On Community

As one of my teachers, Pete, says: Community is important. Just make sure you choose the right one.

I feel fortunate to have settled into a very vibrant and nurturing community in San Francisco.

I fell in love with the Forrest practice first. And then I fell in love with the Forrest community.

There are many types of community that can be born from the practice of yoga. It is the melding of the individual and collective energy and emotion that emerges when people get in a room together and stay present. I have watched how so many different yoga communities can help people find joy, make peace, and give back to the world around them.

As a community, Forrest welcomes a great many people into its circle – the hoop of the people – as Ana refers to it. You can come for just the yoga. That's just fine. Many people do.

You can also stay for the friendship, and support.

I choose to stay.

Two weeks ago I had an amazing opportunity to spend time with some incredible people in our West Coast Forrest community.  I felt privileged to practice with two of the Forrest Guardian teachers, and to find my mat between two of my favorite Bay area Forrest teachers. In addition to several other students like me, there were several teachers completing their year-long Forrest mentorship program.

What made this practice special was not just the amazing opportunity to have an intimate practice with such great people, but the Four Directions ceremony that preceded our actual asana practice. Steeped in Native American tradition, the calling in of the four directions recognizes the qualities that come from North, South, East, and West - and a chance to make personal intentions as those leading the ceremony call in their own hopes for themselves and the collective group. It isn't a religious situation, but it is spiritual. This "calling in" is followed by some chanting and meditation. Ceremony is ritual, and creates a sacred space for community.

Ana Forrest has chosen senior teachers to be guardians of the practice. It ensures that the Forrest message and practice lives on beyond her - and it provides solid foundations for communities all over the world. Colleen Millen (Bay Area) and Willow Ryan (Portland) were the mentors that led this amazing practice. They are incredibly gifted yoginis with hearts big enough to support the much larger needs of their communities.

There were many awesome parts of the practice. Mostly, though, it was fun. Even when Colleen came in the first part of abs and DIDN'T LEAVE or LET GO OF MY LEGS until it was over. Even that was fun. If you can find ceremony and community in abs...I guess you are in the right place.

I know that community is one of the reasons that yoga is so important to me. In the end, it isn't about the asanas, it is about growth and being a stronger, better person. On and off of the mat.

That's hard to do on your own.

In gratitude to those who share the journey with me. Thank you for being a part of my community.