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A Journey Toward Truth ORIGIN COLUMNIST | Melissa Smith


Building Success


Through Community ORIGIN COLUMNIST | Laura King, RYT500


Photo: Melissa Smith N


andini, a youthful, forty-something Indian woman clad in frumpy mom jeans rolled up enough to expose suede turquoise high-top sneakers, boldly asked if she could sit


with me with in the New Delhi airport lobby before making her way to the chaotic train station. After a few short minutes, she shyly confessed how fearful she was of going out alone at night.


So began 4 hours of revealing innermost secrets while sipping chai tea and waiting for the sun to rise. From Calcutta, she now lives in Scotland with her partner. Married young (prearranged by parents), her husband did not want her to have the higher education she desired, so they divorced. Fulfilling her dream of a Ph.D. in sociology meant being ostracized from family, and she is no longer “allowed” to communicate with her 15-year-old son living with his father in India. Although heartbroken, Nandini is convinced she did the right thing. Her mom had an arranged marriage and to this day, she attributes her mother’s sudden death of a brain aneurysm at age 47 to a loveless marriage, full of sacrifice.


“As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world, as in being able to remake ourselves.” –Gandhi


While India feels worlds apart from Texas culturally, I see how we are all just people seeking a sense of love and belonging. Our lengthy talk, spanning everything from Indian families to working moms versus stay-at-home moms, confirmed our need to do something that would create our own ideal world. Her own mom twice surrendered a career to the needs of her family. Starting over each time, she felt her mom lost a part of herself and became a little more detached from herself, her true self.


Nandini’s eyes revealed a person whose soul is healing. Conversing with this beauty, I clearly see our similarities as mothers, as women, as people seeking more. When we allow our passion for life to rise above our fear, we acknowledge our worthiness to be loved. Two strangers, linked by a common desire to embrace the life we envision for ourselves rather than run from it.


s an instructor in a yoga teacher training program, I’m often asked, “How did you become successful as a teacher?” While quality training, drive, and focus may be part of that puzzle, I always respond with “by building relationships.” What so many teachers fail to realize is that no matter how talented you are as a teacher, it takes a community to thrive and be successful.


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As a teacher, I’ve been blessed to meet other yogis that share the same vision: a yoga community that opens its doors and hearts to everyone. Without the support and encouragement of my own teachers and many studio owners, I would never have been able to grow my teaching practice and business. By that same token, if someone is doing something I believe in, I will support it 120% with my time and energy. That’s what community (and a little thing called “seva”) is all about!


It’s time to stop thinking of ourselves as teachers and start thinking of ourselves as community builders.


That’s how we become successful and create change. While so many studios struggle in the current economy, those that I see thriving are the ones that are reaching out and connecting with each other. Supporting each other personally and professionally creates the union that yoga is all about.


One of the many things that drew me to the practice of yoga was the sense of community. In Buddhism, they use the word “sangha,” meaning a group or community with a common goal, vision or purpose. You can call my group of friends a sangha if you like, but I just call them my sisters. As I struggle through personal situations, I find that the first people I reach out to are the friends I’ve made through yoga. They’ve become so much more than just professional contacts. They have become my best friends, my supporters, and my yoga sisters. Without them, I would never have found the success I have today.


My friends. My sangha. My sisters. OriginMagazine.com | 85


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