Who would have thought that our routine YMCA yoga classes would give rise to a group of women who would not only thrive during the Pandemic, but would also become a spiritual, emotional, cultural, and culinary support group! What started as a casual “coffee and” after pre-Pandemic classes became coffee “and so much more” once the quarantine was in imposed. We shared culturally diverse treats, literary discussions, latest COVID news, family updates, recipes, fears, joys, and memories. We met at outdoor parks, including Mizner Park, fully masked and distanced. There was one thing missing: we missed our yoga practice, even though virtual classes were available, as were the videos on Y 360. One of our yoga teachers Ganna, had joined us occasionally for our coffee sessions and was more than happy to embark on our next adventure: outdoor yoga, masked and safely distanced, in my backyard! Thus began our bi-weekly gatherings which sustained us through the height of the quarantine and beyond.
Ganna was able to add the element of yoga that is missing from virtual sessions and YouTube videos. Through breathing, meditation, deep stretching, and guided poses we were able to close off the outer world noise, fear, and separation and become connected in more than a physical way. She would assess the mood and help us to set our personal intentions and keep us grounded in the moment. Paula, Shawna, Melinda, Annu, and I would spread our mats out on the grass, look up at the sky, and listen to the birds and tranquil Zen music and Ganna’s soothing voice (occasionally disrupted by motors and cutters of the gardeners in the neighborhood!) After our sessions, we sat safely distanced for Keurig coffee and shared treats accommodating gluten free, vegan, and sinfully rich. Our taste in food was as diverse as the cultures we represented: Ukrainian, Israeli, Indian, Italian and more! What a joy those days were amid so much sadness, pessimism, and confinement.
Once the YMCA opened, we were cautious about returning. The summer heat dictated indoor practice so we are back at the Y, although Shawna will return from Canada in the fall. We limit our exposure, but welcome the return of our traditional yoga classes. We still meet biweekly when we can for a “hot” outdoor practice in the shade of trees, but don’t spend the two hours we used to for catching up and sharing our lives. Pandemic gave us the gift of time and we used it wisely. The Y gave us the opportunity to connect, and we did.