Nomad, no more.

Salutations to that reality in which all the elements, and all the animate and inanimate beings shine as if they had their own independent existence, and in which they exist for a time, an into which they merge.

— Yoga Vasishta (opening prayer)

why-nomadyogi-brochure_png__850×4151_

NomadYOGI, as you knew it, is now down and won’t be reemerging as a new-and-improved social network for yoga.  That adventure, my friends, is over.

Why is this happening?
I chose not to litter the site with advertising and popups or sell user data to marketing agencies interested in pushing fitness-related products.  My feeling was, “We’ll only make money when the teachers are making money, and we’ll succeed together.”  So, our business model relied on processing transactions.  Surprisingly, sadly, many event creators found/created sneaky ways to avoid paying 3%, 2%, or even a 1% fee on their sales.  Yoga teachers frequently asked me how they could advertise on the site, seemingly disappointed that the best way to get exposure was free: all they had to do was write useful content in the Sangha and they’d be featured in our weekly promotions as subject matter experts, across a variety of social media channels.  It was a significantly better value proposition than getting a banner ad on any single website with “qualified eyeballs” or being featured in one email blast with a dubious CTR, but advertising companies have shaped marketing in such a way that small business people are now trained to willfully waste their money.

Eventually, I realized I didn’t understand what our users wanted and I wasn’t prepared for what yoga would become.  I refused to put asana contests on NomadYOGI, even as I recognized that’s the sort of exhibitionism that other sites were offering.  No thanks.  NomadYOGI was a passion project for me — something into which I enthusiastically dedicated a few years of my life and a small fortune.  My principles meant more to me than the site’s popularity and, since I never took on outside investment, I never had to make that sacrifice.  I gave it my best shot and have no regrets.  There were successes and failures, challenges and opportunities, inspirations and desperations.  What a ride.

But the truth is, now, my heart isn’t even in yoga anymore.  A deep disgust with all the guru scandals (John Friend, Gurudev at Kripalu, Baptiste, Jivamukti, Bikram to name but a few) had been building for a while and, about a year ago, I became iretrievably turned off by the instagramification, commercialism, self-help snake oil, and unabashed self-branding among yoga practitioners and teachers.  I watched, in horror, as Bikram yoga became popular (“Bikram Yoga: Look Better Naked”).  I winced as I saw Rocket Yoga gain traction (“Rocket Yoga gets you there faster”).  I mean, I only began assisting my teachers when I finished the Intermediate Series, after practicing Mysore Style Ashtanga for 6 years, so I could not help but cringe while 20-something girls announced loudly, and without irony, “I’m a yoga teacher” after attending a 200-hour course on a Thai beach for 3 weeks.  And Broga, and Glowga, and Beer Yoga and the “smart” yoga e-mat.  The preponderance of slackline, acro-yogis, bindfolded on a naked paddle board made me gag, and still does.  I’m sure what they are doing is fun exercise, and that’s great, but is that yoga?  How is any of that helping quiet the mind?  

…And then a bunch of competitors entered the space of “yoga directory” with zero fucks given about copyright, privacy, or the tension that should exist between yoga and commerce.  Regardless of my efforts to show that we did care, NomadYOGI was lumped in with the rest of the group and I was personally maligned with the kind of righteous vitriol that should normally be reserved for war criminals.  Welcome to the Internet, grab a helmet.

So, when my developer suggested a way that we could cut costs down by 80%, I considered keeping it up for another year.  After all, there continued to be a steady trickle of sincere yogis signing up and uploading events, every week.  But no one was really using the Sangha, and that weighed on me because it was built to be the antidote for all the show-off-your-asana bullshit that has come to define yoga as an industry.  Instead, the structure of what we built (the yogi profiles, the event directory, the Stream of Consciousness feed, etc.) and the software we designed to run the architecture of the Sangha will be sold and repurposed towards other aims by a different company.  Internet companies are technology companies, after all.

Maybe I will regret this, but I’ve closed a business once before (a decade ago when I went back to grad school to get my MBA in corporate social responsibility) and my memories of that experience are more sweet than bitter, if still bitter sweet.  Admitting to a mistake is hard, especially one that I poured personal resources into.  Strange, when I think about it: I’ve had more success in areas where I positioned myself to take advantage of opportunities as they came to me than those where I worked my ass off to make something happen.  Apparently, I’m better at due diligence than I am at sales.  I should probably pay more attention to that lesson.

