How Yoga Fosters a Real Community

According to Yoga Journal, the secret to living a happy and healthy life is spending quality time with family, friends, and community, while also staying open to new relationships. One way to forge new and lasting connections is through yoga.

Nowadays, everyone is connected to their smart phones or laptops. We are constantly checking emails, text messages, and social media. For example, a 1987 University of California, Los Angeles survey, found that "almost 40 percent of the school's freshmen spent 16 hours or more per week socializing with others in person". Today, just 18 percent of UCLA's freshmen devote the same amount of time socializing. This is troublesome considering the fact that socializing with others contributes to the overall wellness and health of our well-being.

According to a review of 148 studies conducted by researchers at Brigham Young University, "strong, broad-based social support (the kind you tend to develop via in-person interactions) increases your odds of living by 91 percent. Experts believe that being embedded in a community has positive implications on the quality of our life, especially for people facing health care issues like cancer, stroke, dementia, depression, and diabetes. According to the article, being in a community is "biologically reassuring". Moreover, it "confers a protective effect that actually seems to boost immunity and fights stress and inflammation".

Dean Ornish, MD, president and founder of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute (PMRI) in Sausalito, California, says that "Intimacy is healing". He adds that there's "something really powerful" in being able to share your authentic self with others, instead of just a carefully curated Facebook profile or Instagram snapshot. 

More isn't necessarily merrier when it comes to building a healing community. Ornish says, "Any community can be healing, whether it’s one other person or 100”. What matters is sharing your experiences with others. 

According to Yoga Journal, your mat may be the easiest, most natural place to start building community. Yoga can help you meet and bond with people who share similar perspectives on life. As you practice yoga together, you are building a connection based on a common interest. In time, as you embrace your passion for yoga together, you are more likely to open up about other aspects in your life. 

Here are four powerful ways yoga can help us all build a loving, lasting, and healing community:

1. Yoga primes you to make new friends.

According to Angela Wilson, a faculty member at the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, "Yoga positively impacts your mood, psychological functioning, and focus". She adds that these positive effects of yoga allows us to "feel better mentally, more ready to go out into the world and make friends". This is especially true for those who struggle with social anxiety. By practicing yoga, you allow your nervous to calm and makes you feel more relaxed when meeting new people.

2. Yoga strengthens your existing ties with friends and family. 

According to Yoga Journal, "One of the most awe-inspiring aspects of yoga is the way in which it nudges you toward greater discovery—not only by making visible previously hidden aspects of your own character, but also by illuminating areas of your relationships that could be explored and further strengthened."  When you practice yoga, your mind and body are fully present. You can dedicate your yoga practice for the day to a special loved one, family, or friend. Moreover, practicing mindfulness during a yoga session is excellent practice for being mindful and fully present in day to day conversations.

3. Yoga provides you with an instant community of fellow yogis.

The moment you step foot into a yoga class you are immediately surrounded by people that share the same interest as you. If you have ever taken a yoga class, you know the feeling everyone feels when everyone is in unison while transitioning through poses. The feeling of unity brings everyone together and the wonderful energy everyone emits builds a yogi community.

4. Yoga facilitates exchanges between people of different backgrounds. 

Taking a yoga class is a great way to meet people with different backgrounds. Especially at Community Well, where we serve a variety of families in the Excelsior district of San Francisco. From growing kids and teens to college students, working professionals, and parents, there is a lot of culture brought into our space. Get to know someone new during our weekly Community Yoga class!

Come build a community at our Community Yoga class every Sunday morning with Yana Ibrahim. In this relaxing and transformative 60 minutes class, Yana will take you through proper breathing techniques and flow movement sequence that will increase awareness, strength, balance and flexibility of mind, body and spirit. This is a beginner-friendly class. Even if you are not a yoga newbie, you can still create a practice that is suitably challenging for yourself.

For more information about the Community Yoga class, click here.