5 things I’ve learned from starting a yoga blog
Reflections on the First Year of Stillpoint Yoga’s Blog
By Scott Johnson
“Write a blog,” my friend Guy from Wildheart Media said. “It’ll be great, you’ll be good at it.”
It’s now been a year since I started a blog about our work here at Stillpoint Yoga London. It’s been a very interesting time to start a blog and a very interesting year too. I thought I would offer this particular post as a reflection of what I’ve learned over the last year and also off the back of one of our most successful blog posts yet – our interview with Anthony ‘Prem’ Carlisi.
When I began the blog, in June 2016, I didn’t know that I would be learning the ropes during the most politically unstable time we’ve had in many, many years. But that’s how the year turned out and became one of the craziest years in my lifetime. What first began as conveying what we do at SYL and how we try to help, together with sharing a beautiful interview from my friend and fellow Mysore yoga teacher Kia Naddermier, turned into ‘how does our practice help us to meet the world when structures we live through suddenly become incredibly unbalanced?’ (see Is this the new normal and How to create fierce compassion for the world).
Writing a blog has been harder than I thought. In fact, I’ve personally found that writing regular content is a skill that has to be honed (this very post has taken me to the deadline to get finished!). The process goes something like this: finding regular topics, procrastinating, then comparing myself to other blog writers who I see as far superior in expression and feeling incredibly self-conscious compared to them (I’m looking at you Peg Mulqueen and Theodora Wildcroft). Let alone actually putting myself onto the world wide web and sharing my views on yoga and the world. All these things can play out when you’ve committed to sharing something about yourself and it can actually stop you from putting any words onto paper or the screen itself. This is what has stopped me in the past.
Yet, here’s the thing. There are so many people sharing their own personal viewpoints about yoga, about what it means to them, how it’s moved them, what they have learnt and what they want you to learn. Perhaps they all felt like me at some point: vulnerable and self-conscious about pressing ‘publish’, ‘send’ or ‘share’ for something they have created and written. Isn’t putting myself out there just me being another voice in the field and hoping that what I share perhaps connects with you in some way? We all have to start somewhere. And that’s part of what I connected with. Just start somewhere. Just start now.
So I thought I’d share a little of why I started this blog and, importantly, what I’ve learnt after a year of sharing pieces that I felt had value.
Why did I start this blog?
1. Because I felt that the way we share yoga here at SYL, and also the connections I had made, could be communicated beyond the physical space that we hold for people every day.
We work with many people and each person we meet has such a rich personal history of life that brings them to the point of connection with us. When we come to a yoga class, yoga centre or yoga retreat we are all in one way or another saying, “I’d like to see how this yoga practice can help me.” So we try to help. A Mysore room is limited though, with the time you have with practitioners and what you can express to the group. However, there are many, many individual connections and collaborative ideas that go unnoticed, but are based on real people having real relationship breakthroughs with themselves. It’s these breakthroughs and ideas that I can hopefully plant into people’s practices through the expression in my articles.
2. Because I felt more comfortable in my ability to convey what practising and teaching yoga means to me and to share it beyond the Stillpoint walls
After Ozge, co-founder of SYL, died at the beginning of 2012 I got my head down and focused on just teaching the existing community and all those who joined us. No frills. It was about nurturing the community. We were, and always have been, a room in a college where we hold space for other people to allow something to happen in their lives. The loss of Ozge changed me as a teacher and a practitioner. It made me see human vulnerability and the deep preciousness of life. But more importantly it showed me the power this practice has of waking us up. Really waking us up to life. Over the past few years I’ve noticed how much I’m being moved by the way we’re helping and the impact of that help. Sharing this movement was a natural next step for me.
3. Because it pushed me out of my comfort zone
It allowed me to not stand still and to share my voice in a different arena and, though challenged by that, I felt that I was ready to meet it. The internet is still a very vulnerable place to express yourself, but I feel that our yoga community has strength in its ability to listen and perhaps absorb each other’s’ voices. If there was any community to learn to blog in, then it’s this one. With Brexit and the Trump presidency we also had practitioners at SYL who were directly affected by these political waves and I felt that I couldn’t turn away from mentioning these as they arose. Not shying away from the conversation allowed me to see how these world events and yoga practice may meet. This felt uncomfortable but necessary.
4. Because I was encouraged
When you have people behind you it helps. I had my friend Guy from Wildheart Media, who had encouraged me in the first place, on my back to produce something every month. There’s nothing like being given a deadline to hold you to account. I also had friends and fellow bloggers who were happy to help, edit and proofread. Theodora Wildcroft has been a great resource for a few of the articles. With this encouragement comes the ability to start trusting in what you’ve written.
5. Because quite quickly after starting the blog I found creativity in me that I hadn’t touched for decades.
What came up as a response to writing a blog? The best thing – a profound and deep enjoyment in finding the ability to write again. In the English language. In communicating something meaningful. In being a student of words. Just words. In seeing how words could become an expression of my unique viewpoint of the world. I discovered a voice that I thought was lost since I was a child at school and I remembered that English classes was where I had thrived. I discovered that I so enjoyed sharing things in words, I became inspired by other writers. I found that I had always been inspired by other writers. I lost myself to the practice and creativity of writing. It’s been transformational. Part of me is sad for the lost years, in seeing what could have been if I had continued writing and not gone off the rails. But mainly, I am emboldened at finding it again. The creativity it offers. Seeing what comes.
The connection between yoga and creativity
And you know what? My yoga practice has led me to all of this.
My yoga practice has been at the base of this discovery. I had to move into something deeper in myself to see that there was creativity waiting to arise. To be able to rediscover this dormant part of me has been me reconnecting with this part of myself. Of nurturing communication and language that I can understand and resonate with through an inquisitive process. Which has also led to trust. Trust in the process. And trust in myself that I can share something in a way that resonates, that I feel I can stand by because it’s based on a truth. My personal, ongoing, discoverable truth.
If that works for you then I hope you enjoy what I have to offer. If not, then keep searching. The world wide web is an awfully big place. You’re bound to find something that resonates, somewhere.