We all have that moment during a yoga class when we want to slow down, to stop, to run out of the room. It might get too hot in the room, our body gets tired or maybe we just don’t want to keep practicing.

A regular yoga practice helps us cultivate a deep knowing of when our body needs us to slow down because we need rest or when we’re slowing down or stopping because we are uncomfortable and it’s simply easier to quit. Similarly, off the mat, we all encounter resistance in life situations that make us want to quit or give up.

In your yoga practice, you have the opportunity to develop resilience and inner strength—to breathe through the difficult poses or moments in your practice and find your way to Savasana, final resting and reflecting pose.

The work you do on your yoga mat translates into every aspect of your life. On the yoga mat, the poses give access to how you are showing up, both in class and in your everyday interactions. When you encounter resistance on your mat, do you stop? Do you blame the yoga teacher or the other students in the room? Or do you internally reflect and introspect?

Yoga means union. Yoga is a practice of connecting to yourself and to those around you. It’s not enough to connect only to ourselves through our yoga practice, as we are part of a greater whole—whether it’s your yoga studio, fitness center or community. In a Baptiste yoga class, we start class with three verbal “oms” as a group to unite the class in one body, mind and spirit to practice as a community. Each person in the room is practicing as an individual but also as a collective whole—united through breath and the Baptiste yoga practice.

Baptiste yoga is a practice of inquiry—it’s the opportunity to be curious about your physical practice and curious about how you are showing up both on and off the mat. Often, who you are in your yoga practice is how you are showing up in your lives. Do you see yourself as connected deeply to those around you? Do you see yourself seeking out and forming community, or are you separate from the group, a lone wolf?

We have the opportunity to use our yoga practice to connect deeply to ourselves. It’s also a powerful opportunity to explore how we can connect deeply to others, to create a sense of community and to be the change we want to see in the world.

Below are three ways you can use your yoga practice to connect with others and cultivate community.

  1. Invite a friend to yoga. It’s a great way to create connection with another person and can be a great way to motivate each other to keep coming back!
  2. Sign up for a workshop. Yoga studios often offer a variety of other classes, workshops and events that you can attend and get involved in to deepen not only your connection to your practice but also deepen your connection to your local community.
  3. Practice next to new faces and introduce yourself. For new people, it can put them at ease and make them feel welcome and for everyone. It creates instant community by getting to know the people you are practicing next to!

Photo credit: VeaVea, Stocksy