Principal’s Pause for Thought!
I remember packing up my books from my little attic at school, and being told that we could return in 3 weeks… Ever the optimist, I behaved accordingly.
I was sad that my art classes had been cancelled. I was gloomy that Jabula community centre was closed (and I’d just paid my rent!) I was a bit nervous about mastering Teams… I am not good with computer technology and my lesson with the IT teacher, was about 10 minutes long!
But for three weeks, it would be ok, right!
After a week, my yoga students at gym and Jabula, had asked about Zoom (oh no, another app!!) yoga. And so we started. Reluctant to pay (and fearful about a lack of a proper salary) I started teaching 30 minute sessions daily. Some crazy people even wanted to pay me… but why would you pay for a half hour of yoga on a free app? I left it ‘on a donation basis’ and encouraged them (rebel that I am) to sign in AGAIN after 30 minutes, so that we could get a full hour. And they paid. And I felt that signing in a second time wasn’t really working – at least half didn’t return! So, I bought the pro package. Now we had uninterrupted hour-long sessions daily.
It felt so disconnected, to me: a few folk put on their cameras; most didn’t. I could barely see them, and so my instructions had to be precise, and my corrections general. Some didn’t have fibre; others felt shy. But they kept showing up and (most) kept paying. A friend in the UK joined; a gym friend’s mum in Buenos Aires joined – their lockdowns were harsh and they enjoyed the exercise.
After a month, I was more used to Teams, and shifted between that for school tutoring; Zoom for yoga and varsity tutoring and Google Classroom for those who were used to that ‘storage system’ for notes. I also did WhatsApp lessons, and shared PowerPoint slides. The children from Alex who used to attend Saturday School were at a distinct disadvantage – few had WiFi; fewer had data. So, I launched a ‘read a poem a day’ – where I narrated their prescribed poems to the co-ordinator, and these were shared via WhatsApp. I edited essays and used “Track Changes” with comments, so that pupils could see the reasons for the changes. We had yoga teacher tutorials via Zoom, and even enjoyed some quizzes – like QI – where they had to buzz or ping before sharing their answer.
In the midst of these already gloomy and isolated days, there was sporadic load-shedding. So now, we had to time the lessons (usually pre-booked) in such a way that the generator could be turned on, and all other devices that might affect / detract from the lessons (kettle, heater etc) be turned off!
There’s more: George Floyd was brutally murdered, sparking international protests about systemic racism. Protests occurred all around the world and then people protested against the protests … because the marchers didn’t all wear masks. But does a mask matter when you feel you feel your life doesn’t? Tensions ran high in South Africa too, with adults, young and old, together with school children expressing their experiences of prejudice.
Lockdown was slowly being eased: the smokers could get their fixes legally; the w(h)iners could imbibe again with ease. We even had toilet paper. We were adapting to our circumstances. People were sharing positive life lessons:
- I learned how to make bread
- I embraced my exercise app
- We had such a nice walk/ hike
- I started blogging
- I launched my own business
- My dogs have never had this much love … or this many walks!
- We had a Zoom-Christening
- I love working from home
- I don’t miss traffic
- We’ve started reading
- I love feeling so connected to my family
- I can easily share the voice-note sermon from my pastor
For me, the daily remote-yoga has become a blessing. It has given me a purpose: others have been relying on it. I have had such positive feedback: “Thank you for keeping us sane and supple!” is my favourite. I know that it isn’t the same and I know that we can’t do proper YYI corrections… but we can’t even in face-to-face yoga. And maybe there are lessons there too: Everything and everyone won’t always be there. Use your words well. Use what you can to make things better.
I shifted from being anti-technology to being grateful for the opportunity to learn and grateful for the chance to teach people and feel some sort of connection. The gratitude-as-an-attitude spread. I became more grateful for my husband’s technical prowess, as he found a better web-cam and improved the music and sound quality of the zoom sessions. I’m grateful to have a garden and some exercise equipment, so that there really is no excuse for being sedentary. I’m grateful for authors… and my Kindle – during winter, I was averaging a book a day! I was grateful for friends who reached out and I loved the freedom to go for brisk walks and connect with people while admiring nature’s abundant gifts.
