I’ve been going to yoga regularly for the past three-and-a-half years, but I make no bones about it.
I am no advanced yogi.
I suck at yoga—at asana at least. I don’t have much stamina. I’m always out of the proper alignment, I’m about as flexible as a marble statue, and sometimes I only go because I need a break and the studio I go to plays cool music. In every class, I am surrounded by people who can do amazing feats of yogic genius with their bodies and there I am plopped down on my mat in the back of the room hanging on for dear life trying to keep up.
One day, a woman I often saw in class made an off-hand comment to me.
“I think it’s so great that you keep coming anyway,” she said.
I wasn’t exactly sure how to take this, but I think what she was saying that she admired my determination because I stuck with yoga even though I couldn’t do the cool tricks like everyone else. Basically I think she meant to end her sentence with “even though you are terrible at it.”
But I made a conscious decision not to be insulted. Instead I decided to reflect on my experience, and asked myself why did I keep coming to yoga when I wasn’t getting any better at the postures?
The answer might surprise you.
My experience of yoga isn’t about bending and twisting. Yoga is the farthest thing from a fitness class for me. I don’t go to get a hot body or to lose weight or to tone my arms. I don’t go because it’s trendy. Sometimes, yes, like I said, I go for the cool music. I often go to help myself calm down. I go when I need a break and want to lie on the floor in a hot room for an hour, but those aren’t the main reasons.
I go to yoga for community.
What it boils down to is that I go because I love the people. I love them like family, and the time I get to spend in a cohesive group of like-minded souls, healing, growing, trying, and challenging ourselves together, is profoundly beneficial to my mental and spiritual health. Being a part of something, like I am at yoga, is equally as important to my well-being as the physical exercises we do in class.
Human beings are wired for connection. We need each other. We need togetherness and support, but in the modern world where we are more connected to our technology than to real people, we become detached, lonely and isolated. We get sick and depressed. Most of us now live far from our families, or we come from toxic families. Community doesn’t come naturally like it did in the past. That’s why we have to find it for ourselves.
I find my missing sense of community in yoga. Whenever I go to class, people know my name. They say hi to me, hug me, ask how I’m doing and stop to listen to my answer.
I’ve met some of my best friends at yoga, and I have a feeling I’ll meet many more.
I may not be able to do Bird of Paradise and I may not have ripped yoga abs, but I don’t care. I’ve been going for almost four years now and I still can’t make it through an entire class without collapsing in Child’s Pose, but I have something better than an arsenal of tricks I can bust out for cool Instagram pics. I have meaningful interaction with a bunch of truly awesome human beings. I have yoga to thank for that.
Author: Victoria Fedden
Editor: Renée Picard