Yoga Builds Community: Cultivating Connections Outside OurselvesAug 30, 2018 03:59AM ● By Agni Chapska
Loneliness is painful for many of us. The connective link between individual existence and community is a simple understanding of the web of life. Nothing is disconnected, and all plays an important role in supporting our very own life. Loneliness doesn’t just occur when we are separated from loved ones, but also when we feel separated from the web of life. This is too common these days; we are all somehow disconnected from a source of life.
For example, you ate a most delicious yogurt this morning. Yet you have never cared for a single cow, nor do you have any knowledge how cow’s milk ends up tasting like yogurt. How did the yogurt get into the store? Where did the container containing the yogurt come from? Who was behind the label design? All these beautiful connections and individuals contributed to the taste of breakfast this morning. We are fed because of the work of the others. Once we begin to examine this interconnectedness, we begin to see the beauty of our connections. A close and profound way to experience connection to the larger web is through a tantric yoga practice.
Yoga practice is cultivating sensitivity toward the web of life. In yoga, our breath is a sacred bridge between unconscious and conscious states of being. When we observe our breath, we notice that after inhalation is completed, there is less effort in exhalation. In order to take in, receive and feel connected to the web of life and our community, we need to make an effort. Once the effort of inhalation is made, we begin to weave each individual breath into the sacred web of life. The thriving force of life therefore begins to express itself in the form of community and its vibrant body. Just like our individual bodies need nurturing and love to thrive, so does our collective (community) body require nurturing and love to live in harmony and peace.
Ayurveda, the sister science of yoga, teaches about our own constitutional states (doshas) and their composing forces of five primal elements: water, air, fire, earth and ether. Each element is present in every individual, yet they manifest in different proportion. The disturbance of one causes the disturbance in others; similarly the balance of one supports the balance of others. Yoga allows us to balance the elements within our individual bodies. When we are in balance, we can then positively contribute to our community, creating positive ripple effect, and inspiring interconnectivity and union among a wider group of individuals. We can breathe in connection and breathe out love, guiding each other to a vibrant life worth living.
A yoga community is called Sangha; it is a practicing community which gathers together in group yoga classes and through various workshops. We offer support to one another in the form of service or a prayer. We support each other’s spiritual journey and create long lasting bonds. The most beautiful part of Sangha is that because we have a deeper understanding of the web of life, we see each other through our loving hearts, loving individuals regardless of their flaws or imperfections.
The web of life is sacred. It is the most beautiful creation there is. By practicing yoga, we practice connection to ourselves and each other. We commune with ourselves first, and, in this communion, we cultivate what is sacred, a connection to one another and to community.
Agni Chapska, owner of AgniLoveYoga studio in Southbury, has studied yoga since 2000, and began teaching yoga in 2010 in the lineage of Hatha Tantra Yoga. Connect with her at 203-895-9369, [email protected] or AgniLoveYoga.com. Facebook @AgniLoveYOGA.