The quote above is from our yoga friends at the Yoga Academy in China where I visited just a year ago, posting the importance of following through on COVID-19 precautionary measures with full commitment. Like we say in class, the right way is the hard way. They were already two months into a “shelter in place” mandate and studio owner, Jing Zhi Chan, was telling us there are no short cuts in the measures you need to take. If you do, you just might jeopardize a life.
If there is anything our yoga has taught us over and over again, is to be present. Right now we are getting a chance to exercise that in the midst of chaotic times. In that presence, you will endure, you will have patience.
It’s been just over a week since we closed and already it seems so long ago. The last few weeks prior to closing were so hard, navigating the fear and discerning what’s real in this unprecedented global event.
Maintaining a yoga practice IN the midst of uncertainty is THE responsibility I adhere to most, and not just with this virus, in any occasion. At Bikram Yoga San Jose, we stuck it out for as long as we could to give you this home for serenity and healing, until our practice in patience–wrestling with information on this virus and what to do–would turn to an irresponsible lack of presence and compassion if we didn’t close. Yoga’s true harvest bears out when you use the fruits of self-realization to help you move through life from truth to truth.
Last Monday, in our staff meeting from 10-11:30 am, we prepared for closing. Just after, I had a chance to do some overdue grocery shopping with my sister. We parked at home at about 1 pm with the radio on, listening to our local leaders and waiting for an important update. Then, there it was, a directive– a ‘shelter in place’ mandate effective at midnight. I recall a wave of emotion as I sat in my car and just cried. This is real.
We announced our immediate shut-down and all of us on staff wrapped things up, and at 8 pm I was the last to leave. A member walked up with mat in hand ready to take the 8:30 pm class, looking sad and confused. This was a long-time member, a nurse getting a break from her shift to do her yoga – more despair for both of us, as she walked away disappointed and I walked away emotional, numb, and lost.
It’s not really the next day that’s strange, it’s the next day, and then the next. At some point, your mind starts to comprehend that this isn’t days off, like a vacation or PTO. It’s something different and more serious.
Personally, I have built my whole adult life around this yoga and seeing you members every day. I bet you’re having a tough time not getting in your yoga in our brand new home with your yoga peers, and I am right in there with you! I am missing the kindness I get to give just by seeing you and saying hello, and I am missing the kindness you give me every time you come in to do your yoga. The teachers, the staff, all of us are dealing with being cut off from the very thing we’ve chosen to give us life.
One of the first classes I took was the Bikram recorded class in my jammies, no heat, on a towel. Still, it was bliss. I don’t know if the universe intervened here, but I felt like Bikram was shouting at me to pay attention and realize my biggest problem: underestimating who I am by not self-realizing who I am. This isn’t a novel idea, it was more a nudge to “see” that who I am – who we are – goes way beyond a building, way beyond the effects of a virus.
Just look at the good things happening: Italians are seeing fish in their waters; Chinese people are hearing birds in the sky; artists are hosting free concerts online; people are sewing handmade masks for medical staff; kids are home with their parents; we are actually outside taking walks in nature.
BYSJ, you can’t imagine the amount of love your management team has for you. Prior to our departure, the team already had things in place to keep you connected if we had to shut down. I was so inspired that I, too, ran with each idea as it became clear we were closing. I’m so sorry we don’t have our home available to us to practice in with the best yoga room in the world, but we will. This will pass.
In the meantime, use this time wisely and practice the yoga tools you’ve harnessed in the room:
Be that kind of human being others will then also feel compelled to be!
Jessica Guinn came up with this idea: Live-stream Pranayama Breathing every day at 10 AM PST. It’s gone wild as we breathe together and share 2 sets, maybe 10 minutes, uniting in presence with breath!
Sarah Newman reached out to Esak Garcia asking if we can offer his 30-Day Backbend Challenge to our members during this isolated period. He said yes and enthusiastically gave us more to use! We have 123 people on the challenge.
Michael Wickler is posting so many audio classes from teachers around the globe, so that you can practice at home to some of the best Bikram Yoga teachers anywhere in the world.
And so many of our yoga friends around the globe are live-streaming 90-minute Bikram Yoga classes and linking on our group page so you can jump in and do a class live right where you are! We especially recommend Wellness Hot Yoga, Home Hot Yoga, and our neighbors over at Bomitra Yoga Mountain View.
Please join in
Even if you don’t like social media, I’m begging you. We care about you and just maybe you’ll feel a bit of the spirit on that page as you do when you walk in to BYSJ. It’s what we all can share right now. And right now, we need each other – a lot. Before you know it, we’ll be back in our studio home and while it will look the same, it won’t be. It will be better; we will be better with more presence and more patience and more LOVE.
I love you all and will be in touch with updates weekly.
Many of you have suspended your memberships out of financial need. Yet many of you have not, helping our studio immensely during this time. Thank you. I recognize and appreciate both. This is tough for everyone.
Some of you have asked how you might donate during this time of closure. Thank you. 🙏🏾 If you can show support, please donate here on GoFundMe.
All funds are used to help cover costs in the business to include new studio build out costs and expenses; rent; and of course our staff, who continue to keep BYSJ going virtually.
#withme is a hashtag that I love. It says that individually, you and more than 7 billion people around the world are in this, with me.