I wanted to drop you a quick hello, share some positive news, and say mahalo!
I hope you find that week x (I have lost count) of quarantine is going well for you! I am so happy to share with you that with the donations from my Sunday morning zoom yoga class, I was able to donate $500 to Aloha United Way.
Aloha United Way is a nonprofit organization that has launched a COVID-19 Community Response and Recovery Fund. The donation will help assist in the overwhelming requests for rent and utility assistance, housing, food, healthcare, and more. It will also help answer calls for help and provide referrals to resources, ensuring that our community is taken care of in terms of support for critical human services during these challenging times.
It is incredible that we can come together during a crisis and help raise money. I don't take my position as a yoga instructor for granted. I know that with the help of my students and community, we hold a lot of power to improve the world around us. We hold this potential for good on a daily, moment to moment basis, where smiling to a stranger might radically improve their day, or expressing gratitude to a bank teller, might remind them of the value they to bring to the community. My thinking is that when we feel better, we do better. And yoga makes us feel better!
And right now, we are doing better! In this case, with COVID-19 and the emergent need for help, worldwide, we galvanized around one specific cause. I have seen this ability of the yoga community to rally around a cause many times; I have taught fundraising classes for breast cancer before and "Downdogs for Diabetes" and many others, and each time I am left amazed and inspired.
Where simply by downdog-ing and chaturanga-ing, we made a tangible difference. It is not the ethereal ripple effect of your yoga practice. No, trust that, we can see the impact here.
Mahalo, to each of you who took the time to show up on your yoga mat. Thank you for practicing and sharing your energy with me and everyone else in class - virtually! Teaching online, has been a really special experience so far. I have seen so many of my students, many of you have moved off island, others have never lived on island, and we even have international yogis joining class! Some of you I haven't seen in 11 years! And yet, here you all are, practicing online with me! It warms my heart. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
I am committed to continuing to donate 50% of all proceeds from my Sunday yoga class to COVID-19 community needs.
Join me for the Sunday Yoga Flow, every week, from 8-9:15am via the same link as every other week. If you haven't joined yet, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for the link and password if you plan to attend class this Sunday. Let's keep this going!!
I have been eagerly waiting, all day, to sit down and write you all this email. It has been quite the day! I know, whenever you hear that, you instinctively think uh-oh. And you are not wrong there. After one quick morning meeting and teaching my structural kinesiology course via Zoom this morning, I decided I would follow up on the gentleman from AAA's recommendation to get a new car battery. Seems easy enough, right?
Well AAA comes and again confirm (as they did last weekend) that I need a new battery, but advised I take it a mechanic to be sure. So after a jump start, and with my empty tank from my last jump start on Sunday where I drove around for 45 minutes, I decided to brave the roads. I live in Honolulu and I am very loyal to the Honda Windward, as I approached the Likelike tunnel (tunnel through the Ko‘olau Range) I was literally praying to myself - please don't stall. After emerging from the tunnel, I then was sitting at the final intersection with the service shop in sight at the longest red light, it was very suspenseful. Alas, I made it! And you just might be thinking okay, so what? Good question.
I was thinking, gosh, I am drained and have nothing to offer in an email of any sorts today. After I got back home, I made a big batch of tofu scramble. Truthfully, I had started it this morning and left it out when AAA arrived and I had to leave immediately post-jump start. While consuming a second brunch was delicious, it still didn't do the trick. I was still feeling something to the effect of 'ughhhh, today is horrible' - dramatic, yes, but this is how I felt.
I did what any good millennial would do, I googled "what to do when you are having a bad day." I took from the google search what seemed likely to work and boost my energy, spirits, and vibe of the day. I incorporated some of my own strategies too, here is what I tried today, maybe it will work for you too!
1) Pour yourself a "seltzer" as we say on the east coast - modern day translation - La Croix.
2) Read a light book, such as Harry Potter.
3) My Google search told me to pet a cat, but I recommend petting a dog. I hope you cat lovers understand.
