For me, physical activity has always been a way to feel connected to others.
I grew up seeing my mother work out at home to the classic Jane Fonda records, and both my mom and sister would later on go and join aerobics classes when that became a trend. Very early on, I wanted to be a part of that so much and share whatever they were experiencing. I started going to step aerobics classes at age 13 and never stopped, getting certified and starting to teach at 16. I´ve had lots of highs and lots and lots of lows, but I always wanted a chance to somehow be a catalyzer for others feeling good, and invite people to share what had brought me so many good feelings.
Even if we prefer to work out alone, we can still find a sense of belonging through practicing a form of exercise or physical activity. We are immediately part of a community that shares an interest, an effort, or maybe even just the love of exercise clothes... but there is this fulfillment of being part of something, and times like the ones we are going through right now just reveal how much we need that. And the thing is, with group fit, and then with yoga, I understood much more how the practice was an opportunity to do your thing, in your own space, but at the same time, sharing it with others. It´s the same thing when you run a race, you might do it alone, but there´s a sense of shared happiness for everyone who was there and made it. I recently heard someone say: people come for the cause but stay for the community.
This sense of community is hard to recognize sometimes, because we also are part of a culture that rewards independence and a sense of not needing people; but from early human life, we need others to survive. It has nothing to do with liking a lot or just a few people around us, it´s about feeling the support that comes when someone else gets what we go through, or share what we enjoy.
I have met some of the most important people in my life through my experiences in physical activity, and have learned so so much. All sort of backgrounds, stories, interests and differences come together for a short period of time as we all share one practice and space. I am always looking forward to seeing my class participants, their progress and keeping up with anything else they might want to share with me or let me share with them. Even when things feel not that great, I am reminded everyone is going through something, and our class together may be the only chance to shift our focus for a while.
So now, with exercise options limited to being mostly solitary, to those you might live with (if you share a living space), or virtual, it might seem this connection is debilitated. Yet, it doesn’t have to be. In fact, these current conditions might allow us to join online communities we never had thought about before, or maybe, reconnect to people we haven’t seen in a long time and sharing our movement journeys with them. Yoga has also taught me a lot about being inspired by others and humbled, instead of comparing myself to, or competing with them.
Few things connect us to ourselves like physical activity, moving our bodies makes us aware of changes in how we breathe, what we can do with our limbs, what soreness feels like, what we struggle with and how we react to these struggles or accomplishments. These are not simple things, they connect us to our most primal body cues and can remind us, we all feel these. This current moment can be one to go beyond this self-connection and reach out to others who might be going through similar journeys, or maybe those that are at a completely different stage and see what that can teach us. Just because we are at a distance, doesn´t mean we are canceling these connections, so be kind to your body, and to others, as we literally move through this together.