Yoga in the Time of COVID-19

“The root of suffering is resisting the certainty that no matter what the circumstances, uncertainty is all we truly have.”
― Pema Chödrön

Life is always uncertain, as Pema Chodron reminds us in the above quote, but DAMN. Lately it’s been super duper extra uncertain. The novel SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus (COVID-19) started as an epidemic in Asia, but is now a global pandemic. The virus behaves erratically, kills indiscriminately, and has forced most of us to remain in our homes most of the time. It has decimated large swaths of the American economy, causing more than 20 million people to lose their jobs. I am fortunate to work as a data analyst for a healthcare company that’s doing pretty well. I’ve been doing my usual work remotely since March 12.

So if ever there was a time for yoga, it is now. (The time for yoga is always now, by the way, according to the very first verse of Patanjali’s Yoga-Sutra.)

But all the studios are closed and I don’t have enough yoga experience to know which poses to do in what order, or even which poses exist, you might be thinking. Fair enough, but we have been afforded the blessing of extra time and the ability to practice live, online with some of the best teachers in the country. I plan to offer a few on-demand (not live) yoga practices on my Vimeo channel by April 30, but in the meantime (and after), here are the teachers I recommend you get to know in the virtual world:

  • My main teacher, Ti Harmony, Carrboro, NC. His online classes are donation-based and all-levels, so some yoga experience is nice, but he’s very responsive to verbal and chat questions. He incorporates a spiritual, philosophical, or anatomical teaching into each class and often stays with a theme for a week or so. Most of his classes are somewhat rigorous, but there’s no confusing or elaborate choreography and he shows students the poses as he teaches for the most part. You can find his live class schedule here.
  • Alex Auder of Magu Yoga in Philadelphia is a gem of the yoga world! She’s hilarious, irreverent, and takes yoga both seriously and not seriously at the same time, poking fun at faux spirituality and the American yoga and wellness “industries”. She usually gives a little Vedanta teaching during breathwork, but during asana (the poses) expect detailed instructions–more of a mind workout–highly informed by Somatics. If you’re newer to yoga (or advanced enough to care deeply about nuance), take her Fundamentals class. If you’ve practice for a little while, take her Masterclass. Like Ti, she generally runs with a theme for the week. It’s usually the relationship of some body part or system to another.

Others to check out…

  • Juniper Yoga and Healing Arts, Brooklyn – I have greatly enjoyed Deborah Baggs‘ and Alex Tse‘s classes. Fun fact: my college roommate, Amy Baumgarten, teaches pre- and post-natal classes at Juniper. Check her out if you’ve had a baby recently or are expecting one.
  • Kula Yoga, NYC
  • Michael Johnson, Asheville. Michael’s classes blend yoga philosophy, bhakti (devotion), and asana in a really lovely way. His sequencing is unique, but not unduly difficult. Join his email list–he sends video practices that way. Donations are not required, but very much appreciated if you have the means. (He also teaches live stream classes through Asheville Yoga Center.)
  • Thousand Petals Yoga, Chapel Hill, NC