March: One Year Later and the “New Normal”
By Nancy Weshkoff
This March marks the one-year anniversary of the studio closing its doors to in-person classes. It is hard to believe that one year has passed.
Thinking back to March, 2020, it started to become apparent by the middle of the month that New York was in a bad situation. People were getting sick all around us. Hospitals were filling up and beds became scarce. Health care workers bravely and tirelessly put their lives on the line to help as many people as possible. And we faced shortages of supplies such as toilet paper, as well as masks to protect us from the virus. On March 16th, I made the painful decision to close the studio doors due to the pandemic and cancelled the future in-person activities on the schedule.
When I went home that March night, I shed many tears. What I had worked so hard to build for 8 years just disappeared overnight. How did we get here? I went into a depressed state starting that evening and had difficulty getting out of bed. I could not face what was happening. The world that I loved had just turned upside down.
After several days of this, I received a phone call from another studio owner who I had met through training programs. She gave me a jolt to get out of bed and save Moonflower. She told me about the online Zoom classes that she was starting up at her studio. I then investigated Zoom and decided to give it a try. That competitive studio owner, who did not need to help me, gave me some tutorials on Zoom so that I could start offering online classes. I will always be grateful for her kindness and advice. I also decided to attend the tutorials that Zoom provided to help me further understand Zoom, and I am blessed to have an amazing partner in Bob who is IT savvy.
Next came the outreach to the great teachers who had supported Moonflower, and we agreed on new online class offerings to accommodate the Zoom technology. I did test classes with each of the teachers so we could practice working with Zoom. By the end of the month, I was ready to give online classes a try, and I made the announcement of the new online schedule to the Moonflower Yoga community.
There were some hiccups at first. One-on-one Zoom tutorials were offered to some Moonflower clients who needed help navigating Zoom. But overall the launch was a success. Once that was in place, I started to offer some online Zoom workshops and relaunch the Moonflower Yoga Book Club and Needle Arts Group.
And here we are one year later. I never thought I would be spending more than a year in Zoom world – the “new normal” .
Many wonderful things have happened as a result of Zoom. There is no longer a geographic or size limitation to the yoga or meditation classes. Students join me from other states, not just from the local Nassau County or Long Island, New York communities of Bellmore, East Meadow, Merrick, Wantagh, or Seaford. Classes are not limited to 6 people, and several popular classes have more than that number attending. Most importantly, I can still stay in touch with each of you, the Moonflower Yoga community that I love. Social distancing is important to prevent the further spread of the virus, but it can create loneliness. Through the Zoom rooms, we can safely and happily chat before/after class and not feel so lonely and isolated. And, of course, the Zoom classes provide an opportunity to take care of our physical bodies as well as provide relaxation and enable us to de-stress as we cope with our changed lives as a result of the pandemic.
With all the snow that we received in February, having the Zoom classes was a godsend, as we can still hold classes despite the bad weather and not worry about roads being plowed and parking being available. And some of the meditative activities such as Cathi’s lovely Relax and De-Stress with Guided Meditation class on Monday nights, or Jackie Lee’s monthly Yoga Nidra work very nicely when done at home as you can be reclining in your own bed as you de-stress and not lose that relaxation by having to drive home after class. The In the Kitchen with Bob cooking workshop series is a lot of fun, as we connect in our respective kitchens and then enjoy sharing via Zoom the meal we just prepared. Bhante Sujatha, who offers such wonderful wisdom through his monthly meditations for Moonflower Yoga, teaches these meditations from Sri Lanka or Chicago – something that would not have happened in the physical studio world. We have witnessed sunrise over the mountains of Sri Lanka during Bhante’s meditation. Jessica, who taught for the studio for years before becoming a mom and then relocating to South Carolina, can now reconnect with the studio with 2 great weekly yoga classes due to Zoom.
It is also fun to see have some of our furry friends joining the Zoom classes. Walter, the dog, and Daisy, the cat, and others enjoy the Zoom classes also.
There is sadness too. I loved the sound of that creaky studio door opening to signal someone was entering, and I loved popping up from my desk to greet people. I miss giving someone a hug who was having a bad day. I miss handing out essential oils and cards with messages from the universe when people settled into the Moonflower Yoga studio room. I miss doing Reiki training which is not safe to do while the virus is prevalent. And while we do have the Moonflower Yoga Book Club and Needle Arts Group online, I miss the Moonflower Yoga Mah Jongg Club and the new Moonflower Yoga Canasta Club where we had laughs and which must be on hiatus for now.
Like many small businesses, these are challenging times financially. We are doing everything we can to survive the pandemic and keep our heads above water until the pandemic is behind us. It is why I ask you to please support a small business if you can. The dollars that small businesses receive stay in the community to pay for schools, police, sanitation, etc. Small businesses are the lifeblood of our neighborhood.
So what does the next year hold for Moonflower Yoga? Well, it is a continuance of online classes, workshops, and the Clubs for a few more months. I have repeatedly stressed “ahimsa” – kindness. That means I need to keep the teachers and the students safe from the virus, which I cannot due at the moment if the studio doors reopen to in-person activities. We need to have more people vaccinated and for the numbers to drop significantly before I will consider reopening the doors. I do think that will happen but it will take time.
I am so very grateful to those of you who have continued to support Moonflower Yoga through this challenging time. THANK YOU! And for those of you who have not yet tried an online class, I encourage you to give it a try. It is just $11 for a great 30-40 minute online yoga or meditation class with NO contract to sign. Or join us for a great workshop where you learn something new and have fun. The Schedule tab on the moonfloweryoga.com website provides the calendar of upcoming activities. I look forward to seeing you soon!
World Kindness Day
By Nancy Weshkoff
Today is world kindness day. Sanksrit, which is the ancient language of India and the language of yoga, describes kindness as “ahimsa”. Ahimsa is the very first doctrine of yoga – first before you start moving (asana) or meditate. Why is this? You need to be kind and patient with yourself, moving in a way that is right for your body on that date. For me, as a yoga teacher, I practice ahimsa – kindness – to the students who take yoga classes through Moonflower Yoga. I offer encouragement, not criticism, as a student learns how to move in a certain way.
On a bigger scale, I am saddened by so much of the division and hatred that seems to exist in our world today. We are all inhabitants of this planet. Yes, we may have different beliefs, and that’s okay. We can still be kind to each other and respect those differences. When we practice ahimsa, it makes it easier to solve issues, and we can learn to live in harmony.
We also need to practice kindness to our planet. Earth is our home. Be kind to it Recycle items instead of adding to landfills. Use less-toxic products that harm the environment. Plant a tree or some greenery. There are many ways to extend kindness and help our planet.
I hope you will take some time today to just one small act of kindness. Maybe you will call someone who is feeling a little sad or lonely. Maybe it’s doing some outside clean up. Maybe it is doing a random act of kindness for a stranger. Maybe it’s being kind to YOU by changing negative thoughts to positive ones, such as saying “I love myself” instead of “I hate myself”. Maybe it is joining me or one of the other great yoga teachers at Moonflower Yoga for a great upcoming online yoga or meditation class to take care of YOU, so you will feel better and can spread that good feeling to others in your life.
Let’s all practice some ahimsa – kindness – and make the world a happier place!