Building communities one yoga class at a time

Communities take time to build. And sometimes it organically starts when two people with similar interests come together.

When Joy Andrews walked into my new yoga class at the Gold’s Gym in downtown Silver Spring she did not know that it was my first class. EVER. She did not know that I was fresh off of yoga teacher training. She did not know that I was terrified.

That first class was the longest 60 minutes of my life! I wanted to appear cool and collected – the epitome of zen. Instead I was a sweaty, stuttering mess with beads of perspiration dotting my face and mis-cues left and right. I did not feel amazing and excited at the end. I did not feel like I wanted to do it again. I wanted to run from the room – never to be seen again. I don’t even remember if Joy said anything to me or if I said anything to her at the end of class! I felt like an abject failure – convinced that I had made a huge mistake and no one would ever want to take my yoga class.

I did return because I did not want to fail at something I loved. But for more weeks than I care to admit Joy was the only student in my “group” yoga class. I don’t know if it was out of pity or if she was a glutton for punishment but those first few classes were brutal. And even as I did my best in class I was convinced that I would never see her again. But Joy came back. Every. Week. And for that I was so grateful.

Ingrid, my boss, reassured me that all new classes start that way. That it takes time and patience to build momentum to fill a class. People will find their way to you but you have to keep trying. What could I do but trust her years of experience?

In time, more students did come and it ceased to be a lonely class of just Joy and me. Eventually, Joy and I and those students became our own little community; extending our relationship beyond class and outside into the world. Taking the support we provided each other in class to our real lives where we needed it.  I am a better person (and teacher) for it. To this day, I still have a strong friendship with those students. But it did not happen overnight.

It is precisely this kind of community building that Joy, Rachel and I are hoping to foster at Third Space Wellness. It starts somewhere… Maybe not in the way you expect. Sometimes it comes in the form of a patient redheaded friend.

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