My favorite part of yoga is community — the coming together of humans of all shapes, sizes, backgrounds, ages, interests to share the same experience. That's why I go back everyday as a teacher and as a student.
Science tells us that being in a healthy community is good for us. The vibration of positive-minded people raises our vibrational frequency, and this shared joy elevates our spirits.
This is talked about in Yoga Sutra Chapter 2.33 Pratipaksha Bhavana. Essentially, the sutras spell out that if we are imbalanced mentally, physically, or emotionally, then we are not living our true nature which is joy. Therefore, engaging with others trying to think happy thoughts helps us create happy thoughts as well.
Positive energy creates and attracts more positive energy! Community that breeds higher vibration contributes to raising consciousness for all.
Creating a Yoga Community
After teaching yoga for some years I also founded a 4,000 square foot studio that welcomed over 9,000 unique students during my time there. My vision was to create a fun and friendly place for the whole family to practice yoga in an unpretentious, loving environment.
Our mission was to create a loving community in yoga for "every body" regardless of our differences or limitations. We truly catered to all levels and types of practitioners. We were promoting unconditional love, and unconditional yoga. It was a dream come true! We were doing my favorite pose – community.
The most sacred yoga was the yoga of relationship taking place in the lounges and "living room" space of the studio where students would come early to hang out with friends, read a book, knit together, study for school exams or after class would enjoy a cup of tea, a beer, or pizza.
The yoga of these community-cultivated friendships, marriages, and partnerships will go on way longer than a class package or learning a new technique.
The power of connection supported the Kula, “community of the heart”, with unconditional love through both hardships and celebrations. I saw love in action everyday:
"Love creates a communion with life…. It makes beauty out of all we touch. In any moment we can step beyond our small self and embrace each other as beloved parts of the whole."
Speaking of this whole: All of our small yoga tribes, studio to studio, community center to YMCA to even church basements — all connect to create a larger community. There is power in this union.
And if we harness the power of connection with loving intention, we can influence even greater positive changes in the bigger community outside our yoga world.
Certainly we have been challenged this last couple years to see how viral negativity can become.
"If we want there to be peace in the world, we have to be brave enough to soften what is rigid in our hearts, to find the soft spot and stay with it. We have to have that kind of courage and take that kind of responsibility. That’s the true practice of peace." – Practicing Peace in Times of War
Community requires we take responsibility.
To see that our actions, our thoughts, our words impact the connections we have with those around us: just as positive energy creates more positive energy, so the same is with negative energy promoting increased negative energy.
Our yoga Kula is strong in love but we diminish our power by publicly degrading other styles of yoga that are not our favorite, by badmouthing other teachers, Facebook-sharing smack-talking yoga articles, by focusing on different points of opinion in yoga videos or by promoting separation of any kind.
Instead, I challenge us to be brave enough to soften, especially towards the diversity amongst yogis and the varied way the practice is expressed.
If in a well-sequenced class we experience a variety of different groups of poses (forward folds, backbends, twists, balances) and all these poses seem to get along peacefully in our bodies, then we can find the courage to get along with the different groups of yogis in the world as well.
There is power in union and connection in the yoga community.
Right now, pick one dramatic action you can take within the next 24-48 hours that promotes community and positivity. From that spark of momentum, let this set the intention for you to keep taking action after action to promote union and peace in the world!
Let's work together more than ever before to be the best example of POSITIVE community for the world. May our united offering benefit everyone to raise the vibration back to our true joyful selves!