The practice of a home Ashtangi can be quite a solitary affair. Some of us have chosen not to go to a Shala, some live too far away and some just have too many other commitments for it to be a realistic possibility. I'm by nature quite solitary and have never found practicing alone an issue. It was quite a surprise then, to wake up one morning recently and realise that I was part of an Ashtanga community, the Cybershala.
I'm not really sure what the Cybershala is but I've heard it referred to more and more lately. It seems to be an online community not located at any one site or of a fixed membership. It seems to be made up of blogs, comment threads and forums, corners of facebook, YouTube, chatrooms, and skype connections. Anywhere where one's practice can be posted, discussed, commented on.
When I began this blog with the intention of exploring the Jump back I'd hoped it might be a two way street, that others might send some links to articles or forum threads. I'd hoped I might get the occasional comment on one of my videos, perhaps with a suggestion or two, but truth be told I didn't really expect that many people to come across this.
Looking at my blog counter today, I see that I've received over thirty thousand visitors and am averaging a hundred and fifty hits a day. From the feedjit application I see that visitors come here, stay a few minutes and then head off to one of the other blogs mentioned on my page, sometimes coming back a few minutes later before flitting off somewhere else. I have this image of bees buzzing from flower to flower. Twenty percent of visitors are new and arrive following a google search for something or other, which delights me when it's something I know I've posted on. My favourite is when someone arrives for the first time while googling 'Jump back' , I'm thinking, I've got fifty-eight posts on the ruddy Jump back, knock yourself out. I love it too when someone searches for me by name, 'grimmly jump back guy' being my favourite.
Visitors come from all over the world, I'm looking at feedjit now and in the last three hours visitors have arrived from USA, Korea, UK, Australia, France, Switzerland, Japan, Austria, Turkey, Germany and Spain, Singapore (i was actually born in Singapore, hi). I like to look at feedjit at different times of the day and watch patterns of timezones emerge. And this is just a small Ashtanga video blog that's only been around for a year I've seen blogs with feedjit maps blanketed with red visitor dots from all over the globe and comment threads of fifty or so.
It's always nice to receive a comment on a post. Comments range from words of encouragement, suggestions for improvement, constructive criticisms to warnings of impending injury. All are welcomed. I couldn't have progressed as I have without the feedback and encouragement I've received. My favourite comments though, are those that come out of the blue, from someone who's never commented before, but wanted to say that they've found something that's motivated and inspired them in their practice. Hearing this is inspiring and motivating in return.
And friendships are formed. From visiting one another's blogs regularly and becoming familiar with each others practice, to comments shared along with in jokes and references that may connect through three four or more blogs and are more like shared conversations.
A home practice doesn't have to be a completely solitary affair. The community I've woken up to, fond myself a part of has had a tremendous impact on my practice, inspiring, motivating, encouraging and generous. Thank you.
I'm sure we're all thinking, off and on today, about Guruji's passing, our sympathies being with the family in their loss but also with all who have felt touched by the man whether directly or indirectly. I wasn't going to write anything myself. However writing this post has made me think not just about the gift of the practice itself or how it may have changed us for the better (am sure it saved me from a heart attack at fifty), but how this practice connects us.
PS. I just went to close down feedjit and found somebody had just arrived from Utah, googling 'youtube ducks jumping catching' .
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Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga at home by Anthony Grim Hall is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.
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from Kalama sutra, translation from the Pali by Bhikkhu Bodhi
from Kalama sutra, translation from the Pali by Bhikkhu Bodhi This blog included. "So, as I said, Kalamas: 'Don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, "This contemplative is our teacher." When you know for yourselves that, "These qualities are unskillful; these qualities are blameworthy; these qualities are criticized by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to harm & to suffering" — then you should abandon them.' Thus was it said. And in reference to this was it said.
"Now, Kalamas, don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, 'This contemplative is our teacher.' When you know for yourselves that, 'These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness' — then you should enter & remain in them. Buddha - Kalama Sutta