Last yoga studio class (for the time being)

A note saying "I can't" with the t torn away.

This week has marked a shift from business as almost-usual to an awareness of the need to shut down our social and work life to reduce transmission of the coronavirus. From school to church to local museums to yoga studios, I’ve gotten a series of emails, culminating in a flurry of Friday afternoon messages:

It may strike you as odd, but I am warmed by these messages. Businesses large and small, and institutions of all sorts– educational, religious, governmental, etc.– are taking steps to promote the common good. Yes, the reasons for closure vary, and not all motivations are noble. But it is happening, and that is good.

Friday night I went to the last yoga class at Artemis, my local yoga studio, before they closed for awhile. My friend Norah met me there. We brought our own mats, blocks, bolsters, blankets, straps– the works. There were about 8 or so students in a large studio, so there was plenty of room. Liz R, my favorite yoga instructor of all time, helped us get spread out.

The Friday night class is a special one. Liz R greets us gently and cheerfully, inviting us to settle into the transition from the work week to the weekend. Her restorative class begins with gentle movement (partial sun salutations, twists, some balances, some easy stretches), in preparation for a nice, satisfying yoga nidra. We make ourselves comfortable on our mats for the next 20–25 minutes while she takes us through a body scan and mindfulness narrative. I like to put my legs up the wall with my butt on a bolster, which is super-relaxing (to me, YMMV). Invariably, someone falls asleep (it is Friday night, after all), and we’re aware of (hopefully) gentle snoring off in the background.

This Friday, Liz R did not pummel us with information or warnings, or in fact say much at all. She just greeted each person and offered verbal help to get them set up so everyone felt comfortable. And we did. I don’t think I’ve ever relaxed more in a yoga class. It wasn’t that I forgot about my worries and uncertainty. It wasn’t that I become more reassured or confident about the duration or intensity of the outbreak. I just sunk into being there, at that moment, feeling the comfort of others and the sound of Liz’s voice, moving us through postures and then guiding us through yoga nidra. She’s planning on recording it and posting it on the Artemis website. It’s not up yet, but should be sometime this week (I’ll post an update in the comments when it’s there).

When class was over, we quietly rolled up our mats and gathered our things. Liz said, “I won’t see you next Friday night, but hope to see you all some Friday night soon”. Yes, that’s what we know, and that’s how we feel.

I do a lot of yoga at home, but I will really miss that Friday night class. I’ll miss all my group in-person yoga classes and other group physical activities, too. Can I safely take a walk in the woods with another person? Maybe so, we’ll see. What about yoga at my house with one other person (in a good-sized space)? Again, we don’t know.

For now, I’m practicing at home, walking in the woods, being in the moment, and taking it day by day.

Dear readers, what are you doing at home or in your neighborhoods, with gyms and yoga studios and other places closing? I’d love to hear from you. And I’ll post Liz’s yoga nidra in the comments when it comes out.

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