“A wise man commits as many mistakes—even more than a stupid man—but he never commits the same mistake twice.” – Osho, The Mustard Seed, Chapter 14

“The purpose of life is to be defeated by greater and greater things.” — Rainer Maria Rilke

From a technological and philosophical perspective, I really believed that building a walled garden dedicated to yoga would be an appreciated hedge against the the unrepentant data mining, fake follower botnets, and the malware/spamware/clickbait of all the other social networks out there, let alone the vast chaos of the greater Web.  But, I was wrong.  At this time, barely anyone on the Internet gives a shit about the aforementioned, or digital privacy, or maintaining the integrity of yoga as a noble science of the mind — let alone all of the above!  As this reality sank in, I began to realize I have better things to do that convince everyone they’re doing it wrong.  In the interest of humility, indeed, it’s much more productive, and sane, to accept I don’t know best, let it go, and focus elsewhere.  I’d rather practice alone in my room, or sit quietly with my breath, or contemplate Advaita, or go for a walk with my wife and dog.

As I slowly removed myself from active involvement here, I worked on other startups (both online and off), but mostly as an angel/advisor.  I have returned my day-to-day attention to commercial real estate and finance.  While this (i.e. tenant relations, lease negotiations, property management, and the optimization of non-correlated asset classes across an investment portfolio) is more in line with my education, it’s definitely not as creative or thrilling as building/coordinating a distributed team, from nothing, spanning Europe, India, various locations in SE Asia, and across the Americas.  And yet, I’m pretty happy that I’m no longer working 70-80hrs/week, creating what, it turns out, amounted to little more than an expensive hobby.

So, that part is sad.  Because when I explored the site one last time before taking it down, I really appreciated all the work that went into it.  I still think it was a beautifully designed, feature-rich platform that had the potential to connect people who were seeking and sharing experiences that related to yoga.  I guess that happened, to some degree, but it wasn’t viable as a business.

Over the last year, I have been working on an essay that will further explain what I learned during the rise and demise of this project, as well as my relationship disillusionment with yoga, digital media content creation/consumption, the state of Internet advertising as it relates to privacy, and cyber security in general.  Many great writers have analyzed these topics separately already but, my submission will, hopefully, tie it all together.

If you wish to know more, check back in November, or follow @AristotlesChild on twitter.

Love and Light,

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Yoga Journal Is What Co-optation Looks Like — All Things Yoga

Is it possible for companies like Yoga Journal to be body positive when they are built on a for-profit, corporate model that has a legal obligation to sell the practice? Especially when they often sell yoga as an elite luxury good available only to a few?

via ‘Oops, We Did It Again!’ Yoga Journal Is What Co-optation Looks Like — All Things Yoga

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We’re preparing for the Day In Silence – sshhh

Here’s an exercise that will change your life: Spend one day, each month, In Silence.

What happens when you intentionally stop talking? Just for one day? Even half a day?

Many of us have deepened our yoga practices on silent, weeklong meditation retreats. The experiences of intense solitude and quiet self-reflection have left a positive mark on our lives. At NomadYOGI, we know this type of profound experience is not available to everyone. Maybe you have not had the opportunity to spend 10 days in, say, Vipassana, or maybe you think a regular meditation practice takes discipline beyond what you can do.

We understand. But here’s a practice that we all can do once a month: a Day In Silence.

Inspired and influenced by weeks spent in ashrams and monasteries, we created this button which you can pin to your shirt. You can get your Day In Silence button for free in October by filling out this form.

Day In Silence

Once a month, spend a Day In Silence. Just be, without talking. Minimize all external and internal noise and just be, quietly, for just one day each month. You can walk in the park/beach/street or pick a random Sunday after yoga practice. You can do your laundry. You can even go grocery shopping. This is not about cutting yourself off from the world. It’s about being in it, as a silent observer, and just noticing what happens.

What if you have a thought or need to write something down?  No problem.

What thoughts come up when you see this thing or that thing? What thoughts do you have about your thoughts? After you notice these thoughts, can you let them go? Can you come back to this moment? This inhale? This exhale? This rhythm. This silence. This is all it’s about.

Breath – Sounds – Sensations – Silence

This Day In Silence is about turning down the volume on your external and internal stimuli, so try and see if you can pause all communication. Just for one day.

Perhaps you can combine this with a digital detox? One day of no devices? OMG. No Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. No email. No text messages. No Whats app. Just for one day.

Can’t do a full day? Fine. Put your Silence Button on at noon and don’t speak for the rest of the day. Yes. From noon, until you put your head on the pillow, don’t speak.

Can’t do a half day? Fine. Wear your button from 5pm until you go to sleep. When you wake up in the morning, you may begin talking again.

Perhaps this will open the door to a meditation practice, or an “official” meditation, wherein you sit on a cushion for 15, or 30, or 60 minutes on a given day. But it doesn’t have to lead to that. At the very least, you will recognize that, as you spend one day without speaking, you will notice your thoughts (and the quality of your thoughts) with a new clarity. You may notice your breath. You may notice what you look at. You may notice what thoughts pop into your head and when. You may become aware of what you are aware of.

