[0:58] Welcome to a brand new episode of the Yoga Girl podcast, speaking to you from isolation, speaking to you in isolation. I am Rachel Brathen, and welcome to the show. I kind of wish I could have something different to share, a big change like “now this podcast, because of COVID-19, because of coronavirus, because of quarantine, this show is now recorded from my house.” This show is always recorded [laughs] from the comfort of my home, so not much has changed on the Yoga Girl podcast standpoint. In other news: the entire world has changed. I feel like the world as we knew it is over. Since the last week’s episode where I shared that we had to take my daughter in to get tested for coronavirus, we found out that she tested negative, thank goodness, otherwise I think our reality right now would be very, very, different, probably. But she’s okay, and I couldn’t even really re-listen to last week’s episode because it was so hard for me to process and talk about, I obviously cried all the way through, it was really really hard and traumatic. And now I feel like we are all kind of moving through different stages of grief; personally, I have…okay, an owl just almost flew into the window in front of me [laughs]. Wait…wait, so I’m sitting…what? I’m sitting in my guest bedroom at the top of our house, an owl, like…you know when a bird is about to fly into a window? Flew right toward me, paused a couple of inches from the window, turned around…an owl. I feel like I need to look this up immediately, the spiritual meaning of owls.
[2:44] Okay, I just Googled “spirit guide” or “the spiritual meaning of owls.” “The owl as a spirit guide is emblematic of a deep connection with wisdom and intuitive knowledge.” Wow. “When the spirit of this animal guides you, you can see the true reality beyond illusion and deceit. The owl also offers, for those who have it, a personal totem, the inspiration and guidance necessary to deeply explore the unknown and the magic of life. The symbolic meaning for the owl are: intuition; the presence of the owl announces change; the traditional meaning of the owl spirit is the announcer of death, most likely symbolic like a big life transition, the end of an old era, and change.”
[3:33] Okay. [laughs] Okay. I’m also the kind of person where whenever I’m going through something difficult, challenging, traumatic, horrible, I look for spiritual deeper meaning in absolutely everything that comes my way, and if you look for signs enough, you will find them, that is absolutely true. I also think that the Universe puts little signs on our path all the time, but we have to be present enough to really notice them, and when we are in moments of trouble, we tend to be a little bit more present in life, overall. So, okay, so we are in the obviously, new life, end of an era, new chapter, big transition, and intuition, that’s…that’s where we are right now, and I think that’s what this podcast is going to be about.
[4:17] So I have journeyed through all the stages of grief: I mean, I have definitely been in denial, I have been bargaining, I have been really angry, I’ve been crying a lot, and I’ve settled today on some sort of strange mood where I’m kind of hysterically laughing one moment, some moments it feels like it’s normal, some moments I’m just like on my knees in total despair of “what. The. Fuck. Is happening?” And I’m pretty sure you feel the same. So, welcome to this episode, today I’m going to…I’m gonna share a couple of things that have been really helpful for me to make it through isolation, and we’re going to take a moment to ground, but I wanted to share that if you haven’t already joined us on yogagirl.com, we have free yoga for 30 days on yogagirl.com. So 30 days of free yoga, we’re doing a community challenge there where every day we’re practicing yoga for free on the site. Everyone is on the community board on yogagirl.com sharing how we’re feeling every day. And every morning I am live on Instagram and on Facebook at 9am EST guiding meditations, we’re drawing a card for the day, I’m giving journalling prompts every day, and we’re going into the theme or the topic of the day, every topic…or every day has a new topic or a new theme. So if you haven’t joined us yet, now is a great time. Sign up for a free account on yogagirl.com and roll out your mat. For me, the practice of yoga and meditation I think is what’s keeping my sanity…like I’m clinging to the last thread of my sanity right now. We need these practices, all jokes aside, I mean we really, really, really need to stay grounded right now.
[5:53] So let’s begin in this moment. How about we just settle into our chair, into our seat, wherever we are right now. Let’s go ahead and take a full, deep breath in through the nose…[inhales]…take a moment to pause, hold the breath, inhale a little bit more…[inhales]…and open the mouth, let it out…[exhales]. And then bring the breath back through the nose, just gentle inhales and exhales as you are. And we’ll right away, so just immediately dive into what it feels like to arrive to this moment. Of course, these are very, very strange times for all of us, lots of suffering and pain across the globe; also some beautiful moments of gratitude and acceptance and most likely you are finding yourself moving through all sorts of emotion all day long. So in this moment, here now, listening to these words, what does it feel like to arrive here? So not just arriving here to this stage in your life, this strange global pandemic, all the things that come along with that, but what it feels like to arrive to this exact moment.
[7:25] So if we just slow everything down, what does it feel like to take this breath? To be in this body? To feel these feelings? To have this human experience right now? And just take a moment to let yourself become very present with your own breath, with your own experience, noticing whatever comes up. And right now, you might be feeling a little bit numb, that’s okay. Feeling numb is also feeling something. We can’t always identify or put a word to or a name on the feelings that we’re experiencing, so whatever is here, it’s okay. So just notice, becoming the container for everything you’re feeling right now, and using the breath to expand that container a little bit. So just by consciously breathing and settling in this way every day, you’ll be able to hold a little bit more each time. Meaning that you might find yourself feeling both agony and joy at the same time. Moving through despair and gratitude, finding both confusion and clarity. And just see what this moment has brought you.
[9:00] And we’ll take about a minute just now just to let everything settle. Slowing down the breath a little more, settling the body down a little more, creating a little bit more space between each one of your thoughts. Staying right here, right now. And let’s take a moment to bring the palms of the hands together at the center of the heart, bow your head, and finding some gratitude for your ability to do exactly this, yeah? This very simple but very profound practice of just closing the eyes, taking a moment to breathe, the feel, to process. To bring some gratitude to yourself for making the choice to come back to that practice over and over again. And then we take another breath…[inhales]…exhale…[exhales], and blink the eyes open. Welcome. Welcome, welcome, welcome.
