The other night we had our 9th annual studio holiday party. At one point I sat back and looked at the 60 plus people in attendance and was amazed at how much we have grown. Just ten years ago we were the beginning of a seed, doors not yet open, but floors being laid and dreams being put into action. Now we are a flourishing community that reaches far beyond the original four walls of the studio.

It is not a secret how we grew to such a large and loving family. The answer is in our mission statement. We state that all who walk through our doors are welcome. This is a commitment we strive to deliver everyday, to create an environment of inclusion. A place where people belong, are seen and connected to something bigger than themselves.

There is not one of us who at some point has not felt that we did not belong, that we did not have a community or a place to call home. We know the sense of loneliness, despair, and isolation that is possible when we do not feel connected to others. We are communal beings and require relationship to feel fulfilled.

Yet, even as I write this there is part of me that is saying, “but wait, isn’t the path of yoga to feel fulfilled within ourselves and to connect to self?” The answer is yes to both. We need both connection to self and to other people to have fulfillment in our lives.

The connection to self happens on our mats. It happens in the quiet space beneath our thoughts, in connection to our breath. It happens in our courage to move through emotion that weighs us down. It happens in our ability to presence ourselves to physical sensation and experience without creating story around the sensation. It happens in our listening. Listening to our breath, and the quiet voice of our heart. The connection to others happens when we are willing to let ourselves be seen and to see them in return. To come from an inner knowing that we are all connected. Be of service to others as a path to connection and fulfillment.

I invite all of you to take on the practice of inclusion. Make eye contact with people. Introduce yourself to the person on the mat next to you. Smile at the sales clerk in the store. Invite an old friend out for coffee. Include someone in your festivities that may not have anywhere else to go. Offer a helping hand, open a door, do a random act of kindness. As you invite people into your world, you will discover that your world will grow and flourish beyond what you ever imagined as possible and you will experience fulfillment as an over flowing of love and connection.