My mom’s senior center yoga group became a virtual class during the spring of 2020. My mom invited me to join the practice with her since my gym was closed during the pandemic.
The class proved to be a great way to keep in touch with mom allowing us to Zoom together three times a week. On the weekends, I usually visited her at home, and we would sit outside on her patio, and then we would walk together up and down her street.
Our yoga instructor, Michele, has created a virtual yoga community. This is so important, since our society is in strictest lockdown that we have ever experienced, and no yoga studios or gyms are even open.
Many of the seniors in this class learned how to use Zoom through this low-stress environment. Then this newfound skill helped everyone to keep in touch with their friends and family, and some of our class members even taught others how to use Zoom.
Each yoga class starts with a group discussion, as everyone is signing in. Then, just as Michele starts to teach us, she mutes each of the participants on the call and we begin to warm up.
Our practice calms us all down and keeps us fit. In addition, the class also provides some needed structure to our endless, unscheduled days stuck at home.
Michele never loses focus, despite any technical issues that arise, and she always stays calm, smiling, and positive. This is true even as she signs herself in and out of the Zoom call to reduce noisy background static, or FaceTimes with another participant who cannot connect via Zoom.
Whether you are late or early for class, you are always happily welcomed. If you are late, Michele’s warm greeting to you occurs just after she finishes teaching the class.
Sometimes Michele takes her yoga mat and laptop outside. Then the class practices with her, hoping that her landscapers don’t arrive in the middle of the session. I always suggest that if they arrive, perhaps they could just join right in with us in an unplanned yoga work break.
When Michele is out on her patio, we relax and follow along with her doing yoga poses, as the birds chirp nearby. Sometimes we observe bunnies on her lawn, daring to come close enough to her to appear on our screens, as she instructs us outside in the sunshine.
Behind her, on these occasional exterior days, we watch as her dad putters around in his backyard or shed, oblivious to the class going on virtually around him.
Sometimes we enjoy other class member’s pets, mostly dogs, who appear and might make a surprise guest appearance randomly during our session.
My mom’s iPad screen most often displays images from her guest room ceiling, but I always recognize the lighting and know that she is participating somewhere below, usually just out of view.
When each class is completed, Michele always states “I am sending you peace, light and love from my heart to yours”. Then, everyone unmutes their speakers and we reassemble back in front of our screens to chat and to thank Michele for our workout.
We update each other about birthdays, grandchildren, haircuts, etc. We also celebrated together when one member of our group finished her chemotherapy treatments.
The class also has a never-ending group text, where discussions are occasionally about yoga, but more often are about birdwatching or music.
I had been practicing with two 2-packs of paper towels instead of using two yoga blocks. Blocks are yoga props that assist you, providing extra support while holding a position.
I finally ordered my own set of yoga blocks from Amazon (thanks essential workers), so that my paper towel tubes will no longer be crushed and now can readily be unwound to mop up spills. This purchase was my tribute to Michele to show how much I appreciate her classes and to demonstrate my commitment to continuing my own yoga practice.
I want to give kudos to Michele for being my new friend, as well as keeping the class calm and connected during this worldwide crisis and continuing to be a ray of sunshine for each member of my newfound yoga community.