A community can be based on a physical place like a neighborhood community, but it can also people you choose to be around, people who share similar interests and values. And as one might spend more and more time at a particular yoga studio – or even taking classes around in the same places (parks, stores, etc.), a community might begin to form around with those fellow yogis. After all, if I take class 3-4 times a week on average, that’s at least 3-4 hours I’m spending at my studio, not to mention additional time with an early arrival or when chatting and packing up to leave.
I’ve thought to write about the yoga community before – and will likely continue to write about it – but I wanted to write about it this month after a recent class where I was surrounded by friends I’d made at the studio over the last two years or so. Now, I was fortunate to form amazing friendships with one particular group of the studio after going through yoga teacher training with them, but even before that – and after that – there are people I always spoke with and that I looked forward to seeing them at the different classes we went to regularly.
As we were guided through that evening’s flow, there was one pose where I looked to my friends and we were all smiling. It was a great flow, and we were happy to see each other and it was energizing. It was good, positive vibes. And I thought…this. This is why I look forward to seeing them so much. They get the same thing I’m getting when I’m in class.
What’s really exciting is finding that community, when you look forward not just to spending time on your mat, but to sharing that time with the people around you. These are your people. You may have different careers, histories, interests, but for the one hour or more, you are sharing in something that you all love. These are the people who will understand when you talk about how good a pose felt, or how blissful you feel after a good class, or how energized you feel after a particular pranayama technique.
My supportive community has helped me to enjoy my practice even more, to have fun with it, even with the stumbles. If I’m in a balance pose, let’s say tree, and I stumble out of it, I admit that a few years ago I might have been embarrassed and thought “I hope no one saw that!” But now, if I stumble out of my tree, I can only laugh it off. And if I happen to catch anyone’s eye, there’s more smiling and my thoughts go along the lines of “Yes, we’ve all been there. It happens.”
As I practice at a studio, a yoga community can start with the studio itself. For me, I remember being made to feel welcome when after only a few visits, the teachers began greeting me by name. Yes, those first few times I figured my name showed up on the screen when I checked in, but then it starts happening in the halls or when setting up in the classroom. A personal greeting may seem like a little thing, but it sets the tone for a welcoming space. And then you may start recognizing the same faces in different classes, and learn the name of the person practicing next to you. And one day, you may find yourself thinking of yourself as part of a community with those classmates.
This is the part of a series of posts for The Mat yoga studio, sharing my thoughts and observations as a student only. The views and opinions are my own.