Kula. I never heard this word before until my yoga teacher training in 2011. A kula is a group of people who share goals and common interests and come together. It is usually associated in the yoga world, perhaps a yoga class, an ashram, and definitively a yoga teacher training program.
When I think of a kula, I also think of a school community, support groups (AA, Weight Watchers, just to name a few), business offices, and places of worship.
I recently found a kula in a place I never expected to. It is, what I call a boot-camp, gym. I joined this gym last summer because my pulmonologist told me I needed more cardio. (I was diagnosed with scoliosis in my very, very, very, post-teenage years, and the way my spine curves, my lungs are affected and more cardio is the answer.) The gym has high intensity workouts. I like the term boot camp because the classes can include jumping jacks, bear crawls, push-ups, sprinting, jumping rope (I am in the learning phase) and box jumps (or in my case step-ups), mixed in with core work and strengthening, with or without weights. Some of the classes include boxing as well, which takes me out of my comfort zone, way out of my comfort zone. The only boxing knowledge I had prior to this gym was that Mike Tyson and I share a birthday; yes, the same year month and day. (We were both also born in Brooklyn, and may be at the same hospital, who knows.) I take about 3-4 classes a week, and there is something about seeing the same people each week. We do not have to talk for a long time, but just exchanging hellos and wishing each other a nice weekend or evening has done wonders for me. Plus, the gym is in my neighborhood, so I feel like I have found a community in my home area.
I have noticed physical and emotional benefits since I joined this gym. I do not think I could have belonged to this type of gym without having a yoga practice. Pre-yoga, my experiences at gyms included me comparing myself to the other women there, saying things in my head, she can lift more weights, she comes more than I do, where did she get that gym outfit, or I can’t wear that outfit because I need a better bra than her. Not very nice things, but my yoga practice prepared me for being okay with learning how to jump rope or sprinting slower than my peers.
I think a kula has so many benefits because it connects us physically and emotionally to others. Specifically, in my boot camp classes, we are sweating and moving together with the goal of feeling good in our bodies. .
Where do you find your kula?