As I'm sitting from my parents computer, escaping Jessica Fletcher reruns, I thought I'd provide a quick update on my latest step in Personal Practice Adventure: the Community Yoga project.
I wrote earlier that I was really wanting to foster a sense of "student" specific yoga community in Halifax. I was (and am) a bit tired of attending and seeing all the events and groups being extremely teacher oriented and studio specific. Teachers in Halifax are generally attached to a studio, so instead of nurturing a yoga community, the meetings and group tend to promote the studio, becoming insular instead of open.
After I wrote that post I emailed a local Anusara teacher (ok, THE Anusara teacher in the city) and we met the following week to chat. It was an honest and open discussion of what the Haligonian yoga studio relationships and community were like. From this a few suggestions and an action plan was created. I knew that if I wanted a Halifax Student-Led support group, I would have to organize it myself. Although useful, teacher-led groups often reflect the studio and the teachers' interests... and not the students'.
Thus, "Coffee and Yoga" was created. The following evening I wrote up a "Letter of Intention", outlining the mission and values of the group. Here's the pdf file of our letter (not so clear, but I'm not quite sure how to link a pdf...).
The basics of the group: a monthly opportunity for student yogi/nis to meet and chat in a safe, open and respectful environment about topics of interest. these topics could range from the different styles of yoga, the 8 limbs, pranayama, how to improve your home practice or specific asana questions. The only catch- all topics and themes must be student driven and open to all studios and yoga disciplines of the city.
When topics or questions arise that require further explanation, a local teacher will be approached to attend a meeting and help clarify concerns.
In order to create a sense of openness and non-connection to one particular studio, we've decided to meet in local coffee shops. Not only do coffee shops provide a neutral and casual environment to encourage connection and community, but they are familiar. People have met and connected over coffee and tea for hundreds of years. Nevermind that I really like JustUs! fair trade organic mochaccinos.... :)
The next step after creating our "Letter of Intention" was to let the studios know. I really don't want this entire idea to become a random poster that studios put up on their "community boards". Call me idealistic, but I want this to become more than that. As a result, I have emailed a few studios and boutiques with the letter attached... and followed this up with a few pop in visits.
So far the process has been interesting. I know a few studios will be a bit tricky to navigate, and am unsure as to how much they will support and promote this group to their clients. I have received some really nice support from a few wonderful yogi teachers (Leanne from Grow A Lotus Yoga and Krista from Bhavana Yoga Boutique).
In order to encourage more meetings I've found myself directly asking for them... which is a bit awkward, but should be interesting. Next week my plan is to email the last half of the studios in the city, requesting meetings in order to discuss the group, go over the owners concerns, suggestions and insight. I hope to learn and grow from this experience as much as help teachers understand the importance and potential to create a more cohesive, complete Yoga community. A community that is not just created and supported by teachers, but includes all Yogi/nis in the city.
If you're a Haligonian, practice Yoga and would like to learn more about this group, please visit the website: HalifaxYogaCommunity.wordpress.com. You'll find info on Coffee and Yoga, Yoga in the Park and local studios and teachers. There's even a nifty POLL on what topics you'd like to discuss (COOL! I love polls!). The first meeting will be on March 8th (this Monday)... which might be extended depending on attendance... Family emergency and such has delayed my PR of the group a bit (hence the trip home...). The meeting's topic: What would YOU like to learn?
The second meeting will be April 5th, following this meetings will be every first Monday of the month and unless otherwise stated (see schedule here) at the JustUs! Cafe on Spring Garden Road. I think I'll have a little sign or something so people will know who to approach. We are super approachable anyways though... I mean I work with preschoolers, I am definitely not scary :)
Second meeting topic: How to Eco-fy your Yoga Practice (lol, of course!).
Honestly, this new step in my Personal Practice Adventure kinda scares the "poo" out of me... I know I really want this for my own practice, I really want to connect with other yogi/nis who aren't teachers and to connect and learn. Do others?
It should be an Adventure!
article and photo copyright of EcoYogini at ecoyogini.blogspot.com