You often hear the word “community” around the topic of Yoga. They seem to go hand in hand, right? Various community yoga classes are offered in studios all over the city and the term yoga community is heard more and more often. Being a part of a community is a basic human need. As many of you know, I come from strong Amish roots where their faith is deeply seeded in community. One of the reasons why I am so drawn to yoga, is because of the sense of unity it provides.
My first yoga community was in Australia with Louise, my first yoga teacher. She was my community. We met early every Thursday morning, as long as I was feeling well, and she taught me a home practice that I practiced six days a week – when I was feeling well 🙂 My Shadow Yoga practice is mainly derived from the Balakrama (Stepping into Strength), and I wholeheartedly believe the reason why I felt so strong and had very little to no side effects from my chemotherapy, was because of my home practice. When I returned to the United States, I really struggled with not having that community any more.
I was definitely one of those girls who bought as many yoga Groupons as I could so that I could try out various studios. And I do have to say – Indianapolis has some really great yoga studios! Especially these past couple years, there is quite a bit of variety. In the past week, I have heard of two Kundalini Yoga studios in Indy. We’ve got options here which is really cool and more and more people are finding an interest in yoga and experiencing the benefits. Our yoga community is growing!!
As I mentioned last night in class, the physical practice of yoga – asana – is only one of eight limbs of yoga. Breathwork (pranayama) and meditation (dhyana) are two more limbs. In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra, the eightfold path basically acts as a guidebook on how to live a meaningful and purposeful life. Patanjali is like the Godfather of yoga.
The very first limb of yoga is Yama and within this yama, there are five guidelines to live by. The five yamas—kindness, truthfulness, abundance, continence, and self-reliance—are oriented toward our public behavior and allow us to coexist harmoniously with others. Basically, the yamas are our manual to a healthy community!
Last night, I got lead a few of my favorite ladies through a yoga practice at Holliday Park beneath a Narnia tree with the most gorgeous canopy! Afterward, we sat beneath the tree and snuggled up in our blankets, laughed, drank wine and had some long overdue girl time! Yes, we did asana practice and even a little meditation and breath work but just as importantly and my favorite part – is the community!
You don’t have to be bendy or strong or able to afford high end clothing that help lift your feet above your head to do yoga! Think of all the different communities you are in. There are hundreds of communities we are a part of every single day – church communities, work and neighborhood communities, our families and people we pass in the grocery store are all little bitty communities inside our great BIG HUGE community that we ALL coexist in. Doing things to help our personal community and by living the yamas, very similar to the 10 commandments, is a way of living your yoga off the mat.
What I think is so exciting about yoga, is the connections we not only make within ourselves and coming to terms with our physical and emotional wellbeing but also the wellbeing of others that we are surrounded by and who are in our community. When our community is strong, we are strong.
Thanks again ladies for coming out last night! I had the best time and I am definitely looking forward to meeting again next week. The class will be open to anyone and I would love for you to invite others in YOUR community to join us!