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!
What is Shavasana and why is it so important?
By Nancy Weshkoff
Shavasana is the final relaxation pose that is part of a yoga practice. It is also referred to as “corpse pose”. Of all the poses that comprise your yoga practice it is the most important one. Why is that?
Let’s start by thinking about what a normal day is like for most people these days. We are often multi-tasking. In today’s environment, you may find yourself juggling your work responsibilities with home schooling responsibilities for your children. Have an elderly family member who is staying home bound these days? Perhaps you are also doing shopping for that family member. Or you are multi-tasking in a a work meeting reading and answering text messages instead of concentrating on the meeting. Our bodies are tense from all these responsibilities, and our minds are racing a mile a minute thinking about things that need to get done.
As a yoga student for years, and later as a yoga teacher at Moonflower Yoga, I have seen it happen where a student attends a yoga class and when it is time for that final relaxation on your mat in Shavasana, the student leaves because they have so many things to do. I am so sad when this happens. You are missing the most important part of your practice when you skip this!
Most yoga classes begin with some breathing exercises and then move immediately into “asana”, which is yoga movement. These movements can be seated or standing. This is also important because it enables you to release muscle tension in your body and stretch your muscles. By focusing on alignment and working on your breath, you should find some joy in the movement of your body.
But asana is that steppingstone that opens the door to the loveliness of Shavasana. The great yogi sages put the movement first so that you could release tightness and relax in Shavasana. Shavasana is where you let everything go. In a traditional Shavasana, you are reclining on the floor on your back resting on your yoga mat. It is important that you be physically comfortable, so you can add some comfort by placing a blanket or folded towel under your head or perhaps a rolled blanket or towel under the knees. In the cooler months, you may wish to cover part of your body with a blanket. For some people, having the weight of a blanket can also help you feel more grounded.
Once you are in your set up, you then begin to scan your body and let everything go. In the classes I teach, we start slowly scanning each part of the body to release muscle tension. If anything is still tight, you can send a signal to your brain to relax that area. Just sink into the ground and let the ground support you. The next part is a challenging one for some people: quieting the mind. Thoughts might pop up about things on your “to do” list. Here is where the practice of pranayama – breathing techniques – can help. Focus on your breath to shut off the chatter in your head. Something as simple as saying to yourself “I breathe in, I breathe out and relax” while performing these breathing techniques generates relaxation. For some people, they may find it helpful to replace a negative thought or worry that is popping up in your mind with a positive mantra such as “I love myself” or “everything will be okay”, etc. Once you are settled, then spend at least one minute of Shavasana for every 10 minutes of asana movement, i.e., 50 minutes of asana movement should be at least 5 minutes of Shavasana. If you can stay longer in Shavasana, that’s great.
When you are ready to move out of Shavasana, you should do so slowly. Bring some gentle movement back to the body, and then ever so gradually roll over to one side into a fetal position. Take several breaths in fetal position, and when you a ready, you will slowly come into a seated position for several breaths. Take this time to continue be in the present moment and enjoying this lovely feeling of relaxation before slowly starting to “return to the room” and end your yoga session.
By taking these several minutes of Shavasana for yourself, you are doing positive things for your mental and physical health. It brings you relaxation and can help to balance the right and left sides of the brain. The practice gives you a clearer perspective and helps you better cope with challenges that come your way. You can feel so much calmer from those few minutes of Shavasana.
In the yoga classes that I teach at Moonflower Yoga, I make sure that we focus on this important part of your yoga practice. For now, the Moonflower Yoga studio doors in Bellmore, Nassau County, Long Island, New York are closed due to the coronavirus. Moonflower Yoga is instead offering daily online yoga classes. Come give one of these great online yoga classes a try! Online, remote yoga classes via Zoom offer a nice advantage for Shavasana. Once you are ready to come out of Shavasana, you do not need to get in your car and drive in traffic back to your home, losing some of that quiet relaxation. Instead you can continue to enjoy that relaxation from a great online yoga class in your home to give you a more peaceful remainder of your day or evening.
I hope you will join me or one of the great yoga teachers at Moonflower Yoga for a wonderful online yoga class and always remember to take time for YOU to reduce your stress in your yoga postures including Shavasana. Namaste!
Today’s Super Women
By Nancy Weshkoff
On this Mother’s Day weekend, I would like to wish a very Happy Mother’s Day to the amazing women who are part of the Moonflower Yoga community. I am astonished by your strength and multi-tasking. With social distancing in place, many women face even more challenges: maintaining a busy career while tele-commuting, home schooling your children because the schools are closed, juggling household tasks, keeping a healthy relationship with a significant other, checking in on elderly, quarantined relatives using remote tools, etc.
And for those in the health care field who are sacrificing so much to help people in this crisis, they are superheroes! Thank you for everything you do to help those in need.
Life for many women today can be overwhelming. This is why it is so important to remember that you need to take care of YOURSELF first. If you don’t take care of yourself, there is no energy left to take care of the other responsibilities in your life. As flight attendants would say: In the event of an emergency, put the mask on yourself first and then put the mask on a child traveling with you.
During this coronavirus period of our lives, Moonflower Yoga is offering great 30-minute online yoga and meditation classes which you can do from the comfort of your living room. Giving yourself the gift of 30 minutes to relax, unwind, and stretch tired muscles with a great yoga teacher is a wonderful way to take care of yourself and reduce stress. You don’t need to be in Bellmore, Nassau County, or even Long Island to join us. You can be anywhere in the US and join us remotely. You’ll feel refreshed and ready to put on your super cape again.
Hope you have a great Mother’s Day!