*A Family Story of Connection, Support, and Love: Part One.
For many years my personal yoga studies and practice were home based utilizing expert guidance from the various media of the times:
While raising our sons and working, attendance at live classes was not only impractical, but to be honest, intimidating. Eventually there was YouTube released 2005 and Zoom, 2012. I’d had a few Zoom work meetings over the years, but never had I ever imagined it would be so important to my life as a yoga teacher, mother, family member, and friend!
Profoundly and importantly Zoom yoga has enabled a simultaneous practice with my wonderful students and I from across the city, state and country. We chat and see each other in real immediate time.
There is an opportunity to connect before and after class, along with the simple, deep awareness that people we care about are sharing a positive holistic, healthy experience. During and beyond the pandemic…
I recently had the idea to document this beautiful experience after teaching a second chakra creativity themed class, Yoga practice is frequently a fertile ground for creative ideas as I discuss in this post.
I have the honor of sharing the particular experiences of four wonderful family members in four locales across the U.S. We have been practicing together in my class essentially since the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown in Spring 2020. However, even as the lockdown has eased up, practicing on Zoom has maintained it’s viability. As you’ll watch, listen and/or read below, their observations are astute, and beautiful!
Now, I’d love to introduce you dear reader to Carol, her daughters Mindy and Sara, and Aunt/Sister in law Gina.
Let’s start by sharing where you live, please. Had you all previously gathered on Facetime or Zoom for conversation, etc?
Carol: I live in Bend, OR. I keep in touch with (Sara&Mindy) via phone or FaceTime , and occasionally we do three-way FaceTime visits
Mindy: I live in Washington State. I had used zoom before in other educational pursuits and professionally.
Sara: New York City, NY I’ve been operating remotely for many years in business and socially. My family became keener to connecting remotely more recently.
Gina: I live in Yorktown, New York, about an hour North of NYC.
What has it been like for you knowing your family is practicing with you in real time? How has that knowledge encouraged your commitment to Sunday class?
Carol: Practicing with my two children in real time is truly an unexpected blessing from COVID. Sunday mornings have become a treasured bonding experience for me.
Even on those weeks I don’t get to see or communicate with my girls as much as I might want, we always have Sundays where I know we are sharing something special. I tell everyone how much I love my Sunday Yoga—even mentioning it in my annual holiday letters to friends and family in December! This has totally encouraged my commitment!
Sara: I enjoy practicing with my family. There was actually a period when my Mom and I were at odds and we only saw each other in Bonnie’s remote class. As a sidenote, I perceive that I can sense into my Mom’s perceptions of body, so I do my best to manage that. (This is essentially an idea from Access Consciousness, a method I practice/offer.)
It pleases me that she is choosing a more gentle Yoga practice, through Bonnie’s classes, and she is kindly gifting it to Mindy and to me.
Mindy: As I reflect, a lot of my connections to yoga have been with or through my family. As a mom and a business owner, I find myself most attracted to activities that hit several notes in one stroke.
That this opportunity with you has allowed me to strengthen bonds to, and feel as if I had spent time with, my mom and my sister, and has allowed me to exercise and meditate at the same time(?!)…well, it has been a lot of green lights all at once.
Gina: I find I look forward to Sunday mornings and being a part of this group. It is an hour of time to devote to my own self-care that makes for a better me going forward.
I love the family texts/ phone calls that happen after class. Sharing again with each other how much fun it is to know we were doing this class together. I actually told Ron (husband) this morning that it’s one of the reasons I participate in this class. I get to do it with family.
How were you practicing yoga in the months/or years before covid-19 (March 2020)?
Carol: When we lived in Poughkeepsie, NY I practiced Yoga at a small, quirky local studio once or twice a week. From 2007 until 2020 I had been regularly practicing at an Iyengar Studio here in Bend 2-3 x per week. I did several weekend long workshops with Iyengar teachers from all over the country, It was then that I also developed a home practice, simply doing basic asanas including shoulderstand and headstand. When we began wintering in Marana AZ, I found an Iyengar Studio in Tucson and made it into the city once a week while I continued my home practice. This is where I met my friend Karla and it was she who introduced me to Bonnie in Tucson.
I found Bonnie’s Sunday morning classes a welcome change for my aging body and my new realization that Yoga did not always have to be a physical challenge and could bring me spiritual offerings as well.
I did still attend my Iyengar classes in Bend, but I skipped the Advanced classes, learned to rely on props more, to relax a little—especially after back surgery in 2018. Then we stopped spending our winters in AZ. I had a full knee replacement in 2020, and then everything shut down. I was thrilled to hear from Karla that Bonnie was teaching via Zoom!
Mindy: I was practicing intermittently at best. I have always had a deep affection for yoga but have also not always made it one of my staple ways to work out. For many years I had the good fortune to attend a class that was held weekly, pre-dawn at the very base of the mountain where I lived and worked. There were only a few who attended, and we were always just waking up. I adored this teacher. The practice was intense and felt rigorous. It paired well with the brutal cardio workouts I was doing on dvds in my living room. Then the teacher out-grew her surroundings and I had a second baby and started a business.
I continued yoga sometimes by joining my son’s one room schoolhouse in their morning practice, occasionally attending a class in town or with my mom and sister when we gathered.
Downward dog always feels like home. My mom and sister tend to link me to my practice.
Sara: I have been practicing Yoga for about 20 years. I’ve practiced in studios, (upstate New York, San Francisco, New York City, India for Yoga Teacher training, and beyond). I often used DVDs in the past, rhen live classes, YouTube etc. There was a time when I participated in 1-3 daily hot Bikram classes in San Francisco. Wow.
I have also been meditating daily for 20 years, which if I recall correctly, Patanjali deems meditation as Yoga and asana as the lead up to it. My meditation practice has included retreats, the longest was 28 days in silence at Spirit Rock. In 2009 I participated in Yoga Teacher training Moksha/Modo in Kerala India, the subsequent 12 months of certification, plus other workshops, over time.
Gina: Just prior to the pandemic I took a yoga instruction course for group exercise instructors for Continuing Ed. (Gina is a group exercise instructor and trainer) I had no previous formal yoga instruction other than the occasional class at the gym.
Honestly, Yoga wasn’t my thing. Covid and the shutdown came along and I have to say I didn’t feel my best self physically or mentally. I needed something to help me thru this funk. Carol had raved about her yoga class often in our phone conversations. She mentioned that Mindy and Sara joined her in this Sunday morning zoom class. The idea to join came along at just the right time.
Turns out yoga can be my thing. I instantly loved the class and Bonnie, the instructor. She is a good communicator, knows her craft and encourages your individual self’s best practice, with modifications and safety at the forefront. For me she is a role model as an instructor and often confirms my own beliefs for how to instruct, which I found boosted my own self confidence, which was recoiling a bit, if I may admit, during my hiatus from my best self during Covid and what felt like a very long shutdown. I found I looked forward to Sunday mornings and being a part of this group.
Coming soon Part 2: Unexpected gifts of home practice and more surprises.