According to Swami Satchidananda, sangha, or community, is one of the most essential elements of a strong practice. He explained: “The spiritual path is a slippery road. When you are part of a sangha, if you slip, others will lift you up. That is the benefit of sangha. We need the support of others, so let us walk together.” A community is a place where all are welcome and supported; A community is serving as a refuge and offering interpersonal connection and support; A community is a place of fellowship where we celebrate similarities and see past differences.
There are many ways to build a strong community. We want to share five of them with you to help you get started to build your own tribe today:
- Encourage your students to get to know each other before or after the class. “If you don’t know your neighbor, say hi and introduce yourself.” A simple invitation like this at the beginning of a class creates a connection between your students, dissolving the boundaries that can separate us as humans. If you are a studio owner, make a point or create a culture among your teachers of greeting everyone by name, acknowledging students as valued members of your community when they walk through your front door.
- Moving outside of the studio. Hold space outside of the yoga room for your teachers and students to bond and get to know each other. Organize an afternoon tea or coffee or “Bring-A-Plate” movie night to hang out. People get to meet and know each other through yoga doesn’t mean that’s all they can talk about. It’s refreshing to talk about other things in life that is not yoga related.
- Celebrating growth. Celebrate your students. Celebrate your teachers. Celebrate special dates. Either it is the anniversary of your studio or it’s one of your students’ birthday. Celebrate it! Maybe one of your students just got married or had a baby or got a job promotion or completed a 21-days challenge. Praise and honor your students on all aspects of their lives and make them feel like the community is their 2nd home. Because ultimately you want the whole thing becomes based on a higher purpose, a deeper meaning and a more profound goal in life. Your students feel like they belong here and it’s part of their life. How amazing is that!
- Add a low-cost or donation-based community class. Join hands and give back to the society and open your arms and doors to the underprivileged. Make your students be part of it. Enjoy giving back together. Offering selfless service is a wonderful thing to do and the highest practice of all.
- Build your community with openness, generosities and gratitude towards each other. Whatever you do, remember your intention, action and authenticity. Only when you are true to yourself you can be true to the others.