After teaching a class at Lululemon yesterday, a student approached me to find out about our studio and, more importantly, our community. She had recently moved from Northern Virginia and spoke in glowing terms about the wonderful people she met and practiced with at her old studio and was hoping replicate that experience again. Knowledgable teachers leading well balanced and inspiring classes were important to her – but equally important was finding her yoga people and, in the process, making new connections and friends. As the practice of yoga continues to grow exponentially and becomes more corporate, just how important is finding one’s community?
It’s a personal decision. There are great options for those wishing to practice asana at home with the explosion of online classes. So why come to a public class and get to know your fellow students? Having a teacher see your pose and guide you towards greater stability, ease and depth is incredibly helpful. But I would argue the greatest benefit is the ability to practice with other people. There’s a collective energy that builds in a public yoga class. Plus, other students can help you see what to do, where you might be headed, and remind you of where you’ve been. In turn, you can be there to help others as your practice progresses.
“Community is when people begin to care about one another, and when they begin to share things that are important to one another. Yoga is one of those things,” says Rama Berch, founder of the Master Yoga Foundation and the founding president of Yoga Alliance. “Your yoga community celebrates your breakthroughs and your growth, so ultimately the whole thing becomes based on a higher purpose, a deeper meaning, and a more profound goal in life—and that is consciousness.”¹
Sometimes our teachers will ask students before class begins to introduce themselves to the people around them (especially if it’s a large class). This prompt is always greeted with enthusiasm and a lot of chatter. Consider taking the initiative going forward especially if you arrive early to class.
I always thank my students at the end of every class with hands in prayer saying namaste. One interpretation of this word is “the light in me bows to the light in you.” I try and remind my students that everyone else in the room is grateful for their presence as well because collectively we make our community just a little bit better every day we come together.