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Then, Now, and Moving Forward with Shannon Roche

Last Updated: February 2, 2022


Dear Community,

In yoga, we can think of the breath as a circle, as one fluid motion perpetually moving energy through us with no beginning or end. When I imagine breath in this way, I sometimes find it difficult to identify the exact moment an inhale becomes an exhale and vice versa.

This is a bit how I feel about 2021 becoming 2022. It feels just like two parts to one breath—one releasing, the other drawing in, and nearly impossible to tell which is which.

The memories and contours of the past few years are blurred for me, and perhaps for you, for many reasons—the most obvious being the COVID-19 pandemic that continues to impact the world. At first, it initially felt like a crisis to be ‘addressed’ or ‘solved.’ Now, it feels like one of few constants, albeit one whose impact is to make most of the other facets of life that I thought of as ‘constants’ seem much less so. Since its onset in early 2020, we have collectively woken up to a new world seemingly every day. “What now?” and “what next?” have become as familiar as “good morning” and “goodnight.” This has been challenging for all of us, to say the least.

Throughout, I have been buoyed by another force that has remained constant—Yoga Alliance’s membership of yoga professionals and the global yoga community. Even in facing so many unknowns, you continue to show up and find innovative ways to share yoga with your communities. This has been no easy feat. Studios have closed, our individual and communal physical, mental, emotional, and financial health have suffered gravely, and patience and grace have worn thin. All these factors have made it difficult for many to find peace or balance from sitting with the breath or to stay present in a moment and open to its lessons. To all striving to serve in the name of healing and community, thank you.

In grappling with the tangible outcomes of the pandemic, many are experiencing new or exacerbated tolls on their mental well-being. As yoga professionals, it can be challenging for us to admit to these struggles, whether because we are busy caring for others around us or because we don’t want to give students the impression that yoga is ‘not enough.’ But, we are not immune to these very human struggles and, while our practice is an incredibly valuable tool in supporting mental health and well-being on all levels, it’s unlikely that any one tool alone could be enough for most people to maintain holistic health balance. And that is okay. I’m writing today to remind you that you are not alone.

As yoga students and educators, Yoga Alliance members and those in the global yoga community have a unique, built-in support system for the Self and for each other. If you or someone you know is in need of mental health support, one place you can start is by visiting the World Health Organization (WHO) for mental well-being public resources. Those living in the U.S. can also contact the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) by calling 1-888-950-6264 or emailing info@nami.org. NAMI can answer questions, offer support, and provide practical next steps for those seeking help.

In the continued spirit of community support, we also hope and believe that the quickest way to overcome this pandemic is by working together, following credible guidance, and utilizing the proven tools available. As always, please refer to your current local, state, and federal regulations and recommendations regarding COVID-19 safety. This may mean facilitating classes and/or trainings online, limiting in-person class sizes, implementing social distancing and mask regulations, and/or requiring in-person students and teachers to show proof of vaccination. Your business practices may also require continued adjustments as local public health needs evolve—certainly, it will require more patience. For more guidance on when and how to safely host in-person classes, you can read the Back to Flow Toolkit—a resource for maintaining a safe, ahimsa-centered environment for you and the communities you serve.

Above all, I hope you and yours are (and remain!) safe in body and mind and abundant in heart and spirit. If you have questions, concerns, or specific requests about how Yoga Alliance can serve you better, please email us at feedback@yogaalliance.org.


In yoga,
Shannon

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