The pandemic is something I have been tentative to talk about. In part, it is because my feelings are all over the map. I feel there are many benefits to our forced lockdown with the shake up of our daily life patterns. However, I am also experiencing frustration and grief.
Prior to lockdown, I had started an online Nighty Night relaxation running on Monday nights. I loved that I was working from home and I was thrilled that the students were also all tucked in at their home to practice relaxation. I thought it was a brillant gift for all of us and the video was off. Then, all of a sudden we were locked down. All the students and private clients I had were behind walls that I could not access. Like many others, I felt the shock of working one day and then not working at all. The purpose for my day changed dramatically. We were trying to figure out how to get groceries delivered and we spent time checking on friends and loved ones. Something was missing for me. There was a hole and it turns out my friends and students felt the same. We gathered slowly and I was reunited with students from many years past and it felt purposeful on both sides. It is has continued and developed since those dark days of March.
When my Mom went into lockdown into a small room, I told her that I would do accessible chair yoga with her. She asked, “just for me”? I then thought how I could open this up to anyone who wants to join in. All levels of students love the benefits of the chair practice and now I get to help my Mom and see her more. That would definitely not occurred without the crazy pandemic. That is an example of the small bits of light in the darkness we are experiencing.
Fast forward to September 2020. I have 1 to 4 classes running daily from Monday to Friday with morning and evening classes and private yoga therapy in the afternoons. I am finally and happily recording practices for use by my students. I am also hosting training and series all virtually through Beyond Yoga in Ottawa who, in March, along with pioneering students were brave to go ahead with a weekend training at the beginning of the lockdown.
Here is the unusual turn. I have extreme reservations and shyness of cameras and recordings and I have always preferred to be behind a camera. Whenever asked to contribute online, I have politely declined. The severe landscape the pandemic has produced has brought me out from hiding behind the camera to now spending much of my day communicating on video. What has made me face this fear? Why did I do it?
It is community.
It is sharing.
It is helping.
In fact, I think it goes even far beyond the drive for community and I am still contemplating the deeper reasons for these drives and changes in me. Am I still uncomfortable on video. Yes I am, however, yoga is a lifeline for many of us and I feel I must contribute. Students continue to let me know the availability to practice yoga, meditation and one yoga therapy sessions virtually is vital to their physical and emotional well being.
As much as I need community, my students desire community too. After class, students chat and show pictures of their experiences, they check in on each other and they tell stories. People from different countries look forward to seeing each other, hearing about their days and seeing their animals. It is connection and caring. As I write this, it makes my eyes moist and my heart swell. Some of the students are spending more time out in the community (safely masked of course) and others are spending time very close to home but all can come together for our virtual practice. Our little group has donated over $2000 to our local food cupboard and I have even been offered a loan of canoe so I can get out in nature because they know I am keeping relatively isolated. The kindness, caring and the laughter make me joyful. We need this at all times but we certainly notice its benefits in these tough times. So we have the community, but what about the yoga?
There are so many online yoga videos. You can get a ton of practice hours for free. That’s great, isn’t it? There certainly is a place for it, however it is not a community. I had a few people say that you should get tons of students so you can make more money. Granted, I would like a little more money and a few more students, but first and foremost, I want to know my students. I want them to be able to ask questions and I want to give them options for their practice. I want their yoga practice to help make their lives off better. I don’t care if they can touch their toes. I want them to be their truest selves. I wish for their desires to come to pass. Also, I want to know if they have a injury or they are feeling stress during a meditation practice. A community and a teacher is a support and it is important. Sangha is a term used in yoga that translates to community. We are a community. Learning, sharing and caring.
So how did I get here? From my drive to help, to share, and to be in community. I am happy. My drive for community is greater than my fear of video. We humans are certainly interesting aren’t we!? I can’t believe it took a pandemic and I am grateful for all the teachers, friends, family and students that are my community.
See you soon!