In March of 2020 when my city shut down because of the Covid pandemic, I had the best sleep of my life. That might seem like an odd reaction to a global crisis but for me, it was the first time in years that I had no responsibilities and no choice in the matter. My grandmother used to describe herself as a workhorse and as the years have gone by, I find that I am very much like her: an “A” personality, obsessed with organization, full of matter-of-fact opinions, biased, insecure, driven to succeed and most importantly… unable to be idle. I am definitely not a show pony. I am a workhorse. I’m the one that will get the job done, no matter what.
When the shutdown began, I found myself with no work to get ready for and no work to do. I could simply get off the never-ending treadmill. Wow. I went to sleep for a few days, getting up occasionally to eat something or watch the news. Eventually the workhorse mentality kicked back in, and I began to move ahead. I organized the entire house, paring it down to either essentials (I need it) or treasures (I love it). I studied books that I had picked up on my world travels about acupuncture and fascia. I knitted shawls and hats and scarves and baby sweaters. I developed a series of free yoga and dance classes that I posted on Vimeo. I established a regular house cleaning routine that I’m still using today. Basically, I used the first six months of the pandemic to organize my life to its most efficient point.
The next year and a half was an uncertain tango between the varying restrictions within the schools and yoga studios that I worked in…opening, closing, reopening, reclosing, etc., etc. Life became more about being fluid, adaptable and forgiving. I weathered the uncertainty by working on things that I could control. I learned to enjoy walking (a long story for another day), I biked more, I spent two months exploring soup recipes from around the world, etc. Luckily vaccinations, vaccine passports, mask mandates and public health measures started to add some stability to the life in the city and yet at the same time, it brought some insanity into the yoga studios.
I have never claimed to know everything, but I do feel that some people in the yoga industry (with the support of the government) made an egregious mistake when it came to ensuring the safety of their workers and clients. During the period when mask mandates were mandatory for all indoor settings, yoga studios (like gyms and restaurants) were given an exception. You had to wear your mask at all times within the studio until you stepped onto your socially distanced yoga mat where you were allowed to remove it. I’m not even going to start with the yoga studios that interpreted six feet apart as being six feet from the head of your mat to the head of the mat in front of you, or eyeballed the distances, but my question is this…does air stop moving at six feet?
I’m an ex-smoker and I cannot begin to count how often I would watch a cigarette smoke cloud float across an entire room during a boring rehearsal (from back in the days when smoking was everywhere). Okay, so if we can agree that air travels wherever it wants, why not just get everyone to wear a mask when they practice? I cannot begin to count how many times someone coming into the yoga studio has told me how impossible it would be to breath with a mask on. I disagree. Uncomfortable? Yes. Inconvenient? Yes. Something to adapt to? Yes. However, dance companies and dance schools across the globe continued working while masked throughout the entire pandemic, and you know what? Dancing is way harder than a vinyasa class. There’s a reason why as a sixty-seven-year-old lady, I can do a vinyasa class pretty much every single day of my life. It uses different muscles; it does take physical effort but It’s not even a fraction of the effort I had to use in my dance career.
I have been double vaccinated and have had one of the booster shots, and yet, I got Covid. Luckily it was a very mild case but the fact that I got it does not surprise me in the least. Going to work throughout the pandemic has been kind of like playing a non-ending game of Russian Roulette. Eventually your number is up, and I work in an industry and live in a province that puts profit (and on one level financial security) over safety. I get it. There was no perfect answer to the problem, and I am grateful that some of the yoga studios I work for managed to survive the pandemic and provided me with some financial security. But wouldn’t it be nice if we could all just stop lying to ourselves and had real conversations about assessing risk?