The first definition that appears in the Merriam-Webster dictionary for community is, “a unified body of individuals.” Therefore, it seems natural that our yoga training focus on Transformation of Community was broken into the following sections: Breathe for Inclusion, Breathe for Collaboration, and Breathe for Social Justice.
After spending the first half of training working on personal development and relationships, we had established a strong foundation for the individual. Thus we were prepared to work on the development of community.
Breathing for Inclusion, Collaboration, & Social Justice
Although each day we spent a great deal on the different components and activities related to Transformation of Community, here is a very brief overview of each section.
Inclusion: bridges individuals to others. It is about connecting people and engaging with them. To truly include someone is not a matter of putting up with differences but instead about letting go of judgement in order to promote acceptance.
Collaboration: is working together towards a common goal and practicing the act of inclusion within a group setting. To collaborate in the truest sense is to foster individual’s contributions and make sure that all voices is heard and respected.
Social Justice: stems from embracing our differences as well as recognizing our social identities/roles so that we can solve problems together. Those in the role of power and privilege have a responsibility to the community to recognize oppression and ensure that community members who are not well off have fair opportunities.
Well-being as Basis for Community
As individuals we have many different needs. Because of this, it is often hard to know where to begin making positive changes within our communities. Too frequently we get caught up in our differences that we lose sight of what is most important. We worry too much about ourselves and judge who deserves what and why that we cannot find common ground.
If we take a moment to step back from the nitty gritty of what we desire and who deserves what we create an opportunity to think more holistically. It really comes down to the fact that we all seek to live our lives with a sense of well-being.
Although well-being can be defined in many ways, at its core it is about having our basic needs met and having a feeling of contentment with our life. Not only do we need to have the basic needs of food, clothing, and shelter but also desire to feel safe and secure, valued and included, happy, healthy, and free.
When all of these needs can be met, we feel provided for and as a result, balanced. To take it one step further, when we embody well-being, we have the capacity to shift our focus away from ourselves and what will benefit us and instead, begin to think of how we can help those around us. This is point at which we become capable, active participants in community.
It is the active members of a society that become catalysts for community transformation. We can thus argue that well-being is the most powerful and important way to foster positive change in our communities.
In addition to many group discussions on the various aspects of Transformation of Community we also learned more about Eastern philosophies. We had a brief introduction to Ayruveda. Ayruveda or Ayurvedic medicine is one of the oldest forms of medicine originating in India over 3,000 years ago and has, to this day, a major influence on Indian culture.
Ayruveda combines the Sanskrit words ayur meaning “life” and veda meaning “science or knowledge.” Ayurvedic medicine is a holistic approach to health through diet, activity, therapies, and lifestyle choices.
Our main focus was on learning about one particular area of Ayruveda called the doshas. There are three dosha and each is based upon an element; vata: air and ether, pitta: fire and air, and kapha: earth and water.
The premise is that every person has a tendency towards a particular dosha/s and poor health is often a result of imbalance of the dosha energies.
More precisely, the doshas relate to how each person’s body is structured and how different foods affect different body types. Furthermore, each dosha has specific personality traits associated with it which can explain people’s emotional and psychological tendencies.
For example, because vatas are comprised of the element air they tend to be thinking oriented and can get caught up in their own thoughts easily. Therefore they are prone to be anxious personalities and need activities that help ground them in the present. As air is associated with wind, vatas have a tendency to get chilled easily and have poor circulation which they can be combatted by eating warm, soothing foods like soups and root vegetables.
There are many online quizzes that you can take to determine your particular dosha construct. From there you can read about the dosha’s tendencies as well as everything from suggestions on diet, herbal supplements, to specific yoga poses that can help balance the dosha energies.
The Fundamentals: Wellness & Balance
As our training continues it has become very clear the importance of wellness and balance. They are both fundamental so that we can feel satisfied with our lives. Through personal refinement in our activities and diet combined with community development and understanding we can better our lives together as a collective society.