4) Walk your dog.
5) Listen to some above-the-line music, I chose Justin Bieber.
6) Go grocery shopping! I know this is a tricky one right now. I will say that Whole Foods has the store very organized. It honestly felt like a little vacation to go into the AC and pick out all of these yummy snacks, foods, and drinks for the weekend. If you had asked me last week if this would make the list, I would have said "oh, heck no." With the store cleanliness and the small number of shoppers allowed in, I am telling you, today it was a vacation.
7) When you get home with said groceries, start by eating something super healthy, such as a smoothie. I had to clear out freezer space, and made Derek and I a huge kale/fruit smoothie. I also opened up the Veggie Sticks while making the smoothie, to hold me over!
8) My little brother challenged me to a virtual game of beirut. I have NEVER played mobile phone games, ever, so I downloaded it and let's just say it's not my forte, but it is fun! And brothers are awesome.
9) Shower! Getting clean, lets you just leave the day behind, and start fresh.
10) Make any apologies that need to be made. Husband? Not sure who else I could have offended today. I even had the thought of picking up the phone to call the Honda Windward just to say "thank you" - because, goodness, I have no idea what kind of vibe I was giving off today while I was there. And driving home with my car battery replaced, I was feeling very grateful for all of the essential workers, particularly those that just helped me.
I guess, even though today wasn't rainbows and butterflies, I still feel I can share with you how I went about this annoyance. Yes, the perspective that my problems are nothing compared to many others right now, was not lost on me. I thanked a gentleman at Whole Foods today, just for working (does anyone else do this?). He replied, with surprise, "Oh you are welcome. I am just happy to have a job right now." Truth.
Despite car trouble, and possibly being hangry, my life is fully blessed. I was speaking mantras to myself as I was approaching the Likelike tunnel 'you will be okay' - and many more - and I was okay. While the picture of anjali mudra above doesn't exactly match my current mood, things are looking very good for the weekend ahead. Maybe you understand where I am coming from here? Long week, a bit of stress, and did anyone else have car trouble? My husband said, "wow, you have been really unlucky with your car lately." Don't worry, I won't go into another long car saga.
What was interesting for me today, was the methods I chose to boost my mood. I didn't use any of the traditional methods of lifting my mood and spirits (ie. deep breaths, yoga, meditation, running), because again, nothing was terribly wrong. I was just annoyed and I think hungry. They say, if you feel tired, before jumping to the conclusion that you need sleep, you might just need water. In my case, you just need some good food and the reminder that you are okay and all will be okay. And sometimes that message translates in the form of mantras, and other times it is through reading Harry Potter and playing Justin Bieber music.
If you are saying to yourself, TGIF-TGIF-TGIF, you are not alone! We made it through the week. And unscathed. Blessed to just be here. Blessed to be healthy, thriving, and to have such mundane problems as needing a bleeping car battery. And if your problems are bigger than this, you are also not alone. We are all there with you. Here to support you. Smile to strangers. Thank tellers. Be kind.
I would love you to join me on Sunday morning at 8am for yoga. Let's begin the week together with a fresh and healthy start. Let's forget these silly annoyances from our days, and practice, seeing the bigger picture. We are here, together, even though virtually, and we can get through this very strange time. It is a tough time, for some more than others, but everyone's feelings are valid. Offer others the same patience you would want, god forbid they catch you in a moment like I was in today, hungry at the car dealership.
Join me for Sunday Yoga Flow at 8am via the same link as every other week, if you haven't joined yet, email me at email@example.com for the link and password.
I wanted to give you three quick updates and ask you a few questions about my upcoming Anatomy of Movement Training Series.
1) Join me tomorrow morning for a Sunday Yoga Flow at 8am via the same link as every other week, if you haven't joined yet, here is the link. Please respond to this email to let me know you are joining and I will give you the password and the details!
