The definition of “Belongingness” is “the human emotional need to be an accepted member of a group. People tend to have an ‘inherent’ desire to belong and be an important part of something greater than themselves”.

I “belonged” to a fitness club for 8 years, until 2012.  I went to fitness classes 2-3 times a week. The instructors were the same and so they “saw” me regularly. No one ever called me by my name, and eventually I decided that I wasn’t important to them and canceled my membership.

In June 2012, I took a 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training.  A fellow YTT student and I began “Yoga on the Beach” that summer as a way of giving back to our community.  The first sessions were free on the beaches during the July 1st holiday and people who attended asked when the next sessions would be held.  We had no plans past that one day but quickly found a beach-side location on Qualicum Beach and started with a couple of morning classes that summer. Yoga on the Beach grew every summer and in 2017 we held 5 sessions a week through July and August with over 1800 participants. It has become a “thing” to do in our area and we run it by donation, with a large portion of proceeds going to local charities.

Barb and I open our yoga classes to everyone – we have had whole families from grand-kids to grand-parents; special needs groups; passers-by – runners and cyclists; join us.  We make a point of getting to know many of our “tribe”, and many return on vacation to be part of the fun.

This past summer we donated monies to the Vancouver Island Compassion Dogs society, a local group who train dogs to assist PTSD sufferers. A young couple who had attended Yoga on the Beach while on vacation, told us that he suffered with PTSD.  He was going home to Alberta to work on getting a program started there.  You never know when and how you touch people.

We are offering 2 scholarships in 2018 season to our local alternative school and the home-school students – they are generally left out of opportunities – they don’t fit into the academic scholarship mold – we want to fill some of that gap.

The lesson is that you need to really see people who come to every class you lead, learn their names, wrap your big ethereal arms around them and hold them inside your space.  You never know the impact you make but you need to know that you can be the conduit of love and “belongingness” to help someone struggling.

Always health conscious, Charlotte Crowley trained as a yoga instructor in 2012 and started local outdoor “Yoga on the Beach” classes, with a fellow yoga instructor – Barbara Low. Charlotte’s mission is to inspire people to improve their health with foods and lifestyle changes, so they can live vitally and energetically throughout their lives. She loves to educate and create awareness through presentations, workshops and her work with private clients.