On the Om Front: Is Facebook good for your practice?

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If you are part of the yoga community, here’s what you probably see when you log on to Facebook: invitations to expensive yoga retreats in exotic locations, photos of friends or teachers modeling seemingly impossible yoga poses atop striking mountains, snippets of inspiring poetic wisdom that have garnered varying amounts of likes, and YouTube videos of 95-year-olds, sexy young things, and domesticated animals doing yoga.

The yoga community definitely has a strong presence on Facebook. But is it a good thing for the spiritual path?

During a discussion in a meditation group I went to last year, a woman confessed that Facebook was ruining her life. Every time she’d hop on to the site, she never ceased to become anxious, depressed, and lonely. Why wasn’t her life as cool and exciting as that of all of her “friends”? Why was she just sitting at home, viewing this unrelenting news feed of her acquaintances’ accomplishments, international sojourns, and glamour shots?

It got me thinking about social networking sites, and how they can be detrimental to cultivating a sense of peace and clear seeing. From a broad view, you might say social networking is good for the yoga community. Teachers promote their events and classes. Practitioners post their daily revelations about life, which can be inspiring to their pals. But at its heart, yoga is about things that sites like Facebook implicitly or explicitly counter -- like single-pointed focus and diminishment of ego. And you know how your teacher in yoga class is always telling you not to compare yourself to others? Kind of hard not to do that on Facebook. And, when you’re at work on the sofa at home, your teacher’s not there to remind you, either.

Of course, we could make the Facebook experience into a conscious one. For instance, create an intention to stay on it for an allotted period of time, resist the temptation to judge or feel judged by others while trolling its contents, and stay unattached to how many likes we receive on our latest instagram photo. And we could check our intentions when posting: Is it to connect with others, or to strengthen our own egos? Is it to find an old friend or to put a bandaid on loneliness? Or we could just stop using it altogether. (Um, well, could we?)

Maybe this is a question for the community at large. How does social networking affect your practice? And what tricks have you used to make your social networking experience a more conscious one? Let us know what you think.

Top Yoga Pix for Upcoming Weeks:

The Skinny on Fat: Surviving the Holidays without Overeating
Do the holidays make you think of weight gain, bloating, and regret? Nutrition coach  and founder of Food Freedom Programs Darshana Weil offers this one day workshop for women on how to use yoga, meditation, and mindfulness to stay healthy around holiday time, and live a nourished life.
12/2, 1-5pm, $40-$50, Yoga Tree Mission, SF. www.yogatreesf.com/workshops-retreats/workshops.html

Suzanne Sterling in Concert
Join ecstatic vocalist Suzanne Sterling for a concert of epic proportion at this sweet Berkeley spot for sacred art and music.
11/30, 8pm, $15-$25, Rudramandir, Berk. www.rudramandir.com/performance/suzanne-sterling-concert.html-1

Shakticura Healing Lounge
This four-hour multisensory event takes place in a healing lounge and offers you the opportunity to revitalize your spirit and body, and deepen your connection with others. Includes contact yoga, sound healing, nourishing herbal elixirs, tea, raw chocolate, and healthy snacks. Sweet.
12/2, 4-8pm, $12-$20, Berkeley Namaste, Berk. www.anjulimahendra.com/shakticura

Restorative Yoga with Live Singing Bowls
Don’t miss this juicy opportunity to relax deeply into restorative poses while listening to a blend of live crystal bowls and poetry Dress to be cozy!
12/8, 6:30-9:30, $30-$35, The Mindful Body, San Francisco www.themindfulbody.com/main/workshopkevin24.htm

Hypnoyoga
Ready to get hypnotized? In this restful yoga class taught by Brit Fohrman, certified Hypnotherapist Rachel Yelin will guide you into a deep hypnotic state for the sole purpose of bringing you the exact type of healing that your whole body needs. This practice of healing is open to everyone, regardless of health conditions or fitness levels.
12/9, 1-4:15pm, $50, Yoga Tree Valencia, SF. www.yogatreesf.com/workshops-retreats/workshops.html

Karen Macklin been up-dogging her way down the yogic path for over a decade, and is a lifelong lover of the word. To learn more about her teaching schedule and writing life, visit her site at www.karenmacklin.com. Follow On the Om Front on Facebook:www.facebook.com/ontheomfront

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