I am because you are. A yoga class could go on and I could be a yoga teacher because others are here as yoga students. One cannot exist without the other. It is the other that mirrors our sense of self. That is the concept behind the word ubuntu. This African concept cannot be translated to just one English word, but it has been described in many beautiful ways:
I am because you are.
Humanity is what we owe each other.
If my neighbor is hungry, I cannot go to bed with a full stomach.
If you're not ok, I cannot be ok.
I am me because you are you.
We belong to each other.
We participate in our creations.
Ubuntu is a multi-layered expression of compassion. I cannot think of an English word that is equal to it, but I can think of a Sanskrit word that communicates the same essence. That word is Yoga.
When we join a class and practice as a group, it is easy to be so focused that we think all our efforts are individual, when in fact our presence affects others. In Jivamukti yoga open-level classes, we always practice three wheels. We practice opening our heart. And by dedicating our practice to an "other", we practice taking selfless action. We do it not because it is easy, but because we have it in us to push a little a bit more. We have it in us to care about others.
Yoga or Ubuntu or Union Through Others speak about the truth of our interconnectedness. Being one among many, like a star in a galaxy, makes us realize how big we are if we allow ourselves to be small in our humility. In this oneness, we understand that in order for me to be happy, others have to be happy. In order for me to be free, others have to be free. We do not limit who these others are. Others include all beings, all whom we love and like, all whom we have difficulties with, all whom we do not think about so much, all who are like us and all who are not like us. Others include all beings- all human beings and all animals and all of the Earth. If all others are happy and free, then I am happy and free. I am because you are.