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We come to yoga to explore the mind-body connection, to develop flexibility, strength, balance, or to help with sleep and lowering stress levels. 

But what often comes as a gentle surprise to people who come to yoga classes?  

The discovery for many is an easy and supportive sense of community that transcends the usual boundaries or friendships we have in our lives.  

In my regular Tuesday morning class, I have students ranging from 25-80 in age, some women, some men, a few with arthritic joints, a cancer survivor, a couple of skiers, and a motorcycle enthusiast! Some can do a perfectly balanced Tree Pose.  Some are feeling new sensations in their body for the first time.  One person is hard of hearing.  Another speaks English as a second language.

Over time, as we chat before and after class, and share the experience of movement and mindfulness during class, we learn about each other. 

We know the florist is who is sooo busy on weekends with weddings that she craves this quiet hour every Tuesday.  We encourage the young woman who is 6 months pregnant.  We checked in on the older fellow who was out for a few weeks with illness.  We share stories about arthritic knees and hips.

In other words, we pay attention. And we become part of something bigger than just being a solo human trying to touch their toes.

In a yoga class, we share a positive, collective experience with others.   As we flow through our poses, grapple with challenges or new sensations, or journey through mindfulness practices, there’s an unspoken camaraderie as we face similar challenges and celebrate our path forward.

And the research backs this up.  Researchers at the University of Oxford tell us this:  When we are active together, we may actually feel better than when we are active by ourselves.  Research shows that when we exercise with others, we may actually release higher quantities of endorphins and endocannabinoids in our bodies, relieving pain and improving our mood.  In other words, the rewards of community help us feel better when we do yoga with others.

As one yoga student said:  In Class We Were All One

Kathleen Romito – Yoga Instructor/YTOB Foundation Board of Directors