Yoga in the Age of COVID
What the heck? There’s no way I can do that!
Thus starts my first chair yoga class at CAMP Rehoboth. But within a few minutes, I am doing a sitting warrior pose. By all accounts, it’s a miracle. I haven’t fallen off my chair yet.
Despite the restrictions COVID-19 poses, Erin Shivone of Lanikai Wellness Studio has spent a good part of this summer teaching classes at CAMP Rehoboth, including chair yoga. Erin, a long-time yoga practitioner who has been teaching since 2013, says that among the many life changes yoga brings are increasing flexibility and range of motion, building strength and muscle tone, and reducing chronic pain.
My having the flexibility and range of motion of a snowman on a 10-degree day qualifies me for this class. Having the strength and muscle tone of a four-year old means I need this class.
I have taken yoga approximately zero times in my life, but even I know you stand, sit, twist, and turn in front of a teacher who, in my case, marvels at my inability to correctly do any of those things.
Not so, it seems at CAMP Rehoboth. But how do you teach 25 people in a pandemic world that requires masks, social distancing, and restrictions on large meetings?
The answer is simple: Zoom. For those who have been totally disconnected during the era of COVID-19 (which actually may be many of you), Zoom is an application that allows you to conduct training online. For Erin’s classes, this online training has allowed her to not only provide stress reducing instruction to CAMP Rehoboth members, but to her students at Lanikai Wellness Studio and in private communities as well.
But surely, the switch to online classes can’t be easy. Erin explains, “I think the biggest challenge right now with Zoom is that I can’t see people,” which makes it hard to cull the herd (no, she doesn’t really say or do that! ). She just cannot see what we are doing and comment on it. Which in my case is good. But she tells me she really misses offering cues specific to the individual student’s needs. Plus, she can’t hug people!
Many students also miss the social aspect of in-person classes. Not me. I’m very happy passing up the chance to be humiliated in public and instead learn a little in my living room. Although yoga students are by definition sweet, non-judgmental people, even I have to snicker at my attempts to stand on one leg, desperately clutching my chair for support. A flamingo I’m not.
Erin says “I’ve never in my life experienced anything like what we’ve gone through the past few months. I think overall we have all learned a lot and are embracing the way we are currently teaching.” A lot of students seem to be embracing it as well.
“It has been such a wonderful experience working at CAMP Rehoboth with Sal (Salvatore Seeley, director of Health and Wellness Programs). I really have been impressed by all the free classes they are offering the community. It’s wonderful.”
My practicing at home is not that wonderful. It seems I do it in my sleep now. Apparently I’m stressing out because in my dreams, I’m doing some fancy moves, pulling my arm over my head, winding up with my leg around my neck. I wake up, happy that Erin’s classes are much easier for me to manage.
So, I keep going to class, ready to stretch, and the truth is, I like it. While all of us long for the day we can once again live and learn in person, Erin and CAMP Rehoboth are bringing us the next best thing. And bravo for them.
So, find out when chair yoga next comes to a Zoom room near you. It’s simple to sign up and log on. Hey, if I can stand on one leg without crashing to earth, so can you. And remember, beat the pandemic, don’t let it beat you. Scare it off with a warrior pose. I’ll do it with you, but only over Zoom!##
Check out camprehoboth.com for information about classes taught through CAMP Rehoboth, look at the list of classes in this issue or on the CAMP Rehoboth Facebook page. You can contact Erin directly at email@example.com.
Michael Gilles is a playwright, actor, and director from Milton, and a regular contributor to Letters from CAMP Rehoboth.