Starting off with gratitude is a tradition I have held at the beginning of each yoga class. It starts us off focusing on the positive and finding thankfulness in the present moment. Recently, my gratitude has been focused on our sangha. In yoga, sangha can mean the community of people devoted to the spiritual search. It has traditionally referred to a community of ordained monks or nuns. However, the term has expanded to include a broader population of lay practitioners. I call it "our yoga support group."
Where else can I turn up exactly who I am, and how I am in the present moment? There's no façade needed. With my sangha I can try new things without fear of judgment. I can topple over in a pose and know there's no one rolling their eyes, or whispering to another participant. I can lose my place in a thought, a sequence, or even a pose and know that gentle, friendly, and slightly bemused friends will get me back to where I need to be. I can work on my own practice without competition, performance, or comparison being issues. Instead, there's laughter and not taking ourselves too seriously. There are hugs when anyone needs support. There's community. There's caring. All that together is centering.
The practice of yoga itself is centering, but there's something about being in a group of people who are all after the same goals...less suffering in ourselves, and less suffering in the world. What a blessing!
A heartfelt thank you to all the people who contribute their own light (and senses of humor!) to the sanghas of which I am a member. Namaste.