Build a Yoga Community
Moving Outside of the Classroom
Once you have created an atmosphere that encourages personal engagement, you can suggest opportunities for students to take these new friendships out of the studio. There are many possibilities for extracurricular activities. Consider organizing service projects in the community, such as cleaning up a neighborhood or beach, holding class in nonstudio settings such as a park or outdoor festival, participating in a fun run or other charity event, or collecting donations (clothes, toys, food) for a worthy cause. Even getting help with housekeeping chores around the studio (repainting, tending window boxes, making curtains) can create a sense of belonging.
"Get them to work together, using their bodies and time—not money—on something that benefits someone other than themselves," Berch says. "This is karma yoga. When they get together to benefit someone in the community, they bond together."
A Community of Teachers
As students advance in their dedication to yoga, you, as their teacher, will need to stay one step ahead. Continued training, workshops, and retreats increase your teaching skills and will also help you meet other instructors. Deepening your own practice and having a group of colleagues to share insights with is one of the added benefits of a teaching community.
"Practice at the studio where you work," Knight says. "If you want to be there, the students will too." Not only will this give you insight into the students' perceptions of the studio but it can also help eliminate any competitiveness if you demonstrate your willingness to learn from your fellow teachers.
As students see their instructors learning from each other and enjoying each other's company, it will give them a positive sense of unity and encourage their ongoing participation with the group.
"Community is when people begin to care about one another, and when they begin to share things that are important to one another. Yoga is one of those things," says Berch. "Your yoga community celebrates your breakthroughs and your growth, so ultimately the whole thing becomes based on a higher purpose, a deeper meaning, and a more profound goal in life—and that is consciousness."