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“Yoga in the time of COVID” by Colleen Wilson

October 20, 2020

A reflection based on “Love, labour, laugh” Sadhana 2020 with Krisna Zawaduk

I was “cookin’ with gas” in the Summer of 2019, when I participated in my first Sadhana. I felt connected with the Kelowna Yoga House community – in and out of class.  I was at KYH at least a couple of times a week for classes, I participated in special events and activities regularly, and as a member of the KYH Board and Marketing Committee. I would zip down to KYH on my bicycle; cool wind in my face, arriving energized and refreshed.

And then 2020 happened. This Sadhana  “Love, Labour, and Laugh” in the time of COVID would offer a different experience.

I set up my computer and my yoga mat with props at home in the upstairs hallway, as I’ve done all summer.  My things are ready, but I’m not. I’m late to join the Sadhana by ‘zoom’ session due to a mini-melt-down-in-progress. Living arrangements have shifted as we’ve adjusted to accommodate two teenagers needing more space. We’ve been at home together for 7 ½ months. My workspace/yoga studio is not yet ready.

I need this Sadhana. I snap out of it, sit down on my mat in the hallway and join the session minutes later. I am immediately absorbed by Krisna’s introduction.

Each day will be structured in the same 3-part way and it provides a comforting echo of our practice a year ago.  This daily structure also echoes the words and advice of BKS Iyengar that inspired our Sadhana title:

“Practice with love, live in it and labour in it and laugh at failures.”

  1. Beginning / ‘Love’

Readings / verses followed by our usual three Oms and then the invocation. It’s thought provoking and soothing. We take our time. We settle gently into our practice with love.  My favourite reading is from ‘Tree of Yoga’ by BKS Iyengar. It talks about courage and faith, and the difference between belief and faith.

  1. Middle / ‘Labour’

Asana practice that lasts approximately two hours. Obviously this is the labour. Krisna has to repeatedly remind us that asana is a process, always with three parts:

Entry – find the steadiness; find the quiet

“Repose” – ‘hold’ and go [sink] deeper

Exit – retrace (in reverse) your steps for a graceful exit

Even via Zoom, Krisna is somehow able to see what needs correcting or refining.  She guides students to make those seemingly teeny, tiny tweaks that help every pose somehow feel bigger, deeper, and longer. 

Our teacher must offer regular reminders that this yoga-sadhana is our own; it is truly for all levels of practitioner.  Yoga meets us where we are.  It’s essential to bring a gratitude-attitude to that meeting – it’s a meeting with ourselves.  And, as we know, any meeting is far more fun if it involves laughing, especially a ‘zoom’ meeting!

On Day 3, Krisna proposes a fun twist to asana practice for Day 4 -  poses by request. The idea is that she will help us tackle our nemesis pose(s).  With roughly half the attendees being yoga teachers, poses are requested that I’ve never heard of, let alone attempted. This sounds like Cirque de Soleil yoga. These are wild ‘n crazy moves. Krisna calls these ‘pretzel poses’.  I don’t freak out because I know Krisna will simply continue to teach like she always does. Mindful that she is teaching ‘all levels,’ she will offer alternatives for less experienced yogis, and for any / all other participants who need any special consideration, whatsoever. She demos step-by-step how to build each pose; body part by body part; layer by layer. Three steps to every pose, always.  This is work-in-progress. “No effort is ever wasted,” as Krisna says.

And then a brief break before we transition to Pranayama.

  1. End / ‘Laugh’

Pranayama. At the end of Day 3, I emailed Krisna to say that everything feels challenging for me, perhaps especially the pranayama. I cannot seem to relax enough to slip into the different breath patterns we practice each day. I’m the person who still needs to be reminded to ‘breathe!’ during asanas.  This challenge is even more of a challenge this year during my  ‘hall-yoga-Sadhana’ and the whir of my family around me at home. On Day 4, Krisna instructs us to roll up two blankets (or towels), one for each side of the head. And, to use something to cover our eyes. A belt works. The buzz of family life is quieted. I finally am able to sink into a deep Savasana – steady, quiet and peaceful.

Mine is not a perfect practice for oh-so-many reasons.  Sadhana 2020 has reminded me that’s okay. More than okay.  Iyengar yoga is hard work. It is an encounter with your self – body, mind and heart.  The only way to approach it is with love and gratitude.  And I do…  although sometimes I do not ‘feel the love’ until Savasana. I used to feel guilty about that. And now I just laugh.

Already, in hindsight, how perfect that Sadhana 2020 had to take place at home via ‘zoom’ in less than studio-perfect conditions. The pandemic is destabilizing. COVID is a black question mark. Yoga is a clear exclamation mark. As I am writing this, things are evolving at home. Turns out I won’t be getting a room of my own with a door after all. So, for now, I will carry on my practice in the upstairs landing/hallway.  I call this practice ‘All levels Hall Yoga’  And I am grateful and relieved that Krisna’s course offerings* via ‘Zoom’ this Fall are structured to reflect and support the essential parts of a comprehensive yoga-Sadhana practice. Even if it has to be at home. Even if it has to be in the hall. Lol.

Colleen Wilson is new to yoga.

*Find senior teacher Krisna Zawaduk’s course offerings to support your own yoga-sadhana practice by visiting:

https://www.yogawithkrisna.com

 

 

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