It’s quite a time. I just don’t think there are any good adjectives that fit here. I know for me personally, my emotions have run the gamut from one end of the spectrum to the other. While there are new things that have moved in to fill the empty spaces created by this time, for which I am grateful, there is also a big empty hole that would otherwise be filled by teaching Mysore. At six months into this pandemic, that hole hasn’t gotten any smaller. I never set out to teach when I first began practicing Ashtanga. But, as many long-term Ashtangis report, the practice changed my life. So, I made a commitment to sharing the tools of the practice that were so transformative for me. Putting that on hold for an, as of yet, undetermined amount of time has been hard.
So what can I offer to support your practice during what is an extremely challenging time for so many of us?
Here are a few thoughts that have been on my mind over these past months:
First and foremost, take care of yourself: mentally, emotionally, and physically.
One of the real fruits of yoga practice is not flashy press-handstands; it’s increased awareness. Use that increased awareness to shine a light on yourself first. Circumstances are changing so fast everyday. Take some time to check in with yourself. How are you? What do you need today? Hold whatever arises as an answer to those questions with kindness and compassion, just as you would with a good friend of family member that you care deeply about. It’s nearly impossible to extend compassion and care to others if you haven’t stopped to take care of yourself first.
Your practice should support you – not add extra stress.
“Will” is a finite quantity. In times of trauma and challenge, or when a lot is changing, your will may be mostly used up in just getting through your day. I don’t know about you, but simple errands like grocery shopping are taking far more of my time and energy than they used to, which doesn’t leave as much energy for other things. With respect to your yoga practice, that might mean doing less — not nothing — just doing less. Try starting small with practice if you’re feeling like your will is being zapped by life. Do as much practice as adds benefit to your day and stop before it adds stress. Be gentle and compassionate with yourself while you try to navigate that line.
If you’re one of the fortunate ones who is finding that the pandemic has not really impacted your life, please consider sharing the resources that you have with others.
There are significant financial needs both locally and globally among those who have lost jobs and other sources of support during this time. One way to connect with local needs is through the Asheville chapter of Pandemic of Love which matches those with extra resources with those who are in need of them. General information about the organization is HERE. Specific information about the Asheville group is HERE.
Globally, of course there is significant need of basic resources as well. To that end, we’ll be hosting a virtual fundraiser for Yoga Gives Back, to support women and children in south India. You can read more about the work that Yoga Gives Back does HERE. Anatomy expert and Ashtangi, David Keil will be graciously donating his time for a 2-hour Q&A on all things anatomy and Ashtanga-related! All proceeds from the Q&A will go to Yoga Gives Back. Submitting your donation will serve as your “registration” for the event. We’ll use the email address that you use for submitting your donation to email you the link to join the call on the day of the event. Information on the even and how to donate can be found HERE.
I hope you are all weathering this difficult time as well as possible and I look forward to the day we can gather in a full studio for Mysore practice again.