Originally published in NY Yoga + Life Magazine.
By Tenon Tours partner Jennifer Grubba, MA, EdS, E-RYT 200, YACEP
T.K.V. Desikachar, a pioneer of modern yoga said, “The success of yoga does not lie in the ability to perform postures but in how it positively changes the way we live our life and our relationships.”
This has perhaps never been more true as we navigate life amidst the Covid-19 Pandemic. Yoga practice is much more than our ability to perform physical asana or our foot placement in Warrior II. The mind, body, and spirit practices that are yoga, have prepared us for this time, however, and I’d conjecture, the practice is managing to live a mindful life during these times.
Picture my least favorite pose, Eagle Pose, or a less preferred posture of your choice. Although I’m able to physically engage in the posture, similar to living with the uncertainty and discomfort that defines the Pandemic, I don’t want to be there. It feels constricting and makes me feel claustrophobic. If I’m taking an instructor-led class, I don’t know when it will end. I really want to know when it will end. Intellectually, I know it won’t last forever, but emotionally, I’m miserable, screaming to myself, “I hate this! I want out!”
Therein lies the practice – to endure physical, mental, and emotional discomfort. It’s the ability to lean into it so that we may discover the teaching of simply being in, or experiencing, that moment. For most of us, this is easier said than done. Knowing it’s temporary doesn’t always help. I’m a recovering Type A personality. I lead yoga retreats in inspiring locations all over the world. Thus, I’m a planner. I actually relish plotting for the future, with a perceived notion of control of the outcome. Everything from happy hours to my children’s soccer games, to my upcoming retreat to the Amalfi Coast, is noted on my Google Calendar. Seeing my time blocked off in predictable color-coded blocks of time, brings me comfort. As we know, thanks to Covid-19, all our best-laid plans are out the window. Perhaps, it’s a reality check of sorts. Perhaps it’s a yoga cliche: Sure, we can plan ahead but remain flexible and open to the unknown.
I was elated when I sold out my sixth yoga retreat, “La Dolce Vita,” set in Italy. As anyone who has led international yoga retreats knows, so much heart and energy go into curating what one hopes to be the perfect experience. I’m proud of the fact that most of my retreaters are return customers, and have evolved into friends. Originally scheduled for August 2020, it started to become apparent in the spring of 2020, that our day trip to Pompeii would have to wait. Our visit to an organic farm and Italian cooking class would have to wait. The unique kinship that occurs when folks engage in mind, body, spirit practices together in beautiful places, would have to wait. You get the picture. I should have been beyond stressed when the nervous emails, Facebook messages, and phone calls started rolling in from my clients and friends.
“Are we still going?”
“When will we know if we are still going?”
“Will it be rescheduled?”
“If we reschedule, when will the new dates be?”
“What about the flight I booked?”
Although I was naturally disappointed that we wouldn’t be retreating in 2020 as planned, I wasn’t stressed. Enter my travel partners at Tenon Tours. After hosting and planning four international and two domestic retreats, I realized I don’t need to do it all and I simply don’t have the bandwidth. The unexpected happens, Pandemics happen, and I should focus on what I’m truly good at – leading and inspiring people to deepen their practice. I’m a yogi, not a travel expert. I have wonderful ideas regarding what I want to see happen at my retreats, but I don’t want or need, to be the one to execute the details. I don’t want to remind my friends of payments due, figure out who’s rooming with whom, coordinate international ground travel, etc. Partnering with companies such as Tenon, allows me to devote more energy to planning even more meaningful mind, body, and spirit experiences for my clients. Due to their expertise, my retreat was rescheduled, not canceled, for the exact same dates, in August of 2021. So far, 80% of my clients have recommitted. For this, I am grateful.
The travel industry is in constant flux and dependent on the trajectory of the virus and government response. Bryan Lewis, President of Tenon Tours, suggests considering the following when planning travel:
When will the borders open? What will the restrictions be upon arrival and in-country? Consider what level of inconvenience you are willing to accept. Even if there are no restrictions on entry, there may be limited options and capacity in regards to restaurants, bars, tours, and attractions. You may need to wear a mask. Data shows that most international travelers still wish to travel and will be ready to once restrictions are lifted and destinations are deemed safe. Travel will likely resume to normal levels by next summer. Availability in 2021 is beginning to reach critically low levels due to the number of 2020 travelers who have already rescheduled.
It’s impossible to encapsulate these complex and trying times with a singular tenet or inspirational quote. My takeaway points are:
We are all connected.
Everyone needs help.
We need each other to help endure discomfort and uncertainty.
The practice lies in embracing the unknown, introspection to discover our ever-evolving strengths and needs, and being open to whatever the future holds.