Finding Joy, Strength and Flexibility in a Less Flexible World

Are you ready to feel joy again, to embrace your connections and to feel strong and healthy in your body? Let’s honor this past year of challenge by building a renewed commitment to well being, freedom and abundance for all. Let’s celebrate our ability to adapt and persevere!

Yoga is an excellent way to honor these commitments, a methodology that allows us to get deeply in touch with our bodies, our emotions, our moods, and slowly bend each toward our goals. For yoga practitioners, it’s also a modality that we can apply in practical ways to any and all areas of life, on and off the mat.

As we begin to shift out of the year of COVID and into a new way of life, yoga will become an effective resource for anyone dealing with trauma, whether they are grieving a loved one, attempting to revive a once-thriving wellness practice or choosing to design a new way of being in the world.

Yoga has taught each of us how to better manage stress, to face our discomforts, to be kind to ourselves, to strengthen our bodies – now, we can use yoga to reshape our futures.

It has been particularly challenging for many to be isolated. While it is great that many yogis have been able to maintain their personal practice through distance learning and live-streaming options, it isn’t the same as welcoming our friends and students into our warm studios, being present with them and easing them through an hour of deep meditation, careful movement and shared breath-work. As human beings, we need each other, now more than ever. The emotions centered around the disconnection of the past year now provides us with focused areas of intensive work that we can practice – first with ourselves, and then gently with others.

It begins, as always, with pranayama – our breath. We use breath-work to feel safe within our bodies, to get in touch with our emotions, to face our fears and slowly work our way through them into asana – movement. Let’s use this same modality to reach out to others – carefully, respectfully, gently feeling our way and asking at each step for feedback. Are you okay? Do you feel stressed? Can we practice together? Shall we take a break? How can I support you?

For practitioners who may feel unsafe or uncertain during this time, we remind them that yoga is one thing that they completely control. They can practice from the comfort of home or rejoin the studio when they are ready. They determine the depth of each breath, of each movement, of each posture. Yoga offers a practice in self-awareness and building trust within the self.

For students who return to the studio, we slow things down and offer our support. We connect through intentional presence and loving guidance. We meet our students exactly where they are. We listening deeply and respond to our students’ needs.

And for our colleagues across the globe, we hold space for you. Let us hold space for one another and discuss ways to rebuild our connections and our practices. To forge partnerships that will strengthen our teaching skills. To nurture each other in joyful practice. To encourage each other, as we rebuild our connections and our livelihoods.

We each have before us the opportunity to create dynamic new practices and tend to the needs of our shared humanity. This is the time to begin or return to your yoga practice and expand it so that we bring more people into yoga than ever before. Yoga has never been the exclusivity of the privileged, the fit, the able-bodied, the young and it certainly should not be our focus going forward. Who is most in need of the benefits of yoga? What portions of our population are most underserved by the wellness world? Who can use mindful meditation, restorative asanas and connection with others in the safe spaces we provide?

At Sol Yoga Collective, we offer donation-based classes for those who wish to explore yoga but cannot afford a regular membership. And we reach out to find students where they are – at libraries, city parks, farmers’ markets and festivals. We also have a U.S. Air Force base nearby and welcome many veterans and their families among our sustaining members. From chair yoga, to classes for children, we always strive to connect with local residents of all ages, all levels. We want to portray a new face of yoga to enthusiasts, dabblers and neophytes in a largely rural state: inclusive, adaptive and accessible to all.

Today, each of us has an opportunity to create a more passionate and more profitable way of sharing yoga and all of its benefits in the aftermath of chaos. Some will find that niching down to specific groups of people (BIPOC, the elderly, those with long-term COVID symptoms, grieving spouses) works best, while others will expand their offerings and partner with other caregivers (massage, reiki, music therapy) to create an open invitation to those looking for holistic ways to create a new normal.

All of us in the wellness industry can be of service and comfort to a world in need of extra TLC. This isn’t a challenge, but rather an opportunity. What a joy to be needed, and to be able to offer something in return!

Yoga is good for every part of the human experience. From building strength, mobility and flexibility, to providing deep breath-work and meditative rewards. But the goal is not just to bring yoga to those who have not experienced it, but to invite them into the yoga studio experience. Nothing can replace the warmth and solidarity of community yoga, and for a population starved of human contact, we can think of no better medicine than to gather safely together again, in our shared wellness goals.

If you are new to yoga, we encourage you to seek out a community center where you can enjoy all the benefits of your new practice. Remember to listen carefully to what your body and soul needs, to breathe deeply into each new phase of your life, to find rest and restoration, and methods to manage your stress. We invite you to explore yoga as a means of finding joy, strength and flexibility in your ever changing life. It is our hope that you will cultivate a practice perfectly designed for you as you honor your own unique place in this beautiful world.

SōL Yoga Collective isn’t just a yoga studio. We’re a community of carefree and care-filled people, coming together to better our minds, bodies, and souls. Sōl Yoga Collective is more than just a place to practice yoga. It’s a place to be you. A place to be real. A place to be seen, heard, and met where you’re at. Join the Sol Yoga Instructors every morning during FreedomFest July 22-24 to start your day with breath work, stretching and positions that will relieve stress and open the mind for the events of the day!