Keeping it Real During Covid-19
How can we keep it real during a surreal time? First, by acknowledging how unreal and sometimes insurmountable the challenge of getting through our day to day lives feels like right now. I’m trying to take it one day at a time, one breath at a time, something I’ve been training to do for years as a yoga teacher. I’m eschewing the idea that I need to be productive or learn to bake sourdough and I’m celebrating little wins like a nice walk with my dog.
Why Yoga Now?
Yoga is more important than ever right now, but it’s equally important to tread lightly with the practice. If we’re in the position to self-isolate, we’re already so lucky. So many in the world will be hit with this disease with no proper shelter. So we can practice with compassion to ourselves, and for others, and with enormous gratitude that we have the time and ability to move our bodies freely.
We're living in an unprecedented time of uncertainty. It's easy to let fear and grief take over, and this is a natural reaction to a crisis of this scale. Yoga teaches us to embrace all parts of ourselves, the brave, the fearful, the grounded, the scattered, the sad and the joyful, in order to achieve wholeness. When we fully embrace our experience, we can move through it with grace. Spiritual bypassing is a risk at this time — trying to skate over the darker emotions by just focusing on the “light.” It’s a collectively traumatizing time, and the yoga practice helps us digest our experience, moving through rather than over or around it.
Mindfulness - What is It?
Mindfulness, or present moment awareness, is the foundation of yoga. Mindfulness is just about noticing and being awake to our experience moment to moment. The only way to tackle a crisis is one step at a time, or else it becomes overwhelming. Through breath (pranayama), movement (asana) and concentration (dharana), we can calm the nervous system, improve mood, sleep and immune health, as well as our overall physical fitness. I'm finding so many people are discovering or re-discovering yoga and meditation right now. I'm getting to connect with students all over the world as I'm offering Pay What You Can Adult Yoga online on Saturdays at 11:30am and students can donate to a local Covid charity to register.
My heart goes out to all the parents trying to keep their kids busy and educated from home. That's why I started Pay What You Can Kids Yoga Classes. They are on Mondays at 4pm EST for 3-8 year olds, and Thursdays at 4:30pm EST for 8-12 year olds. Parents can register by emailing me directly and those who are struggling financially can just register their kids without paying.
I’ve worked with seniors for some years now at a French Seniors Centre and I have elderly immune-compromised parents. This virus is showing us the gaps in our care for our senior population and how at risk they are. I’ve tried to transmute the concern, helplessness and grief I feel to action, by making free online Chair Yoga Videos. This has kept me connected to not only the beloved elders in my life but also to the wider senior population. They are simple, gentle 10 to 15 minute practices, to be done from a chair, especially designed for people with aches and pains or less mobility. Check out the playlist and subscribe and share with your loved ones.
This pandemic is like a microscope on our society, showing up the systemic inequalities (those who are housing or food insecure, already ill and those in low-wage front line jobs at highest risk) and it is like a microscope on our lives, showing up the gaps in our relationships to ourselves and others. It’s asking us to slow down and consider what’s really important and lasting. Nights out with our friends, a great job, a new blouse — these are all fleeting. What’s really important and will outlast us, is how we care for each other, who we love, and how we love. Yoga slows us down and helps us tap into this heart-centred approach to living in the present moment. It teaches us about our own innate resilience and adaptability, and the inner pilot light we all possess, that never goes out.
I’m a nature freak, a health nut, a professional actress, yogini, hotelier and world traveller. Register for my Online Yoga Offerings here. Find me on Instagram as @ladyhardwick or come visit me at The Ferg, my inn in Prince Edward County.