pandemic home yoga practice

No place like home

The trials and tribulations of a pandemic-era home yoga practice. By Victoria Jackson

We are living through ‘unprecedented times’, as the new phrase goes — with an unprecedented number of clichés abounding as we try to make sense of the collective experience of the pandemic. I’m wondering what the Oxford English Dictionary will suggest for the Word of the Year. My money’s on ‘Zoom fatigue’ which rates high in my personal lexicon as my day job involves a lot of online meetings!

Online meetings feature heavily in my social life too — not to mention my yoga life. Now magically there’s no associated fatigue; I’m always so happy to see my teachers, even if it’s not IRL (‘in real life’), as we now say.

Online technology also allows me to practice with specialist teachers around the globe in a way that was previously impossible, at least not without serious investment and a lot of guilt-inducing air travel. Now without leaving my home I’m literally spoiled for choice without racking up a single air mile.

Over the past few months I’ve had some fantastic and varied experiences. I’ve studied Sanskrit with a small number of similarly nerdy students and I’ve practiced silent group meditation (yes, that did feel weird online!).

I’ve stayed up stupidly late to join kirtans led from US, mouthing the chants quietly to myself in the dark, and I’ve undertaken some practical teacher training with some of the yoga greats.

All these Zoom sessions can add up. My husband started to complain it was like living in a yoga studio. I thought about buying him some foam earplugs to block out all the yoga talk, but instead I treated myself to an early Christmas present and got some fancy earbuds to connect to the audio.

I think he appreciates the quiet now, although it means he can’t ever be sure exactly what I’m doing in the spare room. He’ll sometimes poke his head round the door to peek at the proceedings. If I’m sitting in meditation or puzzling over a Sanskrit text he retreats quietly. If I’m sweating my way through a challenging asana class he might pause to watch, trying to see what the teacher’s doing on-screen so that he can understand why I’m huffing and puffing so extravagantly.

I belatedly realise that’s the shortcoming of my earbuds solution — they might eliminate the sound of the class as a whole but that doesn’t mean he can’t hear the noises I am making.

After so many months at home, I seem incapable of practicing yoga quietly. Would it make more sense for him to have the earbuds? Perhaps that would be one Christmas present taken care of.

Victoria Jackson lives and teaches in Oxford. She is registered with Yoga Alliance Professionals as a Vinyasa yoga teacher

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