In-Person Yoga; Brief Thoughts on Impacts of COVID-19 and 2020

I’ve been thinking about what to write for this edition of my newsletters. I know I want to address my new in-person yoga classes, but couldn’t find a “format” that felt right – I didn’t want to seem all technical or cold. So, I’ve just decided to share thoughts and feelings I’m experiencing, as well as the protocols I’m implementing.

First, I am so excited to have indoor in-person classes! Yoga at the vineyard was such a wonderful experience, I don’t want that to end because of weather and the changing of the seasons. Am I worried about being indoors with people? Yes. Do I see value in offering in-person classes? Yes. Do I see a need to also protect my students? Yes. Am I both excited and worried? Yes. When I was first offered the opportunity to lead classes in these beautiful spaces, I was hesitant. I was – and still am – concerned about COVID-19, its variants, and other illness and and knowing that being in close proximity to others, especially during exercise, can place us at an increased risk for contracting illness. But I feel these are opportunities that must be taken both for me and my students. I know that there are individuals who need this.

This last year plus has been hard. Those who were able found themselves working or attending school from home on a computer or other device (tablet, phone) literally overnight. Those whose jobs required them to be in person (manufacturing, distribution, etc.) found how they did their jobs change; including distancing machines, change in shift scheduling, health screenings, less staff due to illness or quarantines. And those considered essential workers having the added burden of feeling it was their duty to be on the job, even if they were in paralyzing fear doing so. Even I – with all the tools of yoga – found myself becoming more anxious and nervous, many times for no reason. This anxiety and unnecessary stress started to trigger my asthma as well.

I would watch and keep track of my state’s COVID-19 data. Daily. And the weekly press conference updates. And as students were preparing to return to school September 2020 I became obsessed with watching these numbers as my husband is a school teacher (and I have several school-aged relatives). I found myself becoming angry – no, enraged – at people who went the wrong way down grocery isles, at people who wore their masks under their noses, those who refused to mask-up at all (and often flaunted it). And as the vaccines became available and mask mandates eased, I found myself questioning if an unmasked person was actually vaccinated, or just taking the opportunity to not wear that stupid mask. And I knew that this was not healthy, but it took me a while to stop. But when I did, I stopped watching the press conferences. If I felt the need to know what happened, I would read the recaps on the news. I threw away all data that I had been tracking regarding infection rates; now I only look once per week (in preparation of and for continued monitoring of in-person classes, looking at the overall trends). I still wear a mask at the grocery stores. I wear a mask if I am around others I don’t know when I feel there is inadequate natural airflow (large room, doors and/or windows open is good). I am taking natural supplements, meditating regularly (I stopped with my anxiety even though I knew that I needed to sit and meditate). I breathe deep when those thoughts arise, and I stop them from continuing to consume me.

I know others have experienced something similar. Virtual yoga classes have been great, don’t get me wrong. Because we have been able to meet for our regular classes, my students have been able to stretch their bodies and relax their worried minds, even if just for an hour. I feel blessed – truly blessed – to have the honor of holding space for my students to heal their worries each week. But I know there are others for whom a virtual class doesn’t work for them; whether they don’t have space in their home for yoga, or perhaps they have so much Zoom fatigue they just don’t have the energy for “one more meeting” even if it is yoga and meditation. And some, perhaps many, are just longing to be in the physical presence of others. What I learned with Yoga at the Vineyard is that people want to gather again – safely, of course. And I feel as a yoga teacher, wellness professional, and healer I need to offer that if I have the opportunity to do so – and I do.

So how am I doing this safely? Class sized are very limited. AS of now, 6 or less depending on the location. I will increase or decrease class sizes as I feel it’s appropriate or needed. I recommend that all students reserve a spot online, and drop-ins will not be accepted if class capacity is reached. Students will be screened for illness and have their body temp taken; anyone with signs of illness or fever will not be allowed for class. A lightweight mask/face covering is recommended for all students regardless of vaccination status; I will be wearing one. I will be offering discounted multi-class passes, and to accommodate this all class payments will at the door vs at the time of registration. These passes are only good for classes offered directly though Satya Wellness, not through Santosha Yoga Studio or Thrive Yoga Fruita (both studios have their own pricing options; and all my classes with them are Virtual Only at this time). And once I have a feel for each space, I plan to also offer the classes live via Zoom – so you can see me and your classmates in action – so you won’t miss classes if you’re ill, need to quarantine, or simply prefer the virtual format.

I know this turned out to be quite a long piece, so thank you for reading through the end. Please know that my intention is to offer the most nurturing, healing, supportive yoga expiries that I can to my community. I want to help keep you safe and healthy physically and spiritually by offering classes in multiple formats. In-Person classes begin Saturday September 25 at Gallery Z and Monday September 27 at the Johnston Historical Society (JHS) Museum Barn. You can also catch me on Zoom with both Santosha Yoga Studio and Thrive Yoga Fruita. As a reminder, I teach under both the names Julie and Parvati. I hope to see you on the mat soon.

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