Managing Stress With Yoga Buddies—Sangha
Isolation is a tragedy of modern life. We’re so often on our computers, the only people we connect wiare our barista, the check-out guy, and our car mechanic. This social isolation impairs immune function and causes inflammation in the body—think arthritis, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.
The dangers of loneliness are real, but fortunately, the antidote can be found in the notion of sangha, the community of the faithful. In my case, my sangha is my yoga community.When I was a kid going to church, it was my friends at church—folks that were on the same track of seeking the deeper truth of life. Yes, I was a church geek. I loved singing in the choir, and my best friends were the kids in the choir.
Later, there were the musicians in my band. We supported one another and had a common vision of doing something uplifting.
If you haven’t tried yoga and are feeling lonely, I urge you to find a class that suits you. If you tend to be a couch potato, go to a super easy class, like restorative yoga, or an extra gentle beginners class. If you’re athletic, go to a vinyasa flow class.
If you prefer singing to a physical practice, join a choir or attend a kirtan (chanting) session. If the class doesn’t feel right, keep looking till you find your peeps. Then hang out, get to know the studio, offer service and let people to get to know you. Get connected.
Studies show that folks suffering from loneliness were twice as likely to die prematurely. Yoga is more about living a life of ease and joy than it is about getting washboard abs.
When we allow ourselves to be nurtured by a yoga class, we feel uplifted, and connected to something bigger than ourselves.
Then we can go out into the world and be a little piece of heaven.
If you'd like to get connected with the yogis at the Satchidananda Ashram,they have "welcome weekends" where you can come and experience the joy of a yogic lifestyle. There are also retreats and workshops--I have one coming up in December--Big Yoga for Less Stress, from December 10-13. In it, you will pick up some tips that can help you stay calm during the hectic holidays.