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Community is Life Support

When you hear the word community, what is your response? Does it call to mind great friends?  Positive organizations? Unwanted drama? Overcommitment? Refuge? Anxiety? Neutrality? Likely it depends on the group, and more than one of these often applies. 


But here's the thing: Community is necessary for our health and well-being.


When I was training to be a Yoga TherapistI was surprised to find out that this is one of the components of a new client intake.  Regardless of the reason for requesting a session, part of our conversation is about the client's connection to community.  This is considered an important piece of the puzzle when working towards systemic balance, happiness, and a long life.  


In the yogic pancha maya kosha model, we are made of five layers, or sheaths: body, energy, mind, personality, and spirit.  (Different lineages express this differently, but the overall ideas are consistent.) Connection to community falls under the spirit, or bliss, sheath, called the ananda maya kosha.  It's THAT important to our spiritual well-being to be with others.  


In chakra language, the 7th chakra, sahasrara, is our connection not only to Source but to All. There is an emphasis here on spiritual community.   The heart chakra, anahata, connects us to others through love and relationships.  Without this connection, we are imbalanced and tend towards disease.  Without people, we cannot experience our true wholeness.


The West has discovered the same, especially through the work and studies done by Dr. Dean Ornish of the Ornish Institute in California.  His groundbreaking studies on reversing heart disease demonstrated the necessity of community when he studied various combinations of four approaches: diet, exercise, stress management, and group support (community).  It turns out, ALL FOUR were necessary pieces to regain a healthy heart. If he removed any one of them from the study, the results were unsuccessful.


Community First! Village here in Austin is based on the same idea: that the answer to homelessness is a home and a community.  And they're having tremendous success moving people out of homelessness! 


Community doesn't have to look a certain way.  Bowling leagues, poker games, book clubs, birding groups, and improv teams all lead to happier, healthier people! And I frequently remind my students, it doesn't matter what or where it is. Just show up and participate! 


YOU are in a community of yogis simply by receiving and reading this email.  Better than knowing we're connected, let's feel that connection through events and gatherings this fall.  


First up: SAVE THE DATE for Free Day of Yoga on Labor Day, September 5!  I can't WAIT for the chance to see you and practice together again. And we got two really sweet time slots and locations.  So I hope you join me at the stunning and expansive Moody Amphitheater at Waterloo Greenway at 9:30am for Chakra Balancing Yoga, and later at 5:30pm under the beautiful oak canopy at the nearby Tree Deck for some Align and Chill, helping you work your poses smarter, not harder.  


There will be studios participating all over the city, and I encourage you to block off the day and go be with your yoga peeps, known and new.  Details to follow, so keep your eyes open!


May you find and enjoy community, and may you live a long and happy life of connection. 


Much love

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