Certainly, on your full Day In Silence, you don’t have to separate yourself in solitude (though that may be easier). If you need to be around others, you can simply point to your button and smile. This is usually enough to prevent verbal interaction. They may be confused at first but, you’ll be surprised how respectful people are once they realize what you’re doing.

Here’s a typical interaction you can expect to have.

“So you’re not talking today?”

You’ll nod.

“Interesting.”

You’ll nod.

“I wish I could do that.”

You’ll smile, nod, point to your button, and continue in silence.

Simple.

It’s not something you’d wear at a cocktail party of course. That is, unless you were trying to be obnoxious by proving to your peers how “Ultra Spiritual” you are. But, then, that’s the point. Even if wearing the button publicly identifies you as participating in a certain spiritual activity, the experience of persistent silence dissolves any ego-driven response or motivation for spiritual competition. You’ll see. As long as you stay silent while wearing the button, you can’t mess it up.

Will You Join Us?

Fill out this form to get your #DayInSilence button. We’ll send you a button and we will enjoy silence, together, on first Sunday of every month, beginning November 1st, 2015.

After, you can share your experiences with us using the hashtag #DayInSilence on social media. Together, we can inspire more people towards quiet self-reflection.

Together, we can slow down and bring our minds to rest.  

Isn’t that the true definition of yoga, after all? Ask Patanjali.

yoga chitta vritti nirodhah

Here’s some inspiration to get you going.

I think 99 times and find nothing. I stop thinking, swim in the silence, and the truth comes to me. ~ Albert Einstein

It’s no problem to have thoughts, but do not overlook how, many times a day, the mind is in rest. What is left if the mind is at rest?  Life, itself. And this is all that counts. ~ Dolano

In the gap between one thought and another, a well of silence abides. In this place, the thoughts and the thinker of the thoughts are seen for what they are: a fiction.  What remains? Presence. A poised, powerful presence whose very nature is love.  You are this. Just abide here, in the silence in the gap between thoughts. ~ From Conversations with Plato

Rediscover how to be silent and still. Only then will you actually be able to listen and hear. ~ LazyYogi

time and silencethe quieter you becomesilence is better than bullshitsilence can never be misquoted

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Bikram on wrong end of major court ruling

A three-person panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled against Bikram Choudhury in a case involving his attempt to copyright his yoga sequence. The news is out there at various outlets. Here’s Time: Bikram Choudhury, the self-styled creator of Bikram yoga, has for years threatened to sue practitioners that he feels […]

http://theconfluencecountdown.com/2015/10/09/bikram-on-wrong-end-of-major-court-ruling/

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Have Ashtanga, will travel

Two different sounding positions for an Ashtanga teacher are out there, via the October newsletter at Ashtanga.com: Announcements 1. Ashtanga Teacher Wanted – Basel, Switzerland Looking for a qualified teacher to cover my evening classes (Mysore and 2x led class) in Dec 2015 (up to Dec 22) atAshtanga Yoga Basel, Switzerland. Housing next to the shala and […]

http://theconfluencecountdown.com/2015/10/05/have-ashtanga-will-travel/

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Making yoga accessible to the people who need it

I don’t think there’s a whole lot of argument that there is a lot not to like about how yoga continues to grow in the West. There may be a lot of argument about what, specifically, to dislike, but from conversations I have with yoga practitioners (not to mention not-yogis), everyone seems to have some concern […]

http://theconfluencecountdown.com/2015/10/04/making-yoga-accessible-to-the-people-who-need-it/

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What if you have a brilliant idea while meditating?

First, before I answer your question, know that it’s okay. Thoughts come and go during meditation, just as they do during other activities. No problem. Don’t listen to anyone telling you that you’re not doing it right. That’s nonsense.

Second, before I answer your question, it’s important to notice what’s happening in your mind. Where does the thought come from? Have you investigated that?

Where, really, does any thought come from?

How does it arise?
And where will it go?

To where?

Are you afraid that, if you don’t get up and write it down, it will be gone forever? Really, where will the thought go? Is it not you, talking to yourself, creating a thought, which your conscious mind can now hear because you are quiet enough to listen?

Third, before I answer your question, let’s examine the sensation that urges you to get up. Isn’t this urge do something very similar to any other internal or external stimuli that you, ordinarily, compulsively, reflexively, react to? Like an itch? Like a shift in your position when you feel discomfort/tension in your knee/low back/shoulder?

Now, to answer your question, you can scratch the itch, you can shift your position. Scratching can be very satisfying; shifting can bring necessary relief to an uncomfortable pain. You can get up and write down a thought. You can do so. It is allowed!

Now, knowing this, you may decide that whatever impulse you felt to get up or scratch or shift or otherwise do something, is not actually worth reacting to. You may even enjoy ignoring the impulse and continuing to sit still. I don’t want to tell you too much about the outcomes though. Otherwise, you may try to focus on my words, rather than figuring out the rest for yourself.

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