The C Word…
BY DEBBY SIEGEL
The word community traces back to the late 14th century Old French comunité, a word that meant “commonness”. Creating community, as YoGoGirls see it, is one reason for our very existence on this planet. To find and connect to people, our people.
This past weekend I was fortunate to reach the age of 48. A slight deviation from prior birthdays, this year’s celebrations included back-to-back triathlons. Both offered ample community. Both offered all the commonness amongst participants that gather people together. One tri however, had no competition factor. It was not timed, no ribbons or awards for finishing. No real training necessary either. It was a Wanderlust version, called a “Mindful Triathlon”.
Wanderlust 108 took place in Kansas City on Saturday, May 21. Participants finished a 5k, a 75-minute yoga class, and a 30-minute meditation. It was as blissful as it sounds. A cool 76 degree high, the sunny skies were filled with the higher vibrations of MC Yogi and Dharma Punx, and the ground covered in yoga mats and happy people. The day could not have turned out better. We got to play with friends, hang out in aerial yoga slings, gain some body art and enjoy the community of nearly 1000 yogis along the Missouri Riverfront.
The second triathlon on Sunday – the St. Louis Triathlon – was the swim, bike and run type. This olympic and sprint distance triathlon in its inaugural year at St. Louis County’s Creve Coeur Lake, greeted about the same number of people and had equally sunny skies and music playing. Its organizer, Rich Adams with MSE Racing, has completed more than 30 triathlons since his first in 2007, and putting this one together was a dream of his come true. He included paratriathletes in his race and introduced a swim, mountain bike, trail run version of this sport at this May 22 event as well. It was a big gathering of athletes all collecting in one spot with the same goal… crossing that finish line.
There’s nothing like celebrating one’s birthday in neoprene at 7am in 60ish degree water, followed by cycling in wet clothes and running (more of a jogging for yours truly) a 5k. But this triathlon, like many before it, taught much about strength and determination, and it began most local racers’ 2016 tri season. The key difference in the two events was the competitive factor. And while one might assume it, competition doesn’t mean the opposite of community.
Competition, according to the Sociology Guide is the opposite of cooperation. But it actually builds community in its own way, even in the individual sport of triathlon. Competitive sports have existed in our culture since the beginning; with the international pinnacle of sports competition, The Olympic Games, first being recorded in Greece in 776. The competition of sports creates a community of commonness amongst its athletes. In the case of triathletes, the training involved creates many opportunities for gathering. Cycling in a group is far safer than alone. Swimming too. Even running and track training is done in packs and on teams. The collection of like-minded individuals creating a community of people with similar interests.
This connection with other similar enough individuals is one we humans spend our whole lives seeking. Many in the form of marital partnerships. All of us in the form of friendships. Yoga comes with a community. There is even a Sanskrit word for it – kula. We all hold space for each other when we practice together in one place and collectively meditate with harmonizing ohms at the beginning and end of many classes. MC Yogi‘s words guiding us last Saturday solidified a congregation of yogis into one big loving group. One might assume that triathlons offer only individual competition. And while many compete in them in an attempt to get a spot on the podium (of course I would be lying if I didn’t say I enjoy one of those 3 spots when I get one), there is really a strong base of camaraderie in the tri community. I’ve been a member of Swim Bike Run Tri Club, a tri club of fun people who all lend a hand and support one another through finish lines and in life. I have made many friends there. And it feels good to have them rooting you on and laughing with you pre and post tris.
So, in this 49th spin around the sun, I will choose community and invite you to as well. If ever you see Michelle or myself out in the yoga community, or cycling community, or tri community, or anywhere, please feel like you have found your people. It is part of our desire that YoGoGirls build others and that we offer an inclusive community of yogi-athletes. We are headed to Colorado in June to Wanderlust Aspen-Snowmass and would love for you to join our group there. We will be launching a contest to win two tickets to Wanderlust Aspen-Snowmass this week. Please stay tuned and enter to join others in everything from yoga and meditation to hiking, hooping, speakeasy lectures, music and more.
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