When you think about the relationship between yoga and community your first thought might be the sense of community that is created within a yoga studio and believe it applies to those that show up to practice yoga there. The imagery that comes to mind here is the friendly, open armed culture you witness when regulars at a studio interact and greet one another. Second to this you might think those that practice yoga regardless of the studio they frequent might have a yogic understanding of one another and therefore there is an implied sense of community amongst those that practice. You might imagine this to be the instant connection two yogis have when they start talking about anything related to a yogic lifestyle. You might even imagine this sense of community is more high level and implied as part of the practice of yoga and it includes creating a safe place for anyone who wants to be a part of it, and it is welcoming, loving, compassionate and holistic.
All of these interpretations are true but what many might not realize is the relationship between yoga and community extends beyond the self, studio and other fellow yogis and into the heart of every person they come across. Additionally, you do not have to practice yoga to adopt or even appreciate the notion that yoga promotes community.
Consider the below quote from B.K.S. Iyengar and the lesson from the section of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali on non-harming.
Yoga is firstly for individual growth, but through individual growth society and community develop (B.K.S. Iyengar)
Where the heart is full of kindness which seeks no injury to another, either in act or thought or wish, this full love creates an atmosphere of harmony, whose benign power touches with healing all who come within its influence. Peace in the heart radiates peace to other hearts, even more surely than contention breeds contention (Yoga Sutras of Patanjali by Charles Johnston)
The notion here is simple whatever you focus on for yourself will influence those around you as you interact with them, be that peace, contentment, anger or fear, it is all contagious. The more you radiate the good qualities of a community the more others around you will respond in a like manner over time.
In yoga you spend a lot of time learning about yourself and working on yourself, with the belief that before you can serve others you must evaluate and learn from within and then once you are ready (your authentic self) you can share yourself with others and assist them.
In this time of adversity, amongst the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important we stand up as a community to take care of each other and although it is advised we limit our exposure to one another there could not be a more critical time to function as a community and offer kindness to one another by setting an example from within ourselves and helping others. Not everyone will adopt these kind practices you exude but if you continue instill a sense of community you will be empowered as you are taking care yourself and you will influence and inspire others and perhaps even and entire community.
I hope the teachings of yoga are enough to inspire you, not just now but indefinitely. There are already ordinary people out there doing extraordinary things to support their community, let these published stories inspire us and please share this so that more people become aware of the potential. How does yoga relate to community in your opinion? If you have a story of community inspiration to share please do so in the comments.
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The Washington Post: Coronavirus news has us anxious and sad. Here are 11 things we’ve seen that lifted our spirits.
The San Diego Union -Tribune: Good deeds in face of coronavirus disaster ease burdens
Chicago Sun Times: Videos, photos of hope and inspiration lifting spirits amid coronavirus outbreak
BuzzFeed News: These Inspiring Pictures Show People Helping Others During The Coronavirus Pandemic