Waiting to Exhale


I know as problems go, this is not the biggest thing, but I really miss practicing yoga in a studio.

“We recently had to make a very hard decision to close our studio…” read the email from my favorite local yoga studio.

I sat, stunned. Lynne, the owner, had been doing her best to adapt to changing conditions with COVID-19—from closing the doors temporarily this spring to then offering live streaming classes to then gingerly reopening with very limited attendance.

As any of us who love yoga know, much of the practice centers around the breath. With growing evidence that coronavirus lingers in the air indoors, gathering together to practice inside is not advisable in many parts of the country (I live in Georgia, which as of this writing has 120,000 cases, with numbers galloping up by the day).

Breath of fire isn’t safe. The idea of long deep inhales in a group setting is, frankly, terrifying. I know this will pass. But I’m also not going to gloss over a loss—both for yoga business professionals and for the people who love and practice yoga.

We’re grieving a lot lately as a country, losing loved ones, losing economic security, losing housing, losing joy. The joy we feel when we dine out, or hug, or when we hop on a plane and go off somewhere for the weekend, or go visit Mom for her birthday.

We’re losing kindness, as seen in nasty social media interactions over mask-wearing. We’re losing things big and small. So I wanted to take a moment and mourn, specifically, the ability to practice yoga in a studio.

Sure, yogis can practice online with streaming classes. We can pull out our DVDs and mats and play Yoga Bingo with our kids. But it’s still not quite the same as that feeling you get when you see the familiar faces in class or gather around the tea area for a chitchat or hold a total stranger’s legs up for an inversion and giggle together.

The roots of yoga go back thousands of years, and many of the modern techniques are at least decades old. The practice of yoga will survive and that knowledge nourishes me, even at home. I hope many of the currently closed studios will eventually reopen, and the shuttered studios will be replaced by new businesses, blooming like lotuses from the pandemic muck.

Until then, we breathe on our own, knowing we aren’t alone, but part of a larger group, waiting to once again—together—exhale.

(Read about developing an at-home yoga practice.)

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