Yoga should bring people together. The word “yoga” means to yoke or join. So why is it that so many of us enter a class without coming together? I have a theory that we are being conditioned to be alone. Offices are built around the cubicle model, people avoid each others' gaze on the street and would rather speak to each other through machines then make real personal contact. Social media outlets like Facebook, Linked-In, and G+ can bring us together, but they can also encourage us to connect without leaving our homes and making deeper, face-to-face connections.
I used to be that person. I used to attend class at the same gym every week. I would sit in the same area of the room, near the same person. We never spoke, sometimes not even saying hello. I know that my practice spoke to me and I had so many questions and felt that I had no one to speak to. I felt very much alone. But it turns out that the person on the mat next to me was going through the same thing.
I stopped attending that class and moved on to a yoga studio further away. One day, someone who looked very familiar sat down next to me. I couldn’t place how I knew her. We said hello and began to have an ongoing dialog. One day it clicked! “I know you! Didn’t you attend that class?” Since then we have both become more committed to our practice. We are now friends. We try out different classes together, share ideas and new lessons. We have both also become teachers. I treasure our new friendship. It is so wonderful to have someone to talk to and share my practice with.
This relationship has changed my mind about what a community really is. We are not just a group of people coming together to get sweaty (although that is part of it). Taking the time to build relationships with others I take class with has made attending class so much more wonderful. I have many yoga friends now, most of them just mat neighbors with whom I share a smile. But having that relationship brings me comfort and it makes the experience better for all of us.
Life is funny- sort of a cosmic joke. We are all looking for the same things, but many of us don’t even realize it. Say hello to those on the mat next to you. Share a laugh or a smile. You will be surprised what it gives you. You’ll thank me later.