Last time I wrote, I shared about having our own individual experience on our mats. Today---I’d love to share more about the collective experience of yoga—the connection that's possible when we come together. (Side note: I’m going to talk more sometime about how my practice on the mat has developed my muscle of allowing opposites and dichotomies to exist with no existential, stressful problems----another time! =))
So, back to our topic---collective experience----this has been something I learned when GOING to a yoga class. With other people. Let me preface by saying---I’m an introvert, so many times when I was looking to learn yoga or develop a practice, I’d tell myself “I’ll just do it at home with a book or video.” In this age of information---that’s AWESOME! I’ve actually both taken yoga and taught yoga via technology. But today---I’m really talking about the in person opportunity we have when we exit the comfort of our home, gather in a space with other human beings and move through a yoga class.
Sometimes the start of class, I’ve noticed there can be a slightly awkward vibe. Do we talk? Do we not? Do I warm up? What am I supposed to be doing? This awkward vibe is actually REALLY cool---because we get to tap into awareness we ALL have of social pressure or perceived social customs. Regardless, we generally all survive this interesting space and start to breathe and move together. The transition I choose as a teacher very frequently is to have us all (myself included) close our eyes. We can then FEEL there’s people around us, but we can start to drop the fear of what we look like, what they are thinking about us and are we doing it right. We can practice just being OURSELVES---but TOGETHER. There are very few other places I’ve found that let me practice this skill.
Throughout class----we move, breathe, sweat, wobble, fall, get back up and conquer---it’s pretty amazing and magical. Something happens----we start to see ourselves as a community. Now, it might be a small casual community that will NEVER come together again. But for that one class---we are all in it together. We can look around (even though the teacher tells us not to!) and see that everyone’s body is different. They way they do poses is different and yet---we are still moving and breathing together as a team. The ability to notice other people's difference without feeling judgment or jealousy is a GIFT and a practice. By the time we reach the pinnacle of the class or the end where we get to roll down and lie in Savasana pose---many times, the vibe of class has completely changed. If we have taken the opportunity to drop the judgment of ourselves and the fear of what others think of us---we have an opportunity to just be connected.
Next time you go to a class, I invite you to try this---at the end, as you lie with your eyes closed and breath---I invite you to take a moment and without using your sense of sight or sound---just FEEL the connection you have with the others people who left the comfort of THEIR home and routine to join you today in class. Feel that moment of “We are all in this together” type of connection. Open your heart. That feeling can be just a brief experience with acceptance: just for that moment you can accept YOURSELF as an individual and accept each other as human beings on our collective human journey of life.
I don’t know about you---but sometimes at the end when I choose to bring my right hand and left hand together at my heart center---I FEEL that connection between myself as an individual and my connection with community and THAT, to me, is something to be grateful for.
Until next time…here’s to your journey <3