Do you ever feel overcome by feelings of gratitude for the communities to which you belong? I feel awash in gratitude each time I participate in the little pool community at Old Bar Beach. During the warm weather, I wake early, excited by the prospect of an aquarobics session at the pool.
I should let you know that I was born in Chicago, far from the ocean. Then, as an adolescent I lived in the desert town of Tucson, Arizona. As a consequence, I lacked many of the things that Aussies take for granted. I missed out on ‘Little Nippers’, swimming carnivals and world class beaches. My swimming skills are weak, even though I’ve lived on the eastern seaboard of Australia for 40 years. Moreover, I still get nervous when I try body surfing because I’m not much good at detecting riptides. Finding an appealing pool activity at a nearby beach was a godsend.
I anticipate seeing the group of women who show up for these weekday sessions. Most have have participated in them for years. This is not a group of young’uns, so I fit right in. We are all interested in being in the fresh air, next to the sea and looking after our well-being. The atmosphere is happy and often contagiously hilarious. Eight to twelve of us thrashing and splashing around for an hour.
The main draw for me is the energy of this special community that I’ve joined. I’ve been fortunate to be welcomed into a group who encourage each other, look out for each other and obviously love each other.
Yoga and Choir Communities
My pool community reflects many of the values that my yoga community represents for me. I know from experience that connecting through community is the most health-promoting and fulfilling activity a person can cultivate.
This knowing has been my motivation for belonging to yoga associations, founding yoga schools, training teachers, teaching yoga and writing this blog.
There are so many ways for humans to connect. Byron Bay teacher, Rachel Zinmann, was kind enough to contribute a post, Yoga for Touch Times, to this blog. I wanted you to meet her and be inspired by her challenging health journey and by her aim to help those living with diabetes. Because of worldwide support, Rachel has now met the financial goal she set and been able to publish her book Yoga for Diabetes. Without the generosity of a global community, we all would have lost out on a valuable resource.
My friend and housemate, Heather, has written about another community, that is, our Wingsong Choir in her ‘Shedders’ blog. She makes almost as good a case for singing as for practising yoga in terms of the multiple health benefits available.
The great thing is that practising yoga, singing in a choir and aquarobics are not mutually exclusive. Doing all regularly will undoubtedly triple your well-being and prospects for joy.
I like the sentiment of the quote below that reminds us that us that community involvement keeps us from ‘growing old inside’.
How does one keep from “growing old inside”? Surely only in community. The only way to make friends with time is to stay friends with people…. Taking community seriously not only gives us the companionship we need, it also relieves us of the notion that we are indispensable.
— Robert McAfee Brown, theologian and activist