Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The power of community - again

This week I learned another important lesson about community and shared energy. It was more like a review session, actually, because I knew it could happen, but never had I experienced it as a yoga teacher.
I have spoken before about the community of energy, why we might choose to go to a yoga class instead of having an exclusively home practice. (In no way do I want to diminish the power of a home practice; I practice at home most days, or so I would like to think..) That post was about what we gain as students when we practice together. It is rare that we get to see the practice’s effect on the one person in the room not participating in the same way - the teacher.

As I mentioned in my last post, this week was tough. Sunday, I was standing and cooking for about 6+ hours. The only break I took was to eat. Monday morning, when I awoke, I was sore. Not just kind of sore, but very, very sore. I would like to think it is because I went to a yoga class on Sunday, but the soreness was more from stress and working. It was not bad, but it hurt. Then I taught a class yesterday evening.

Yesterday’s class was a yin/restorative class (for many reasons, it was more restorative than yin). But I did not do any of the postures; I did teacher things, such as adjustments, moving props, talking. One of the students, who at first seemed hard to please and forceful, was the last one out of the room. She thanked me for the class and said her lower back was singing. It was not until I got home that I realized what had happened. My lower back was singing as well.

Massage therapists and body workers know that they benefit from working with others. We all know that we gain more than we lose when we give. Therefore, this realization is not so much shocking as a wonderful reminder of the power of community and the power that a strong community can have on those nearby, the gentle onlookers among us. This is also a reminder that your strength and centered focus can rub off on others and make their days less stressful.

Lawyers and others who deal with a lot of people can help those other people as much by changing their energy as by changing their words. Simply holding a space of calm reduces the tension of everyone in the room. In a legal setting, where good people are often at their worst, the change in energy can be the most important dynamic. And remember, it can come back to heal you as well as the "teacher" in the room, you gain that which your students, clients, colleagues, and even adversaries gain.

So, I invite you to share your energy and grow your community. You never know whose life it may change. Have you noticed this in the past? Have you noticed how your staying calm changes other peoples’ dynamics? 

Namaste and Blessings!


  1. As the recipient of those many hours of cooking, I must say thanks. In addition, your post reminded me of how i conduct my evaluation sessions or my testimony. When the other person in the room, or the attorney in the courtroom gets worked up and fast, I slow down. Soon enough, that person slows down. My energy, my calm, and my style ultimately take over and things are much better for all. Thanks for sharing a great post, and again, thanks for a great meal.

  2. The magic of teaching, yes? I really needed it when I was still working in my old, stressful fulltime job. Teaching yoga fed me like nothing else.

  3. Michelle, you are absolutely right. Thanks for the feedback!

  4. Yin and restorative are the dessert of yoga classes....very yummy!

  5. Staying calm is especially important in working with the public as I do. You wouldn't think that people would come to the library angry, but they do - mostly because they owe money, but occasionally because they feel they are entitled to (what I feel are) ridiculous things. (One guy got really belligerent when we refused to buff his personal CDs.)

    But I've noticed that my coworkers have a variety of ways to respond to people who are upset or anxious or angry (I myself have changed over time too), and they all have an impact on the patron's attitude. It seems that staying calm and acting like you sympathize (if you can't actually sympathize, that is - ie saying "I know it doesn't seem fair, but unfortunately that is the policy and I have to follow it") can make a world of difference.

    (I have also taken to saying no without saying no - if someone says "Can you look up a book for me" some of my coworkers say "No, they do that over at Reference" whereas I say "Sure! Just head straight down that way to Reference." Makes a huge difference sometimes - no one likes to be told no when the answer is really yes but you're in the wrong spot.)