Most of my students have heard me tell the story about one of my first yoga classes. It was a packed class with wall-to-wall mats, where everyone was talking, smiling or laughing with the person next to them. I, being brand new to this studio and with a nice big chip on my shoulder, thought how ridiculous it was. This isn’t why people come to yoga!
Where was the library-like quiet and the 3 feet of space between each mat that allows you to keep everyone’s sweat on their mat where it belongs? With two minutes until the start of class, I was about to pack up my things and duck out. I was sure no one would notice and I would come back later, at a less popular time. Then that little voice spoke up inside of me and said “Stay, see what all the hype is about.” I was about 5 minutes into my first Sun Salutation A when that chip on my shoulder began to soften. Forty-five minutes into class the teacher put on a piece of upbeat music and told us to jump… and then jumping turned into dancing. Before I knew it I was twirling around the room singing, dancing and laughing with the very people I had just judged for being so happy and enjoying themselves! It didn’t matter that I didn’t know anyone’s name or where they came from. We were all sharing that moment, in that space, being completely human and it was perfect.
It’s because of this experience that I strongly encourage and talk about the power of community in my classes, especially when mats are inches apart!
1. Just saying yes to showing up has a profound effect
Whether it’s a yoga class, the first day on the field at a little league game, or the set of the newest Broadway show, when people show up, each from a different path but work together towards a common goal, magic happens. It’s not always easy, and there may be bumps along the way, but in the process each person brings something wonderful to the table, simply by showing up and allowing themselves to be seen.
2. Your community will not allow you to hide, especially from yourself
We see in others exactly what we see in ourselves. When we surround ourselves to people who support and love us, it’s a great way to see ourselves honestly. It’s a chance to take a look around and see what role we give ourselves in the lives of others and ultimately in our own lives. Hopefully leading to becoming an active participant, knowing that what we each have to offer is incredibly valuable. So don’t hide, shine!
3. No one is alone
When we are challenged we tend to think that our problems are the first to ever have existed. The minute we open up our story beyond our own thoughts and fears and honestly share with others, we realize how small the world is. Not only are we not alone in our struggles, but in our own tendencies to magnify the struggle beyond necessity. Nothing is original and chances are, while no one has your exact life or problems, someone will always be able to relate. No one is alone.
So the next time you show up on your mat, turn to the person next to you, introduce yourself, ask them their name and give them a smile. You never know when you might end up dancing together and you might just need their support, especially in that fifth utkatasana!