Fitness Magazine

Join the Yoga Community

By Ninazolotow @Yoga4HealthyAge

by Nina

Eight Ways to Join the Yoga Community

Shoe Shelf by Melina Meza

I always arrive early to my Friday morning yoga class, not because I want my usual spot in front of the window—okay, fine, I do want that spot—but because I want the extra fifteen minutes to chat with my yoga friends. And I think I’m not the only one who feels that way because by the time the clock strikes 9:30, the teacher often has a hard time getting our attention because so many of us are busy catching up with each other. 

Whenever you see lists of the traits of long-lived people, there’s always one item about “staying connected” or “community.” They say that people with satisfying social relationships experience less mental decline and stay more mentally alert. And as someone who spends a lot of time alone (writing in my home office and practicing yoga on my own), I definitely appreciate being a member of the yoga community. Come to think of it, I’d have to say that my closest friends these days—excluding people I knew before I started practicing yoga—are people, like Baxter, who I met through yoga. Because of yoga’s emphasis on living according to the yamas (see Yama Drama) I’d venture to say that the yoga community is a particularly warm and supportive community to be part of.  So I thought today I’d list some ways you can connect with the yoga community. And because not everyone large amounts of disposable income, I’ll try to include as many free and/or low cost options as I can.

1. Find Classes You Can Afford. Some yoga studios out there also have donation-based classes or low-cost community classes, so if paying standard fees for classes is not an option for you, you may be able to find classes that you can afford, so look around. Other studios have work-study options, where you can do chores at the studio, such as cleaning or reception work, in exchange for classes. Go ahead and ask your local studio!

2. Attend Events. In addition to offering weekly classes and workshops, many yoga studios host events, such as lectures, musical performances, and even parties, which are free or low cost. Attending these events is a good way to spend time with your fellow classmates or meet some new yoga friends. 

3. Go on Retreat. Although this is an expensive option, going on a retreat, even a local, weekend retreat, can fire up your home yoga practice and allow you to spend time with a group of likeminded people. 

4. Attend Conferences. Attending a yoga conference gives you the chance to study with teachers from around the world and to meet other yoga practitioners as well. Although these conferences can be expensive, many of these have work-study options, where you can take free classes in exchange for helping the conference organizers.

5. Volunteer for Community Service. We’ve previously written on the blog about karma yoga, selfless service (see Selfless Service for Harmonious Longevity), and even just by volunteering for the community service of your choice, you’ll in a sense be participating in the karma yoga community. However, if you want to work with yoga friends, you can also check the yoga studios in your community to see if they have community service activities through the studio. In addition, some yoga teachers teach special community classes to low-income or underserved communities, and even if you are not a trained teacher yourself, you may able to assist a teacher like this in some way, for example, through fundraising or organizational activities.

6. Practice with a Friend. Having one or more yoga buddies to practice with (either at your home or theirs) is an excellent way to start the habit of practicing at home and to strengthen bonds with yoga friends.  You can take turns teaching each other, do a sequence from a book or video together, or just practice side by side. And, yes, you can talk while you’re practicing! So if this appeals to you, be brave and ask around to see if you can find someone to join you. See Practicing Yoga with a Friend for information.

7. Attend Yoga Book Groups. Studying yoga texts and modern yoga books with one or more friends can be a great way to deepen your understanding of yoga (having a deadline to finish a chapter can get you through some challenges texts you might not otherwise read) and to bond with some yoga friends while you’re at it. If you can’t find a yoga book group in your area, start one! I was in a yoga book group for two (just me and a dear friend I met through yoga) for a number of years, so I know it doesn’t have to be a big deal to put one together.

8. Join Online Yoga Communities. Yes, we know that the received wisdom is that having online friendships, such as on Facebook, isn’t the same as having a “real” relationship. But from my experience, being part of an online group can provide you with real support, as other people will encourage you to practice at home, answer questions you might have or just listen to you vent, and sometimes these friendships lead to actual in-person meetings. (If you’d like to join me on Facebook, you can find me at Yoga for Healthy Aging).

This list is a work in progress, so please let me know if you have more recommendations. 

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