community care - a sustainable "self-care" alternative

How often have you found yourself overwhelmed, overworked, and not sure where to turn?
We live in a world that’s plugged in, and checked out, and we don’t always have more than a quick “hello,” relationship with our neighbours. This doesn’t really give us time for “self-care,” or to “treat yo’self,” because it usually means dropping everything to take a few moments for yourself. Not to say that self-care doesn’t have it’s place, but how often can we truly drop everything or take that time for ourselves. A lot of working mamas and papas have little ones to attend to first, single people just trying to make ends meet may not have the privilege to take a day off work, and the rest of us out here may not have the time, energy, or funds to do so either.

It’s tough. It’s needed. But it’s not always sustainable.

I read an article on Mashable the other day, and it basically put into words the idea and thought behind Calmunity Yoga. It’s not all about getting on your mat, breathing and moving, and doing you - it’s about getting on or off your mat, and supporting the ones around you, your community. Ever wonder why Family Yoga is so magical? It’s because you are physically, mentally, emotionally supporting your loved ones, and that feels so good. We move into shapes that hold one another up. We feel and hear each others’ breath. We listen and laugh and show we care for one another in those classes. The intention behind these classes is first and foremost to build connection within your little family bubble, but it’s also to connect with other families in your area, and to learn from one another, share resources with one another, to ultimately support one another and build community.

This is what I love, love, love about teaching Prenatal, Teen, and other specialized classes, because for some reason, we have this idea of what a “yoga class,” is supposed to look like, and to me, that “standard” class structure, is a lot of self-awareness, self-reflection, and self-support - which is fine and dandy when you have the space, energy and capacity for those deep, explorative practices, but sometimes we just need to feel supported. Sometimes we just need to feel love. Sometimes we can’t simply give ourselves what we need, because we’ve spent so much time giving to others.

But Sara, isn’t the whole point of community care giving to others? This seems backwards, no?

Absolutely it seems that way. I’m talking about being supported because we can no longer support ourselves, while I carry on about giving to and supporting others in your practice. The idea is that we have to give, in order to get. We have to support in order to be supported. We can’t always rely on self-care, and when we can’t, we’ve created this community to support us in those moments.

In most of my classes (working on all, but again, #whatyogisexpect is not all sharing and caring all the time, I can appreciate the sanctity of an individual’s practice too) I offer some sort of check-in or check-out question (thank you to Ally Mazerolle, creator of Girlvana for introducing me to this concept) to encourage connection - whether that be simply relating to how another person is feeling that day, or learning something new and exciting that sparks conversation - at the root of it, the idea is connection. It’s at the point where my Teen students ask about the check-in before class even begins. It’s about sharing resources between mamas-to-be or new mamas. It’s about learning the names of the other families in the class so that you can chat with them afterwards about a playdate. This connection, when cradled and soothed and sparked, creates community, and that is huge for a lot of us today who feel alone, disconnected, and otherwise unsupported because we just moved to a new place, we just started a new job, we don’t live near family and friends - adulting is hard! I’ll go as far as to say that “teening” is hard these days too - that’s for another blog post though!

So what it comes down to, is that we can “self-care” until the cows come home, but without the connection and support of community care, we may find ourselves continually drained, depleted, and feeling lost. As an entrepreneur in the yoga world, I’ve found that my passion and drive only take me so far, this amazing, spectacular, no-idea-what-else-I-would-ever-do job is actually super lonely. I’m constantly making coffee dates just to save me from myself. So go ahead and take that bath, read that book, and have a nap, but also, book that class you’ve been wanting to try, join that book club you’ve been curious about, and knock on your neighbours door, because you never know who else needs that support and connection, and you’ll be thankful you found it when you need it most too.

Shameless plug, come to FREE All-Ages Family Yoga at the Newmarket and Aurora Farmers Markets on select Saturdays to find that laughter and connection - deets here, or if you are a Mama-to-Be, we have FREE Prenatal Yoga on Tuesdays (7:00pm) and Sundays (10:00am) at West End Mamas - York Region.

Sara Mercer