Waking up in Paradise
I am walking barefoot over warm stones, I can hear the birds singing and behind me the panorama of three volcanoes immerse in the light of the setting sun. The lake in front of them lays calm. Far from civilization, I am finishing my advanced yoga teacher training at one of the world’s most beautiful lakes as named by National Geographic. It is here where I first hear about the virus. First, I am exploring my options to stay longer in paradise, as knowing coming home now, would mean no work. Not the most promising outlook. All the yoga studios I work for as a freelancer, are closed at this point in early 2020.
Returning to Copenhagen
Then the situation is getting more severe. Guatemala is closing its borders. My planned return flight in mid April got cancelled. Maybe staying isn’t such a good idea anymore? I consult my friend and we find out about an evacuation flight with the German embassy. A few days later I am on a 3 days journey back to Copenhagen.
Back home earlier than planned, I find shelter in my friend’s house. From where I tried to figure out what’s next. Fighting the darkness and the change in climate and its impacts on my mood in the Danish winter. This is not how I planned it. I try to put myself together and start redoing my website. That is a proper project for the lockdown.
One of the studios I am working at starts with online classes. A very welcomed task in my weird routine as a guest in my friend’s house. I found my own way back to the mat. It was hard after coming back too early, from paradise to Danish winter in lockdown. But now I am back, as a student and as a teacher. I often just walk the 5km to the studio. It feels great to be there for my students again.
Making the best out of unforseen change
Spring is coming and things are getting slowly a little bit more back to normal. The studios open and I can teach in person again. What a wonderful feeling to see the relaxed faces and feel the good vibes of my students after the practice.
Going through the summer taking as many classes as possible to make up for the loss in spring, I give myself fully to my profession. After having an unfortunate disagreement about my payment at one of the studios I have been working at for about 2 years, I decide to leave that place and explore new places to share my teachings.
I find a new place, with sweet students and managers who fill genuine about my teachings and we share visions for that studio. One night I come home late after a long day of teaching and I receive some unexpected news. No more classes from tomorrow. The place went bankrupt and I am losing a rent worth of monthly income in a heartbeat. In the same week 2 more major yoga studios are closing their doors for good in Copenhagen. Where are all the students going, where will be their sanctuary now? We need safe places now more than ever, mental health can easily become the next pandemic (if it isn’t yet…) if we do not take it seriously.
At this point I am honestly a bit fed up about depending on others to pay their bills for my teachings. I have been sending it out to the Universe for some time now, that I want my own studio. On Instagram I see a beautiful room and contact the owner. The next day I visit the room and in just a week I open my own studio in the heart of Copenhagen: Warrior Princess Yoga at Kronprinsessegade 20. Selling memberships to old and new students, the place with focus on building a community, a yogi family, and teaching not only physical yoga, is off to a good start. About 4 weeks in, I have to close down. No savings. A lot of loss during the summer and bills to pay.
Born in crisis
I am standing here now. I have to be creative. Not only to keep my business, my baby – the reason why I am on this planet – alive but also to hold space (it turns out to be a virtual space) for my students in this challenging time. Yoga is a great way to learn to accept situations we cannot change. It is a great way to calm your mind from all the worries this uncertain time brings and it is a great thing to strengthen your willpower, immune system and body to rise like a phoenix from the ashes after we open again.
Take mental health seriously
Mental health is a serious issue here, and taking away a safe space for some people especially in times where people lose jobs and physical connection, can have tremendous effects on the individual. Yoga has been considered a rather safe activity, especially the slow forms and meditation. Enough space between mats, nose breathing (which releases NO (Nitric Oxide) which is antiviral) and good ventilation after class. But the government doesn’t seem to want to see how important the work of yoga teachers is and how low the risk is especially compared to all the health benefits yoga brings. Yoga studios are nothing like a gym. I feel if more people would do yoga, they would understand that it is not a workout, but a work in.
Exploring new ways of teaching
I start an online program. Different types of classes to meet the needs of my students. Even a beginner course. I start to host workshops online and invite guest teachers from all over the world. Some students stay, some leave, some support me with donations and some new students find their way to Warrior Princess Yoga. I keep the online membership low in price so as many students can join to help them through the lockdown.
I also initiated the sponsor a stranger program, for students who cannot afford the monthly membership of 99kr.
How to help your yoga teacher?
Stay a member if you can. Give this online thing a shot – it really ain’t that bad. Tell your friends about it. You keep your mind sane and your body strong and you support the teachers to still be there for you (or your sister or mother or who else of your close ones loves their yoga and wouldn’t go without) after the lockdown. A little contribution in sending love, referring to a friend or colleague (hello, office yoga) or staying with your teacher (or discovering a new one), can go a long way in the community. Also you can leave them some loving words on any review platform they are on (e. g. Trustpilot, Google, Facebook)- share and like their social media posts. Trade your skills; maybe you are a graphic designer, photographer or writer and you can collaborate with your teacher.
Stay strong, we are all in this together. Let’s reach each other’s hand.