Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Corona Coping: Yoga in Challenging Times

by Patrice Priya Wagner

For the first time in many years, I feel happier staying at home this afternoon than going out to take my weekly yoga class. It's a backward sort of feeling because I'm usually disappointed when I'm forced to stay home on a warm and sunny California day like today.

With an immune system compromised by multiple sclerosis, I'm actually pleased to be typing away at my keyboard with my dog nearby rather than finding myself sitting on a yoga mat less than three feet from the student next to me. What if someone in the class were to sneeze and not cover their mouth, letting all sorts of unknown germs loose in the studio? At home, my dog is the only one who can drag in germs until my husband returns later today, so I feel somewhat in control of the germs I may encounter in the next few hours.

Not only is there an upside to staying home because I'm avoiding countless germs, but I'm also getting the chance to chat with my elusive family members. I don't feel isolated today with all the text messages coming through as I try to write this. I'm on a texting thread where there are at least two separate topics of conversation happening: the effect of the coronavirus on the stock market and whether or not schools will close where I live and in New York (Manhattan). I keep switching from tapping at the keyboard as I add to this article to reading the newest text message on the thread before the discussion gets too far ahead of me.

Then I see a photo of a goat cheese roll in a deli freezer with the question, "Should I buy the large one?" At which point I have to jump in just to keep my sanity, so I text message that non sequiturs have no place on this thread. With seven people chatting, it isn't polite to ask a question pertinent to just two in the group. But then, people in my family always do talk over each other in person—why should texting be any different? We're just like that. No one replies to my message so I figure they may have chosen to start a new thread without me to discuss the merits of large goat cheese rolls. Fine with me so I can get back to writing an article.

I'm not saying that this new existence of being cooped up inside is enjoyable for everyone. I understand that folks who are healthy want to go out and socialize, at least have a meal in a restaurant with other people around. During these strange times we're now living through—our first pandemic in over 100 years—people who are usually highly active may get a taste of the physical isolation that people with disabilities deal with on a daily basis. For someone like me, it sure is nice to have more friends and family members to share the experience with on a sunny day when I can't go out to play.

So if you know people who are self-quarantined or who are practicing social distancing to prevent the spread of the coronavirus—or if you’re in this position yourself—remember to reach out to others! In times like these, a simple phone call or a group texting session can make all the difference. This is one way you can practice karma yoga, selfless service, during these challenging times.

Patrice Priya Wagner, RYT 500, C-IAYT, teaches yoga to people with disabilities and offers meditation workshops in Oakland, California, and has been published in New Mobility Magazine, Works and Conversations, Artweek, and Kitchen Sink. She is Managing Editor of the Accessible Yoga Blog and a founding member of the Accessible Yoga Board of Directors.   

This post was edited by Nina Zolotow, Editor in Chief of the Accessible Yoga blog and co-author of Yoga for Healthy Aging: A Guide to Lifelong Well-Being.

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