[10:14 — Commercial Break]
[11:35] So I feel…I feel a little bit right now, it’s almost like I’m sharing a big podcast every day, so I’ve had several…I’ve had eight or nine days in a row where I’m live on social media, spending almost an hour talking, sharing, breathing, meditating, reflecting, contemplating, giving some tools for all of us to try to stay as sane as we can throughout this journey. So I feel also very connected with you right now. If you’re listening, if you’re taking part in that, if you’re practicing yoga with me on yogagirl.com, I really feel like we have become very tight knit in this community, and I feel a huge sense of purpose, actually right now, just from having your presence in my life. I’m so grateful that I have this channel to speak, this podcast, the ability to stay in my home and continue to do a part of my work. I feel grateful that you’re here everyday day, I feel grateful that we have yogagirl.com…it’s almost like, in a sense…and I have quite a hard time these days communicating the big epiphanies and realizations and big positive moments that I’m having because there’s also so much struggle and pain and fear in the world right now, and I move between those things all day long, so I think it’s a very important thing right now, especially for anyone who’s a teacher of any kind, or you know, supporting people in these times: if you’re teaching yoga or meditation or spirituality, or just, you know, tuning in to share this human experience, that we don’t bypass the very real, real pain that’s unfolding globally right now.
[13:29] And I have some people like that that I had to actually unfollow and I felt like “I can’t.” Normally I feel inspired, but right now…you know, it’s so important thank we anchor into yes, love, and light, and meditation, and practice, and all the positive things, but at the same time we need to hold space for and acknowledge that this is very painful for so many of us across the world. And the loss that we are experiencing on a global scale is massive. So I shared a video the other day that made people a little bit upset, I think they didn’t…they didn’t really get where I was coming from, but I said, “we can’t meditate our way through this situation.” Now, I meditate every single day. I’m on social media guiding meditations every single day — meditation is a crucial, crucial part of making it through this in one piece, right? But we cannot only sit there and meditate, right? We can’t just focus on love and light and “everything’s fine,” it can be very triggering for people right now; you know, if you just lost your job like thousands, I dunno if it’s millions of people have, if you’ve lost your sense of stability, security, if you don’t know how you’re going to feed your kids next week…so many people don’t know when, if they’re going to have next month’s salary. People have lost people, right, like people have actually…and it’s very hard I think for people to acknowledge this because we want to feel safe, we want to turn towards things that make us feel safe, of course, we’re human, we need that, but it’s also important to acknowledge that this pandemic is very real and people are dying, right.
[15:14] So when we sit here and we only focus on the good, right, we jump, try to jump straight to gratitude and hearing someone say “there’s a reason for all of this, there’s a higher purpose for all of this,” and “actually all is well, all is well,” can be so, so, so painful to hear that if you’re in a place right now where all is not well. So I think it’s important for each of us…also when we choose who we’re listening to and the information that we’re taking in, and the practices we’re doing, and the teachers we’re connecting with, that we give ourselves the space for both, right? That we can absolutely honor and hold this very real human suffering that’s unfolding right now. Because recognizing that and being realistic about that, it’s actually empowering, right? Having the information of what’s happening in the world, being honest with ourselves, not sticking our head in the sand, pretending like “all is well, all is well,” being informed is how we can actually help other people. It’s how we can help be a part of a change, of a solution, or be of service; we can’t be of service if we pretend that nothing’s happening, right?
[16:27] So holding that, being present with what’s real, you know, acknowledging and allowing for fear to be here — for anger, for pain, for sadness, for grief. And at the same time —it’s almost like we have our feet in two different parts of the world right now, or two different places — one foot on the ground where it’s like “this is what’s happening, yes, this is a global pandemic. Yes, coronavirus is real. Yes, it makes sense that I’m scared. Yes, there’s suffering. Yes, I need to be of service right now, to myself and to other people.” And then the other foot we gotta keep deeply anchored in the Heavens right now, in something that connects us to the Divine. In our sacred, sacred spirituality right now, where yes, we meditate every day, or we work with affirmations, where we tap into everything that makes us feel okay, right? Where we can hold “yes, there’s suffering, but at the same time, I can tap into that great, deep, spiritual wisdom that’s inside of me that knows “we are all going to be okay,” yeah? On that big, big, big, huge, huge level, that we are held. That we are supported.
[17:44] So, almost like you keep one foot in each of those places, so you’re grounded, you’re realistic, you’re honoring this human suffering, you’re helping where you can help, not bypassing any of that, and at the same time practicing…staying with this very spiritual, very very important practice right now so that we can lean into trust, right? So that there’s hope, and faith and everything we that need to make it through right now; we need both. And I am really floating between. So, to give a little context in terms of — because I can only speak of my own suffering and the suffering of the people around me and the people that I know, and what I’ve been in contact with myself — so I live in Aruba, you guys know, we’re a small island off the coast of Venezuela. We have Bonaire and Curaçao right nearby. Out of all the countries that have suffered economic decline, or that are suffering economic, financial collapse, Aruba is at number one. So [laughs] proportionally, there’s no other country that has suffered an economic decline as bad as Aruba. Of course, so many countries struggling now, doesn’t negate the fact that everyone is struggling, every country in the world now is absolutely unstable. And it was such an eye-opener for me because I was lulled into this safe sense of security, somehow because we are a small country, almost like “yeah, but we’ll contain it here and we’ll be able to really fix it here,” I dunno, there’s something about living in a very small community that makes it feel like everything’s solvable, right? But actually what was true is that we were extremely vulnerable; we have a government that didn’t have a buffer of any kind, which also was like…shocked me to my core. No buffer for, you know, natural disasters or what if there was a tsunami or a hurricane or, you know, a financial decline or anything like that. No buffer, at all.
