2019: Your Year of Yoga


Happy 2019! With the start of a new year comes resolutions.  I used to roll my eyes because, sadly, the percentage of people that start something and stick with it is small. BUT I have changed my tune.  What is wrong with wanting to start the new year off with a bang? You will not be surprised to know that I think a great resolution is a yoga practice.  New to yoga?  Great!  We can help.  Already practice yoga?  Then make your practice consistent!  Try a new class or teacher.  Try meditation.  Do something to deepen your practice.

I could list a million reasons why a yoga practice is awesome for your body.  Google it. If Google says it, then we know it’s true right?!  You will see endless headlines on the benefits of stretching and strengthening.  We all know how good it is for us.  Same with the mental benefits.  Google “mindfulness” or “meditation” or “mental benefits of yoga”.  A million other headlines will pop up.  Or talk to me 😊.  I will tell you all the reasons it has changed my life for the better.

Rather than discuss what you already know, I want to introduce a new idea.  Among many things like the turbulent political climate or our smartphone addictions, it is easy to forget what yoga means.  UNION.  Union with body/breath/mind of course, but what about with each other?  I am reminded now more than ever of this idea that we are not separate.  We are all connected.  Sound cheesy?  Maybe so.  Bear with me for a minute.         

Some of you may not know this about me, but I have my master’s degree in criminal justice.  While I was teaching yoga as a side gig, I was working full time for the University in Omaha doing research for the state in the areas of crime, recidivism, probation and parole.  Seems like a big leap, but not really.  All of this is to say that there are several widely held truths that have been proven over time in criminal justice.  Truths that are widely accepted as close to fact as one could claim.  One of the things we know for certain is that the rates of depression and suicide among prisoners who are sentenced to solitary confinement (being alone in a single cell, for hours/days/months at a time) is STAGGERING.  Like, unbelievable.  The research clearly shows that humans do not do well AT ALL under these circumstances.  I could list a ton of sources but trust me.  No fake news!

Humans were designed to be in community with each other!  We are MEANT to be connected.  And let’s be real.  We are around people all the time.  So, we can either embrace this idea and run with it or be the cranky person and isolate ourselves.

The Sanskrit word for community is SANGHA.  

Introverts of the world, never fear.  This does not mean alone time isn’t of huge value, but it does mean our sangha is valuable and beneficial to us.  Connection is important.  Being with others in pursuit of something similar (yoga perhaps?!?) is a REALLY good thing!  We need it.  We crave it. 

This is why I will always advocate for practicing in a studio, with others, over being at home with the laptop.  I am not knocking home practice.  Mine is essential to my teaching and my peace of mind.  But, if you won’t try/commit to yoga for all the other reasons, how about the wonderful people?  We cheer each other on, help each other out, or are simply there to do a downdog next to each other.  I happen to think OTY has the best, most genuine sangha around.  And we are always looking to add more.


Gabe Hopp