Speaking of Ashtanga blogging and the Ashtanga blogosphere, Owl recently wrote a very compelling post in which she summarized the evolution of the Ashtanga blogosphere, or the "ashtang-o-sphere", as she calls it. Not having been an Ashtanga blogger for all that long, I can only relate to what she terms the 3.0 and later stages of this evolutionary process. Here's her summary of these stages:
"3.0 was blogs. Remember those? Blogspot all the way. Practice journals. Whole people. Big questions. Relationships. Much funnier flame wars. I visited fellow bloggers in Seattle, Santa Barbara, Encinitas, Portland, Boston, Scottsdale, Austin, NYC, London, Toronto… where else? Oh yeah, Ann Arbor. We called it the cyber-shala.
4.0 was when entrepreneurs figured out that posting every day could generate some newly coveted internet energy. And following the media experts’ lead, ashtanga teachers discovered the same thing. Bling. Content got more frequent, more shallow, more driven, and more naked. Not a bad thing. I just bore easily.
5.0 is coming. It is partly small groups in chat-rooms. Did you know? Yes, it’s totally happening. It’s the EZBoard with gate-keeping and way better technology. From cyber-shala, to cyber-sangha. Thank you, skype and google hangouts."
Very intriguing. Let me start by stating what is probably the obvious (as you can tell from reading this blog, I'm very good at doing this :-)): If Owl's summary here is correct, then this means that what we might think of as classic Ashtanga blogs, the aggregation of which make up what was once known as the "cybershala", are disappearing, fading into a cyber-twilight, to be replaced by what Owl terms the 4.0 and 5.0 stages of the process.
In a sense, such a development is inevitable. In the beginning, so to speak, before the advent of all this technology, people would do their practice either at home or in a shala. If you were lucky, you might find a few people at your shala with whom you can have coffee or chai after practice, over which you can then either (1) geek out about the minutiae of the practice ("how was your Karandavasana today?", "I thought Teacher X was going to break my knee when he adjusted me so forcefully in Mari D, but I survived, and now my hips are so much more open", etc., etc.), or maybe (2) editorialize about the latest controversial extra-practice issues in your local yoga community ("did you hear that this new Teacher Y wears super-short-shorts to practice and teach all the time? Is this correct method? Or is she just showing off her powerful legs?").
At some point, some very clever person (or maybe some small group of clever persons) discovered that these same types of over-chai or over-coffee after-practice conversations can be replicated in an electronic format. Not only can people now "talk" about these things from the relative comfort of their homes/favorite hang-outs, but since the exchange is electronic, space is no longer a barrier, and the conversation is now no longer limited only to people who happened to have been at a particular place, at a particular time. The minutiae of the practice (as well as the latest controversial extra-practice issues) can now be hashed out in great detail by a much larger group of people spread out across the globe. Hence the cybershala was born. And since videos can be uploaded onto blogs or onto youtube, Ashtangis who are not afraid of baring their practices for the rest of the world to see can now also upload videos of themselves doing whatever postures they are currently working on. This, of course, adds a whole new dimension to asana practice. Whereas in the past, what you did or how you did a particular asana was something that could only be seen by you and your teacher (and by whoever else that was in the shala at that exact moment, and whose drishti was wandering), these uploaded videos provide the opportunity for anyone and everyone to see and critique your, ahem, performance, in said asana wherever and whenever they want to. In theory, if youtube or any of these blogs are still around a hundred years from now, somebody will be able to see Claudia or Grimmly working on their asanas a hundred years ago, even though the original bodies of the original Ashtangis had already turned to dust.
Very sobering thought, don't you think? But there's a bright side to this: This also means that people like Grimmly and Claudia--and, more recently, Kino--have effectively memorialized themselves in digital media for all eternity. Perhaps if a nuclear apocalypse were to one day befall the world, images of Grimmly and Claudia and Kino in all their asana-ed glory might survive, and the inhabitants of a post-apocalyptic world may even worship them as gods and goddesses. Remember what happened in Cloud Atlas?...
Oh gosh, that was a terrible, terrible digression! I started out with the intention of editorializing, commenting, and maybe lamenting the twilight of the cyber-shala, but then somehow got myself off onto this sci-fi post-apocalyptic tangent...
But maybe this is what I really wanted to say anyway, in some obscure corner of my mind: Maybe there is really no such thing as a twilight, as far as the cybershala is concerned. No matter what kinds of newer social media (4.0, 5.0, even 6.0, whatever that might be...) emerge to try to replace or supplant the cybershala, the cybershala and its images and writings (including, if I may be so presumptuous, the writings on this blog) will be preserved and will survive as long as humankind retains the ability to access and view digital media. Claudia and Grimmly and Kino (and a whole bunch of cyber-Ashtangis too numerous to mention here) will continue to perform their asanas into the millenia to come...