Yoga: Community Building or Community Division?

Aug 11, 2021 | Community | 8 comments

Poster image with the words, 'safe, effective, free

‘Interconnection is the key. Science shows us this. Economics shows us this. Environmental consciousness certainly shows us this. Epidemiology shows us this. What happens over there doesn’t necessarily stay there, it ripples out over here. What we do, what we care about, what we devote ourselves to, it matters. All of that will ripple out along these strands of interconnection.’

–from ‘Mindfulness@Home with Sharon Salzberg

Community Building

Having joined the world of yogis and yoga has meant I’ve enjoyed the advantages of community for most of my adult life. I’ve befriended and been involved with members of various yoga communities starting in the seventies: Satyananda, Oki, Iyengar, Ashtanga, Desikachar, IYTA. And nowadays, there are so many more circles of yoga: Synergy, Power Vinyasa, Purna Yoga, all the styles named after their creators, and all the ones named after geographic locations or Hindu gods or goddesses. 

My friend, Collyn, came up with the term non-denominational yoga, and I believe that’s the kind I teach. That makes me unaffiliated, except for my membership in the Yoga Australia association, which is a nationwide community.

While I lived and taught in Sydney, I started a beautiful community ritual where teachers from different traditions came together once a week to practice. It was very democratic; each week a different member of the group would lead our practice and share from their own experience their skills and knowledge. Afterwards, we would go out for breakfast and coffee, share our gossip and get to know each other better.

When I moved to Mitchells Island, little by little, I got to meet a completely new group of teachers. Fortunately, we were able to create a new community of once-a-month yoga teacher practitioners. This group has been meeting for several years now. Sometimes we are a bigger cohort of say, 16, and sometimes just 4 or 5. We rotate the venue so each teacher who leads can be on their ‘home turf’. During the lockdown in 2020, we tried to do zoom connections but it was just too hard.

Community Division

Lately, I’ve been saddened by the approach to COVID-19 that some yoga teachers in my local community and in wider communities have taken regarding wearing masks and getting vaccinated. In an on-line BBC article, I read about the contingent of teachers who are anti-masks, anti-vax and even subscribe to QAnon conspiracy theories.

In my studio, The Yoga Shed, the students and I wear masks and subscribe to social distancing. I encourage anyone to get the ‘jab’ as soon as possible for the sake of all of us.

There have always been factions in the yoga world, but the divisiveness that I see now is not about soft yoga vs. hard yoga or hatha yoga vs. raja yoga or your guru vs. my guru. It may amount to a choice between life and death. It looks to me more about sacrificing righteous and patently unscientific views for the good of the community.

The following are the Australian Government Department website’s benefits of getting vaccinated.

  • Vaccinations are proven to be the most effective way to protect against infectious diseases. 
  • Vaccines strengthen your immune system by training it to recognise and fight against viruses. 
  • When you get vaccinated, you are protecting yourself and helping to protect the whole community.

I know some of my friends and colleagues are still on the fence, ostensibly waiting for the vaccines to be proven safe. If you are waiting, as my husband wrote in a recent ‘Yoga with Eve Grzybowski’ post, just do it! The time is past for waiting. As of today 15% of the world population has been fully vaccinated, well over a billion people.

I would ask you to get the ‘jab’ for my sake, yours and ours.


  1. Thank you Eve – I totally agree.
    It’s not just for ourselves but for everyone.

    • I hope you keep safe and healthy, Cynthia.
      Kind regards….

  2. Sorry but I don’t agree and I’ll never get vaccinated even if they are going to use a force on me. Look at Israel and Islandia- two the most vaccinated countries in the world. Most of vaccinated people go to hospital and a lot of new cases every day.

  3. I’m with you Eve.
    You may have already received copy below.

    >> From the French President, Emanuel Macron:-
    Vaccinate or Else! “I no longer have any intention of sacrificing my life, my time, my freedom and the adolescence of my daughters, as well as their right to study properly, for those who refuse to be vaccinated. This time you stay at home, not us. ” In France, those who do not get vaccinated will no longer be able to go to restaurants, cafes (from the beginning of August), cinemas and museums (from July 21) and get on airplanes or trains (again from August). Alternatively, you will have to submit a negative test, which will no longer be free (49 euros for the PCR, 29 for the antigen). Macron then announced the vaccination obligation for medical personnel and for those who work in contact with fragile people. Since September 15, a nurse who has refused to be vaccinated will no longer be able to go to work and receive a salary. “We cannot make those who have the civic sense to get vaccinated bear the burden of inconvenience,” Macron said. “The restrictions will weigh on others, those who for reasons incomprehensible in the country of Louis Pasteur, science and the Enlightenment still hesitate to use the only weapon available against the pandemic, the vaccine.” “I am aware of what I am asking you,” he said, “and I know that you are ready for this commitment. This is, in a sense, part of your sense of duty”

    • Thanks, Rick. I like Macron referring to ‘the country of Louis Pasteur’. We’ve come too far to be so ignorant and selfish….

  4. Hi Eve,
    even though I haven’t seen you for ages, the community tapestry for me reaches out to you, and I really enjoy your posts and just knowing that you are there and that you are practicing and growing and doing your work. I appreciate this post and agree

  5. I thank you for your book Eve and introducing me to Yoga through it, however I was disappointed to see this political / medical view pushed on your yoga blog and it pushed me away from any further engagement with Eve yoga.

    I wonder how you feel about this post now 1 year on? There have been many deaths and severe/permanent injuries to healthy people since the rollout of the “jab” as a direct result of the “jab” (that’s a fact not an opinion). As your “husband said”…”just do it!” I wonder how he and yourself might feel on reflection of this post and that advice knowing a person may have been injured as a result of being coerced through social pressures (eg. this yoga blog) social exclusions or work exclusions.

    Enjoy your masks and boosters, I’ll enjoy my healthy natural body and fresh air.


    • Hi Andrew, The vax and anti-vax divisions run deep as you can see from the comments re this blog post. One of my dear yoga students simply dropped out of classes in 2020. I’d hoped she would train as a yoga teacher. She is passionate about living as ‘natural’ and unvaccinated a lifestyle as possible. I don’t agree with her stance, but respect her choices.
      I doubt that I have coerced any individual at all through my writing. In no way do I want to persuade you, my vanished yoga student or anyone to change their views. I don’t think that is possible.
      May your yoga journey prove to be joyful, as mine has been and still is.
      Kindly, Eve


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