Having a community in any realm of your life is optimal for so many reasons. Yoga is no different. In fact, having a group of like-minded individuals to flow with feels great, and it goes beyond the mat.
Feeling like a piece of a community is important in yoga, because yoga is not just about working out. Yes, doing Sun Salutes in a large group of like-minded people feels amazing and raises your energy far more then practicing alone might, and yes, we work hard on our mats physically, but yoga is so much more.
Growth is Better in Groups
Yoga is a path to happiness, and like any good hike, it’s better with the company of some inspirational people who keep you moving forward.
Your yoga practice includes deep thought, wider breathing, eating more mindfully, learning therapeutic concepts, making patient and conscious decisions about your body and your life, and treating others with respect and kindness.
Growing internally like this requires the support of other like-minded folks striving towards a similar goal. Knowing that the person in Down Dog next to you is pushing towards the same ultimate goal is comforting and inspiring. It motivates your body and your mind and pushes your practice into the corners of your mat that can be hard to reach without outside inspiration from your community.
Connecting the Smiles
Knowing you are not alone is a pivotal moment in your practice. Maybe you started practicing with your bestie — but they fell off the wagon and you really want to stay on board. Showing up alone can be hard, but leaving class feels spectacular when the gleaming faces of the other members surround you. Bumping into those smiles outside of the studio suddenly feels like home.
Your online practice is made more solid by connecting with other members who are practicing the same pre-recorded classes, or participating in the same live classes, or even sifting through the same articles as you.
Connecting with everyone via the community’s newsletters, social media pages, comment boxes, and more, can keep you on your mat and drive you towards your ultimate goal more smoothly.
Injured But STILL Not Alone
Another huge benefit of being a part of a wider yoga community is that when you are injured and can’t perform the physical asana, you can still practice.
Your yoga practice doesn’t stop or disappear like your gym visits might, simply because you twisted your ankle or hurt your shoulder. In fact the pause in your physical practice often deepens your overall yoga practice because your insatiable hunger remains.
You research rehabilitation movements, you read the traditions and philosophies beyond Asana, you discuss ideas and findings with your teachers and begin making connections with other students who have experienced the same thing. You start to open your eyes to other branches of the giant yoga tree and you long for your mat.
You cannot find this kind of information without a community. When you are lucky enough to be surrounded by yogis who are open to offering up bountiful ideas, your practice inevitably explores all kinds of hidden pockets! Sometimes it even takes an injury to remind you that those people are there for you.
Finding that sense of place amongst like-minded individuals is what keeps your practice robust and healthy. The more you practice all the realms of yoga, the closer you come to happiness.
Undoubtedly a yogi comes up against roadblocks and sometimes we need the motivational stories provided in our yoga community, or cryptic words of our favorite teachers to help dig our way clear of the obstacles.
Practicing in large groups is a great, and immediate, example of the motivation your community can provide you with. Visit a festival, drop into a large studio, or simply gather a group and head to a field. Notice the difference that moving as a group makes to your motivation level!
Know that everyone there has at least one simple thing in common (yoga’s path to happiness) that feeds our yogi souls and performs miracles in our minds, hearts, and muscles.
A group who are all striving towards the same goal is key in finding longevity in your practice and helping you stay in the present moment. We all know that practicing any of the yogic limbs once in a while is wonderful, but creating a disciplined and gracious practice takes time, energy and modesty.
To reap all of what yoga has to offer, you need to commit to it for the long haul. This is tremendously difficult if you do not have a community behind you. Your fellow yogis are there cheering you on when you’re tired, inspiring you when your practice feels stale, and introducing new ideas when you need them.
Community is what makes our yoga practice even more special and far more accessible to all of us. Even when we think we are alone, we are not.
We are each a larger piece of our yoga community than we realize and without that community, this practice would be much more challenging. So thank you for practicing today.