While the recent Covid 19 has pushed much of the world to shelter in place, many are managing restrictive safety measures by taking their work, study, socialising and exercise online.
We are on a partial curfew here in Cairo with under 2000 cases, so far. Many, however, are taking the advice of government officials to stay home to slow the virus from spreading.
When I paused the program in mid March, I signed up to zoom, sent the students the link and a message that they could join me to practice together. So it’s been a month of meeting to meditate and practice.
I wanted time to understand how to use the platform. See if it really made sense to me.
Within the week, it became the new normal to see zoom screens posted on Instagram. Individual boxes showing students practicing together in their own homes. Almost over night, yoga programs around the world moved their teachings online. What at first seemed exciting made me feel a little anxious. Was this the next big thing? I started to wonder whether we were squandering the opportunity to really self practice?
I debated whether to just continue the casual practice group or restart classes online. It felt good to meet with students but I wondered if the ashtanga teaching method would really translate well online.
Over the last month I’ve taught a few led classes and a Mysore class to test the waters and, actually, I was happily surprised to see how the ashtanga practice translated well online.
What I learned—or, rather, remembered—was this: ashtanga yoga is more energetic than physical. Over the last three weeks, what drew us together was the silent dialogue of practice. Yes, it is personal. But it is also shared. And, in times like this, it’s important to stay connected.
Online, teaching too gets stripped down to the essential. Just as we confuse the practice to be a physical one, we often think of ashtanga instruction as being tactile with its hands-on-adjustments. When in truth, adjustments are sparse in Mysore, India. The teacher’s role is to hold space, to nudge students to walk down a path that only they themselves can go down. At its best, transmission from teacher to student is subtle and unobtrusive. Far too often, teachers (myself included) over-assist and we take on more than we should, stealing from students the opportunity to master an āsana on their own.
As we relaunch the program online this week, I know that we will loose some students in this period. This is a time with shifting priorities. Others, the ones already happily established might choose to self practice on their own. That’s ok. For those joining me, I know things can’t exactly go back to normal, but I know we’ll do our best to move forward, to adapt to challenging times and to thrive with the new opportunities these times and this medium of learning is bringing us.
Mysore Zamalek Classes will restart on Monday, 13 April. Monday and Friday are Led Classes. Tuesday to Thursday are Mysore-style self practice. Please message us if you are interested in joining the program online.