We are currently in our fifth week of quarantine, and like most of the world, the wide spectrum of emotions that fill this house vary wildly day by day, hour by hour. If there’s anything years of meditation has taught me, it’s that emotions are typically fleeting. The hard work comes in trying not to react to them, or being overwhelmed by them or letting them become a new identity.
In fact, all this time away from my usual schedule of running from home to studio to studio, to coffee shop to home and then another yoga class has allowed me to further look at how my ego always wants to push me to identify as some thing, some persona. Maybe it’s the universal combination of apathy, anger, hope and sadness that has nudged my already Meh attitude to be even more flexible and forgiving of my “productivity” (or lack of) than I’d usually allow space for.
Pre-pandemic, I taught 17-18 hours of yoga a week with an additional 8-10 of teacher training hours. I lived in stretchy pants, sports bra, tank top, hoodie and bare feet. These days I’ve been thoroughly enjoying wearing jeans, no bra, layers of long-sleeved shirts (because it’s still so cold out!) and my gray felt slippers. If I walk the dogs, I swap those out for my very muddy Blundstone boots. The amount of time I’m using my body to do, teach, demonstrate, guide yoga asana has dropped significantly. And it’s been GREAT!
My last class was taught March 15. I was super stressed because I felt like even with all the precautions we were taking in a group setting (the greater spaces between mats, Chlorox wipes and copious sprays of Lysol), it felt irresponsible to be moving and breathing through Ashtanga together. The next morning, all gyms and studios were forced shut. All fitness people have since scrambled to Zoom classes, have quickly had to learn how to navigate teaching in front of a camera from their own homes, myself included.
Fortunately, I had been low-key planning to figure out filming myself teaching yoga for a few years. My hope was to create a passive stream of income as I eventually transitioned our family to the UK to join my husband this year. As such, I had slowly purchased the items needed for me to film, light, mic, edit and upload content. By March 18 I added my little slice of yoga teaching to Patreon. The support that’s come in over the past month has been so amazing and has provided great relief as I struggle with my state to obtain unemployment benefits (as promised for part-time and gig workers)- which is still a work in progress…
At any rate, what’s been most interesting to me is the way my yoga asana practice and my body has changed. I’m definitely doing way less yoga than what I had been doing. In fact, my weekly practice has transformed into doing-while-taping one hatha class, one vinyasa class and then on my own, typically some yoga-esque free-flow movement alone in my bedroom. Meditation is a daily practice and additional movement comes by taking long walks with my dogs and bike rides with my youngest child. Some part of my brain/ego has tried to shame me about this, but I spot it quickly and tell it to pipe down.
For many years, yoga asana and it’s corresponding movements had seemingly plateaued in my body. And due to teaching burn out (the last two years especially), my own practice has brought very little joy. I assumed it had faded like a love affair gone stagnant. The calm and endorphins brought forth by steady salutations and intentional breath were long gone. Asana, even hard postures and tricky sequencing bored me, and that was a sad truth to reckon with.
Since being forced to physically scale way back now that I’m out of work, cooking three meals a day, home schooling and trying to be a nice Mom, my asana practice feels different. Like, a very, very good kind of different. Rolling out my mat only three times a week means that my nervous system, my muscles, my ligaments and tendons can actually feel the poses again. I feel the release of tension, the struggle of stability, and the way my breathing impacts the intention of the shape I’m holding. Even when taping my yoga, I’m more present than I’ve been in a very long time. Because I’m doing voice-overs instead of talking through a practice (like I would several times a week when teaching and walking the studio floors), I get to shut up and experience my practice. I have finally stepped off the plateau.
This July will mark 22 years since I first started this yoga journey. It has seen me through a lot. Three pregnancies, a midwifery career, the different stages of being a mother and wife, the sickness and eventual death of my father and now a global pandemic while being distanced from my husband by 3,500 miles. I am beyond grateful that this ancient system of bhakti, karma, yama, niyama, pranayama, asana, svadhyaya, dharana, dhyana and more exists. I’m thankful that chain-smoking, cynical, punk rock, 25 year- old me sought to change my ways and found this path of navigating life. It’s definitely made the highs and lows easier to assimilate.
If you’ve ever done yoga with me, thank you. If you’re currently a Patron on my Patreon, thank you. If we’ve never met, thanks for reading this far. Sending so much love to you and the world. Meditating on the spread of benevolence, charity, and miracles large and small. May you find joy in all the things you practice.
Be well. Be safe. Be kind.