[19:54] So, which meant that the moment our government took action and decided to shut the country down — so we’ve had now one week of borders completely closed, no flights going out, no flights coming in, everything completely shut down, everyone is in isolation; we have a curfew with a $1000 fine if they catch you in the street. All businesses closed, all schools closed, everything is closed. The one measure that they could still take that they haven’t taken is that nature is open [laughs] and we have a very small population and normally it’s, you know, it’s like…I dunno if its 20 or 30 times our population that’s present with tourism. So when we have no tourists, the island is like a ghost island; it’s so quiet, it’s so empty. All the hotels shut down overnight, which means thousands and thousands…basically the whole population of Aruba, because everybody works in hospitality, everyone was sent home without pay. So the only thing that’s open now is that our beaches are open, we can still go to the north shore and walk our dogs, which I’m so grateful for. And I think the reason that that’s still open is because we have so much space and it’s absolutely possible for us to still do that while being in isolation. I can take an hour walk with my dogs and see no one, meet no one, not come across a single car, person, nothing.
[21:09] So yeah, that’s the one, the one…if they’re going to tighten up isolation, that’s the one thing they could do. Of course, we can go to the grocery store; Dennis is going once a week to get vegetables and fruits, lucky we still have some [laughs]. So, Aruba’s GDP dropped by 50%, like almost overnight. We have a deficit of 1.6 billion, it’s…all of this happened so quickly, you know, and it’s really made me realize how unbelievably fragile and vulnerable we were. And I’ve been talking about this over the past couple of months, which I find so interesting: since we started our own vegetable garden here a couple…we started our vegetable garden in November, I’ve been talking about that a lot. Like we are not a self-sustaining island, if something happens…and I said that in podcasts, I’ve said it to friends; like if something happens to us, we can’t take care of ourselves. Aruba doesn’t have a single industry that sustains the island…that’s self-sustaining, right? But we are constantly busy serving other people: serving foreigners, serving tourists, serving people who come here and visit and then they leave, right? We are completely reliant on food being brought in from the United States and from Holland. All of our food. There’s one or two tiny little farms that have some sort of, you know, you can find some lettuce and things like that, not on a big scale. Not to a scale that can sustain the island. And that’s it. You know, there’s no farming, there’s no food production, there’s nothing on this island.
[22:43] And I spoke this out loud so many times, like it scares me that what if something happens, we would be…we’re on…we’re a literal island, there’s no place for us to go. We don’t have ground water; we can’t drill into Earth and do that well enough and then get fresh water, no. We have a desalination plant that takes the salt out of the ocean water. You know, if something would happen here, like if something would happen to that one source of water that all of us have, we won’t survive, right? If other countries stop exporting goods because maybe all of a sudden, they don’t have enough for themselves, right — which is a very likely scenario right now — we won’t have food, you know? And I’ve had this in the back of my mind for awhile, and I’ve spoken about it, and I just had this urgency of like, “we need vegetables. We need — at least for our family here — we need to have some sort of…we need to be able to take care of ourselves.”
[23:35] So along with that — this is also super strange that this, you know…not strange, it’s making sense now, but I’m just connecting the dots — we installed solar panels on the top of our house. This was Dennis’s idea, months ago, he’s been talking about it for years, environmentally, that we live on an island that has like 365 days of sun a year, you know, obviously we’re in the Caribbean, it’s hot and sunny every day, the fact that we have a really high electricity bill and we have an oil refinery on the island that’s now closed. But just environmentally, to have solar panels make so much sense. And then he did enough research to figure out like “okay, within three and a half years, we can pay back…it will have paid for itself just what we normally pay in electricity because our electricity bill will go down by 90 percent.” We are still on the grid, which is…which is…which I don’t like, but that’s how it works here: you’re still on the grid, you’re still in the network of the island. You feed the electricity that you produce back into the grid, and then you buy it back, or they buy it back for 10 percent, I don’t…yeah. Anyway, we have 90 percent less cost for that. And he fought for this, Dennis, for a long time. It was a really big investment for us, and we went back and forth and then suddenly when we started with the vegetable garden I just said, “yeah, you know what? Let’s do it.” Like, “you’re right, we need to do it for the environment, you know, if in three years it’s paid for itself, it’s just time, right? In three years…let’s do it.” And we did that. It finished right before this pandemic started. And now, if we want to connect the battery and be off the grid, we can do that. Meaning if the whole island would collapse and lose electricity, at the very least here we have solar panels that can bring us electricity, and we have a little vegetable garden.
[25:24] So I kind of had this feeling like intuitively we’ve known, I don’t know, because we have taken weird action that now all of a sudden I’m so grateful for, I can’t even really explain it. The biggest thing, I think, and this has been hard for me to communicate because there’s so much suffering, so much struggle, it’s very hard I think to communicate anything you know, “this is so good, I’m glad something happened.” For me, if you listen to this podcast, you’ve heard me speak for almost two years now about the fact that I had a burnout, that October 2018 I got sick, I stayed sick for so long. I was so, so, so ill, and being…suffering through that burnout, which for me was the hardest thing of my entire life, like 2019 was one of the worst years of my whole life, led to the decision to cancel or to not put on the schedule for 2020 a single yoga retreat, a single yoga teacher training. No program, no tours, no workshops, no traveling, no retreats, no teacher trainings. And I shared on this show before how hard it was for me to make that decision: first of all, our whole center axis of our entire business are these programs, right? That’s how I put food on the table for my kid, is that I lead teacher trainings, and I do retreats, that’s really the main source of cash flow for our entire business.
