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Yoga doesn't take time… it gives time

“Yoga doesn't take time … it gives time,” Ganga White.

When MSU closed to in-person classes and Yoga 150 and 230 went online (as did all other MSU classes), I tapped into the depth and power of the practice with the intention of helping my students adjust to our new awkward and uncertain situation.

Rather than holding classes on zoom and requiring them to login at a certain time from wherever they were sheltering, I decided to give them time and space to view video practices online. This format was intended as a way for the students to be with the awkwardness, uncertainty and fear as well as the beauty, simplicity, and peace of pandemic lockdown. I wanted the class to help them be more open and receptive and ready to meet the challenges of this time as well as have energy and a clear mind to focus on their core classes.

Yoga (not just the physical practice, but all 8 limbs) is a practice that can help us navigate our way through life, to see obstacles not as problems, but as opportunities. But if your nervous system is triggered by fear, and you’re stuck in fight/flight/freeze, it is difficult, if not impossible, to be open and receptive to change. You need to feel safe and supported before you can open your mind and your heart.

In simple terms the sympathetic nervous system prepares you to get out of harm's way - to narrow your focus and run, not stop to smell the roses, and get out of there, now! The parasympathetic nervous system, on the other hand, kicks in when you feel out of harm's way - you’re okay, you got this. There are tigers in the jungle but none are chasing you now. You can rest, open your field of vision, open your heart.

To support students in calming their nervous system I shared practices to help them reduce stress and tension in body and mind by tuning into their essential nature of wholeness, peace and ease as well as cultivating self-compassion and inner strength. I recorded the lessons and allowed them to choose when they listened to them.

Here are a few of the comments I received:

  • I was not sure what to expect. I was looking for light stretching and slowing increasing my flexibility. There was a lot of that, but also, a lot of mind meditations. Which I really enjoyed. It was so nice to turn on the feeling part of my brain. I loved the course.

  • Wonderful inclusive and safe environment to learn the practice of yoga! It was a great stress reliever and way for me to forget about all the other happenings of life.

  • The class became a space to help calm and gather ourselves during this unexpected time.

  • The online format proved to be just what I needed to get through my challenging last semester at MSU.

  • Yoga has really helped during these changing times so I'm happy I took it this semester!

  • Turi created an excellent in person yoga experience and worked hard to transition that to our online setting, and successfully so. It has propelled me to seek additional online forms of yoga to complete while spending more time at home.

These comments validate what yogis have known for 1,000s of years: it works. Even when we get to the other side of this pandemic there will be uncertainty. That is the reality of life; it is always changing. I am grateful I have these practices at my fingertips and the opportunity to share them with others. There are countless ways to tap into the vastness of the practice (the 8 limbs of yoga), be it online or in-person classes or an app on your phone. And when you hear yourself say you don’t have time for it, that is when you need it most.

As Ganga White said, “Yoga doesn’t take time, it gives time.” Yoga creates space in our minds, heart and body so we can be who we are supposed to be. Yoga teaches us to live in the present moment, to be an observer without judgment. It reminds us that our essential nature is of wholeness, peace and ease. It helps us cultivate self-compassion, inner strength and connection to all of life.

Wishing you a sense of safety, connection and self-compassion amidst the awkwardness of life.


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