By Sarah Calvert
This topic particularly struck home for me: “From Isolation to Connection & Community.” As a traveler who revels in being in places that are “off the beaten track,” I sometimes find it hard to find the balance with having connection with community.
As an extroverted introvert, I vacillate between wanting to spend long periods of time alone, and then wanting to connect with my tribe and kindred spirits. There’s a fine line that I miss sometimes between being alone and being lonely as I retreat too far into isolation. At the end of the day, we are social creatures, and I know I need to be in community to thrive. My tribe of Kundalini Yoga practitioners and friends have been crucial in this sense of thriving.
Last winter I spent four months in a remote part of Nicaragua on an island, where I was the only Kundalini Yoga teacher/practitioner. I had my daily practice, did my meditations, taught a few classes and workshops here and there, but by the end I was beginning to miss my community. I love sharing the teachings, the mantras and the music, but I don’t want to do it all alone. Hence, my decision to head to Summer Solstice.
Talk about finding my peeps! I hadn’t been back to Espanola in fifteen years, since I did my teacher training, and it was such a rich experience to be back on the land, and back in the Kundalini Yoga community. I saw some of the teachers who had been my teachers so many years ago, and it was incredible to reconnect.
I had the privilege of living for many years in a little ski-arts town (Nelson, BC) in Canada, where we had a thriving Kundalini Yoga community. It was so wonderful to have so many teachers there who could hold space. Our teacher, Sat Kaur, made it her priority to create community. Twenty years ago there would be three of us practicing in a tiny studio and now, every Saturday morning at Women’s Yoga, there are upwards of fifty.
Yogi Bhajan said we all have an inherent, “longing to belong” as human beings. That being said, to feel part of a community of like-minded folks fills this longing. I lived in a little cabin about twenty minutes from town (there’s that introvert thing again!), and when I found I was getting a bit of cabin fever and too much time at the piano, I could head into town and go to a class almost every day of the week. What a blessing. It gave me a sense of not only belonging to something greater than myself, but also an outlet to chat with like-minded people, and get out of my head for a while. Priceless.
Anytime I’m away, I make sure to look up where local Kundalini Yoga classes are happening. Anytime I lay down my mat, whether it’s in a swanky LA studio or a plank made of plywood in the jungle, I always feel at home. When I close my eyes and tune in with the Adi Mantra and recite the Mangala Charn Mantra, I listen to the voices around me and quickly remember that there is no division: we are indeed all one, no matter what our native languages are.
About fifteen years ago on my way to the Galapagos in Equador, I spent a couple of nights in Quito, and decided to attend a yoga class there with a woman I met in my yoga teacher training in Espanola. This truly was a prime example of Kundalini Yoga being for “every body and everybody”—there was a heavy set businessman who came in wearing his suit, a couple of skinny teenagers in jeans, and then me in my typical western yoga garb of white spandex. It was amazing. Again, this yoga always brings me home.
To practice in community is such a different experience. We uplift and inspire one another with our effort, and collectively our prayer is that much more potent and powerful. I’ve just recharged the battery by spending last weekend at Sat Nam Fest in Malibu, where I got to practice with so many other kindred spirits that I’m still buzzing! I also got to perform, and it was so amazing to have my community and tribe move and groove to my music. Such a gift...for all of us!
I left LA yesterday and arrived on Salt Spring Island in BC, which is a little island off the coast of Vancouver Island. It is here that I’ll make my new home, and once again, create a new community. My intention is to offer a couple of weekly classes from my home (in my beautiful backyard overlooking the ocean!) and to serve yogi tea after class as a way for students to connect. I know how over the years this drinking of tea in a relaxed mental state has brought me closer to the people around me. It’s so sweet to not have to rush out of class to race to work, another meeting or straight back to everyday life.
For me, connecting and establishing community is part of my everyday life, and I hope to share that with everyone I meet—through yoga, through my music, and through my example of being a lighthouse. Wahe Guru!
Sarah Calvert (Amarpal Kaur) is an international traveler, Kundalini Yoga teacher and musician who can be found at: www.sarahcalvert.ca
Her music can be found at Sprit Voyage: https://www.spiritvoyage.com/artists/Sarah-Calvert.aspx