Maintaining community in quarantine
These times of quarantine are challenging us all, one way or another. My yoga studio, Mindful Yoga Collective, has been closed since mid-March, and I’m not sure when we’ll feel safe to open again.
Enter Zoom yoga classes. I’m no tech expert, but fortunately, Zoom is pretty luddite-friendly. As with everything, there are upsides and downsides to teaching remotely. Overall, online classes have provided a great opportunity to stay in touch with my yoga community.
First, the challenges
- Teaching to a screen: Teaching yoga while looking at a computer screen is a bit strange. I miss the spontaneity of practicing in a shared space.
- Not seeing students: This is the biggest challenge. When you can’t scan a real-life room and see what students are doing, you can’t help them adjust their poses to avoid misalignment or injury. Fortunately, my students have been practicing long enough that I trust their body awareness.
- Lack of props: I don’t know what props students have in their homes. While most of my students own their own props, some don’t. So I plan classes around props that people are likely to have or can improvise with throw pillows and blankets.
- Consistency: Yoga practice benefits from consistency. Offering online classes at my regular teaching times has given us all the opportunity to stay the course. At a time when our normal lives have been upended, practicing on our regular schedule has provided grounding for my students and me.
- Community: While it’s not the same as sharing physical space, seeing each other on screen gives us an opportunity to maintain our connections.
- Accessibility: Some of my students travel 10 to 20 miles to come to classes. Practicing at home eliminates travel time and traffic stress. I’ve also invited my sisters and a few friends from out of state to my online classes. Former longtime students who have moved away have been attending. It’s been lovely to reconnect.
- Happiness for homebodies: Some students have told me that they like practicing by themselves in the comfort of their own homes. While I strive to make my classes a non-competitive experience, many people still feel pressure to “perform” when they’re in a group. Zoom classes eliminate this pressure.
- Yoga in your PJs: My classes are not known for their adherence to high yoga fashion. But it’s a fact that going out and being among people makes you think a bit more about what you’re wearing. Practicing at home frees you to practice in your jammies.
- Animal companions: My cats regularly attend my Zoom classes, and I often see other people’s four-legged friends walking past their screens. It’s fun for people to introduce fellow students to their animal friends.
All in all, I’m grateful to live in a time when teaching classes remotely is an option. While I miss seeing my students in person, connecting through Zoom is a worthy alternative. u
Charlotte Bell has been practicing yoga since 1982. She is the author of several yoga-related books (most recently, Hip Healthy Asana) and founder of Mindful Yoga Collective in SLC. CharlotteBellYoga.com/