Community is Key
by Dana Blonde
I’m currently practicing Ashtanga Yoga in Goa, India, alongside our awesome Mysore Director Jan. The teacher here (Sharmila Desai), is kind and gentle and her space is peaceful and so beautiful, set in a jungle-like garden with plenty of windows for dogs and small children to peek in at us. This is definitely the most idyllic setting I’ve ever practiced …… I’m sinking into the tranquil feeling I have practicing here.
But still, the phrase “there’s no place like home” applies. No matter where I travel or how amazing it is, I still love our Shala over any other place in the world. What makes the difference for me? OUR COMMUNITY. It's the thing most commented about, and the reason most often given for why those who've left at some point end up returning to us. In our community we support, encourage and celebrate each other in this yoga journey.
The Yoga Shala has been a fixture in Calgary for 16 years…offering traditional Ashtanga Yoga and many other different classes to support our members. Many of our teachers practiced together even before the Shala in small spaces or living rooms. We’ve been through marriages, divorces, births, parents passing etc. together, as a community. Many of our students have been through our Prenatal Program, then to Mom n Baby, then to Mom n Tot, and now their kids are joining them in led classes. A few weeks ago we had a special class for our Seniors Yoga moms with their daughters. How sweet it was to practice next to my mother! There is something magical about family members sharing a lifestyle with peace and health as an intention. Oftentimes a spouse is dragged in to yoga class and soon becomes an enthusiastic regular!
There are many who come to yoga searching for a workout, or as a compliment to the other activities they do. There are numerous mental and physical benefits to a regular yoga practice. With time and consistency, the body will let go of some of its tension, the mind may start to settle and be better able to focus on the breath. As the mind starts to pay attention, one might notice they are less reactive, less attached and suffering might decrease.
A community of people making a concerted effort to live more peacefully can be such a positive addition to a person’s life. By increasing our own feelings of well-being and contentment, we end up positively influencing those around us. Just like dominos, this energetic shift can transfer from person to person. Just being around someone who has a more grounded presence can make us feel more confident, secure and safe. Families, coworkers, neighbours will all benefit from just one person becoming more at ease in life.
The primary purpose for our Shala is to deepen our peace and well-being, and to grow together as a community. This is a safe space for us to be quiet and turn inward for self-observation, and to care for ourselves with the same loving kindness as we would treat anyone we love.