What Getting Involved Actively in Non Profit Communities Has Gotten Me into

yogem.PNGThis year marks my 9th year of involvement in a local yoga community in Jakarta. It’s a totally nonprofit community that grows purely organically. As one of the witnesses in the early phase besides the founder himself, I was proud enough to see how the community has thrived in all these years. I still recall one weekend when things were not so bright. It was post savasana (corpse pose) bliss that I experienced under the morning sunlight after I had a quite depressing week at work. It was just a nice person behaving badly under the spell of hormonal imbalance, I guessed. And it was more than enough to ruin my work mood.

In my hometown, I’d never been involved in a community. In fact, I had always avoided the world of organization or community whenever possible. I hated being appointed a member in an organization as it brought so many social responsibilities. I’ve been always an introvert so getting too social is a lot of ‘work’. I always felt what I had was just enough and never wanted to ask for more.

Yet, in this yoga community I feel a totally different sensation. I came into yoga through the community, and it makes me a lot like home to practice here. In this social, super supportive circle.

Why so?

The first and foremost, it was because I got into the community on my own will. Unlike in the past, I participate because I voluntarily signed up for it. It was never obligatory, compulsory, or such. I had made a decision to be committed to the community and whenever I feel like I’m not being social, I am not made to attend or join. And I’ve experienced many times when I had a bad week, going to the park and seeing the yoga community turned out to lift my mood up. And this is a very genuine feeling that is beyond transactional terms.

Getting involved in a community has led me to another world of opportunities that I’d never imagined before. Such as, making new friends, getting a lot of new acquaintances, and sometimes – unexpectedly – a number of professional opportunities for my development. To me, it was more than my own expectation as I started joining it not because of any possible rewards but more because of self development.

Getting involved in a community that is diverse in terms of the member composition also allows me to acquire better social skills. This is absolutely beneficial to balance my introvertedness, which sometimes can bring me trouble than benefits.


Getting involved in a community makes me feel liberated

Because I have time for others, I feel like I have more time for myself, too. Research shows that volunteers feel they have more time. In other words, the more you give, the more you have. It might be illogical and doesn’t make sense but — unlike economic, transactional activities in our life — giving has its own logic, don’t you think?


Getting involved in a community helps me acquire new skills

We’re getting transactional here. When we talk about self development, of course we turn a little bit more self-centered. But it’s unavoidable, really. Based on the research finding published in Stanford Social Innovation Review, skill-based volunteerism is a golden opportunity for employers to hone new skills of their employees and executives, which are essential in career development.


Getting involved in a community aids me to stay healthy and fit

Being an active member of a community, a report says, helps us to stay healthy as they are said to have “lower mortality rates, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression later in life”. Isn’t it fantastic? Besides, what I join is a yoga community so obviously enough I can never be more healthier than now!


Getting involved in a community helps amass more experience of life and work

In a tightly-knit community, I can see multitude people from various walks of life. More often than not, they have life and jobs that I have never familiar with before. From chats, I can usually see their foreign perspectives towards life events and this is very interesting and stimulating in every possible way.


Be prepared for any opening of amazing opportunity doors that can catch you off guard. I sometimes run into people who needs my skills in these community meetups, and this is not made up. They come to me naturally. It’s a totally genuine and real example of word-of-mouth marketing method.


And if you’re looking for work, getting involved in a community may be a good idea to fill up your scanty resume. Without having to be pompous!


Getting involved in a community makes you happier

Feeling low about life or demotivated after a recent massive life failure? Be happy with only joining a community. A study conducted by London School of Economics discovered that volunteers are happier when they do more for the community. It does make sense as getting involved actively in a community builds empathy and social ties, which eventually leads to a more meaningful life.


How about you? Have you joined a local community around you and make your life more meaningful in 2019? (*/)


My Interview on Jawa Pos

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I’d interviewed people throughout my shortlived career of journalism but nothing beats the sensation of being interviewed. It feels like you’ve been awarded with honor.

The article was originally written in Bahasa Indonesia. But here I wrote it just for you in English. Below is the list of questions and answers of my email exchange with the journalist, Wiwi of Jawa Pos newspaper. This is the raw, uncut version of the interview.

Q: How were you first involved in Yoga Gembira Community?

A: Initially I got involved in the community by accident. I came to Taman Suropati on one Sunday morning in December 2010. At the time, I already discovered the information  somewhere on the web about what the community did. It happened to be near where I reside, in Jakarta Selatan. I was looking for a pastime activity on weekends. Prior to that, I had been reading several books on yoga and watched some videos yet I had never learned how to practice correctly and properly under a guru’s supervision. I definitely needed one to start practicing yoga.

I was interested in yoga simply because yoga can be practiced anywhere, anytime. I’m not obliged to go to a certain place to do yoga. I don’t have to go to a gym or studio once I master the basic techniques.

But still I wanted to start doing yoga with a guru’s assistance so as to prevent injuries because learning yoga asanas from books and videos on YouTube seems inadequate.

At the time, I encountered Yudhi Widdyantoro in Taman Suropati. He’s my first yoga teacher. He initiated the community as a social movement to empower the society, making parks in the city filled with more energy so there won’t be more new malls built. We have had too many malls, he always says.

Yudhi has taught me a lot about yoga ever since. Every Sunday morning, I showed up and started to be actively involved in each activity of the community. That led me to Yoga Gembira Festival (YOGFEST), a yoga festival held annually since 2014.

In 2013, I took part in Indonesia Yoga School yoga teacher training as a student. I chose the school as I wanted to study more from Yudhi in a formal way. He taught pranayama (the breathing techniques in yoga), yin yoga and philosophy of yoga there. Since then, I began teaching privately. I taught an American expatriate working in Jakarta but this class lasted only a few months as he had to go home after the company closed down. That was how I started my career as a private yoga guru in Jakarta. Now I have more classes and small groups to teach. Most of them are employees of companies.

Q: Can you share some of your unique experiences as a participant and instructor in Yoga Gembira Community?
A: Experiences are many. For example, the class just began when Anjasmara Prasetya was teaching us at Taman Suropati. Suddenly at the same time a music band of youths played their tracks with fast beat rhythm. The class could hardly hear what Anjasmara instructed us to do.

Once we also had to deal with a mosquito fogging team in the neighborhood. In the middle of Anjasmara’s class, they sprayed the chemical substances into the air. The fog killed not only the larvae but also the class’ serenity without further ado. We couldn’t breathe! Thank God most of us stayed and the wind blew, sweeping away all the artificial toxics from the supposedly pristine air of the park.

Q: How significant is yoga to you and why?

A: Yoga makes me more balanced and sane in some way as I wade through the mundane world filled with physical, mental, psychological, and intelligential demands. I can liken yoga to a Formula 1 car at a pit stop. It’s where and when one can just take a break for a while, take care of what needs to be taken care of, change what should be corrected, balance what needs balancing, and so forth.

Q: What does it take to be a yoga instructor?

A: To be a yoga instructor these days, one is required to attend a registered yoga school and complete it. The certificate of completion may vary based on the duration of participation; some are 100-hour, 200-hour, 300-hour or 500-hour.

Usually, the requirements vary from a yoga school to another. A future student might be required to be able to perform an assisted headstand or wheel pose (urdhva dhanurasana). Yet, some others encourage their future students to have enthusiasm and sincere willingness to spread the teachings.

This is way different from the era of contemporary modern yoga in the early 20th century. It was the time when a yoga guru wasn’t encouraged to have a certificate. To be a yoga guru in the past, one was to attend a lengthy training period under a more experienced yoga guru’s supervision and guidance.