We’re adapting all the time – whether it is to the weather, our bodies, our financial shifts, our social realities. Who knew, back in February, that we would have just one La Verna for the whole year? Our Jabula Day was also modified – and happened outdoors in the park. Etienne commented that he felt so blessed to see people and feel connected and grounded amid the YYI family once more. Congratulations to the new badge-holders and their tutors – who persisted during extremely adverse conditions, and have shown such resilience and determination.
Thank you to Jenny – who has continued to oversee tutorials and exams during these very trying times. Namaste to Doreen, who gave her last tutorial this year. To Helen N and Doreen, bless you and thank you for your devotion to the YYI; you truly deserve your Honourary Status!
We have all witnessed and experienced losses – of freedom, finances, loved ones, lifestyle. And yet we are here. On the yoga mat, when you have an injury, you adapt your practice or you take a break from your practice. Then you work to strengthen and ease the ache. Your teacher cautions you. You work with intelligence and sensitivity. We’ve heard these words so often, “Listen to your body!” And that’s what has empowered us to endure and, at times, thrive this year: work with awareness, adapt, accommodate, strengthen, sensitise, listen.
To Jeanette M – here is what I think the M stands for: Mayhew, of course, wife of ever-supportive Cecil, but also: mighty, marvellous, meaningful, measured, mega-efficient Matriarch of the YYI. Thank you so much for all that you do for the YYI, and for me. (The updated contact-list was another ‘M’ – mammoth, and yet, you did this with consummate skill and enthusiasm.)
To Isabel, what a Treasure you are! Best fee-collector in history; feisty negotiator and organiser. Whether it’s in our YYI books, on the mat or in life, you know exactly how to bring BALANCE! Thank you.
Mo, Helen C and Melissa, thank you for working towards improving our image and keeping us all in touch with one another. Many of us in the YOUNG Yoga Institute are a little OLD, and yet we trundle on, doing our best to upskill and update.
May your festive season be a meaningful and appreciative one. May you and your loved ones be safe. May love fill your hearts:
To bless is to put a bit of yourself into something. It to make holy, to change something or someone because of your presence. Macrina Wiederkehr.
May you all be blessed,
Shared by Jeanette Mayhew
Sermon on Having Faith in God in Hardships: What’s God’s Will Behind Hardships?
By Xiang Yang Oct 12, 2020
One day, I read a fable. There was once a farmer who hoped that his wheat would not be affected by any terrible weather while it was growing, but would grow tall and strong in light winds and sunshine. But when his wish was realized and the time came to collect the harvest, the wheat held no grain. As it happens, if wheat is not baptized through all kinds of hard weather as it grows, it will not bear a rich harvest.
The growing of the wheat made me think of our own lives and how we also need to be tempered by wind and rain, otherwise we end up like flowers growing in a greenhouse, and we become very fragile, we fall at the first blow, and are unable to adapt to all manner of harsh environments and cruel realities. The Bible says, “For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them” (Proverbs 1:32). When our environment is comfortable and easy, all we do is enjoy our flesh and we are simply unable to sincerely rely on God, look to God or draw close to Him. Our life entry can also stagnate, and when failures and setbacks befall us, we can very easily become negative and weak, we can lose our faith in God and, in serious cases, we can even deny and betray God. Therefore, if someone wants to grow in life, then they must undergo some setbacks, failures and tribulations. When we experience many hardships, we learn how to sincerely rely on God and look to God, we establish a normal relationship with God, and little by little we become composed and steady, and our will, our stamina, and our ability to judge things and handle problems all grow apace. We also become increasingly mature and we grow in life with each passing day. Therefore, we only grow by experiencing hardships and tribulations.
THOMAS MERTON: A door opens in the centre of our being and we seem to fall through it into immense depths which, although they are infinite, are all accessible to us; all eternity seems to have become ours in this one placid and breathless contact. God touches us with a touch that is emptiness and empties us.
