The yoga class setting provides the ultimate opportunity for connection to occur. Connection consists of failures, successes, connections, disconnections. Brene Browne, in her Ted Talk, discusses her academic research into connection, and her discovery of the element of shame, which is at its core, is the fear of disconnection.

“The things that underpins us is excruciating vulnerability”

After many years of field research, and personal self-inquiry she developed the term “The Whole Hearted” to define those in her research that she found exhibited a deep sense of worthiness, that helped them rise above the intrinsic fear of shame, of exposure, of vulnerability.

“What they had in common is a sense of courage… The word courage comes from the Latin word “cur” which means “heart” and the original definition is to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart. These folks had, very simply the courage to be imperfect. They had the compassion to be kind to themselves first, and then to others, because as it turns out, we can’t practice compassionate to others if we can’t treat ourselves kindly. The last element was connection… as a result of authenticity. They were willing to let go of who they thought they should be in order to be who they were.”

Ted Talks: Brene Brown: The power of vulnerability

This ability to reveal one’s true self change the energy of a classroom in a beautiful way. Connecting with Street Yoga provides a path of support, healing and transformation that can actually begin to heal our world.

In a class recently, we all rested on our backs, and I encouraged everyone to hug their knees into their chest. This is a pose that can be emotionally challenging in a Street Yoga class. Most of the participants were regulars, and our program is almost 10 years old at Outside In, so we benefit from a long-standing trust from in our organization, but I wanted to explore our level of trust as individuals.

A young man casually remarked “I feel so vulnerable in this pose.” I was overwhelmed with the level of openness with which he was able to verbalize his experience. This is a group of young adults who are impacted by homelessness. We all know, on some level, that homelessness is a preventable injustice, that completely unique and completely whole persons are reduced to depending on the kindness of others and organizations who care to explore the underlying causes of this social inequality. Street Yoga seeks to provide to tools for youth build better lives, to open their hearts and minds to their unlimited potential for change.

Brene Brown describes it perfectly: “You cannot selectively numb emotion… One of the things that I think we need to think about: Why and how we numb. It doesn’t just have to do with addiction. We make the uncertain: certain. Religion has gone from a belief in faith and mystery to certainty. I’m right you’re wrong. The more afraid we are, the more vulnerable we are, the more afraid we are. You know what blame is … a way to discharge pain and discomfort.”

Yoga brings us into our bodies to explore pain and discomfort. We teach our minds to dwell there, and realize self-soothing equanimity and create peace within every moment.

“There is another way… To let our selves be seen, deeply seen, vulnerably seen. To love with our whole hearts, even though there is no guarantee… To practice gratitude and joy in those moments of terror… To believe that we are enough. We are kindler and gentler to the people around us, and we are kinder and gentler to ourselves.”