before/after/should/??

It has been 270 days since I’ve set foot inside a yoga studio.

And even that was a one-off, my first drop-in class since six months before that, when the world shut down (Thanks Covid!! 2020 was GREAT!!). Yet here I am, alive and breathing and hardly even going bat-shit-crazy without my regular trips to the studio.

I know; I’m surprised too. As a self-certified yoga addict, I’d expect to be experiencing some kind of horrible withdrawal symptoms. Weekly yoga classes – teaching and as a student – have been an essential, reliable part of my life now for the better part of.a decade (holy, time).

I’m grateful now that long before this pandemic I had established a regular at-home practice alongside my studio classes. #YogaEveryDamnDay ain’t just a hashtag, it’s probably the closest thing to gospel in my world. No word of a lie, the literal only day in the past few years that hasn’t started with yoga turned out to be an overall terrible day. Listen – I have been the weird yogi at the airport, finding some semi-secluded corner to flow through a few sun salutations. Whatever else is on the go, yoga is a top-tier priority. I am not letting a little thing like a global pandemic get between me and my practice.

Doing yoga at home by myself, and doing yoga in a class setting, surrounded by others, are completely different animals though. Although I’ve come to really love, and probably prefer, my solo flow, I do miss aspects of the group. I miss the sense of community, and seeing how yoga brings together such lovely humans from all walks of life. I miss the signature incense-y smell of my favorite hot yoga studio. I miss the quirky wording and personal spin different teachers bring to a class.

As the world seems to get somewhat of a handle on Covid, our list of restrictions slowly shortens as our freedom expands, little by little. And as we ease into what keeps being called “the new normal”, I’ve been asked over and over (and over, a few more times) (1) if I’m “back to doing the yoga” and (2) if I’m teaching again now. 1: Yes, duh, haven’t you gone “back to” doing the walking-talking-breathing? Same-same. 2: Ummmm, about that…

In so many ways, in all our lives, the pandemic has drawn a solid divider, clearly separating the “before” and “after”. I just don’t feel like I’m going to go back to teaching yoga classes, and I’m surprisingly okay with that. I honestly can’t say I’ve missed teaching at all. I miss being a student in class, sometimes, but I still don’t feel any overwhelming desire to “get my fix” of it. For all the things I love and miss about in-studio yoga, there are others I certainly do not miss. I don’t miss the anxiety I’d feel before each and every class I taught, and having to mentally prep myself to do the calm, cool, confident yoga teacher act. I don’t miss the times I’d be signed up for a 6pm class and wind up not getting away from work until 5:30, making it a mad-dash to try and get there (and preferably not at 5:59 – I’m one of those horribly anal people who believes “if I’m not five minutes early, I’m late” – STRESS). I don’t miss the compare-and-despair thing my brain would slip into doing sometimes, where I’d get distracted by some other yogi’s impressive flexibility and spend the rest of the class unintentionally focused on trying to outdo her. (I know I shouldn’t. I know this is unproductive and extremely anti-yogi-like of me. I know. My brain sucks sometimes.)

Honestly, I could rattle off a list of silly pet peeves (wait, I think I already did…) that I do not miss about yoga classes, but that’s not the point here. Just saying that it really is a whole new normal world, and we’re all going to have big adjustments to get used to. All the “should”s from the Before are what mess us up. I *should* miss going to yoga classes. I *should* be teaching again by now. Even though I feel like I *should* feel guilty about my withdrawal from the yoga world, I’m trying not to get too hung up on it. I still cherish my yoga practice. It’s probably become more important to me than ever. But if I worried too much about doing what I think I *should*, I could drive myself crazy trying to go back to a norm that just doesn’t fit in to the After. Am I making sense here?

It’s like…before the pandemic, you’d be at the grocery store picking up some produce, and think nothing of licking your finger to try and open one of those godawful little plastic baggies to put it in. After? Yeah, no. That might just be a thing of the past. And still, pandemic or not, it’s still wiser to not “lick the handle of the shopping carts”. (Anyone else really miss the quotable quips of John Haggie??)

There are going to be things like that in each of our lives; little changes that just can’t be reversed, and some might be harder than others. Try not to listen to the “should”s and try to focus inwardly on what truly feels right to you. You don’t have to go back to things from the Before simply because you “should”; if your After has a new normal that you’re happy with – go with it. Drop the expectations and shoulds, and be kind, patient, and forgiving with yourself as you move past this pandemic and find out what your new norm looks like.

TLDR, or, all that to say – yes, yoga is still the love of my life. No, I am not teaching yoga classes anymore. And yes, I am all-too ready to stop wearing a mask everywhere from the doctor’s office to the gas station (so, SO ready).

You do you, boo. Or do New you, if you wanna, boo.
S’all good. Mai pen rai.
Namaste ❤

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