2) I filmed a foundations yoga class today for you! I feel the integrity of these asanas can sometimes get lost, when we are always striving to achieve that next pose. It is hugely beneficial to every now and then (or often), hit pause and go back to the basics. Always practice with a beginners mind, be a sponge! I have some editing to do on the video, but it will be available soon. Email me here if you are interested in practicing the foundations yoga practice.
3) With all of the new yogis checking in to the online yoga class, I feel compelled more than ever, to add a foundations yoga class to my schedule. Historically speaking, I taught more advanced yoga classes, but as I get older and my own need for yoga shifts, so too does my teaching. Honestly, while I practice "advanced" asanas such as handstand and forearm-stand, the bulk of my own practice is foundations. This involves a lot of breath work, a good balance between balancing/strengthening/dynamic movements, and a whole lot of slow easy stretching towards the end of practice. I am also very intentional about the way I 'train' my nervous system on the mat in this mind-body practice. If you are interested in joining a live Foundations Yoga Flow, please email me here and let me know what days/times work for you!
What a week. I hope you are all hanging in there. I have progressed through the many phases of quarantine life. The first week went something like this, “wow, I am actually going to be able to sit down and write my dissertation, which means I will graduate!” The second week went like this, “gosh, my back is stiff from all of these zoom meetings, and three hour long lectures via zoom; I no longer stand up to move from A to B.” The third week, was a mad rush to submit to an academic conference, and I was bizarrely productive. And this week, the fourth week, well, it was hard, in some ways.
I wasn’t prolific with my academic work, but I did cook, bake, clean, and workout. Goodness, my daily workouts turned into three hour affairs. Regularly, I run and then I practice yoga. This is standard for me. Now, I run, and then complete what I have dubbed my ‘parking lot workout’ – yes, it takes place in an empty elementary school parking lot behind my condo building.
I have this intense urge to be outside and feel the sunshine on my face, and I think this is why I became motivated to extend my run into this parking lot charade. To be clear, no one is outside, anywhere near me. It feels glorious, to be both working hard physically, and to breathe fresh air, all while outside the confines of my 500 square foot condo. And of course, the sun-drenched dose of Vitamin D helps as well. The parking lot workout consists of squats, forward and side lunges, slides, high knees, kick butt, high skipping, heel lifts, duck walks, but also lots of jumping and dynamic stretching.
After I feel satisfactorily worked, the workout continues, but the locale changes. I walk home and lift weights. And finally, I cap the night off with a juicy yoga practice. It is basically my whole evening, or so it feels. But surprise, it’s only 7pm! This week, my workouts started to creep to earlier and earlier start times. Can you relate?
Alas, the evening continues, I begin cooking up some kind of creative dinner with the groceries I bought a week prior. Who knew that all of these life modifications that we made due to a quarantine would yield so much more free time for us? I did not. I love it, in some respects, hate it, in others. I hate the unknown, the fear, the wondering – did I already had COVID-19 this January when I had the flu? Do I have it now? Does my husband have it? He just coughed…
In sum, this week, I have been a workout machine and a prolific chef/baker. I was actually feeling somewhat upset about my shortcomings in the normal sense of productivity, but I decided to cut myself some slack. As I am sure you have all been reading in every outlet, these are not normal times; of course we don’t need to read that to know that to be the truth. What does this mean for us, then?
My interpretation: it is okay to not be productive, it is okay to be sad, to be frustrated, to be scared, or even to feel grateful for the precious time you now have for other things – family, hobbies, connection with loved ones, or simply cleaning. Honestly, it’s okay to sleep more, nap, rest, or relax. All of these thoughts and feelings are valid.
As I mentioned previously, I have progressed through all of the phases of quarantine life. Initially, I thought, quarantine living fit my needs, as a self-proclaimed academic-introverted-homebody, fairly well. Now, I can safely say, I miss moving all over town, I miss walking from my office to a meeting down the hall, I miss Jacque from the local grocery store, who I used to see almost every day. I miss seeing friends’ faces, in person. The biggest adjustment, however, is feeling at peace in the present.