Joyce Rupp comments on this: There is a part of me that always wants to feel good, to have life go well and to not have any pain or discomfort. Yet, I know that a cup that is always full does not have any room to receive. It does not have space to contain anything more than what I already have. Likewise, a cup that is never used or shared will grow stale and tasteless. The spiritual path is a constant cycle of emptying and filling, of dying and rising, of accepting and letting go. (Source: The Cup of Our Life)
Some photos from our outdoor Jabula Day 2020 – thank you for Etienne, Tatjana and Cynthia for organizing this gorgeous celebration!
Poses to help you feel more grounded:
Observations from Karen Carr in KZN
Mock Exams/Examiner Training:
Although I haven’t yet been qualified for 5 years, I decided that I need to begin training to be one an Examiner, as we have a shortage here in KZN. Naomi Klingenberg, our Tutorial Coordinator, did a fantastic job preparing and arranging everything. Also having to adjust all the rules in accordance with Covid protocols.
The training was generously hosted at Limber Lotus studio in Gilletts, home base of our Tutor Monique van den Busken and Gaynor Swanepoel who is also a Student Teacher. Monique has 11 students at various stages of the course.
I sat in on two 30 minute practical “Mock Exams”. The Student Teachers had put a huge amount of effort into their lesson programmes, and perfecting their teaching skills, and wow did it show! Still 3 tutorials away from the exams and they made it look almost effortless!
Having been involved in mentoring one of the Students since July, I realised how difficult it is, and how important it is to be impartial! I simply couldn’t adjudicate her. I thought she was fabulous 😂😂 And at the end I felt so emotional, like a proud Mother. What a wonderful experience. It makes me want to become a Tutor myself!
Then with the next Student, I found it relatively easy to see what she did right and wrong, but to summarise that into the 10 points of a Good Teacher, now that was a challenge! I just couldn’t do it! So suffice it to say, much more training is required for me! The next big challenge is to give feedback to the Student’s Tutor, that has to be positive and constructive too.
It really makes you realise how we take our Examiners for granted. It really is a very tough job. So a VERY BIG THANK YOU must go to all of those dedicated, passionate Teachers who put their hands up to be an Examiner. We appreciate and value you!!
SOME INSPIRATIONAL WORDS ABOUT LOVE AND CARE:
True love is selfless. It is prepared to sacrifice. Sadhu Vaswani
To be a good father and mother requires that the parents defer many of their own needs and desires in favour of the needs of their children. As a consequence of this sacrifice, conscientious parents develop a nobility of character and learn to put into practice the selfless truths. James E Faust.
It’s hared to get people to overcome the thought that they have to take care of themselves first. It’s hard to get players to give in to the group and become selfless people. Isaiah Thomas
Do some selfless service for people who are in need. Consider the whole picture, not just our little selves. Nina Hagen.
We live on a planet that is amazing, beautiful and full of wonder, but not protected from powerful destructive forces of nature. We are capable of doing wonderful and selfless things… but also self-absorbed and harmful things. This is the world we live in. Adam Hamilton.
A hero is somebody who is selfless, who is generous in spirit, who just tries to give back as much as possible and help people. Debi Mazar.
Day after day, ordinary people become heroes through extraordinary and selfless actions to help their neighbours. Sylvia Burwell
Only those who have learned the power of sincere and selfless contribution experience life’s deepest joy: true fulfillment. Tony Robbins.
Spirituality does two things for you. One, you are forced to become more selfless, two, you trust providence. The opposite of a spiritual person is a materialist. Imran Khan
Of all the nonsense written about love, none is more absurd than the notion that ideal love is selfless. To love is to see myself in you and to wish to celebrate myself with you. What I love is the embodiment of my values in another person. Love is an act of self-assertion, self-expression and a celebration of being alive. Nathaniel Branden
Always do good to others. Be selfless. Mentally remove everything else and be free. This is divine life. This is the direct way to Moksha or salvation. Swami Sivananda