Written By: Lisa Irvine MS, OTR/L, RYT200
September is National Yoga Awareness Month. I am honored Summit asked me to write this blog for the month of September again this year. However, this year is different from any year. I decided that my purpose for this blog is to share with you how one small business decided to adapt in a pandemic.
First, let me give you a quick bio. I am an Occupational Therapist and Yoga Instructor. When I added Yoga Instructor to my resume in 2014, I never could have dreamed of the doors it would open, my life would be changed forever. I started this journey when I led a gym session for my students who have a diagnosis of autism. (I was not a yoga instructor yet just practicing yoga in my daily life). One of my job responsibilities included creating a theme for each monthly gym session. One month I chose yoga as the theme of the month. The immediate feedback from the students was enthusiasm, joy and peace. The verbal and non-verbal students both clearly communicated pleasure in a variety of ways. I knew as an OT, I had to bring yoga into my student sessions regularly and pursued my yoga certification. Fast forward four years and I started Brave Yoga for All. Brave Yoga for All provides adapted yoga sessions to individuals with emotional, intellectual, and physical disabilities.
In March 2020, everything changed overnight for Brave Yoga for All. The class cancellation emails, and phone calls came quickly. We were in lock-down. The weekly happiness of sharing yoga ended abruptly. The month of March I stayed glued to the television for a quick recovery. When I realized this was not going to happen. I had to come up with a solution. It was my obligation to share the benefits of yoga and mindfulness with the population I work with to support them through this pandemic. The month of April I created new lesson plans dealing with all the challenges we faced at this time.
In April of 2020. I taught my first Virtual yoga session. I resisted all negative thoughts and proceeded with caution. There were 5 participants in the virtual yoga session. The theme of this first session was “Superhero Yoga”. My goal was to help my participants learn to be comfortable wearing a mask. We discussed as a group the fact we were superheroes wearing our mask to protect others. Engagement was good. I had to learn to maneuver the technical difficulties. That came with time. The priority was to use the craft I have come to love to help the individuals I love to work with.
It is now August. I transformed my basement into a studio. I am happy to report my virtual classes are a joy to teach. Participants have adjusted beautifully. It is an opportunity to see the friends they have missed so much. I have had up to 40 participants in my session. I guess this is the silver lining. I could never teach a class of 40 participants in person. I discovered it was an adjustment, however it was still the class that we all learn to love. My goal for this blog is too hopefully help someone re-invent their work in this very challenging time and to always find the silver lining. Namaste to you all!
I hope I am fortunate enough to meet all of you. Please check out my website, www.braveyogaforall.com, for resources and my contact information.