I have been thinking about the latest ripples in the ashtanga blogosphere and how one blogger will throw a stone into the waters and a ripple effect radiates outwards and one after another, posts on the same content start to appear. Usually I do have thoughts on these subjects but rarely take the plunge and write about them. Mostly, I don’t have time, but sometimes I try to craft something interesting but am unsatisfied by the results and these drafts sit in my drafts tray on wordpress, gathering cyberdust, never to be published.

However, the theme of blog content, readers, lurkers and private blogs has stirred up enough of my imaginative juices to get me writing.

The ashtanga blogosphere has grown and grown since I started my blog back in 2006. Back then, Ashtangi.net seemed to be the main propagator of peoples ashtanga inspiration. There were a few dedicated bloggers, some reporting the day to day ins and outs of their practices and others recounting their adventures in Mysore. I personally started my blog as an aide memoire during my Teacher Training. I was supposed to be keeping a yoga diary and having encountered a few blogs I enjoyed, I decided to keep a diary online. After writing for a little while, I found my voice and not only did I want to write my own blog, but I felt that I wanted to comment on other blogs. After a while, as is always the case with relationships, I found that I had more in common with some bloggers than with others and over time started cultivating favourites. I also love the sense of community we have and that I have made friends with people out there, some of whom I have even been lucky enough to meet, and others who hopefully I will catch up with one day!

Since the beginning of 2008 there suddenly seemed to be an explosion of ashtanga blogs, so many in fact that I can’t keep up with all of them. The hardcore bloggers don’t even seem to need Ashtangi.net to get readership as their commenting on other blogs out there creates a network. If I neglect my blog feed for just one day I often find 60 threads that I haven’t read, let alone the comments which come with them. (note – not all of the blogs are yoga related, otherwise I might be considered an ashtanga blog stalker!). As a result of all of the blogs out there, I have had to become a little selective. Some of the blogs I read I almost never comment on, but others I feel that I have enough of a relationship with the authors that I like to comment, even if just to say hello. I don’t really consider myself a lurker though even where I don’t make myself heard very often. I don’t really think bloggers and blogs have got cliquey, just that there are so many out there now that we establish relationships and different people will get on better with different blogs.

As to the content of blogs, I know that I am not the source of many a deep and meaningful post, but I don’t care. Really, this blog is for me, although all of us probably ought to question what type of people we are that we wanted to start recounting our thoughts and practices to anyone out there who would listen?

So, how about making a blog private? Where I have encountered blogs going private there seem to be specific privacy issues which have catalysed the change. It interests me that all of us who have a readership and have put a flag down in the virtual shala have started off as public blogs, looking to cyberspace as a place to have a voice. The privacy issue comes later on, once our place in the hierarchy is satisfied. We then start to wonder who else out there is reading; who are these mystery numbers on the stat counter? Sometimes I look at how people have found my blog and find that the searches are quite specific, looking for me by name or somewhere I have been. For now, I am happy to write publicly. I hope that I have the good sense not to write stuff which would offend people that I have time and respect for.

All of our blogs are inspirational in some way and will capture the attention of others, whether they are friends who want to know what we are up to, or people we have never met before who can relate to our circumstances and find it comforting to read that someone else out there is dealing with the same aches, pains and early morning lack of motivation. Blogs which recount daily practices, nights out and relationships with friends and families can be just as fascinating and helpful on our journey as the more spiritual or esoteric posts. We don’t only need Nietzsche often we enjoy Hello magazine too!

So, do we have a greater responsibility? I find that the blogs in our virtual shala create an energy akin to that of the real places we practice. There will always be the loud people, the philosophisers, the people who quietly listen and absorb wisdom from the others. At the end of the day, the cyber shala is a friendly and supportive community and I like the idea that other yogis out there can read what we have to say and maybe one day find a voice of their own and share their pearls of wisdom with the rest of us.