Unknowingly, but not actually surprisingly, I held my last yoga class at LA Fitness for an indefinite period of time last Sunday. Before class began, there was some discussion about the “what ifs” and the “where will we” when the next hammer from this unprecedented experience of the Coronavirus comes down upon us all. I talked then - just two days ago! – with hope about, perhaps, finding some space for those who need and want to continue their yoga practice together. Today, that tone of hope is considerably less confident. Yea, I have probably done a rebellious thing or two in my lifetime, but right now, with all due respects to the “situation at hand,” I find myself bowing to the mandates of “those in charge.”
As I have often said before or during a class, what we do, in this case, yoga, can be done on your own; it is not like some game or competition that needs a team, and certainly not an audience! But what is gained in “sharing a practice with another or others” is not unsubstantial. While it is not unique to yoga alone, there is a rare confluence of energy that emerges from a shared yoga practice. One’s effort in a practice is always personal, but when that practice is shared with or alongside others, that effort creates and becomes part of a larger stream of energy upon which each individual can glide, ride, or surf. Imagine the flow of a strong, energetic river that is fed by innumerable streams that both empty into as well as weave in and out of that river’s surge. The stream of one’s individual practice can flow with clarity and grace (or, amble over rocks and fallen limbs), but alongside others, the energy often swells, and not only buoys one’s physical effort, but also uplifts one’s emotional and/or spiritual well-being, so that when our stream cuts away from the larger flow at the end of class, the momentum carries us further and deeper into our experience of Life. Contributing to and sharing in that outpouring of energy is what many of us will miss most about a suspended “shared practice,” no matter where it might be.
For me, leading a yoga class is far more than simply guiding people through a series of poses and movements. Perhaps more importantly, I try to create and hold a space where that shared energy can more easily come together and be experienced. The practice of yoga gets us “out of our heads” and more into our bodies, and when the play of movement and breath supersede the distraction of negative thoughts and the noise, confusion, and concerns of the outside world, again, that exercise feeds not only our bodies, but our “hearts” as well. So, since we are not allowed to get together, I thought that I might try to encourage you from afar during this interim of cessation by sending out some reflections that might be of help to you or others in getting out of our head, and more into our body and spirit. If you would prefer I not do that, just let me know, and I will simply remove you from this email list I have assembled and/or received – no judgments; of course, you can simply hit the delete button on my emails as well!
So, for now, I encourage you, at least for awhile, to turn off all of the alarming information streaming toward you every and all day, roll out your mat in some “special place” in your home, and step or sit or lay down on it. Then, remembering the variety of folks with whom you have shared the practice of yoga, keep breathing in and out, slowly, deeply, and fully. Breathe in the goodness of all that Life truly is, and breathe out the best of your own Light and Goodness to all of those yoga friends on whose collective energy you have sometimes been lifted. I promise you, I will continue to do that for you!