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“I no longer see community as a safe place, or as a specific structure. I think of it as an attitude and a process. It is understanding and practicing interdependence, recognizing that we need one another for everything that makes life worthwhile and even for survival itself.” – Arthur Gladstone
I an attempt to understand what community looks like and means to me, I drew this little diagram*. In the middle: me! And radiating out are my various intersecting and overlapping communities, and the people who make them.
My yoga community is bunched up in the bottom part ~ it’s made up of rad’a (the space where I teach, in the former ascent headquarters), the Montréal Anusara crew, Yasodhara Ashram (where I lived and studied for 2 years) and “Mtl yogis” (which refers to other yogi friends in town who don’t fit in the previous categories). In reality, these spheres intersect and overlap, rather than function independently. “Former ascent staff,” my beloved friends and co-workers at the magazine, are tangental to my yoga scene ~ and still, happily, part of my life. “MEM yoga” is another teaching space, at the Mile End Mission in my neighbourhood.
I’ve drawn a line from “MEM yoga” to a big cluster in the top corner, which represents my physical neighbourhood, Mile End. Most of my social and community action happens in my lively ‘hood, and it plays a big role in my life. Definitely, my sense of belonging and connection comes from my location. It’s the little things, like bumping into people at the cafe or the fruiterie, which create feelings of community on a daily basis.
Up in the top left is my blog, and the joyous little online community that has sprung up around it’s all yoga, baby. The participators and active commentors such as Linda-sama, Bob W, EcoYogini and Montréal yogi/blogger Adriana (who I’ve never even met in RL, even though she lives just a few blocks from me) are the heart of this community. And spiraling out from there are the “global internet yogis,” who stop by on their interweb meanderings (I know you’re out there, thanks to Google Analytics!).
Other aspects of my community world are my family and hometown friends in BC, my boyfriend, my knitter friends, my pan-Canadian writing friends ~ and my cats! Now that I am a Person-Who-Works-From-Home, my cats Qyogi and Kaiser are my co-workers (and I’m glad they’re not my employees, because they’re rather lazy and I’d have to fire them). They’ve taught me so much about interdependence (and love, and service, and fun), and they make my life, my single apartment-dwelling urban life, more worthwhile and enjoyable.
* Adapted from Carolyn Shaffer’s book, Creating Community Anywhere: Finding Support and Connection in a Fragmented World.
This afternoon, I taught my final weekly community class at rad’a (until September). It was unbearably hot in Montréal today, way over 30ºC and super humid. I had no idea who would feel like doing yoga on a day like today ~ everyone should be sitting under shady trees in parks, or drinking sangria in backyards. I hardly felt like being at the class myself.
But when I got to rad’a, the space was remarkably chill and the fans were on, keeping the air circulating. I put on some dub and waited to see who, if anyone, would show up. And they did, slowly and steadily. There were some familiar faces, regular students who have been coming for a while, and a couple of new faces. Because of the heat, I abandoned my lesson plan and instead lead everyone through a super restorative practice, mostly spent laying on piles of blankets.
The Thursday afternoon yoga class is a community pay-what-you-can (PWYC) class, which I’ve been offering since before the economy crashed in the fall of 2008 (seriously!). There has been a lot of talk about how the economic downtown has affected yoga classes and practitioners (YogaDork does a fantastic job of covering Recession Yoga with wit, charm and intelligence), and we’re seeing an increase in pay-what-you-can yoga classes around North America, as in this elephant journal post. Read the rest of this entry »
I have made the decision to cease teaching yoga classes for July and August. It’s a multi-layered decision, which took a while for me to come to, but which ultimately feels right. I’m also going to stop attending my weekly Anusara classes, and just go to classes from different traditions, with different teachers, when I feel like it. I teach only 2 community classes per week, at the Mile End Mission and rad’a yoga, so my decision to not teach is not about time. Two hours teaching and another two hours prepping isn’t a big time commitment.
While 4 hours per week isn’t a lot of time, I also want to create a little more space in my life. It’s summer, I’m unemployed and I’d like to make room for spontaneity – for spontaneous excursions out of town, spontaneous hanging out on terraces, spontaneous bike riding in parks.
I’ve been asking a lot of questions around teaching yoga: Why am I teaching? What do I have to offer? How can I give a class without evaluating myself? I think that a break will allow the answers to these questions to simply emerge, and for me to become re-inspired. Read the rest of this entry »