In my last blog entry, I wrote about a few awesome transformational experiences that emerged through my 200-hour teacher training program at Yoga District. Another transformation (that I haven’t mention yet) really surprised me because, unlike so many of the other internal yoga-inspired changes I’ve encountered, this one was totally external—my yoga sangha.
What’s sangha? The term, “sangha” was among the dozens of new Sanskrit words I learned during teacher training. Although it can be loosely defined as “community,” the word, sangha, originating in the Buddhist belief, traditionally refers to two very specific types of groups, either 1. a community of Buddhist monastic monks and nuns, or 2. a community of awakened beings.
I’m not sure my sangha necessary fits either of those definitions in its strictest form, but regardless of what it is called, the community I developed through Yoga District is, no doubt, something very special… and pretty big too!
To be honest, I was a little dismayed when I first learned that my training would be unusually large—30 teacher trainees! I generally prefer working in smaller, more intimate groups, but I’m so thankful that it turned out the way it did. Over the weeks of teacher training, my yoga practice deepened and I came appreciate the value of practicing yoga in large groups for several reasons:
1. Energy. Have you even done about 30 sweaty Sun Salutations in a room filled with 30+ yogis all in synch in breath and movement? It’s amazing! Talk about a natural high! There is something magical about doing yoga in a large group that is incredibly uplifting, even when you’re tired.
2. Inspiration. Knowing that if I get myself to the studio, I will see familiar friendly faces often inspires me to go even on days when I’m tempted to skip. I have never regretted going a yoga class, whether I am taking or teaching the class. The energy around me during a yoga class often inspires me to go even further into my practice than I might otherwise during my home practice… and inspires me to come back for more.
3. Learning. Having such a large teacher training, you can imagine that there were A LOT of questions and comments. During training, we would often find ourselves pretty far off topic, but I actually enjoyed those conversations and practices because it was usually when I learned the most. I have learned so much though the vast diversity of backgrounds and yoga styles of my fellow trainees, and I continue to learn from both my teachers and students every day.
4. Sharing. My yoga community is extremely generous. At home, my bookshelf is stuffed with several borrowed yoga books, replacing the spaces of books that I have leant out to others, and my computer if filled with yoga music that has been given to me by my fellow yogis. The reciprocal sharing of resources has been immensely helpful for me while on this journey through yoga.
5. Friends. It has been so encouraging to have so many people in my life who understand the internal shifts I have been experiencing. These shifts are much more subtle than being able to do cool arm balances, but of course those are fun too. All of us came to yoga looking for something. All of us are on a journey, and as fate would have it, we met on the mat. Since my training, I have been amazed at the outpouring of love and support I’ve received as I find my footing as yoga instructor for the very first time. Thanks to teacher training, I left with 30+ friends to cheer me on, and my yoga community, my sangha, continues to grow.