[26:50] So getting to a place in 2019 where I had to go sit with my team and say “hey, I need a break, I don’t wanna do it. I need a break, I can’t do it anymore, I need at least a year,” but in the back of my head I kind of thought “I dunno, maybe it’ll be two years, I…I just need space.” And all of 2019, I kept…like I was on my knees, I was so ill, so sick, pushing myself through these tours and big classes and commitments and…it was so hard for me to…it was really like I was hanging on by a thread. And I was praying, “I can’t wait for the time where I can just be home with my family.” I was praying with all of my might to be able to just be home, right? To not have to travel, to not have anyone relying on me for anything. To not have the big responsibility, to not have work like that. And making that decision to not put what we normally put…we normally sell our retreats and teacher trainings 18 months in advance we put them on the calendar. They all sell out immediately. And we’re a regular business, like we work with our regular cash flow, so if that was the case and we would have had all those programs sold and paid and done for, prepared, we would have probably been out of business overnight, you know. Imagine spending half of the year immersed in programs and groups, and then having all of that be cancelled, immediately? Indefinitely? Hundred of people needing to refund hundreds of people, having already paid lodging and food, and salaries, and you know, for these groups. It’s like we…it took me a long time to actually acknowledge this, because I had the realization when this happened of like “oh, my God, thank God we don’t have retreats and trainings for this year, what a coincidence.” First it was like “oh, my God,” but then every day it’s sunk in more and more, “oh, my God. Oh, my God.”
[28:47] That burnout was a gift from God. That burnout was the biggest blessing of my entire fucking life. If I would’ve not been sick, if I would’ve not burnt out, we would’ve had all of those programs on the schedule this year, we would’ve had all of that cancelled, and we would have…we would have gone under. That’s how…that’s how fragile our business would have been if we were in that place. It’s almost like the realization is too big for me to acknowledge knowing that there are so many people who are in the same place, right? Who rely on the retreats or rely on their groups. Yoga teachers who have lost 100% of their income immediately because they can’t teach, they can’t do workshops, can’t do trainings, can’t do any of those things. And somehow, you know, here I am in a place where, in that respect, I’m safe, you know. We didn’t have anything on the schedule for 2020 and what was the hardest of the decision of my life, what felt like I was failing — felt like I was failing my team, like I was failing the business, like I was doing something stupid, something I had to really fight to make that decision, like struggle: it’s what led me to therapy was like the struggle of “I feel like I need to keep going even though my body tells me no” — that burnout, being sick for that long, is the greatest blessing of my life.
[30:10] And sitting here now, just, I have so…I feel such gratitude just for that one piece because it means that, you know…[sighs]…yeah, it means a lot. But that’s personally where we are there, huge blessing, it means our business is still afloat. What has happened is that we had to close the studio, we have a local team of people that are out of a job right now. We have no idea how we’re going to pay them next month. We’re hoping for aide from the government here for the local people in Aruba, we’re hoping for aide from the government in Sweden for our local people in Sweden. But everything is so unsure in this moment. And the one thing we have — this is really it, which is also mind-blowing for me — is we have the platform that is yogagirl.com. And yogagirl.com, it’s yoga, meditation, it’s a sacred community space, and it’s…it’s almost as if it was built and created for this moment. I don’t know, I can’t explain it in any other way. But I started oneoeight.com if you guys remember that in 2015, we crowdfunded the online platform. And we had a grief counsellor on the site, a psychologist on the site, it was really meant to be a place to help provide healing for people. And after that, almost immediately, we went into a huge dispute with my…with an ex-business partner. And it was a long, long, long legal dispute that lasted for years. So what was this huge piece of my offering, of my heart, so much work, was immediately put on pause, in a way. And it took a lot of years for that to solve itself, it’s a lot of things I wish I could share because it’s a wild story, but for legal reasons, I can’t.
[32:01] And then finally we were free from that — it took many years — and were able to launch yogagirl.com which oneOeight now has merged into. So oneOeight has become yogagirl.com, and it’s been so much work, all these puzzle pieces to fit together with our team, and we have our headquarters in Stockholm and then we’re working out of Aruba, and it’s been kind of a challenging process to make it work, and we’ve made our team of teachers smaller so we have a more dedicated offering, and it’s like everything just was kind of in place, but we didn’t elevate it? I don’t know how to explain it, it was like we weren’t really…we hadn’t gotten to the space of like “here’s the platform!” Like you know, marketing it fully, we’ve had so many distractions in so many ways, I have been so ill, it’s like…yeah. It’s almost like in my world, the platform has been a little bit on the back burner. And then now, we’ve lost all of our income, you know, like I…we’ve paused absolutely everything — luckily we did that before, now we’ve lost the studio, now we’ve lost every other program, so we had other teachers that had groups and everything coming to Island Yoga — like all of that is paused. The way people spend money normally, we don’t have that anymore, like any collaborations or any streams…like all streams of revenue have been cut for our entire business.
[33:24] But what we have is yogagirl.com. And it’s this platform that’s meant…it’s meant to be used at home [laughs]. It’s really meant to be used at home. So it’s almost like I feel guilty that we still have something, because so many people have lost everything. But at the same time now, we have all these teachers on the site who have lost all of their income, and what was this side income for them — which was the classes on the site — is now everything, right? So all of these things that we had put into place now have become our number one priority. And the only way for me to…for us to save this business right now is to have people subscribe to the site. That’s where I’m going to be placing a hundred percent, a hundred percent of my efforts is to continue making this platform the best it could possibly ever be. To have the community there feel so at home, to listen to every piece of advice and feedback that we get from you guys. And hoping that after we’ve done this 30 day challenge — we’re doing yoga for 30 days for free — that every single person that’s a part of that challenge has the funds, and of course the will and the love to subscribe and to stay on the site.
