Yoga class in a studio

How Yoga Can Support and Build Community

In Shala Studio, Squamish by Tanya

If you have ever spent time consistently practicing at a yoga studio, you know that a yoga studio can become a centre for sangha or kula, which are Sanskrit words that mean community.
Over time, a studio begins to embody much more than the classes it has to offer. Although those classes form the foundation for the community that grows in and around the space.
Over time a yoga studio becomes a place for people, for us humans, to connect with ourselves and with each other. To talk about our good days, our bad days and our so-so days.
I think we have all had days where we actually show up and practice and speak to no one and feel better simply to have been there and to feel supported by breath, ours and the breath of all of those around us.
This is the intangible magic of the practice of yoga.
In today’s modern age, yoga studios are also businesses, if we are being honest. A big question is: “how does one blend the business of running a studio and the practice of yoga?”
There are many different formulas that people follow. At Shala, we follow the guidelines of the practice of yoga in running our business.
“Yoga is a sophisticated system that extends far beyond doing yoga postures; it is literally a way of living.” – Deborah Adele
Taking as an example, the Yamas, which are literally translated as restraints – I like the word guidelines. The Yamas, speak to:

  • nonviolence (ahimsa),
  • truthfulness (satya),
  • non-stealing (asteya),
  • non-excess (bramacharya),
  • non-grasping (aparigraha).

Without diving into a discussion of these principles, I think we can see how these would apply to running a business, as well as interacting with community. There is a great book called “The Diamond Cutter: The Buddha on Managing Your Business and Your Life” by Michael Roach that is also a great book for those who value ethical business.
So, with Shala we have a business and a yoga studio, which both form important cogs in the community… the social fabric that makes up Squamish. Both as a space for community to come together and connect, as well as a business, Shala helps to create social cohesion in our growing town.
As a business, Shala provides incomes to teachers who live in the community. In addition, Shala supports other businesses within the community by making decisions around where we get our signs made, who prints our marketing material and who makes and designs our swag. All of these decisions are crucial in creating a strong sense of place and identity, which we believe is important.
Let’s use some concrete examples to show how Shala supports local:
Shala gets our printing done at InBiz,
we had our signs and stickers made at Century Signs.
We had our custom mugs made by Rad & Tags Leatherworks (Lindsay Gosnell practices at the studio.)
We also carry handmade leather yoga mat straps made by Lindsay.
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Our hats were embroidered in Function Junction by Mountain Crests (John and Chris both practice at Shala.)
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We have Be Clean Naturally soaps in our bathrooms, and candles that we use in the studio.
We also carry local brands in our retail section (local meaning, Squamish, Vancouver or Canadian made). These include: Bewildher, Downtown Betty, 88 Queen St., MaaMala, and Nootka & Sea to name a few.
In these ways, we help our local economy and community to grow. To Shala, that matters.
Many people ask me when Shala is getting branded clothing and the answer is always “soon.” It has taken a long time to find a combination that feels right, and that maintains he integrity of supporting local, not just in words, but in action. Again, returning to the foundation of how Shala is run.
In exciting news we have finally landed on the right combination with the help of some awesome people and some local businesses. Big shout out to Downtown Betty for supplying the shirt and to Genevieve Strachan for the design (and the printers are local too!)
Still waiting to be finalized… This is a sneak peak of the tee coming your way!!
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Needless to say there are many ways that Shala works to support the local community, as well as contribute to it.
Have a fabulous day and we hope to see you on the mat soon. Even if you don’t feel like talking 😉