Seva can be any heartfelt altruistic deed, from building homes for the homeless, to something as simple as giving up a seat to a stranger. In addition to being an important part of any spiritual practice, seva is also a way to encourage and develop a thriving community. Through even the humblest act of giving one opens up an equal space for receiving, and a ripple of abundance flows beyond one single person, to the greater society. When generosity abounds, everyone feels a sense of belonging and parity.
I began this year feeling a strong calling to reach out and give something more of myself. My target was our close-knit yoga community, and I actually spent considerable time pondering what acts of kindness might be appropriate for such an awe-inspiring group. I do like to think BIG – but some of my ideas were just downright silly! So, putting grandiose notions aside, I realized that the most obvious plan (duh!) was also the most logical: to randomly select from my cadre of regular students and offer free one-on-one yoga sessions.
My original intention was to pick two students every quarter throughout the year and share with them some of the observations I make during class, and additionally to provide feedback to possible questions regarding her or his overall yoga experience. However, the intention and plans didn’t mesh with my reality, and I was unable to follow through on the quarterly seva idea.
Not one to be discouraged easily, I forged ahead with my main plan, and with the help of Lanita and Michelle, two students were selected earlier this summer: Robin Theilmann and Carol Ryan. Both have since had their sessions with me, and in an effort to connect our greater yoga community together, I am sharing some information about them so that you will be able to connect faces with names when you share a class or pass each other in the studio.
Robin is a fairly recent addition to our AGW family. She began taking group classes after her husband John had been attending classes for some time. (Disclaimer: I’ve known John and Robin for well over 20 years. Michelle picked Robin’s number for me, so it really was a random picking!) Robin retired from her job as a dedicated speech therapist in the Santee School District a few years ago. She currently volunteers weekly at the La Mesa Library bookstore. In addition to being an altogether lovely human being, Robin is a kickass cook! Her desserts are ridiculously delicious and highly coveted! Also, her energy is delightful and is a wonderful addition to every class she attends.
For anyone who doesn’t already know Carol, as soon as you lock eyes with her you’ll never forget her! In addition to being our awesome instructor Sean’s mother (we are so grateful she shared her love of yoga with him!), she is also one of AGW’s longest standing, devoted students. And while she may not have literally attended classes here from day one, she has been a consistent student since year one. On the days she’s not on her yoga mat in one class or another, Carol has a “side job” as a hygienist at a local dentist office. Seriously – unless she’s out of town, working, or spending time with her grandkids, you can find her at the studio multiple times on any given week. Carol’s fun-loving, positive energy is absolutely contagious!
I encourage everyone to get to know these two wonderful ladies next time you’re in a class together, or recognize them out on the street. The energetic and social bonds we make and share in this, our little AGW yoga community, help us build and strengthen our connections to the world at large. And the positive sensations and overall awareness we gain as a community, remind us and those around us, that we all have a place -- because we truly are all in this together! Personally, I look forward to connecting more deeply with as many students as possible, and making at least some small contribution to the greater good. Namaste!