As a university student, many moons ago, I did yoga. Back in the seventies, it was seen as an odd, eccentric thing to do (and perhaps vaguely subversive). After that, I completely lapsed for years. It is interesting now to see that yoga has evolved, multiplied, and branched out into something socially acceptable, at least in most countries so far as I know. It’s mainstream nowadays. Moreover, yoga in all its manifestations appeals to a wide range of customers; in fact, almost every demographic you can think of. It fills almost every need – relaxation, spiritual upliftment, keeping fit, connecting with nature, and more. Like the “Calm” app, it soothes. Amid the noise and chaos of 2020, we need soothing.
And then, there was (is) COVID-19. The thing about yoga is that you can do it alone quite happily, at home, once you have the hang of it; especially the more simple practices (and some of these are the best). There is definitely a sense of community and sharing in classes, but it’s not strictly necessary.
In Kingston, decades after my youthful experimentations, I began attending classes at TrueSelf Centre of Being – which describes itself as “a peaceful community space” in a gently hilly part of town. The Centre offered the widest possible and available range of yoga classes, besides other related classes – including Susan Goffe’s thoughtful sessions on journaling, drumming, pilates, crystals, meditation, reiki, yoga for seniors, yoga for children, and much more. Also deeply memorable was a Qigong class in the moonlight on the front lawn (Qigong is a sort of super-slow motion Tai Chi). Sadly, the Centre closed in May, due to COVID – but hopefully, in 2021 it will be back. Please!
While at TrueSelf Centre, I got hooked on Kundalini Yoga. Classes are still taking place at the Liguanea Club in Kingston with Tina Kirkpatrick, a wonderful teacher, on Saturday mornings at 10:00 a.m. However, I am eschewing classes until the pandemic is over, although I am doing a few basic exercises at home. There is so much about Kundalini that I love; it has a rather strange reputation and is quite unlike any other yoga that I have ever practiced, I confess – but, it is energizing mentally and physically in an extraordinary way. The breathing exercises are particularly helpful to me, as well as the meditation. It also helps my stiff back. It’s all about the chakras!
Then there is yoga for stress relief; yoga for people (like me!) with joint pains; yoga for back pain (how about the seated “Cat Cow”? You can’t go wrong with that one)…and Karin Wilson Edmonds of Karin Yoga Life is a kind, generous yoga teacher who will take you gently through the exercises that you need to…just feel better. With COVID-19, Karin has “pivoted” and is offering online classes (today’s was free!) and video series, which are incredibly useful – here, on YouTube. She also has a great WhatsApp group – find her on all social media.
The last option is the best for me, at least for now and the foreseeable future…online yoga. I am thankful that I can stay home and do what I can to centre myself. Let’s not forget, too – there are mobile phone apps for yoga and meditation. I have tried one or two (but cannot really recommend a particular one, except for “Calm,” which is not free) – and I am sure some are better than others (I am always downloading apps and then deleting them). Perhaps you could send me your recommendations!
Last but not least… Birds and yoga! Yes, you heard me. Birds and yoga go together in interesting and unusual ways. BirdsCaribbean has partnered with Alex at Spinning Arrow Yoga – who organizes wellbeing and wildlife trips. Her Barbadian husband Ryan Chenery, is a tremendous bird guide at Birding the Islands, so it is a great collaboration. The first rejuvenating yoga and birding tour is planned for March 10 – 19, 2022, in Barbados, Dominica, and Saint Lucia. More details here!
It’s all about practicing yoga in and with Nature. Tuning in with Nature (and ourselves) makes perfect sense to me in these uncertain times. We need to do more of it.
I am trying.