How the COVID-19 Pandemic Has Brought Me Closer to My Students

Making an effort to reunite with her community was important to this yoga instructor.

Wanda Lambeth's yoga class before the pandemicCourtesy Wanda Lambeth

Where there’s a will, there’s a way

When I was reinventing my life at 50 years old, after working non-stop in various careers since I was 16, I thought a fresh business plan would be a good idea. I had recently fallen in love with yoga and all the benefits I was receiving from the practice, so I wanted to spend the rest of my working career sharing that with others in community recreation and senior living homes. Full credit goes to my father, who was my inspiration to pursue this new path thanks to his deep spirituality and dedication to always keep moving.

When planning to enter this new phase of my life, I took every possible scenario into consideration to make sure I had a solid safety net as my husband and I are both self-employed, therefore our financial position was always going to be a bit riskier doing what we love. I did not take into account a pandemic, however! Who would have thought that a career in fitness, recreation and senior health would ever be at risk?

On March 17, things came to a full stop (the luck of the Irish in me was absent). I had four teaching contracts cancelled and I was one of the many self-employed business owners who found their shingle turned to “closed indefinitely.” Recreation centres were all closed and seniors homes all shuttered against this deadly virus.

It took a full week to get grounded again as the surreal news that has taken over the world now became a reality. What to do? I still felt the need to keep the momentum of our yoga community going as everyone, including me, did the right thing by practising social distancing. So, I dug deep and stopped being intimidated by the idea of using technology and social media to continue my lessons. I’m still learning, I probably always will be as the social media world is fluid and seems to change every day, but we are connecting in every way we possibly can.

Sometimes it’s through YouTube meditations that I clumsily put together for them as I teach myself how to offer an online class in real time. It truly warms my heart to see emails and texts between “my people” every few days, as they check on one another to see how they are all doing. This community has given me so much more than I ever would have expected, and it continues to do so, despite the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic looming over our lives.

I do really miss my students and wonderful, inspiring seniors. I especially miss the warm camaraderie and generous hugs that are so freely given when we have all shared a safe space, movement and the letting go of worries through our yoga practices.

So, we’ll do the best we can and hold strong to the hope that we will all be in the same room again soon, sharing the benefits of mind, body, and spirit healing. Something we could all use even more of during these difficult days.

Next, learn about the group that inspired thousands of Canadians to help each other through COVID-19.

Originally Published in Our Canada