Once I got over my own productivity debacle, I had to put in some serious work to calm my nerves when it came to thinking about my family and loved ones, but also, global concerns. There are so many unknowns, health and financial, and it’s a little bit much to wrap your head around at one time. So give yourself the time, cut yourself some slack, ease up on your own expectations. After all, you are trying to figure out humanities issues alongside your own, that is a lot for one person to handle!
My mind oscillates from feeling this sense of impending doom to ‘wow, it’s really great to have my husband in the adjacent room – I am grateful.’ What in the heck? It is a confusing time. And it is okay, to feel joy and fear, to feel productivity in your work, or to up your sloth game for a bit and sleep more. Strange times, take some adjusting, and maybe some strange measures.
I am not prescribing sloth-ing around, I am simply saying, be more gentle with yourself. I am saying, amen, to equal part sloth-ing and producing. It is a wonderful time to learn more about yourself – your tendencies. Observe how you are dealing with the events of today. In fact, my own personal greatest insights into my handling of the COVID-19 quarantine, have revealed themselves in my journal. I shared some of the thoughts in last week’s yoga class, the theme was gratitude. This is a big cliché, in the yoga world, but hear me out.
I was looking at my to-do list with a lot of heaviness, thinking I have all of these things to do. I took a lunch break to eat and read the New York Times. I read about the outbreak in NYC and the toll this virus truly takes on you, mentally and physically. I thought, rather morbidly, I better appreciate what I have right now, while I have it. Others cannot, simply enjoy an evening run, it’s not a chore, but a gift. Others cannot, roll out of bed, get ready to lecture and pop on the computer to give a lecture to 30 eager undergraduates via Zoom, they’ve lost their jobs. My job is a gift.
I started to look differently at the opportunities I had in front me, because they were just that, opportunities. From this new perspective, they looked a whole lot more like gifts, now. And I was grateful, I am grateful.
I am grateful to the quarantine period, thus far, because in addition to doing my part and feeling as though I am a contributor to the greater good (albeit in the smallest way), it has shifted another perspective for me. It has given me a no BS attitude when it comes to many things. Any excuse that you are about to give as to why you can’t complete this work, go for that run, enjoy that yoga practice, bake that bread, walk your beloved dog, or even veg out with your husband and watch that show, LM – yeah, well I don’t want to hear it.
It’s as though, we can’t fool ourselves, and we are able to get to the heart of the matter. The juxtaposition of quarantine living lessons has me confused too, on the one hand it has taught me acceptance (of productivity, laziness, sadness, happiness, worry, fear, joy, love, and hope), but on the other, it has taught me to get-er-done, no excuses.
I haven’t fully made sense of it yet, which is why my thesis to you is, to just let it be, and learn from yourself. Be honest with your why. You don’t need to provide an excuse. It’s just you - and your - work, workout, hobbies, cooking, home, life. Everyone is struggling through this funky time, wouldn’t it be amazing if we could emerge much more self-aware?
Finally, my initial hope with writing you, was oddly enough to simply drop you a note to let you know, I have a new and improved yoga shala (see the photo). My intention was simply to invite you to join me tomorrow morning, Sunday 8-9:15am (HST), for a live vinyasa yoga class via Zoom (but of course). You will be able to see me flow in full camera view, my head will make the frame now, thanks to my husband and his technical skills.
During this quarantine period, I will be donating 50% of the proceeds of each class to COVID-19 community needs. Furthermore, as we continue the fight against COVID-19, I want to support those serving on the front lines. Class is free for all first responders on the front lines, nurses, doctors, paramedics, fire fighters, and police officers. I want to thank you all, for everything you are doing, all we have to do is stay home.
I have always taught donation yoga, and it fits now more than ever. For everyone else, I know times are tough. If you cannot make a donation, please take class anyways. For anyone making a class donation my Venmo username: @LauraMary-Flynn