Community - A Yoga Love Story for Valentines Day

Once upon a time I opened a yoga studio.

It was a small, intimate affair where I knew the faces, the mats, the preferences of the students who came in the doors. It was a place that I loved. I spent weeks (months really) dreaming, crafting, painting and designing a space that would feel welcoming and warm. It was a place where you knew you were loved and cared for the moment you came down the stairs and entered the doors. A space where you knew you were safe to bring your whole self, even those parts that you might not show to the larger world. A community of people that belonged together in a shared journey on our mats and out in the world.

And then the rent came due. And then the electricity bills. The water bills. The insurance premiums. And the students that I loved and cared for became numbers to feed the growing deficit in my little bank account. I stressed over how many students were in each class. I worried about not having enough. 

Those worries took all the joy of sharing yoga with my community, my tribe, and turned it into a J. O. B. 

So, I let it go. 

But I missed my community, my tribe. I missed sharing the journey with them. I also knew that I wouldn’t live in that place for much longer and so I had to choose: let it all go - the community, the sharing, teaching and learning together or create a space that didn’t need physical walls to contain it. This is the 21st century after all! All I needed was a computer, a camera, and a little faith - in myself and in my tribe. 

And so I spent weeks (months really) dreaming, crafting, and designing a space that would feel welcoming and warm and real, even though it was virtual. Despite feeling like a total idiot teaching to a blinking light on a camera balanced on the basement stairs, I started filming. I took what I had been sharing and what I was learning and I created a couple of online programs. I took what felt like a scary, but logical leap.

And then the bills started to come through again and my community began to turn back into numbers. How many people did I have “sell” my programs to in order to make back the money I put in. And I’ll be honest, I require a profit as well, because the cold hard fact is, even yoga teachers have to earn a living. 

I took business and marketing courses (more bills) to learn how to increase my exposure, gain more social media followers, convince strangers to buy into my programs. What I learned is that even in the healing fields you are supposed to sell, sell, sell. Find people’s pain points and triggers. Constantly learn "go arounds" to the changing rules of social media so your posts will actually show up on your followers feed. Pay for ads to broaden your reach to other “like minded” people who will respond to the same triggers.

It felt dirty and frustrating. So, I procrastinated. I hemmed and I hawed. I found myself back at the same cross roads: let it all go - the community, the sharing, teaching and learning together or double down and figure this shit out. My way.

So, here we are.

I don’t want to run this community like a business. I know that flies against all logic and reason, but what matters most to me is you. I want to go back to focusing on that safe, warm, welcoming space where we can practice together, learn together, laugh together, and even cry together.

I want a tribe.

I want community.

I don’t want numbers.

I’m not naive. I have to make money to keep this thing running. There are bills to pay even in the world of the internet. Besides, if I don’t make a living here, I’ll have no choice but to give it up and make a living somewhere else. But I refuse to play by rules that make me feel icky and disingenuous. I refuse to allow my community to be about numbers over people. I like you! Really. I want to be a part of your life in some strange 21st century virtual way. I also want to meet you in person. Practice with you in the same room at the same time. 

I’m returning to faith - in both you and me. I’m going to trust that if I have something of value to give then my love will be returned and we will join together in our journey on the yoga mat and out in the larger world. 

I’m still working out what that looks like. The survey I nagged you about for the last few weeks was part of it. Asking you what you want. In the end, I have to match what you want with what I want. I have to be true to myself, to what I believe, to what I need to share and to also give you what you need.

Even though I won’t be hounding you with the survey any longer, I will always care about what you need from me. I can’t, and won’t, promise to say yes to everything, but we will work together to create something meaningful. 

The changes that are occurring might mean that you no longer feel like this is your tribe. That’s ok. No one is signing their name in blood. It is simple and easy to unsubscribe and plug in somewhere else that speaks to you more plainly. I am not suggesting, and never will, that my way is the only way, or the best way, or even the better way. There are many paths, there are many tribes, what I want most keenly is for you, and me, to invest in the place that fits, so we feel we are truly a part of something bigger. 

I’ll be saying more about this as the vision coalesces. I can tell you for certain that it will include ramblings from my mind, videos and practices that share what I’m currently obsessed with learning, tips and tricks you can try out on your own, programs to fully flesh out what you want to know more about, and more ways for us to connect - online and in person. 

One way that I’m implementing that connection is through a smaller, more intimate Facebook group.

Facebook pages are not the best place to connect. They are large, you don't know who is there or why. Groups are a little different. It’s a better way to see what’s being posted and interact with it. What you want to find doesn't get lost in a big long feed.

So, going forward I will be posting most of my juicy content - videos, tips and tricks, etc, to the Facebook group - The Practice Community with Jackie Blackwell Yoga. The main page will still exist and I will still use it for general things, but if you want to be sure to see everything and make it easier to navigate and never miss another video post then simply join the group. I even plan to do some "live" practices where we can practice "together."

Because this group will be much smaller than the main page, I’m hoping that it becomes an easier place for you to ask questions, make comments and requests. It will be the heart of the “tribe.”

You can jump on now by clicking the link below and requesting admission. 

https://www.facebook.com/groups/practicecommunity/

*** As you know, I’m in the middle of a cross country move, so be patient, there won’t be tons of activity right away, but it will build. I promise! ***