Yoga in the time of Covid 19

One day before schools shut down in NYS, the yoga studio where I work, Samsara Yoga Center decided to close their doors and make classes available online for students, a few days later, all NYS gyms and restaurants closed their doors. The past few weeks of teaching from home and practicing from home have been somewhat stressful as I learn the technology, but also really comforting and grounding. Friends from years ago joined my online class, which was a beautiful surprise. This past Sunday I simultaneously practiced with over 2k people and Sean Corne.

As a teacher it is slightly difficult to teach live stream classes or pre-recorded classes taught to nobody. The first reason is that there are no students to feed off of, to make real time micro changes to class when the students are fatiguing or to adjust common alignment issues. In order to give as many cues for as many bodies and abilities as possible it feels as if I am speaking too quickly and lose my breath (which can also be attributed to speaking fluidly through namaskara A & B.)

The other difficulty is the unreliability of the technology. Primarily the ability to decide to teach from home and to be available to anyone in the world with a couple of clicks is absolutely a blessing. However, when the camera doesn’t turn on, or as happened yesterday, you accidentally record from the wrong FB profile, and you are dealing with fixing the issues just as your class is set to begin and then once the camera starts rolling you have to revert right to your calm, teacher self is a chameleon-like necessary skill and causes real stress.

The primary thing that I miss about live, in person classes are the people. The energy, the community, the small talk. I practice mostly from home, but when I go to a vinyasa class in studio, I feed off of the high energy and feel so invigorated. This is something that I hope my vinyasa students feel when they attend our weekly vinyasa classes in studio and that I am looking forward to when we are able to meet again.

But to bring it back to the positives, I felt so connected while practicing with so many others around the world with a live stream with Sean Corne. Sean gave the practice so much meaning and united us through these difficult times. As people joined and commented on the live stream I saw that three of my friends were on which made me smile knowing that we were doing class together.

In my biased opinion, yoga is absolutely needed right now. Intentional movement of the body is beneficial to those of us isolated in our houses for weeks on end. Deep, calm breathing helps us find that body/mind connection and helps us ground. There are so many independent teachers and large and small studios offering online classes, varieties of styles to try, and the ability to reconnect with favorite teachers and studios from our past.

Some of these classes are completely free, but many teachers are asking for small donations for their time and skill and because we have lost our income for the foreseeable future. If you have a couple of dollars that you could spare and can donate a class fee or a small amount to the teacher or studio that you practice with, then that will help the studios pay their teachers, pay the rent and utilities, and keep them afloat. I have seen a beautiful outpouring of support for local restaurants at this time and would love to see a similar support for other small businesses in similar situations, except many small businesses are even worse off than restaurants right now as their doors are completely shut.

To support your local studio you can donate, buy gift carts or passes for the future, or shop their online boutiques. If you do not have the spare income to donate or give right now, then you can like, share, comment and keep practicing with them virtually.

Tis the Season for Karma Yoga

The holiday seasons is not only fast approaching, it is on top of us. As I write this, it is December 20th, so Christmas is just five days away for many in the west and those all around the world who celebrate the Christmas holiday. Here in the U.S. Christmas began showing up commercially way back around the time of Halloween. Retailers unpacked their Christmas stock, to what many is considered way too early, and each year it comes out earlier and earlier, so that customers can decorate early and check presents off of their lists. Although Christmas seems to have morphed into a season of materialism it still offers a time of giving to those in need.

This is an old tradition that may even go back to Mary and Joseph being given room in a barn, but at the very least goes back a few hundred years. According to a historical documentary by the BBC, Victorian Farm Christmas,  the Victorians were charitable during the holiday season giving through collections at churches to go to the poor or by giving food directly to those without. Many today continue this tradition of giving at Christmas time, whether it be by dropping change in a red, metal Salvation Army pot, or by making a donation to an organization.

Within my communities I have noticed multiple ways to give this year, such as by donating toys to children without, food to a food cupboard, and yoga classes by donation in which the money raised is given to a specific cause. In fact, I hosted a candlelit Slow Flow earlier in the month that was by donation. Teaching for free or attending a class and donating to a cause is what is classified as karma yoga, or yoga in action.

tis the season

Karma yoga can come in many forms. It might be performing a chore, giving of time or money, or freely sharing yoga with others. Around the winter holidays is a great time to host a karma yoga event or find one to attend. People have it in their hearts to give and it’s cold, so a great time to move towards indoor activities. Of course, however anytime of the year would be a good time for karma yoga, but during the holiday season is a very appropriate time to give.

As a student look for donation classes in your community. If you are a teacher or studio owner, host a class or two by donation and find a local organization that will benefit from the money you raise. It is so easy as a teacher to host a karma yoga class, the skill is already there, and the space if a studio is readily available is there as well, all that is required is organization, promotion, and some time to plan and teach.

May you and yours have a joyful holiday season and may you find ways to give to your community this season and into the new year.

 

 

Hosting Karma Yoga Classes

A karma yoga class is a class in which the payments are donated to a charity. As a teacher, they are very easy to  host and you do your part by donating the money, but also by teaching others about a charity or non-profit that has a lot of meaning to you (not to mention by giving everyone a well deserved yoga class!) Donations Only classes can be taught regularly or during special holidays or vacation times.I find that hosting karma yoga classes during holidays gives them just a little extra meaning; for example, I recently taught a class on Valentines Day, a great day to spread some love around. Here are some tips in hosting a karma yoga class.


Venue: 
Holding a donation based class outside at the beach or at a park is great, Beach Yogabecause no money gets lost to rent payments. When I first moved to Busan I hosted early morning beach yoga classes on the boardwalk and gave payments to my local non-profit of choice. Not much was raised, because not too many people are early risers, but every little bit counts!

Cost: Choose a minimum donation cost that is required, $5.00 is a good place to starDonationst. When I create my events I describe the cost as Minimum Donation of xxx, this way people might consider donating more. When class is finished and everyone is making their payments, I remind them that I have change for them if they need it, but if not their extra money is greatly appreciated by the organization. Many students will be generous.

Choose an Organization: Find a cause that means a lot to you personally and that you are knowledgeable enough about to tell others about in detail. At the beginning of the class, explain your organization of choice, where and how the money will be used, and other ways that people can help. Below is a description of the non-profit that I have been donating to.

BAPS- Busan Abandoned Pet Sanctuary

Busan Abandoned Pet Sanctuary is a privately run dog shelter in Busan, South Korea. The dedicated couple that run the shelter have rescued, medicated, and rehomed hundreds of dogs since 2008. Dogs have been saved from off the street and from the local pound; these are dogs that would have otherwise not had much of a chance at survival. BAPS is a no-kill shelter, so dogs are cared for until they are hopefully adopted for life. Money from donations goes to dog food, shelter upkeep, medications, male neutering, operations, etc.

My personal attachment to this non-profit is my love and joy, Fred, who I adopted from BAPS in 2011 with my boyfriend. He’s come a long way from his skin-diseased-street-dog-days and now lives a life of comfort, spending most of his days sleeping, curled up on my bed. He also loves to join me at beach yoga class. He takes a nice little nap in the sun while others flow.

To learn more about BAPS, visit their website or search for them on Facebook. Donations can be made within Korea by bank transfer or internationally by using Paypal. Information on how to donate is easily found on their website. There are even weekly dog walking volunteer events if you’re missing your furry loved one from back home, those can be found via Facebook.