The definition of “Belongingness” is “the human emotional need to be an accepted member of a group. People tend to have an 'inherent' desire to belong and be an important part of something greater than themselves”.
I “belonged” to a fitness club for 8 years, until 2012. I went to fitness classes 2-3 times a week. The instructors were the same and so they “saw” me regularly. No one ever called me by my name, and eventually I decided that I wasn’t important to them and canceled my membership.
In June 2012, I took a 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training. A fellow YTT student and I began “Yoga on the Beach” that summer as a way of giving back to our community. The first sessions were free on the beaches during the July 1st holiday and people who attended asked when the next sessions would be held. We had no plans past that one day but quickly found a beach-side location on Qualicum Beach and started with a couple of morning classes that summer. Yoga on the Beach grew every summer and from 2017 we held 5 sessions a week through July and August with over 2000 participants. It has become a “thing” to do in our area and we run it by donation, with a large portion of proceeds going to local charities.
We open our yoga classes to everyone – we have had whole families from grand-kids to grand-parents; special needs groups; passers-by – runners and cyclists; join us. We make a point of getting to know many of our “tribe”, and many return on vacation to be part of the fun.
In 2017, we donated monies to the Vancouver Island Compassion Dogs society, a local group who train dogs to assist Veterans suffering with PTSD. A young couple who had attended Yoga on the Beach while on vacation, told us that he suffered with PTSD. He was going home to Alberta to work on getting a program started there. You never know when and how you touch people.
We are offered two scholarships in the 2018 season to our local alternative school and the home-school students – they are generally left out of opportunities – they don’t fit into the academic scholarship mold – we want to fill some of that gap.
The lesson is that you need to really see people who come to every class you lead, learn their names, and welcome them into your community. You never know the impact you make but you need to know that you can be the conduit of love and “belongingness” to help someone struggling.
Charlotte Crowley R.H.N. / RYT200