Yoga & Building Community

On the weekend I facilitated a Yoga Wellness Day that took participants through an active 90 minute practice in the morning, a walking meditation around a lake before lunch and a more relaxed 90 minute Yin practice after lunch, to aid digestion. Thirteen people booked in to deepen their experience and knowledge of Yoga and the wellness it promotes. Why would anyone do that? There were an eclectic mix of people ranging in ages from early 30’s to mid 60’s, both male and female.

All had one thing in common: their willingness to build community. Now what does yoga have in common with building community? Well quite a lot in fact. You see, a yoga asana or posture requires every part of the body to play its part to activate the beauty and benefits of the posture. Some parts of the body will need to be in contraction and other parts in a more lengthened state, some parts of the body will need to be spiraling one way while others spiral in another. In yoga anatomy terms it’s called reciprocal inhibition. For the posture to take place every part of the system must play its part and one part is no more or less important than the other. The body, if you like, functions to its highest potential by being in a state of community. A singular part aware of its communal purpose.

As participants arrived there was some sense of community but as they did not know each other, it was limited. The full potential had not been reached. As the day unfolded and people began to be free to explore the asana and to be utterly themselves in doing so, a freedom emerged that promoted a consciousness level that creates an “US”. An “US” is a powerful field of consciousness as it is not self – serving or motivated by fear or competition. Any subconscious beliefs that are held from the level of fear will often arise through the practice of Yoga and these beliefs and the emotions that come with them, can be addressed as they arise on the mat. People often experience moments of exhilaration as they realize they are letting go of an old version of themselves. I often hear “I’ve never done that before!” Letting go of such limited consciousness levels becomes a way of being when off the mat if Yoga becomes a discipline or devotional practice. As a yoga practice deepens there is a natural movement towards being in community with another and so a sense of being an “US” grows.

A full day of yoga heightens for participants the lessons around working together, letting go of fears, trying a new posture and understanding that mastery takes time and patience. A day of Yoga solidifies these lessons in a way that an hour’s practice may not be able to. The benefits continue to penetrate the subtle and physical body of the participants over the weeks ahead. There appears to be a sense of enthusiasm and the energy level is more buoyant.

Sharing Yoga is a big part of the day but so too is sharing an organically grown meal that celebrates wholesome growing practices and is lovingly cooked. This is accompanied by the beauty of nature all around. Personally, as the facilitator, there is a deep awareness that sharing Yoga this way is a lesson in life, a life we are each asked to live fully, with awareness and with each other.

At Elements I teach 3 classes a week and look forward to meeting you on the mat as a way of beginning or continuing your Yoga practice. I especially look forward to building a Yoga and Wellness community in the heart of Belmont.

Marise Jose, Yoga & Qi Gong Teacher and Psychotherapist.