Yoga Blogger Interview : Roseanne from It’s All Yoga Baby
Yoga Blogger Interview : It’s All Yoga, Baby
Today is the 5th week our 8 week yoga blogger interview series where we’re presenting interviews of 8 influential yoga bloggers. We ask 8 engaging questions and release an interview every Saturday at 8am US EST.
For this interview, we’re happy to learn more about Roseanne from It’s All Yoga, Baby. We originally connected with Roseanne after reading her interesting views on yoga in the west. Roseanne is one of the pioneers of yoga blogging, we’re fortunate to have the opportunity to feature her. Enjoy the interview and leave a comment or question for Roseanne in the comments section.
1) Can you start by giving us a bit of background about yourself and your blog. How did you start practicing? When did you start blogging, and what did you expect readers to get out of it?
I started practicing yoga casually while I was a university student in the mid-90s, but I got deeply into it 10 years ago. I started blogging, reluctantly, while I was working as editor of ascent, an independent yoga magazine. This was around 2006/7, when the magazine industry hadn’t yet figured out how to work with the internet or these new blog things. When ascent went out of business in early 2009 and I found myself out of a job and with an abundance of free time, I started It’s All Yoga, Baby. I wanted to stay connected to the community of teachers and practitioners I’d met while working at the magazine, and I also wanted a place to develop my voice and opinions on yoga in North American culture, to be able to speak out in a way that I couldn’t when I was at the helm of a magazine. I didn’t expect anybody would actually read it or be interested in it, and for the first three months I kept the blog a secret while I built my confidence. Slowly, from there, I started to comment on other blogs and share my posts with colleagues and friends, and then it just kept growing and growing.
2) It’s All Yoga Baby examines the relationship between yoga and popular culture. Can you touch on general or specific hypocrisies of yoga in the West when compared to the roots of traditional Eastern yoga?
First of all, I don’t think traditional yoga is without its hypocrisies; the roots of yoga are often tangled and complicated, and I’m not interested in idealizing or romanticizing them. Nevertheless, one of the general hypocrisies of modern yoga that I find fascinating is the value system that has gotten lost as yoga has become more popular and mainstream. My feeling is that at its essence, yoga is about living a simple, immaterial life and being content with what we have – but yoga has in many ways, ironically, become a status symbol, with a code of fashion, “spirituality lite” trends, and cult of personality teachers.
3) Tell us a little bit about one of your top three yoga blog posts.
One of my favourite blog posts is my coverage of Yoga Journal’s dismissal of an international boycott of Hyatt Hotels in order to hold their 2013 conference in San Francisco. I had followed that story for six months, interviewed union activists, and published the post just before the January conference. I was amazed at the response and the discussion that ensued (although not surprised at all by YJ’s lack of engagement and their generic corporate reply to the issue) – SF yoga practitioners even showed up at the hotel and picketed in solidarity with workers and activists. The whole thing affirmed that there is a powerful and thoughtful cohort of practitioners who align their yoga practice with a vision for social justice. It was beyond inspiring.
4) There are organizations sprouting up in an effort to preserve traditional yoga and to prevent the rampant commercialization that we see in the West. Do you think these organizations will be successful in decelerating the Westernization of yoga or will the practice continue to be diluted here in the West?
I’m less concerned about the dilution of the practice than I used to be. I think yoga is in a constant state of evolution, and it’s responding to North American culture in diverse and fascinating ways. Some of these are awesome (like yoga as part of this holistic stress reduction program in Toronto schools) and some are ridiculous (like doga, yoga raves, SUP yoga). What will be interesting to see is what has a lasting impression, what forms yoga in the West will take in the next 10, 20, 30 years and beyond. We’re in the midst of a massive boom, and the popularity of yoga is showing no signs of slowing down. I’m curious to see if it will hit a tipping point, and what will happen then.
5) What yoga or wellness book or books have had the biggest impact on you?
Stephen Cope, Yoga and the Quest for the True Self; Swami Radha, Kundalini Yoga for the West; Michael Stone, Yoga for a World Out of Balance.
6) Do you practice a specific style of yoga? If so, why?
I happily practice a no-name unbrand of yoga in my living room, responding to whatever is happening in my body on any given day. My roots are in the service and reflection based Yasodhara Yoga, which I studied at an ashram in western Canada, and I’ve also studied and trained in Anusara Yoga, before that scene imploded. To shake things up, I practice once a week or so at a community studio near my house, and I also love to check out new classes and teachers around town. But my home practice is essential in keeping me grounded, connected and sane.
7) On what form of social media do you connect w/ other yoga practitioners most effectively?
8) What advice do you have for people who are just beginning to study & practice yoga?
Just do it. There is a practice, teacher and style for everyone, so be willing to experiment and explore until you find something that clicks. Avoid reading yoga blogs. Don’t talk about yoga non-stop with friends and family, you’ll just annoy them.
Roseanne Harvey is a writer, editor and geeky girl who lives and loves life in Montreal. She is the founder of It’s All Yoga, Baby, a blog about yoga and other things, with a mission to spark investigation into the relationship between yoga, the body and popular culture. IAYB questions, provokes thought and shines a critical light on yoga culture ~ while celebrating community, service, creativity, the independent spirit and good ol’ fun. Founded in spring 2009, IAYB has grown to be a leading voice in the North American yoga community.
As the former editor of ascent magazine, Roseanne isn’t afraid to use her media literacy skills to call out the hypocrisies and contradictions of modern yoga. She is all for dismantling the dominant hegemony of rock star teachers, expensive class fees and designer clothes/accessories/products. She also loves supporting progressive yoga projects, innovative and independent teachers, and general awesomeness. Active offline as well as online, Roseanne is a co-producer of Yoga Festival Montreal and the co-editor (with Carol Horton) of 21st Century Yoga: Culture, Politics & Practice Find Roseanne. You can connect with Roseanne on It’s All Yoga, Baby, on Twitter, and on Facebook.
8 weeks, 8 yoga bloggers, 8 questions, posted each Saturday at 8am.
Join us next Saturday AM for our next interview and check out our previous four interviews:
- Meredith LeBlanc of The Pondering Yogini
- Tonya of The Yoga Deck and Ultima Healing
- Jen and Liz of The Travel Yogi
- Brandon and Anne of The Yoga Nomads
Please leave a comment or question for Roseanne in the comments section!