I grew up Catholic. My parents met at Georgetown University, a Catholic school. My siblings and I all attended Catholic schools for our studies. Attending church was part of our culture as a family.

While I appreciate the values associated with the faith I grew up with, I never attended church consistently after I left home. I have a tremendous amount of respect for those for whom attending church is part of their weekly routine. I understand the reasons shared in an article based on Gallup poll results released last year, including:

  • Culture and tradition
  • The music
  • A sense of community
  • A feeling that “it’s the right thing to do”
  • The children’s program
  • The hospitality
  • A feeling of warmth and well-being

At the same time, I just haven’t felt a calling toward traditional religion as an adult. When Gallup asked Americans why they attended church (and why they didn’t), I could definitely relate to the reasons shared.

For the past three decades, yoga has been the equivalent of my religion.

For the same reasons that women cited in this Gallup study for attending church, I have practiced yoga faithfully for close to 30 years. Here are the reasons (in order) women in the Gallup study say they attend church:

  • Tied for #1: For spiritual growth and guidance and Keeps me grounded and inspired
  • #3: To worship God
  • #4: The fellowship of other members/community

I can relate to this list, both from personal experience and from what I have observed at Flow.

Take a look at this word cloud from our latest student survey. We asked our students what three words they would use to describe Flow to a friend. The words that show up as the biggest are the ones that were used most often.  When I look at the image below, I see friendly, supportive, welcoming, community. Yes, of course, I see other words, too.

When I speak with my girlfriends about why they enjoy the church they attend every Sunday, I often hear words like “friendly, “welcoming,” and “community.” Everyone has to find their own spiritual path, and thankfully, there are many good options. One reason that really resonated with me in this study was “Keeps me grounded and inspired.” That’s why I was thrilled to find opportunities to practice yoga while on the road this summer. The unexpected benefit for me, at least in the moment, was that I felt an immediate sense of fellowship and community with my fellow practitioners.

Recently, I heard a quote from a nun during an interview on NPR that really resonated with me and reinforced, at least for me, the similarity between a traditional path of religion and the path I have chosen: “And so it’s the place where I find people who nourish me.”

Regardless of the path you have chosen, hopefully you, too, have found something that inspires, uplifts and nourishes you, either by attending church regularly, spending time in nature, practicing yoga or, well, you name it!

— Megan Cartier

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