[34:38] So if you are thinking about subscribing to anything online for movement, for yoga, for meditation and you want to help support a small business with a dedicated team whose jobs we are really, really, really trying to save right now, please choose yogagirl.com. I mean, I say that so humbly, so…just truthfully that that is…that’s it for us, that’s all we have. And so many people out there have nothing, and I’m really sitting every day trying to find new ways, new shapes, new ways to be of service for people who are in a worse place than us. Because of course, in so many ways I have so many things to be grateful for. You know, it’s not comparable. And I feel like it’s my responsibility right now to use those blessings, to make sure that we’re stable so that we can keep giving. That’s what the whole…our whole brand is about giving tools for inner healing so that we can all fill our cups and help heal the world. Like that’s it, that’s the whole…the whole basis for our business is that: that we can’t make a change in the world if we’re not whole on the inside. And the moment we start to feel whole, the moment we are on that healing journey, right, taking care of ourselves, immediately we’ll have the capacity, the energy, the space, the time, to help people who are really in need.
[36:01] And that’s how we change the world, right? We do the inner work and we do the outer work. And if you’re already practicing on the site, I’m so grateful that you’re there. If you’re taking the free classes, I hope it serves you so much the way it’s serving me; just this feeling of community is so helping me right now. So if you want to subscribe and take part of thousands of classes, we have so many amazing things on the site, it’s $16 a month, we do ten days free trial, so you can give it a try for ten days, see if you love it, and if you love it, stick around. So, hoping that you’re joining, which means then that you’re already practicing yoga every day, right? That you’ve had the past eight or nine days rolling out your mat every single day. You can do that with a free account, even if you’re not subscribed.
[36:44 — Commercial Break]
[38:03] I want to share what I have compiled as the most important and the most helpful things for me to stay grounded and to stay healthy during this time of isolation and social distancing. And anything…if you wanna pick up a notebook and a pen right now or even use the notes on your phone so you can write some things down, please, please do. Anything that resonates, that feels like it’s going to stick, I would love to invite you to add it to your day. And it’s little things, little pieces of advice, small actions, practices that I have realized is what’s saving me right now. It would be so easy for each of us in this moment to absolutely end up in some sort of depression. Oh, for sure. For so many of us, we have lost all sense of structure right now, that regular schedule that we have: going to work, going about our day, picking up kids up from daycare, all of that is out the window, we’re just home. And, of course, you know, in a perfect world we could all try to look at this time as “oh, a staycation. What a beautiful opportunity to spend time with our kids and get back to basics and take care of ourselves.” In a perfect world, yes, that’s what we would all feel. But actually, we are feeling this huge sense of fear and panic right now. And when we’re feeling fear and panic, it’s hard to look at this as anything other than what it is, which is a quarantine, right? Out of the fear of everybody’s safety, we have to stay at home.
[39:32] So, how can we honor those fears, find ways to process our emotions, adhere to the rules, stay home, self-isolate, make sure that we flatten the curve and try to really do our part in keeping the rest of our society as safe as possible while taking good care of ourselves? So number one on this list — I’m calling this the “Social Isolation Survival Guide” [laughs] or I’m calling this the Quarantine…I dunno, what should I call it? “COVID-19 Survival Guide?” That would only apply if you’re actually sick, so obviously this does not a apply for people who are actually sick, but people who are isolated. I think “Social Isolation Survival Guide” is good.
[40:13] Number one: do the yoga [laughs]. Do the yoga guys. Seriously. If you don’t have a mat…you don’t even need a mat. Hardwood floor works, carpet works, just…you just need your body, that’s it. If you have a mat, rolling it out every single day. If you wanna do the classes with us on the site, they’re free, and what’s beautiful for me about that is that we can all feel connected, that we’re doing the same thing, so it’s like we’re part of a whole, and not alone, so I love that. But some sort of dedicated movement on your mat every day, please anchor into that. And if you look at it that way, maybe you feel like you’ve been disconnected from your practice for awhile. This could be a great time for you to really find that home practice for the first time in your life. Where you find the habit of getting on your mat every day to the point of it becoming part of your day where it’s not hard any more, where it’s not this thing you have to do, it’s just you wake up and you practice, right? And that’s when we see the practice actually begin to improve our lives in more ways than the physical. So, yoga every damn day [laughs]. That is my number one tip right now. And that you choose a kind of practice that really fits you. So the classes that we’ve chosen on the site, they’re with different teachers, different kinds of classes — we’ve had super restorative, calming classes, classes to fight anxiety, we’ve had some dynamic classes to make you sweat, everything in between. So, modifying in ways you want to modify so it fits your body, coming to your body to breathe, set an intention to be is the most important part. So do the yoga.
[41:47] And then, I want you to get up in the morning and do at least one thing that nourishes you. And I want you to do it right away. Like right away. It really is a big thing how we set the tone for the rest of the day, especially if all days begin to blend together and just look and feel the same. Like I don’t really know what day it is today, I don’t know if anybody knows what day it is today, really, that you wake up in the morning and not…that you don’t reach for your phone immediately to look at the news, or to go to social media, or to…or that you’re like a zombie waking up and just going to the couch to sit down. That you do something immediately when you wake up that deeply nourishes you. And it’s up to you to figure out what that is because of course it’s going to be different for each of us. For me, in the morning I wake up, I take a big jug of filtered water, I squeeze half a lemon inside and I have some mineral drops that I use, and I light a candle, I drink my water, and we make breakfast. Like that’s our big thing in the morning: we make breakfast, not just like throwing things on a table, but we light candles, we cook breakfast every morning, pancakes or something big, and then we sit down as a family and we enjoy that breakfast every day. And it’s something that we normally do, and I’ve taken it for granted a little bit, or not realized how important that moment of connection is, that we have that quiet time…we listen to some jazz in the morning, like candles lit, sitting around the table, beginning our day together. Like that nourishes me because we’re together. We’re not in front of a screen or a TV or I’m hurrying to get to some place or…no, it’s just we’re preparing breakfast and breathing together. So that for me is really important.
