reliable source of guidance and knowledge. Most importantly, she demonstrates a clear commitment to safety.

In the description section of her video there is a link to her Foundations of Yoga series in which she goes through the asanas individually so that the viewer can fully understand the posture. This is an incredible resource for beginner yogis who are unfamiliar with safe yoga practice techniques.

Although it is not included in this video, the majority of her videos also include a link to the Yoga with Adrienne website. Here you can find her blog, clothing company, more videos, and a forum for online conversation among yoga enthusiasts.

 

Distribution:

Youtube yoga instruction videos are free. With just a computer and a wifi connection anyone can turn their living room into a studio.

This access has changed the way that yogic teachings are circulated. Now more than ever before we are encountering people who are “self-taught” yogis.

The only addition that I would like to see from Adrienne’s videos is a written list of the yoga sequence. I believe that developing a personal at home practice is crucial to embodying the yoga lifestyle and having a set sequence that you can practice without the queues of the online teacher would be extremely helpful.

 

Accessibility:

A brief glance at the comments on any of the videos depicts a wide array of people who watch and support the series.

One African American man comments how thankful he is for discovering yoga and having it help him feel comfortable at 240lbs to begin exercising.

Another young girl describes how yoga has changed the way she handles stress.

Youtube yoga channels have made yoga accessible to people who often times would financially and/or socially be left out of the studio. This video has been made the physical yoga practice accessible to people of all genders, race, ages, etc.

 

Personal Interaction:

There is a large amount of interaction between Adrienne and her online students. In the description section of the video there is a link to sign up for a daily 30 Days of Yoga Email. This email service, the Youtube comments, and the Yoga with Adrienne website forum creates a community of yogis that can interact with each other and discuss anything and everything about yoga. Adrienne will leave her own comments on the videos in response to those of the viewers and takes ideas from her students for future videos.

 

Popularity:

This video is one of her most popular with over 7 million views and 61 thousand likes. This makes the video easy to find as it will be near the top of the page when searched. This is how I originally found it because I hoped that the large number of viewers meant that the video had to have some credibility.

Hello!

A Brief Introduction…

My name is Elizabeth. I am a 21-year-old Pre-Physical Therapy student at Chapman University in Southern California.

Last June, I traveled to Paros, Greece for an intensive three week total emersion yoga training program in Transformational Hatha and Vinyassa with Irana Ji An. I have been practicing yoga with varying levels of intensity since I was 16-years-old.

I was originally drawn to yoga for the physical side of the practice and the general persona that surrounds the industry. I have deepened my practice and invested my interest in it because of the spiritual side of the practice and the changes it has created in my day-to-day life.

After I took the leap to becoming a certified instructor, I emerged from my ‘yoga boot camp’ with some new perspectives on the modern world of yoga. Thus, this blog was born as a platform for me to share some of my research and personal insights with all of you.

What I’m trying to achieve…

This space is built to be both critical and educational. As a recently certified “instructor” I wish to spread awareness to the average yoga student about how dangerous yoga can be.

Really? Like what? You stretch a little too much?”

(this is a direct quote from my boyfriend when I told him about this topic last night)

Yes! Yoga can be extremely dangerous. From pulled hamstrings, to shoulder dislocations, to fractured spines, when approached in a careless manner yoga can create more injuries than it heals. These injuries don’t even have to come from a specific instance either. The most common yoga injuries are those created by little habits that when repeatedly practiced create problems overtime.

Not only is it a person’s personal responsibility to be wary when practicing yoga, but there is a massive amount of responsibility placed on the instructor as well. Here is a major source of controversy for modern day yoga. With yoga teacher training programs becoming a profitable business for organizations, more and more “teachers” are being pumped out with less and less knowledge of yoga or safety precautions. Many yoga companies have adopted a ‘You give us thousands of dollars and we’ll give you a diploma’ mentality.

As someone hoping to enter the field of injury rehab through Physical Therapy, I want to combine my two fields of interest to create a safer physical practice for an average yoga student.

Signing Off…

It would be naïve of me to pretend that 21-years of life experience and 6-years of yoga experience makes me any kind of expert on any subject. That is why I am dedicated to research and a growing knowledge base. This post on September 8, 2016 is just a starting point for me as I hope to work and develop this website throughout my growth as a yogini and rehabilitation professional.