My professional world has largely existed in the virtual and online media space for a very long time. As uncomfortable as it has been at times over the years showing my face in the digital space when it seemed like no one else was doing it, I find a new comfort in knowing this to be the current norm for so many in the health and wellness industries. But I was curious how everyone was handling the shift and if they felt they were as effective in their practice without sharing physical space with their teachers and students.
My practice has changed too. I haven’t properly taught for almost 12 weeks – in studio or online. I have been forced back to my personal practice (which is a blessing for me) and I have been struggling to find the routine that being “off the schedule” creates. Right now, each morning I wake up and hope to check the Peleton App and/or look for some local online inspirations if it isn’t coming from within. As of late, I have enjoyed practicing with both new friends as well as friends I haven’t seen in years, but now am intimately in the know of their current COVID-19 lives. (Thanks Shannon Paige, Krishna & Kimberly Ghorai, Gina Caputo, Rachel Brathen and Ross Rayburn, it has been fun to stay connected, reconnect and to newly connect as I expand practicing online with my 14-year-old daughter by my side.)
I had the opportunity to interview Joan Hyman, a long-time peer who has been teaching for over twenty years and is a teacher trainer and international yogi traveler. Yoga is her life, business and means to this tangible world. Collectively we have about 48 years of teaching experience together. As we chat about all we have seen, we talk about the obvious changes in moving our practices to this online space. We discuss the “survivability” of the pandemic and how it has shifted the practice for both the teacher, the studio and the practitioner.
Here is a little bit of our 20-minute conversation about teaching and practicing as we use to know it and how long the change(s) will last … and who will survive it!
Juli Rathke: “You have an established following, so those people showed up for you online even if you didn’t have four walls, you stuck a hundred people in a virtual space with ease. What about the new teacher who just found their voice and is exploring their place in this competitive industry?
Joan Hyman: “So I think it’s just going to slow the path of a yoga teacher down. Establishing a network, it takes time as you know, so I think it’s going to really weed out the teachers that are very dedicated and that “chop wood, carry water” saying, that step by step, they’re going to have to keep doing it. Versus someone that just really needs an income and thinks that teaching yoga is a cool job.
I think COVID is going to start to really weed out the authentic teachers for the students that might get a little discouraged.
Juli Rathke: “You had just alluded to the fact that online practicing may have some staying power. How do you think it’s going to affect the studio experience or don’t you think it will change at all?”
Joan Hyman: “No, it’s definitely going to change and it’s already changed. I’m affiliated with Yoga Works and Wanderlust, they’ve been a big part of my career path. Unfortunately and sadly, Wanderlust Hollywood just closed their doors, and Yoga Works in New York closed as well.
And I do really think a lot of mom and pop studios are going to have a hard time.”
Juli Rathke: As I prepare for another article entirely, I decide to try this question on for size with Joan. “Do you feel that mother nature and our connection with the earth itself has changed through all of this?”
Joan Hyman: I do feel like we’re shifting into a whole new paradigm. And at the speed we were going and all the energy that we were wasting, and also that was being depleted with all the traveling. I’m from LA, and part of the reason why I became a traveling teacher was I couldn’t stand the stress of driving around Los Angeles. And now that we’re all at home, there’s no traffic on the road and the air pollution has really cleared up. LA has never been more beautiful and we’ve all heard what’s going on in the rest of the world. So I do think this is a reset for the earth.
There is no other force that could stop the planet like this. And so I think mother earth said, “You know what? Enough. Human beings stay home and figure it out.” And she’s healing.
Watch the entire interview video above or read the transcript here.