[43:29] So for you, perhaps if you have the ability to go outside, watch the sunrise in the morning, take a very conscious dalk with your…[laughs] with your wog. Can you go dalk with your wog right now? Walk with your dog, like a conscious walk with your dog every morning. Making a gratitude list as you wake up, meditating, going straight to your yoga mat, something nourishing…journalling for a little bit. Like something that fills your cup. And that you make sure to do that every morning. Every morning, like really beginning your day with that something that nourishes you, deeply.
[44:05] And we don’t wanna forget about the basics. The basics right now are more important than ever, basics meaning that you drink enough water, right? You stay hydrated. You drink more water than you normally would, the bathroom is like five feet away anyway, so drink up. Drink good water all day long. That you eat nourishing foods, like of course I think it’s super normal for each of us to, you know, we’re probably not eating as healthy as we normally do with our…it’s hard to get the kind of groceries and the produce and things that we normally can get. So cutting ourselves some slack, like it’s okay if our diet isn’t normally what it is, if you’re eating more sugar or drinking more wine or whatever it is you’re doing…in moderation. Right? Not drinking a bottle of wine every night, not eating a whole thing of chocolate cake every day, not falling into that unconscious place where we’re no longer aware of the actions that we’re taking, but trying to nourish yourself with food without being too hard on yourself. I think that balance is really important.
[45:05] For anyone who think’s “ooh, great opportunity to lose a bunch of weight! Great opportunity for me to detox!” I really don’t think that this is the time for that. This is the time for us to survive. Seriously. It’s time for us to not fall into depression, it’s the time for us to take care of our mental health, right? We only have so much bandwidth and we gotta take care of our family, we gotta take care of our hearts, we gotta nourish ourselves and try to stay sane right now. So any of those harsh demands that you’ve put on yourself, thinking that now is a good time to change or improve or…I would put all of that down. Like really, back to basics right now. Taking care of yourself in that most important, basic, basic, basic way.
[45:49] Basic as in good, right? Eating nourishing food. We have been eating a ton of soups and stews and curries and chilis, there’s something so nourishing for me about…and actually, I have been cooking at 11 in the morning every day, like I do this Live at 9am every day and then I’ll…what do I do after that? Oh yeah, I’ll water the plants. I go to the garden with the baby, we play and we take care of the plants outside. And then around 11 every day, I’ll put things for Lea to paint or some crafts on our kitchen island, and then I chop all of our veggies for today’s meal. And I’ve been making double batches of either big soups or I’ve been making a lot of daal and vegan chilis and things like that. It’s been so good just to know that we have big stock of stuff in the fridge. So if I’m having like a low moment and “I don’t know what we’re going to eat,” there’s always something there, I can just heat it and we’re good. And what I’ve been doing as well is I’m making double batches and half of it I’m freezing, knowing that this is nourishing food filled with healthy produce, and beans, and lentils, and greens. And then I let half of it cool, I put it in Ziplock bags and I lie them flat in the freezer, so it freezes like a little sliver, doesn’t take up any space.
[47:05] And for me that’s just been a very calming thing to do, just knowing that we have healthy foods in the freezer, you know. If any day there’s shortage of food, we’re going to be okay. That for me, the cooking part, has been important. But that you eat good food, right? Food that fills you up, food that makes you feel whole. Those basics. Part of the basics is being outside. If you’re in absolute quarantine, you’re not allowed to leave your house, sitting by a window, breathing fresh air every day. Hopefully you still the ability like we have over here to walk your dogs outside. We can still go to the beach if we remain in complete isolation, not seeing anybody. But for me, even going out on our little street — we live on a dead end road with no one here — walking the dogs in the morning, feeling the sun on my skin, you know, those basic things. Breathing fresh air at some point every day, make sure you do that, that’s a basic thing.
[47:55 — Commercial Break]
[49:42] Another basic thing that we I think tend to forget is human connection. So if you’re in isolation with family right now, with people right now, with a friend, whoever it is, taking a moment to receive and give that physical connection. I’m making a point to cuddle with my daughter as much as I can, to really pause for big, long hugs with my husband so we have that physical intimacy, so we’re not just going about our day, frazzled in our minds, but slowing down, taking time for that physical connection. It is a good time to get really busy [laughs]. I saw a super funny meme yesterday, I have to share it because it made me…at first I didn’t get it, and then I laughed so hard that I couldn’t [laughs] couldn’t stop laughing. It was a meme that said…or it was a tweet, it was a tweet, that said “so for everyone saying there’s going to be a baby boom happening in nine months because of isolation: all those babies will be first borns.” And then it goes, you know, like people who aren’t parents go “what? Why would all the babies be first borns?” People who are parents go “we feel so seen right now.” And I was laughing so hard, just because anyone who’s isolated with children right now are not having sex, or any kind of romantic time. Like everyone’s like climbing the walls going insane. Sorry, I just thought that was so funny. But you know, if you’re feeling intimate, if you’re feeling like you have the bandwidth, you don’t have crazy kids screaming at you all day, if you can be intimate with your partner, now is a good time, right? So, back to basics so that we can feel, you know, we have the basics covered: water, food, fresh air, sunshine if you can find it, hugs, those kinds of things. Back to basics.
[51:20] Now, next point. This is really important: make your bed every day. Like you wake up in the morning, do that nourishing thing that fills you up immediately, whatever it is, and then I want you to make your bed. Even if you normally don’t make your bed, like you’re not the kind of person who makes your bed, make your bed every morning. Please do. It’s just one of those things that signals to the brain that the night is over, right? “This is a new day. It’s a new day, so I’m making my bed,” it’s so simple, I mean it takes one minute to do. Just make your bed. And that means that when you go back to bed at the end of the night, you get to have that ritual of unmaking your bed, of climbing in under the sheets, feeling like you have some order in your bedroom. And that simple act of just making your bed in the morning, I really think it’s…it’s almost Pavlovian, you know? It’s like if you had put on jeans today…I also saw…I’ve obviously been seeing a lot of funny memes — meme game right now is like very, very high. Like “people who are wearing jeans in quarantine, what are you trying to prove?” Actually, putting on jeans, I’m really certain that gives a feeling of like “I have a normal day,” right? “I’m putting some makeup on, I’m not switching from my day pajamas to my night pajamas,” [laughs]. But I get to do that every day through this Live I’m doing that every morning I get to put on a little bit of makeup because I’m live with thousands of people, I wanna, like, look okay. Putting on some makeup, some jewelry, putting on a dress or whatever I’m wearing for the day, it’s just signals to me that “yeah, I’m not home sick, right? I’m not home depressed, I’m just home in isolation. I am still working, or still trying to go about sort of normalcy,” so those little acts, like making your bed, putting on proper clothes in the morning, please, please, give it a try and see if it changes a little bit of your day. I swear it’s going to.
