It’s a fascinating contradiction that while done in community, yoga is a solitary activity. In the studio, we share a pretty intimate experience (you’ve probably gotten closer to a fellow student in a packed, sweaty class than you have some of your friends). Yet many come and go from yoga class without more than a cursory “hi” to the person next to them on the mat.
Why do we view yoga as a solo activity?
Many of us search for more community in our lives as adults after we’ve lost the built-in community of family and school. Because I work from home, I keep looking for hobbies that have a built-in community. A friend who goes to a rock climbing gym has made several friends because people chat with each other while they take turns climbing.
I want something like that for myself, and I realized I already have a hobby: yoga.
But I don’t consider it a social activity. Why?
- Maybe because yoga is a practice of turning inwards. It’s something you do for yourself, different from other activities.
- Maybe we avoid connecting with our studio-mates because we’re embarrassed by how vulnerable we are in yoga class (let’s be real – sometimes we look ridiculous).
- It doesn’t help that you can’t talk during asana practice. You’d probably annoy your neighbor if you tried to strike up a conversation during sun salutations.
- Before and after class you’re often in a rush, either to get there on time or to go somewhere else.
Why can’t yoga be both a personal and a community experience? I think it can be – it just takes awareness and effort. The payoff is worth it – I love the community I’ve connected with at Yoga Tree and made some great friends through the studio. I feel like I’m more likely to be friends with someone who does yoga because there’s a level of self-awareness and connection that practicing yogis have – it just feels like there’s an instant connection.
So how do you create community and make friends in a yoga class?
There is a community in the yoga world, it can just take a little effort to tap into. Here are a few tips for how to make friends in yoga class.
Be a regular
Go to the same class every week. The teacher will get to know your name, you’ll see familiar faces. People will get to know you. You’ll have an ongoing shared experience, and have some memories (remember that time the teacher…). Part of creating community is consistency.
If you want to get to know people, you’ve got to strike up a conversation first. Not sure what to say? I always start with a compliment or a question – people love both.
Make the time
Feel like you’re rushed before and after class, with no time for chit chat? Adjust the length of the class in your mind. Instead of an hour-long class, block off 90 minutes in your calendar. That gives you time to hang out in the studio before and after class. Because of the way my schedule worked, I used to get to a class 20 minutes early. I got to know the wonder of the studio and the teacher was often early too, so I was able to ask her questions and learn more about her before class.
Do a yoga crawl
I love to plan friend dates around yoga. We’ll go to a class together and then get tea and chat. There’s also a big group at Yoga Tree Stanyan that goes out for happy hour once a month after a fun vinyasa class. Be the instigator: create a weekly or monthly routine that is fun and social that people can join on a regular basis.
My community at Yoga Tree really grew after I did teacher training, but what really makes me feel a part of the community is attending trainings on an on-going basis where I see familiar faces. Workshops and trainings are much more personal than an average yoga class, and going deeper with a group also is great to forge friendships and create community.
Look for unorthodox yoga events
I can’t wait to try out Yoga Tree’s Thursday Night Throwdown, a weekly gathering of good vibes, epic yoga classes and music healthy refreshments, and healing modalities. I am so excited that Yoga Tree created an ongoing event specifically with the intention to bring together conscious community in a lighthearted atmosphere – so perfect for tapping into a community of yogis.
The event is every Thursday night from 8-10 pm at the Potrero Hill Studio.
What tips do you have for making friends in a yoga class and creating a sense of community in the yoga studio?
Let me know in the comments below.