Philosophy Corner part two: Community

all rights reserved by ian sane

all rights reserved by ian sane

This weekend I spent a lot of time enjoying the wonderful Made in Roath festival. On Friday there was an artists meeting called Settlement based at Spit and Sawdust (a new skatepark in Cardiff). I wondered if I might feel a bit out of the loop as whilst i enjoy making art, i am certainly no artist. But the main subject of discussion: how to participate positively in the community around you, is something i feel passionately about so i found i had plenty to contribute and ponder during the day. I also enjoyed the opportunity over the weekend to chat to many of my neighbours, many of whom I have scarcely even noticed before, let alone talked to.

In yoga most of us don’t practice alone, or not always at any rate.We join a community in the form of a class, a workshop, kirtan (for chanting), meditation, a retreat or a lecture. These days knowledge of yoga is everywhere. We can buy a book or a dvd or even join one of the many online yoga studios. But still most students seek company for their yoga practice. There are many reasons for this, the opportunity to work with teachers or even gurus directly, the opportunity to find like-minded students who are perhaps on a similar path or just a shared energy directed at the same purpose which supports you. I have been privileged to meet so many wonderful people in my life through yoga – teachers, friends i’ve practiced alongside and now increasingly students.

But just as I felt like an outsider at the art event I think many people feel that way about  joining a yoga class for the first time. Aside from not knowing what to expect – there are so many new elements to digest. Foreign sounding names for each position or even just getting used to deep steady breathing or lying on the floor with your eyes closed to relax at the end of class. There has also been some brilliant debates recently about yoga’s image problem (that it is only for white, thin, flexible women).

I enjoyed Settlement on Friday because everyone made me feel very welcome and addressed me as a member of that community. So i implore those of you who are nervous about trying yoga to come and see for yourself. Likewise I think every yoga student has a duty to welcome other students and help them to develop and thrive as part of the yoga community.

Modern life can sometimes encourage us to become very self-involved. We are worried about our jobs, our partners /families or our homes. Perhaps sometimes we forget to look out for the person next to us. For me that is where community starts. To look out for someone struggling or vulnerable near you (maybe at work, on your street or in the yoga studio) and if possible offer a hand. So that is going to be my intention for this week- feel free to make it yours as well.

On the yoga front I am now teaching two hot yoga classes every Thursday at Yoga Fever 6pm and 7.30pm. Classes are almost always full so you need to book ahead of time to secure a spot. There is also a brilliant fundraising event showing the film Maya on the evening of 1st November – come join us at Stretchy Suzies and help raise money for local charity the Wallich Centre. I look forward to welcoming you in our community soon.