Community and Connection

Written by by Tara Gillfillan,
BSY Teacher 200hr RYT and Personal Trainer
Follow @taragillfillan

Writing this after a morning filled with teaching yoga classes to upwards of 15-30 bodies, filled to the brim with gratitude for the magic that is this practice. I am always humbled by the infinitude of inspiration that floods my capacities after breathing and moving with a group of humans.  It’s hard to believe we spent almost a year deprived of this, parched of our communities and connections. Challenged to adapt to an existence of isolation. We had no choice, but we did our best, and we’ve ended up on the other side with a deeper appreciation for these collective moments.

When thinking on “community,” the first thing that comes to mind are Aspens. If you’ve been in Colorado long enough, or rather, if you’ve taken enough yoga in Colorado, you’re more than likely to have heard the story of Aspens. It makes an excellent dharma for a yoga class, the interconnectivity of these gorgeous organisms. An entire forest can be genetically identical, all stemming from the same root system.

“Community” is a word that became a prayer when I moved to Denver in 2017. Packing up a 1998 Dodge Dakota with an Eastern European who I’d just met 4 months prior, my 4lb 13 year old chihuahua (RIP sweet Cam), my guitar and unfinished canvases, and way too many books, we left Upstate New York becoming increasingly untethered as we drove through the endless plains of the vast mid-eastern side of the country. The road can be a wildly freeing, and wildly isolating place.

The truth is, I do quite well on my own. I’d go as far as saying I thrive in solitude. As an extroverted introvert, it is how I recharge. It is when I am most content. Most comfortable, most delighted. It can even feel luxurious. Like the road, there is freedom in solitude. Hell, there’s nothing but freedom. If you’re doing it right.

But this is a blog about COMMUNITY and CONNECTION. Words, much like WOKE and VIBES and DOWNLOADS and TRIBE that are on the brink of going out of style. Overused because of how desired they are, desperately, relentlessly calling them out in hopes they become ingrained in our cells, a part of us. But instead, it dilutes them. Strips them of their sacredness. Cheapens their definitions. Until we can buy them on sale at Target and hang them on our walls. (Live, Laugh, Love…you deserve so much better.)

“I want COMMUNITY!” I would call out every morning to the mountain sunrise. “I just want to find MY COMMUNITY!” I would call out, not truly knowing what it is I was yearning for.

Merriam-Webster has about 10+ different definitions of community, a few being:
“a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.”
“a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.”
“a similarity or identity.”
“a group of interdependent organisms of different species growing or living together in a specified habitat.”

They seem to have missed one: a sense of belonging.

The truth is, I do quite well on my own, but I would be nothing without a sense of belonging.

Without an underground system of deeply intertwined roots holding me together. A behind the scenes support system opening the curtains, aiming the spotlight, ensuring I’m ready for my close-up. Sending energy up my branches encouraging me to grow taller taller TALLER. Reminding me that I’m cared about. That I matter. That if I fall, it’s into wide open arms ready to embrace and cradle and lift me right back up.

That despite my tendencies to gravitate towards independence, reaching my leaves so far into the clouds they become birds, that I am not without anchor. That if I merely pull my head out from the cirrus fluff and look down at the earth below, I am tethered by unshakeable support. I am built upon an impermeable foundation. And, in turn, I am a part of that impermeable foundation. I am a whisper to another’s branches to grow grow GROW. I am a net ready to catch and hold and say YOU matter.

Community is a reciprocating foundation. Community is a place to grow from. Community is the sacred geometric connectedness that it is to be human.

Black Swan Yoga is one of those rare, inclusive spaces that emulates what it means to be a part of a collective support system. It’s a community that delights and celebrates the uniqueness of individual experience, encouraging each to shine and share our distinctive gifts, while also grounding us in our similarities, honoring our kindredness, and recognizing the lessons about ourselves that we can only learn through each other.  Black Swan Yoga is community. Black Swan Yoga is home.

We are not finite beings. We are infinite beings having a finite experience. We simply have to lean into each other to remember we’ve all sprouted from the same root system. And no matter how harsh and devastating the wildfire, we will all regrow again…together.