August 18th, 2010

Last Saturday, I participated in our Yoga fundraiser and took part in “group experiential exercises” to learn more about community building.  What does that mean, exactly?

Melissa Scott, one of the three terrific workshop leaders, talked about the importance of interdependence and group support in a community. We practiced yoga poses like Eagle, Tree and Chair – first alone, and then with the support of our neighbors.

The most difficult of these group exercises was the Extended Hand-To-Big-Toe Pose – standing in a circle, we all balanced on one foot while extending the other leg. My neighbor to one side grasped my foot while I placed a hand on his shoulder, and then I grasped the foot of my other neighbor.

There were challenges to doing this pose in a group. I’m used to doing it alone! At first, I felt like one of us was bound to lose balance and send us toppling like dominoes. I had to be more aware of those around me. But after I adjusted, it was relief to have someone to lean on.

“Appreciate the neighbor to your left and your right. Think about how he or she is supporting you and helping you stand strong,” Melissa instructed.

Suddenly I wasn’t afraid of falling. I could feel when one of my neighbors (maybe even 2 or 3 people over) was struggling, but we all adjusted to support them. And they shifted to accommodate me. For just a moment, we all stood together – people of differing heights, levels of sweatiness, and yoga skills – together in an imperfect yet solid circle.

The chair circle was  more difficult, but after a few tries, we were all about to support one another.

The lesson? Sometimes in a community, it takes getting awkwardly close to people and putting yourself in an uncomfortable position, but if we work together, each of us can be more successful.

Yesterday, our summer intern Jacob reflected on the collaboration and teamwork it takes to run a non-profit like ours. We deeply appreciate the support we receive from all of our individual and group partners, and it’s true: we really couldn’t do our work without your partnership. Things like our upcomingLunch Line screening and Huntsville Hunger Workshop would simply not be effective without the support and assistance of partners around the state. We lean on you, and we intend, in turn, to support you. Standing together, we’re all stronger.

Thank you to Melissa Scott, Jasper Elliot Wolfe, and Shannon Andrews Skipper for collaborating with us on this fundraiser! Their work with Off the Mat, Into the World is about taking yogic principles like mindfulness into your daily life. They will begin their 7-week Yoga in Action Birmingham class in October. Email them for more details, or check out their blog: yogainaction.blogspot.com.

Posted by Robyn Hyden