[53:06] The next thing I want to share is to move your body. Move your body. Move your body, move…. Okay, you’re already obviously doing yoga every damn day. Some of the classes that we have on the site are short, some days you’re going to feel a different kind of need to move. I want you, if you can, to move your body to the point of sweating at one moment every single day. That could be putting on a couple of great songs and just dancing a little wildly in your living room. It can be going for a run, it can be doing an at home workout. I feel right now the amount of choices that we have for at home workouts are higher than ever before. You can YouTube free workouts, 20 minute things to do, like…any way you can find right now really to break a sweat is really important. Not just for the physical benefits of sweating and moving the body, but the energetic and emotional benefits of doing that. You’re moving your body right now for your mental health, right, not just for your physical health, not just to, you know, for your heart, for maintaining weight or whatever reasons that you maybe work out normally. You’re moving your body for your mental health. It moves energy around, everything that’s stagnant, that feels stuck — all those thoughts that feel stuck on repeat in our minds, the thoughts of “I’m not going to be okay,” “I’m terrified,” “what’s going on,” “I’m confused,” all of that — when you move to the point of sweating, you also get to churn out all of those things that are stagnant or on repeat. So it’s like you’re flushing your system every time you move to the point of sweating. So please, move every single day.
[54:42] And now something that I found helpful that I don’t know if it’s helpful for everyone, but for me it has been, it’s been to keep some sort of structure to my day. Now, I still have work that I can do from home, like I can record this podcast, I’m doing the Lives, I’m writing still, we still have meetings, we’re still improving the online platform, we’re planning to record new classes, like I still have a lot of…thankfully, I have work to do from home. So for me to set some sort of structure in my day has been really, really, really helpful so that it’s not like I’m just float…you know, we can have that feeling like we’re just floating purposely all through the day. Some sort of structure; maybe if you’re still working and you have the ability to work from home, setting a time for that. Like when does your work day begin? You know, if you’re doing that sacred thing for yourself in the morning, or eating a long breakfast with your family, okay, when does your workday begin? When are you going to break for lunch? When does your work continue after lunch, and when is your workday over, right? Having those dedicated hours where you can actually close a door behind you, be in that work mode to get things done. So not half-assedly watching something on Netflix while trying to send emails at the same time. I think it’s much better, have a little bit of structure so that you know what your day is, especially if you have kids at home, man oh man. I found that nailing down those set — and this goes into my next tip which is to have set meals every day.
[56:03] Make sure you’re having breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. And if you wanna set those specific times, I…we’re doing that with Lea, because if we don’t, I just find we’re just snacking all day long, like she’s asking for food all day long. We’re just at home, right? Normally we’re out and about doing things. We had a huge Elsa cake on our kitchen counter for like five days [laughs] it was really hard. So having set times for that, making sure that you’re eating those proper meals, that you’re cooking food for yourself, or if you’re ordering in or whatever you’re doing that you’re eating real meals, not just snacking through the day to keep yourself sustained. And having some sort of structure for that I have found with a child at home, has been really helpful having set times for meals. Maybe I’m taking it a little too far, but I like structure so that’s working for us.
[56:50] Now, next piece which is really important: keep your house clean and organized as much as you can. Maybe your house is the cleanest it’s ever been because maybe you have nothing else to do but clean and tidy and organize, in that case, great. I also think if we start to feel really low, emotionally, mentally, one of the first things that go for so many of us is we lose the energy to vacuum, we lose the energy to keep the kitchen clean. Ask for help if you need help in your family. Try to get into the habit of…I’m like nagging my husband like crazy, I said, “we are not living the kind of life any more where we can put dishes in the sink and walk away. No. No, no, no.” And like, you know, “we’ll do them all at night…” “no, we’ll do the dish immediately. We have a dishwasher, the dishwasher does it for us, but somebody needs to put the dish in the dishwasher, I don’t want to be the person to do that all day.” Like, those little things make a difference. Don’t let things pile up, don’t procrastinate, keep things tidy and clean; this is your sanctuary right now. Your home is your sanctuary, keep it that way. Keep it beautiful, keep it tidy, air it out once a day, try to really make this and keep this a sacred space.
[57:54] And now this next one is really important. I spoke about this yesterday and the day before: limit things that are hard for you to use in moderation. Things that you know, like that slippery slope into something that you know is easy for you to get stuck binging on that isn’t good for you. Of course, we all have vices, it’s okay for us to just be kind to ourselves, like dude, we probably all will be gaining weight during quarantine, allow for that to happen, let’s relax a little bit. But things that you know are not good for you in the long run. Netflix, for instance. I have seen…we had to have that conversation, me and my husband, because every night, we put the baby to bed, we’ve been so tired like “what’re we watching on Netflix right now,” instead of talking, or playing a board game or interacting with each other. We had several days in a row where that’s all we did. And I said, “hey, who knows how long this is going to last. What if it’s two months of us being isolated? What is it’s longer? I don’t want to get into that place where we’re not talking at night because we’re just stuck watching Netflix. Like I don’t want to binge on anything in front of a screen, but that’s just me.”
