Yoga and the Transition to the Digital Age

Patricia Namaste

Butt with the Yamaha Jog

I have been teaching yoga since 2014 and full time since I moved to Bristol in 2016. 

My pre-pandemic life consisted of taking the motorcycle and crossing the city to go to the university while watching the sunrise. Most days I had to take my yoga gear with me so that after college I got back on the bike as I crossed to the other end of the city watching the sunset to go to work and from there to give yoga classes.

The time to get home at 9:00 pm and put on my pajamas was my favorite hobby.

Living off charity but privileged

Now most of my days are spent in pajama mode ON. There are days when I take it off just to teach the class and then put it back on right away. Like someone who changes to shoot the scene and then puts on the artist’s dressing gown demanding a glass of red wine from his butler.

Apart from having finished my university degree in the middle of a pandemic, missing that endearing moment of graduation in which the university caps are thrown into the air and getting drunk with my classmates 12 years younger, I lost all face-to-face classes and I I stayed with 3 of my yoga classes online, depending on Boris’s government charity to be able to meet the payments. Charity that has not allowed me to cover the rental expenses during my life in Bristol and the main reason why I decided to restructure my life and return to Spain. Still, I have somehow felt like one of those few privileged freelancers within this trillion-dollar wellness industry that we have received charity, since that charity has not reached the majority of yoga teachers. 

But hey, I’ll save my frustrations for another time. 

My pre pandemic classes, the melting pot for the misfits 

My pre-pandemic classes have never followed stereotypes or fashions, you just had to take a look at the students, I had women and men, non-binary genders, students of mixed abilities, students who bend a lot, others with the flexibility of a golf club, of all ages, from 20 to 80 years old, to students with missing an arm or with a hip replacement, people of all colors, religions and different socio-cultural origins, all in the same room. Creating inclusive spaces is not something that happens by chance, it is something that requires a lot of work, and personally you have to constantly review yourself as a person and as a teacher in order to offer a place where everyone feels seen and respected.

The phases of telepresence yoga

With the covid, yoga classes have also had their phases. There was a first wave in which most of us were motivated to continue online, in the studio where I worked, the classes began to be given through YouTube, to which I thought “well, it’s not a bad idea, here is the opportunity to make some videos of yoga and make them available to everyone ”. 

Soon after came the second wave, that of demotivation, the assists dropped drastically along with my mood. I realized that combining yoga and YouTube is depersonalized, it’s not my thing. Giving yoga classes without human interaction demotivates me, not knowing who is on the other side and how they are taking it creates a lot of uncertainty, you never know if they are following the class, they are doing the idiot with their mobile or eating a hamburger I know!

What I know is that it does not create any connection and interaction between the teacher and the student, in fact it creates more disconnection, I would say. 

With YouTube I felt very lonely at a time in my life when I needed a little more interaction and I suppose my students felt that way too. Besides, I have never been the best actress, I am fatal to get into the role of the happy protagonist while I tell my laptop to do downward facing dog. 

With the third wave has come an air of acceptance and learning for things that I had zero interest in and that are part of my life today. I have had to learn and study as if I were getting a master’s degree in telecommunications, it is said of audio recordings, video recordings, video resolutions 1080p, 720p, 4K but that is full HD. I have had to make peace with social networks and use them in a healthy way as well as educational for myself and for the rest. I have had to invest in camera equipment, sound and light, I spend the day setting up and taking down the stage, “today the plant is here, today the candle there.” In addition to putting a lot of effort and time into building a website. I have also tried various platforms like Zoom and am now exploring Google Meet to see which one is better. 

See your cats and sometimes a good camera angle

But everything has its rewards, I love to see you on the other side despite the distances, but I like more to see your cats, dogs and children invading the territory and stand in front of the camera, which makes me realize who He is the master of your houses. 

Sometimes it seems that I am teaching your sofa, or the legs of the bed, other times you put a focus on me so closely that I can see your facial expressions that it is difficult for me not to take personally the reason for your disgust, then I think “ ah no covid and other emotional shit ”. Other times you point the camera at me so high that I only see your head or when you raise your arms. There are also the perfectionists, those who worry about whether the light and the angle of the camera are adequate.

Weirdly funny and awkward moments

There are times that I witness conversations between couples trying to set the mobile to the TV, ending up arguing with four screams and preparing the fertile ground to sow seeds of patience, love and compassion during yoga practice. The background of each image tells me a lot about what is happening in your lives, the cleanest houses reflecting the loneliness of the single, the boredom of many or the need to bring order to chaos. Other houses with piles of junk reflecting spaces shared with children or roommates, or the apathy of the moment. You are motivated that you prepare the environment with candles, incense, you paint yourself and surely you also put on deodorant and you always appear with your best outfits, then there are those who comb their hair so as not to look bad (here I would enter), or the one that neither He doesn’t even turn on the camera or say hello and goodbye. It’s definitely a lot of information coming from a single screen, while you’re the writer, producer, audiovisual technician, and actress, you teach the class and make sure everything runs smoothly. A paradigm shift. 

Summoning the spirits

The beginnings of each class are more like a séance than a yoga class, are you there? Can you hear me? give me a signal if you listen to me, being rare the day that we do not have a technical failure. My mom has become my number one fan, she buys classes and memberships like the world is ending, even though it’s not a lot of yoga. Some of my friends have also been encouraged to start practicing yoga, although I don’t know if it’s because of how heavy I am, to do me a favor, or because they need it. I guess it will be for a little bit of everything. Other friends also practice when they can for free because they are balder than Tarzan’s closet. 

Sharing awkward shit

Doing the classes electronically has allowed us to create a space to talk about things that in a fashion studio we would never have felt safe doing with people around. Talking about our emotional shit, hangover, or demotivation from being home all day. A space where we share more serious days and other happier days.  The first five minutes of class is the only time of day for many of us of human interaction with people outside of our family environment, because let’s see, we love our family very much but let’s be honest, spending 24/7 together we end up with little patience and a bit of a bad host. In fact, for some people those five minutes of the day are the only time for human interaction, which means something very important for mental health. 

My window to real suffering

Some students have passed the covid, many of them have to start from scratch and some have to learn to live with the consequences, including fatigue and low lung capacity. Seeing them again, even on the other side of the screen, is the best reward of teaching telepresence classes. 

Being by his side during those difficult moments in which some have feared for their lives has been my only window to connect with the real suffering that this pandemic is being. Because while I’m dealing with people, they argue about whether the virus exists or not, about how well or badly the states do it, the media teach us who breaks the rules and reports cold numbers of daily deaths. 

But no media has been dedicated to teaching the history and suffering of who is behind those numbers who have died terrified and alone in an ICU bed, not to mention all who have suffered and died from other diseases being completely ignored by public health. 

No media has taught me the reality of this pandemic, none has tried to humanize us even a little, to empathize, I don’t know. 

What we already know is that without knowledge we will always have a narcissistic, infantilized state and society without critical thinking.

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Patricia Sánchez
Articles: 48

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