It is now a whole year on since I last shared a class from our Hove based studio at the Alfred. If you had told me then that I would become an online teacher, I would not have believed it! While I am very aware that accessing classes online has not been possible for all, I would like to reflect here on the journey of our virtual studio.
In those early days of lockdown 1, once we had all settled with the technology, it was so valid and helpful to connect before each class and check in with one another. It was a very insecure time, filled with grief of all the things we had to let go of. This brought with it conversations of what would have, could have and should have been. The abrupt opportunity to be present, seemed filled with grief rather than gratitude. Yet with each passing day becoming weeks and weeks becoming months, attitudes changed. Our stories became more integrated with the present time. Priorities shifted as we let go of what was once expected, to reveal what we had in the now.
I took from these shifts my queues on how to share in practice. The initial desire to stay strong, keep up the dynamic energy and not ‘loose’ what we had, was met with a continued dynamic Vinyasa and a strong pulsing ‘express’ early morning class. As the year has evolved, the practice has become more mindful, with a slower and deeper breath based movements. The introduction of our Yin sessions are a response to a strongly perceived need for stillness, time to self reflect and listen in. Yin gives us permission to be still and observe, permission not to feel we need to be in action all of the time.
As a teacher I have always been sure to connect with my students before each class. Providing a space to check in with everyone individually, informs the mood of the room and in turn informs the sessions teaching. Although more of a challenge via Zoom, I continually aim to provide this space before each class. Time to chat as a group, individually, or to send me private messages, allows for both a shared community class and the individual support that a teacher must give. As well as our familiar community, it has been wonderful to welcome past students back who now live abroad and indeed welcome new students from close by to across the globe. It is a marvel to have such technology to open up a global community in shared practice.
Live virtual classes are nothing like watching Yoga videos. After our initial chat, although all participants are muted, there is still that strong awareness of being together, honouring a shared experience. We all miss the physical presence, the sound of others breathing, the trip out to a studio. But for some, online classes have provided the chance to deepen self awareness. In a studio based class, at times we cannot help but compare, watch others and perhaps feel the need to up our pace to keep up! At home with a talk through class, it is no longer about looking at the screen, no longer about watching others, but settling with ourselves and our needs.
Practicing from home has its challenges. of course. Few of us have the space to designate a special place just for our Yoga mat. One space can house the office, the kitchen the home school, the dogs bed and the Yoga mat. I have observed kids, partners, pets, deliveries and even falling bookshelves disturbing practice. But how nice it is to integrate Yoga into our lives this way. Not to feel that Yoga cannot be achieved if we can’t make it to a studio, but to remember that Yoga is always with you. Listen to its calling and respond anytime…..
Thank you to all who have been able to join our online community. Your presence remains so special to me. I would appreciate any feedback regarding your experience and what you would like from our shared practice moving forward.
Sending love and blessings to all.