By Lynn Roulo
Over the last seven years, I’ve been on both sides of the spectrum of isolation and connection. In February of 2012, after living in San Francisco, California for 15 years, I moved to Athens, Greece with my dog, two cats and a suitcase full of clothes.
I had none of the usual reasons to move. There was no Greek man, no job in Greece, no Greek heritage to explore. My situation was different, and I can only describe my drive to move as a “calling.” For reasons I can’t explain even to this day, over the course of the previous year, it had become extremely clear to me that I should be in Athens. And so I moved.
Starting a new life in a new country alone is challenging, and feelings of isolation are almost unavoidable. I didn’t speak Greek, I didn’t have a base of friends, and everything was new and unfamiliar. Like in any life, some days were good, and some days were hard. But what I learned by moving to Greece is if you go into a new environment with the perspective of “how can I be of benefit?” you can actually build up a community pretty quickly. When I got to Athens, community and connection quickly became my antidote for feelings of isolation.
Shortly after moving, I rented an apartment in the Acropolis neighborhood with a huge roof deck overlooking the Parthenon. While the view is gorgeous, sitting on that roof deck by myself didn’t make me feel good. It made me feel isolated and a bit depressed.
But I’m lucky, because I’m a Kundalini Yoga teacher.
When I moved to Greece there wasn’t a lot of Kundalini Yoga going on. There was, however, an economic crisis and a lot of people who were suffering as a result of it. Kundalini Yoga teachers are change agents, so in an unexpected way, it was the perfect environment for me to be of service.
With the help of a friend, we started a Facebook page called “Lynnskundaliniyoga,” and I began offering yoga classes on my roof deck. We grew class by class, student by student and step by step. We started at zero and now have over 6,000 people in our community. Over the course of seven years, we’ve had hundreds of people come to the Acropolis Roof Deck for donation-based, all-levels Kundalini Yoga.
Probably 70 percent of my students are new to Kundalini Yoga. Many of them have never done any yoga at all. But they come, and they get the benefit, they return, and then they spread the word. It has become a global community with people in the US, the UK, all over Europe, in Asia, and beyond. We just reopened the roof deck for the Spring/Summer of 2019, and our first three classes have already filled to capacity—which is a first for us.
The community goes beyond yoga. People become friends, find each other jobs, hang out together, go on holidays together, it goes on and on.
How do you create community? If you are really feeling isolated, a good path out of your isolation is to ask yourself, “how can I be useful?” and “what can I offer?” We all have something the world could use. And when you start to share whatever you have with the true intention of benefiting others, it is amazing the doors that swing open, the opportunities that present themselves and the relationships that appear, seemingly from out of nowhere. I’ve experienced it myself, and I’ve watched it happen time and time again. It’s such a simple equation:
Isolation is based in “what can I get?” and “what’s in it for me?”
Connection is based in “what can I offer?” and “how can I be of benefit?”
But it’s a tricky thing for many of us. If you are feeling isolated, you don’t have a lot of energy, and you might be struggling with depression. It is hard to imagine “what can I offer?” if you are barely staying afloat yourself. It can be challenging to put yourself out there over and over again if your energy is low. As my first teacher, Siri Vedya Singh, taught us, ”To be happy, you need to have enough energy. It’s foundational.” If you want to move from isolation to community and connection, you may need to build your energy first.
I think of Kundalini Yoga as medicine, and one of my favorite kriyas to “prescribe” is the Kriya for Elevation. It’s powerful, accessible and a great way to generate energy. I did this kriya myself for a full year when I was just starting out. I loved it, and I think you will too.
“May the long time sun shine upon you,
All love surround you,
And the pure light within you
Guide your way on.”
Lynn Roulo is an American Kundalini Yoga and Enneagram instructor living in Athens, Greece. She teaches a unique combination of the two systems, combining the physical benefits of Kundalini Yoga with the psychological growth tools of the Enneagram. She has written two KRI approved books combining Kundalini Yoga and the Enneagram. She blogs about living in Greece and about her journey from being a San Francisco CFO to an Athens Yoga instructor. You can learn more about Lynn and her journey here.