Silent camaraderie

Among my yoga students, class attendance varies by person. Some never miss a class. “Yoga is the highlight of my weekend,” one regular tells me. Others want more classes offered, so that they can attend frequently, even daily.

Some want to come, but can’t help occasionally sleeping in. Others must juggle yoga with family commitments. One college student confided that she’s missed classes when she feels blue.

My attitude toward classes has changed over the years. Initially I was like my second example: the more, the better. Most beginners need the impetus of class to get going. Yoga = yoga class. Over time, especially after I established a home practice, I got pickier. That said, I still find it enlightening to try a variety of teachers. “Truth is one, paths are many,” as I’ve heard one say.

Finding solitude in a crowd

Beyond the teaching element of classes, I appreciate the subtle “people factor” of yoga classes. I’m talking not about socializing (I’ve never done yoga to “meet people” or to”make friends”; those are accidental and rare fringe benefits), but a more-subtle interaction.

Years ago, three years in my yoga practice, my life did a 180, personally and professionally. By choice. But it was tough going for a while. I hated being alone around sunset. Mornings and nights were busy and routine-driven, but that slow shift into dusk struck me as brutally melancholy. I needed to escape the house.

While I wanted company, I was also loathe to talk to people, even friends, perhaps especially friends, who might ask questions and try to help. I needed to process things in my own head.

So I started attending early-evening yoga classes. I experimented with new teachers, new classes. No one knew me (what a relief!). Yet the setting felt familiar: removing shoes at the door, unrolling my mat, listening to instructions, hearing asana names, simply following with no obligation to speak.

I was alone, yet not alone. That, to me, is another valuable part of yoga classes, the solace of silent camaraderie.

Related post: The meaning of retreat

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11 thoughts on “Silent camaraderie

  1. So beautiful and true. Silent camaraderie is a valuable part of going to class and I understand the need to be around people who don’t ask questions! I am a friendly person, but sometimes I wonder why people think it’s okay to be as nosy as they are : )

    Namaste!

  2. Thank you!!! I have been thinking this, feeling it, yet never able to express it like this. I often say that the energy of a yoga class is what keeps me going back, but I have never thought of it as silent camaraderie. That is absolutely beautiful and absolutely true. And I went to yoga more when I needed that, at times of my life when I was alone, but I never felt lonely because I was always at yoga. Thank you!

  3. What a great observation. 🙂 I love it when you get a great energy in a class – just like you say, it’s this silent but powerful connection. And SUCH a pet peeve of mine when people talk to each other in the middle of class! I guess because it breaks that magical atmosphere.

  4. as an add on… it’s that energy that can make it harder (as a teacher) to teach to very small classes. i feel like i need to call up all that energy myself to create it for the students when the group isnt large enough to create it for themselves.

    1. Perhaps. But isn’t the energy very particular to the individuals present? Teaching two or three attentive, amiable students can engender a positive vibe, while dealing with a bunch of students who chatter or don’t pay heed to instructions might throw the whole group off.

      That said, you are right that the TEACHER must control and direct the energy either way. THAT is the mark of a good teacher.

      Many thanks for your comment,
      YogaSpy

      1. word. true. maybe… the energy needed to create a sacred and safe place can sometimes feel like more if there are less students…? maybe it’s hard to explain, but i always feel like i put more of myself into a room when there are less students. this, of course, might be a damn good place to start exploring why that is and why i cant explain it clearly!

  5. I actually don’t really like feeling alone surrounded by so many for the most part. But this is a recurring theme for me. Your post was timely, as I was considering this myself, and thought back on a few songs and such I had written while living in Montreal- sans yoga, similar theme. 🙂

    I also wanted to let you know, in case you don’t check link backs, that I posted on homemade yogurt- and thought of you! ( I know you were asking a while back on itsallyoga baby.).

    Anyhoo, hope it was helpful, cuz it’s actually WAY easier than I thought it would be!
    http://ecoyogini.blogspot.com/2010/04/yogurt-making-sans-plastic-diy.html

    1. Interesting. I like the subtle buzzing energy when I sit with my own thoughts in a cafe–that type of thing. Of course, I also like the true solitude alone in nature. Maybe my theme deals with solitude: While I have a sociable side to me, I also need solitude (some people seem not to–which baffles me).

      Yogurt: If I try it your way, I’ll need a slow cooker. (I guess that “yogurt makers” are really just slow cookers specially designed for yogurt.) I was trying not to buy more appliances! But the truly minimalist way in a pot might be too labor intensive and deter me. Like you, I eat yogurt regularly and hate the plastic containers. Herb garden and homemade yogurt might be my summer projects… Thanks for the inspiration!

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