A place to find inner wellbeing

We are living in an age of adjustment and adaptation. A year has gone by where our lives have changed immeasurably.

Thursday, 15th April 2021, 12:00 am
Zoe Marciniak

Families have changed, some of us have lost friends and loved ones in this year of Covid. But we have also lost the way we did things. We've lost a way of life. But gained a new way of being.

As a freelance yoga and somatic movement teacher, the lead up to lockdown in March 2020 was a worrying time. I could see a terrifying wave approaching with mounting panic personally and professionally.

Like many fitness professionals, I was teaching from various venues, offices and gyms, interacting with people of all ages several times a week. I was worrying that I might inadvertently be carrying the virus and passing it on to my students at a time when none of us really knew what to do.

Zoe Marciniak.

I was frantically cleaning door handles and my hands worrying what was the right thing to do. Should classes be cancelled? There was no guidance. Frankly, I was relieved when lockdown happened. I lost all of my income overnight but I was relieved.

So we adapted. I moved, as many did, to a virtual platform and set about trying to provide yoga classes online. Online bootcamps, pilates, karate, dance classes and even spin classes sprang up over night. Personally, I tried to keep to a similar timetable to my previous life in the hope that my students would follow me to the online world.

But it wasn't for everyone. Not everyone liked being taught remotely. The in person experience had gone. The atmosphere of being together sharing an experience in a room disappeared. Small screens, WiFi outages, a lack of space whilst we were all home together posed issues.

A number of my yoga students were “Zoomed out" after sitting working from home online and didn't take to remotely taught classes. Some teachers have thrived but most of us have lost income and struggled to make the livings we did in our past lives.

All the hard work, building communities went in an instant. In a backdrop of Instagram and YouTube, where stars provide online classes for free or next to nothing, it's been a scary and upsetting time.

Some teachers with their own studios weren't able to access the grants and funding from the government. Other self employed teachers have seen their classes decimated and have been unable to receive the SEISS grants and have taken on new jobs. Luckily, some students found me.

Over the year I've retained and lost students. My classes are half their size, but I feel my job has been to provide a healthy outlet for people. Where we can come together, chat and do nice things “just for us".

Mental wellbeing has been raised time and again in the past 12 months and I've felt happy to provide a valuable distraction and a place to find inner wellbeing. I've provided free classes and “pay what you feel if you would like to contribute" classes. Being there for people has become more valuable to me in the past 12 months. It’s changed how I feel about teaching yoga going forwards.

So the burning question is how to progress in the future. With people receiving vaccines and the roadmap there's the potential to open up again to “real people" ... but how? And with the question of variants hanging over us, will people feel safe to do so?

I'm being asked when I'll be running “in person” classes again yet I also have a band of contented students who “love rolling around on the living room floor" – as they put it. Will it be worth renting a hall if we have to social distance (with fewer participants). Will people want to come? Will everyone be starting again from scratch but at the same time? It's all a worry.

Maybe the answer lies in hybrid classes... broadcasting in person classes to people who want to stay at home?

Who knows what the future holds!