[59:04] Drinking wine, same thing. First week of this isolation, we were in total…we were frazzled, panicked, worried. At the end of every day was like “oh, my God, I need a glass of wine.” Start down that road right now of every night “I need a glass of wine,” and then where are you then two months from now if every night you’re having a glass of wine, right? Same thing with sugar, with like overindulging on really, you know, kind of bad foods or junk food, or whatever that thing that you know is it’s fine in moderation, you know, be balanced, all of that. I think now is a really easy time to get stuck in that loop of doing the thing that isn’t good for you every day. That could be like over-using social media, could be staying on your phone all day long, could be gossiping, could be drama, it could be cigarettes, could be drugs, alcohol, I mean any of these things that you know in the long run doesn’t serve you, it’s not helpful for you. Especially if it’s being used as an escape, right?
[60:03] And I’m trying to be so present with myself here that there’s a difference between “oh, let’s watch a movie together” because we want to watch a movie together, versus lying in two separate corners of the couch, each with a phone in our hand, something playing on Netflix that we’re not paying attention to, we’re just not present, right? Same thing with wine. Like a great glass of wine with dinner, love it. Love it. I’m a huge wine fan, you guys know. But mindlessly drinking two or three glasses because I’m panicked and I don’t know how to process my feelings is a different thing. Now if that happens, can I be kind, cut myself some slack, I’m doing my best, yes. Do I want to do that every night? Hell. Fucking. No. So whatever it is — and you know what your thing is — let’s nip that in the bud right now, right? Be soft, be kind, find balance, it’s not black or white, all or nothing. but don’t go into binging of anything that doesn’t serve you, right? I mean, if anything, can you like binge on yoga right now, if you must binge on something? [laughs] Binge on going outside, binge on like, talking about your feelings. Let’s binge on journalling, let’s binge on speaking our feelings out loud, let’s binge on anything that lifts us up a little bit. Reading really good books, playing board games, talking to our partner. Let’s do more of the things that fill us up and try to not overdo the things that in the long run weigh us down.
[61:27] And that leads me to the next place. Give yourself permission to freak out. I think it’s really important that we all give ourselves permission to freak out, but don’t get stuck there, right? If you’re telling yourself all day, “I’m fine. I’m fine. I’m fine. I’m happy. I’m busy. I’m doing normal things.” But you’re actually not feeling that way, I think it’s gonna get to a place where all of a sudden, you’re going to explode, you’re not going to know how to contain your feelings. So giving yourself permission to feel the fear, permission to have a moment of panic, a day of panic, give yourself permission to freak out. It’s okay and normal to be worried right now. But don’t get stuck in that loop. So I would love for us all to have a dedicated time every day where we process our emotions — I was sharing that on the Live this morning. So a dedicated time to process emotions, I also…I posted a video of this, of me consciously releasing emotion in the Luna Shala at Island Yoga, got a lot of respond on that just because I’ve never shared something that raw before. But that practice of just closing the door to your bedroom, putting on some really intense, emotional music and beating the living shit out of one of your pillows, screaming into your mattress, jumping up and down, shaking your body, stomping into the floor, yelling, using your voice, consciously releasing anger, frustration, sadness, grief, fear, letting that energy move through the body and out so it has a place to be released and go, instead of storing all that energy inside. I think it’s so important if you can give yourself that time to emotionally process every day. A gentler way, of course, is to share, right, speaking your feelings out loud. An even gentler way is to journal every day, but some sort of processing of your emotion, every single day.
[63:13] And that takes me to my final piece of advice for this little Social Isolation Survival Guide: and even though we’re in social isolation, or just because we’re in social isolation doesn’t mean that you have to be in social isolation [laughs]. You are in physical social isolation, right, making sure this virus doesn’t spread, you’re not physically socializing with anyone, you can still be consciously, lovingly, presently social with people in your life through FaceTime, for instance. So instead of just texting your friends here and there, I would love to invite you to actually set proper dates, which I found to be so, so, so helpful to have a dinner date with a friend. Have a couples date, you and your partner with another couple, with like some of your best friends. You could even cook the same recipe in your two separate houses, put your computer up and actually have dinner together, right? Set that date with your friend, talk to people, but really talk to people, and I find FaceTime, were you can see each other, look each other in the eye, that helps spark that human connection in a way that texting just never will. So try to text less but actually FaceTime, or Skype, or Zoom, getting more of that eye to eye connection, a little more of that face time, right, every single day, so that you actually feel like you are a part of the whole.
[64:28] We are all isolating, we are all in this together. You are not walking this super challenging journey alone, right? You are not alone, it’s really important that you remind yourself of that: you are not alone. And I have no idea where this is all going to take us, I don’t know what kind of podcast I’ll be recording for next week’s podcast, if we’re at a totally different place, or what’s going on, but I hope that you can use some of these tips, some of these practices, to actually stay grounded throughout this time. The best thing you can do for the greater good of humanity right now is to stay home, stay safe, and take good care of yourself.
[65:03] If you have any energy or time or space leftover in your day, and you want to find a way to be of service for other people, I would love to invite you to do that as well. There are great organizations to donate to right now, there are people looking for help and support in your local community, trust me when I say that. So if you feel at the end of the day like “I want to feel purposeful in a bigger way, I want to really, really be of service,” now is a great time to do that.
[65:28] Thank you for listening. Thank you for being here. Thank you, thank you, thank you for being a part of this community, I…I’m home, I’m listening, so if you want to direct message me on Instagram, like I’m taking to so many people every day. Join me on the Lives, 9am on Instagram and on Facebook, 9am EST every day. Take classes on yogagirl.com, join me there. And if there’s anything I can do for you, and I really mean this: if there’s a specific topic you want me to talk about, if you want a specific kind of guided meditation, if you want help with something, please reach out. Please reach out. I literally have nothing better to do with my time than to be here, with you. So thank you for being here with me. I’ll see you next week.
[End of Episode]