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Lean in

Inspiring Social Connectedness

Can a few visits to your local yoga studio alleviate a lack of social connection? Yes, if that is what you consciously seek. When we walk into a studio we should feel the welcoming, an essential element of a yoga habitat. You can feel that buzz in a good space, like a continuous flow of respecting boundaries with a natural desire to share in the conversation. As a yoga teacher in Toronto, I love initiating students into practice. I make time to mentor new teachers to place trust in their interpersonal skills. We are then amplified to serve our community. 

 

When someone arrives new to the area or simply feels isolated, I will suggest local yoga studios as it helped me in the past. A studio has the special sauce if the teachers are intelligent and approachable. Ideally a light banter fills up the atmosphere, with an absence of political ideology. I am also aware that some will still feel unwelcome, whether it is a personal projection or an actual affront from the studio staff. In this case an optimist could give the studio a chance to do better.

 

Regarding feelings of isolation, when I first immigrated here I felt like the strangest saltwater fish jettisoned into Lake Ontario. I went quiet when Torontonians playfully mimicked my pronunciation of  “pasta, sorry, coffee” in my familial Brooklyn and New York tones. Years later I’ve come to appreciate the nuances of Canadian culture. I learned to toe the line on their mannerisms and I am better for it. One reason I adapted to the local etiquette is a subconscious desire for interconnectedness.

 

Loneliness is an affliction. Yoga is communal, hence a cure. I have noticed that a steady practice may even allow us to flex that positivity muscle to restructure thought patterns and optimize our word bank. Pessimism is bug repellent for humans, and yoga asks for us to look at the truth, which is that our preferences and rituals are ingrained. This boxes us in as habitual thinkers. Enter meditation practices for an inward reflection to assess our emotional fitness. 

 If we acknowledge the subtle patterns of self-doubt and negation in our narratives, we can find ways to alleviate loneliness and emotional suffering. 

 

One example is in our yoga teacher training which includes unlearning mental habits.  We restructure language from “you shouldn’t, couldn’t, I won’t, I can’t, don’t, never,” (ad nauseam) to encouragement. We then become ridiculously magnetic because our joie de vivre shines.

 

So if you’re looking for inspiration outside of the social pecking order then check out a few yoga studios and sense their vibe, which has a trickle-down effect to the teaching faculty which will fall in line with the studio’s mission statement of “welcome home.”