I found out last weekend that my yoga community had lost its physical home. I knew it was possible that this would happen if Covid kept studios closed for a long time. But I wasn’t prepared for how sad I’d feel, how sorry I’d be that I never got to say goodbye to the space as I knew it in person.
It’s not that I fear for my own practice. I never do; yoga is one of the greatest constants in my life. My practice changes over time, but it’s been with me since my early twenties. I can remember taking lunchtime classes near my office years ago, long before I could have guessed that I’d one day be writing about food for a living.
I remember walking up before sunrise every morning in DC and walking the 25 minutes from my then apartment in Foxhall Village to a studio in Georgetown. I did this every day at 5:15am, whether it was snowy, rainy, steaming hot, or pitch black outside. I’ll never forget the many sunrises I watched with my mat strapped to my back as I made that walk. At a time when I felt I’d lost sense of who I was and what I was meant to be doing, yoga brought me home.
Like any yogi, my practice has been with me through every season and feeling. I’ve showed up to the mat limp with heartache, unable to do more than collapse into a child’s pose. I’ve practiced angry; I’ll never forget the teacher who, upon recognizing my pent up frustration one day, told me to “use it.” And I’ve had those practice days that are so fluid and joyous that they really do feel like a taste of bliss.
The yoga doesn’t go anywhere. What has surprised me during Covid-19 is that the community doesn’t go anywhere, either.
In the last six months, I’ve been cared for by my yoga community with so much tenderness. Within the first few days of lockdown—after we’d all made the choice not to go into the studio to practice each day—I’d had multiple text message check-ins. My yoga friends knew that I lived alone, and many of them reminded me that I was welcome to text or call if I ever felt lonely. Within days, we’d all started chatting about our home practices on Instagram and setting up practice time on Zoom.
When it felt safe to take walks with people again, yoga friends were the first people I saw aside from my mother. Many of my childhood friends had left the city with their families when quarantine began. With proximity suddenly a determining factor in whom I could and couldn’t see—I was still frightened of public transportation back in May—I felt so lucky to have a network of people who lived nearby. We’d brought together by our studio, but the physical space was ultimately just a gateway to a deeper bond.
This is why a friend of mine, on hearing that the space would close, said, “we are the space.” And we are.
Yoga friendships are a funny thing. Until Covid, I seldom spent time with yoga friends outside of the studio. Yet they were the people I saw every morning of my life, well before I said hello to another person. We’d wake up and greet each other in those early, bleary hours of the day when uttering “morning” still felt like a lot of talking. No matter what was happening in our lives—work stress, strife at home, illness—we woke up and did the thing. Together.
We’re still doing the thing, together. We’re just doing it in our homes, creating a new collective virtually. And isn’t this a reflection of what’s happening with Covid generally?
As painful as physical distancing is, it’s incredible to see how powerfully communities have stayed intact through social media and virtual life. Many of us have caught up with old friends, people we’d fallen out of the habit of talking to. We’ve sung “happy birthday” and cut slices of cake on Zoom. We’ve hosted virtual seders. We’ve gotten used to watching the performing arts on our screens. None of it is recognizable as “normal,” but the sense of love and connection is still there.
We are the space. And I continue to be so incredibly grateful for this particular space, which was virtual before it was cool 🙂
Happy Sunday, friends. Here are some recipes and reads.
A flavorful, vibrant, and easy lunch idea: Moroccan cauliflower roll ups.
Double comfort food! Loving Jasmine and Chris’ stuffed vegan jalapeño popper burgers.
A simple vegan protein for batch cooking: Greek-inspired roasted chickpea salad.
Another good recipe for plant-based meal prep: a one-pot, Mexican-inspired rice.
Finally, this vegan (no bake) baked Alaska is stunning!
1. An examination of Covid-19 and racial disparity in the UK.
2. The New York Times takes a look at the link between resilience and learning new things.
3. CNN reports on how some traumatic experiences can lead to growth.
4. I’ve read fair bit of reporting on lingering Covid-19 symptoms in adults, but this is the first article I’ve seen to address “long hauler” symptomatology in kids.
5. Speaking of how we are the space, I loved NPR’s photojournalism piece on our summer of social distancing.
Wishing you all a good Sunday evening, and a nice long weekend if you have one ahead of you.
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