“I imagine all the closures and cancellations give people a sense of ominousness. But it's really an amazing act of social solidarity: We're sacrificing so we can give nurses, doctors and hospitals a fighting chance. Start from there and hopefully we can figure out the rest.”
-Matt Pearce, Los Angeles Times, March 12th 2020
That quote is from a tweet my brother tagged for me nine days ago, March 12th 2020, when we “paused” all classes at Loft Yoga Bay Saint Louis and moved on-line. Today you might think, “Well of course they stopped having in person Yoga classes, the NBA just suspended games”. But on March 12th in Mississippi, everything was still open—it was a different world than today—just nine days later. We were “questioned” on that decision in our local Community.
I had been in Louisiana the three days prior to March 12th and had reason to believe I had been exposed to COVID-19. Had I walked into the studio that coming weekend (I was scheduled to teach four classes), I risked exposing ~40 people over 4 days. Someone said to me, “But our age group isn’t really at risk” and my response was, “It’s not about our age group, I’m not really worried about me or most of our students who are healthy. I’m worried about my mom and other vulnerable people in our Community. I’m concerned about spreading it to our students who could give it to others that are more vulnerable, and in turn contribute to overwhelming our healthcare system”.
I am a scientist by education and we started mandating telework at my “day job” on March 12th. My brother is a hospitalist and specializes in informatics. He knows all things medicine and statistics (in my opinion). My brother was the one to tell me to stop “in person” Yoga studio classes. “You have to stop and it’s the right decision no matter what anyone else says or thinks.” It wasn’t about the news or panic; it was about the COVID-19 data, putting Community first, and our healthcare system.
Things changed quickly. By March 15th Mississippi schools we’re extending spring break for a week and preparing to move on-line, businesses were beginning to change policies. I had students go from “What? Why?” on March 12th to “We’re not comfortable coming in” by March 15th. Today, March 21st, our County Board of Supervisors passed a proclamation closing all non-essential businesses. While it's painful, it sucks, and it's terrible for the economy, there doesn't appear to be another option for our Community as a whole to give our “nurses, doctors and hospitals a fighting chance”.
However, just because you can’t come to a “brick and mortar studio” doesn’t mean we can’t be together. March 13th Loft Yoga posted our first YouTube Yoga video via social media and we were fully on-line with free “Loft Yoga Live” classes by March 15th. We’ve been going strong this week with 13 Yogis on-line just this morning! We’re having “live” Yoga classes every day and we open the virtual Yoga room ~30 minutes before class for “coffee, tea, and chit-chat”. Students come early, turn their audio and video on (it’s optional), and we all laugh and talk together. We see dogs, kids, spouses, and homes while catching up. Yoga Instructors are teaching out of their living rooms and no one cares. We are still engaged in Sangha, Community. We’re “Social Distancing”, but we’re not being distant socially.
If you are lonely, scared, or quarantined, please reach out to us. If there was ever a time to reach out, this is it. If you don’t have anyone and you don’t do Yoga, then get on-line with us before a scheduled class and join us for Community “chit-chat” (or whatever you want to call it!). You can jump off before class starts. We don’t care! We just want you to know there is a Community waiting for you with open “virtual” arms.
-Sincerely and with Love, Alyssa, Loft Yoga Instructor