It’s been a whole year since the UK went into lockdown. I had just been away on a blissful cabin break with my husband and dog; I was feeling so blessed to have had time to relax, to turn off social media, to take some time away from teaching and planning and just enjoy time together….little did I know that the following year would leave me craving the busy-ness, productivity and purpose that I had just been enjoying a break from!
We left the cabin and on the way home in the car, I opened my emails and found a barrage of panicked messages about studio closures, panic buying and a possible lockdown…I immediately felt this overwhelming sense of chaos – how would I earn money if I couldn’t teach? Would we be able to get enough food to last us a week? What if someone in my family gets ill?
And here we are a whole year later, with a subtle sense of optimism in the air as the promise of finally being able to see family and friends edges close and closer.
I wanted to take an opportunity to reflect on this last year, to share a small slice of my personal journey through the chaos and to look at what I learned and would like to take with me into this next chapter.
It goes without saying that I am so incredibly thankful for the health of my loved ones – we were all lucky to have not been infected and were all able to stay safe and well. I didn’t know I would miss my family and friends as much as I have – particularly my wonderful niece Poppy – she has grown up so much in that last year and it’s been so heartwarming seeing little videos of her teaching an imaginary yoga class or talking about how much she misses her aunty Maz.
I used to take time with family for granted – lockdown has reminded me how spending quality time with loved ones is what life is all about – connection and love are our nature and are essential for our wellbeing.
I’ve loved spending so much more time with my hubby and my pup. I’ve enjoyed the simplicity of waking up in the morning, feeding Akiko and then being able to have a cup of tea, snuggled up in bed with my husband – something we so very rarely got to do before lockdown as I was up and out teaching classes first thing most mornings, or he had to make his hour-long commute to work. We’ve just enjoyed each others company, from our Sunday evening ritual of cauliflower wings and pizza to our daily lunchtime walks. I’ll admit that I have had moments where I’ve craved space from ‘us’ – without contact with family, friends, co-workers etc you end up having to fulfil a huge number of roles for each other and fulfilling all these different roles at all times is an impossible task; one that can become emotionally draining. But we’ve worked through it together and learned a lot about each other and ourselves along the way.
With all our gained timed together, we often ran out of things to talk to each other about – there’s only so much I can take in about the subtleties of web development and he can take in about how my workout that day was so awful but awesome at the same time – a concept I feel he will never understand!
Speaking of workouts, I really do feel they have been one of the key players in supporting not only my physical but also my mental health. Other than my teaching, they really have been the highlight of my day. I feel excited about each and every live workout (though I never look at what’s in store in case I am scared away!) knowing that I am going to be guided and encouraged by fun and knowledgeable coaches, alongside an amazing team of supportive, fellow members. These live workouts have kept me accountable to my health and have given me something to get out of bed for on otherwise non-eventful days. I’ve been so incredibly lucky to have the time to devote to looking after myself in this way, focusing on building strength and stability and gaining confidence with a barbell. I am loving seeing the tiny steps of progress I make each day and am feeling so much more confident about my body. I’m so looking forward to continuing this as gyms open back up again.
The other highlight of my days has been teaching. Making the transition from teaching in-person in beautiful, busy studios, to teaching over a screen has been challenging at times, but I am so grateful that the technology was there for this to be an available option. Whilst I do really miss the energy exchanges of in-person classes, I must admit I do quite enjoy teaching online and hope to perhaps continue doing so in some capacity once things open back up again. I’ve enjoyed creating my own little home yoga studio, which my husband thoughtfully helped me to equip with good lighting, with the ability to just pop upstairs to teach, rather than travel 30mins – 1 hour to get to a class. It’s amazing how much time travelling really does take from your day.
Teaching for me is like therapy – I love getting immersed in planning classes, choosing new themes, learning more about anatomy and recovery for my ‘gym based’ classes etc and love leading people through a class where they can get to know themselves a little more each time they practice. I always feel so much better myself after I have taught a class too which is a wonderful bonus. There have been disheartening moments, for example when at the start of lockdown, I was offering ‘pay what you can’ and I was running classes with people who were only paying £1-2 for a session (on reflection, I offered this to support people, but did so at the cost of undervaluing myself and others as professionals), or in the second lockdown where I would run classes and no one would turn up due to the wealth of availability of studio packages. But there have been so many highs, including lots of virtual yoga brunches with amazing local food businesses, and my first ever online masterclass, which was a huge success!
However, having an incredibly reduced timetable of teaching left me with lots of time for reflection. Like many, I have found lockdown to be a real rollercoaster of emotions. Whilst it’s been nice to have extra time to devote to reading, cooking, taking my dog on long walks etc, I have always been someone who thrives on being busy and feeling productive and due to a lack of this, I’ve really been experiencing a lack of purpose and self-worth. I’ve been feeling pangs of jealousy when I hear people talk about their jobs, how busy they are, the problems they’ve had to solve; it’s made me feel like I have so much more to give, that I am capable of so much more than I am doing, that my skills are being wasted. I feel this insatiable need to help people in some way. I took on a volunteer job with a charity that befriends lonely older people, however, I have done all that the role asks and now it’s just a case of monitoring! I have explored care work, much to the dismay of my husband and family in the middle of a pandemic, however, the companies I got in touch with wanted more hours than I was able to give with my post-lockdown teaching schedule. I’ve looked into heading back into school teaching in some way, perhaps in a solely pastoral role or in more of a wellbeing vein, but the few options I did find asked for full-time hours, which again I am not able to offer. I love being a yoga teacher – I love the actual teaching, the class planning, the interaction with people, making helpful social media posts etc. But I don’t feel fully fulfilled. I feel I have so much more to give. This is an ongoing exploration for me and it’ll be interesting to see if my feelings around this change when my teaching schedule picks back up again.
I looked back at my diary from this time last year, and I had written “…whilst the thought of this lockdown feels overwhelming, I am kinda looking forward to being forced to slow down for a couple of weeks, to enjoy the simple things like pottering about at home and getting on top of the housework”. Lockdown ended up being more than a couple of weeks, I didn’t quite manage to keep on top of the housework (I don’t think it’s possible with a giant dog!) but I did find a much deeper appreciation for the simpler joys in life, those small things that we often miss out on when we are rushing from place to place and from task to task. And I really can’t wait to give my friends, family and pretty much anyone I feel some connection with, a big hug!
What have you learned during this lockdown? What would you like to take away into this next chapter? I’d love to hear a bit of your personal journey (and it doesn’t need to be a 3 page essay, unless you want it to be!).