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!
Women and Heart Disease
By Nancy Weshkoff
February is Heart Health Month and the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women Movement. I applaud the American Heart Association for their work in bringing to light this very important issue.
Here are some key factors about heart disease in women that you need to know:
– Did you know that heart disease is the NUMBER ONE killer of women in the United States?
– Did you know that if you stacked up ALL cancer-related deaths for women together (breast, lung, ovarian, liver, skin cancer, etc), that all of these cancer-related deaths together would still be number two behind heart disease?
– Did you know that 1 in 3 women in the United States will die every year from heart disease? If you are sitting in a group of women, look to your right and to your left. One of you will die from heart disease. And of this number, did you know that more than 1,800 of these women who die from heart disease will live here on Long Island in New York?
– Did you know that you can help PREVENT becoming one of these very sad statistics by proactively taking steps to lower your risk?
While there are some things that you cannot change, such as your family history of heart disease, there are several things that doctors all agree that you CAN do to lower your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. These include:
– Engage in moderate exercise on a regular basis. Sitting on a couch and not moving is bad for you in so many ways. Your body needs to move. Yoga is extremely helpful in helping you with your exercise goals. The postures in a yoga class will build strength and flexibility, and at the same time, the deep breathing techniques (pranayama) used in a yoga class increase the flow of blood to your heart and your organs.
– Reduce your stress levels: We all face stress. How we deal with stress is key. Being in a “fight or flight” mode, which is how our body reacts when our stress levels are high, is putting a huge strain on your body functions – including your heart. Meditation is a wonderful tool to help you lower your blood pressure and stress levels. Yoga classes also help you reduce your stress. The yoga and meditation classes at Moonflower Yoga can get you on the path to accomplishing your stress-reduction goals. We have a fabulous “Stress Buster” series of classes on Tuesday evenings at 730 PM. Or try the popular “Stretch and Meditate 101” class on Thursdays at 5 PM, where you gently stretch and begin to develop a meditation practice. Try one of these classes or the other great yoga classes taught by our yoga teachers on the Moonflower Yoga schedule.
– Learn to be “in the present moment”. We often worry unnecessarily about things from our past that we cannot change or things in the future that MIGHT happen but haven’t happened yet and may never happen. In our classes and workshops at Moonflower Yoga, we teach you ways to be more in the present moment and let go of unnecessary worries bringing you more peace and calm.
– Lower your blood pressure: Moving more, decreasing your stress levels, and using tools such as meditation and yoga mentioned above can all help you with this. How about learning something new? Spending some time reading a great book or engaging in a fun activity can help lower your stress levels. We have several fun “Clubs” at Moonflower Yoga including the Moonflower Yoga Book Club, the Moonflower Yoga Needle Arts Group where you learn to crochet or knit (very meditative!), the Moonflower Yoga Mah Jongg Group, and the new Women’s Gathering Group where women meet to discuss topics relevant to women. There are also fun workshops on the Moonflower Yoga schedule where you can have fun painting, or doing a craft, or just learning something new. These types of interesting and meditative activities can help you on the path of stress reduction and lowering your blood pressure.
– Try Reiki: Reiki is being offered now by leading medical institutions as an alternative therapy. Reiki is a wonderful, hands-on tool that you can learn to reduce blocked energy and send healing energy to yourself. Moonflower Yoga offers Reiki Healing Circles where you can discover Reiki, as well as training to be a Reiki practitioner. Click on the “Reiki” tab on the moonfloweryoga.com website for further info.
As someone who has a history of heart disease in my family, I take heart disease very seriously. My stress levels and blood pressure were very high – all red flags for being on the path to a heart attack or stroke. Through yoga, meditation, learning to be more in the present moment, and spending time in engaging activities such as reading and needle arts, I have been able to lower my blood pressure to normal. You, too, can lower your risk. We hope to see you soon at a great yoga class, meditation, or workshop at Moonflower Yoga in Bellmore in Nassau County, Long Island, where we can help you reduce your risk of heart disease as well. We welcome people from all over the area including Wantagh, Merrick, East Meadow, Seaford, Massapequa and Freeport. Let’s lower these frightening heart-disease numbers for women!