And what the hell does Canto della Verbena… mean? More on that in a bit…
I bet it’s been a minute since you saw a subject line in your inbox that wasn’t about you-know-what… Talk about being democratic - this Coronavirus sure is liberal and inclusive.
Yogis- I hope, despite everything, that this note finds you well, optimistic, rational, loved and still loving others! I’m writing to you from Toronto where things are much the same as everywhere in the world. Is it weird that I find some comfort in knowing that we’re all in this together now… This isn’t just Italy’s or China’s problem anymore, hence why we’re ALWAYS meant to look out for one another.
The Modo Yoga studio that I teach at here in Toronto is still offering classes; they are reduced in size and with some safety provisions but open nonetheless. I know that’s not the case in LA right now. To those yogi friends of mine in LA and elsewhere that might not be getting their fix in a room with others, hang tight!
We are all in the midst of the unknown AND yes we must listen to our leaders and health care professionals and buckle down A LOT. I'm game to do this, for a bit, even though I feel in my heart of hearts that the last thing this world needed was the practice of social distancing. That being said, maybe it’ll make us more aware of the everyday connections we’ve been missing, and even ignoring. My hope in the meantime is that we don’t stigmatize cultures, others and the virus itself with labels and/or unkind gestures; and that we don’t barrel over somebody in the grocery store for toilet paper cause we’re panicked. Let’s remain dignified and compassionate. It’s time to use that yoga of ours - off the mat. We need to be measured, informed and responsive NOT hysterical, ill-informed and reactive.
I’m no expert and please know I know that. But I know that this is not a 'foreign disease'. It’s also not killing everybody and by the same token it’s not just like the flu. It’s a virus that movie stars and Prime Ministers' wives get; and it’s a virus that leaves the elderly and sick people extra vulnerable. It isn’t choosy about who it meets and it is something we should work smart not to get. And with that all said what is happening right now is not forever. This is not who we will always be.
Many of you know that I lead yoga retreats and that my next one is in Italy in September. Yes in Italy and YES I’m still planning on it. Fingers crossed, as it’s nearly 6 months away, and I’m optimistic SO much will come to light and change. As I said before this is not forever, nor is it sustainable. We’re all undertaking practices and gestures as a necessary remedy to a crazy situation but we can’t quit life forever and we still need to look forward to our plans and adjust on a need-to basis. I know we will travel again, we will hug folks we haven’t seen in a while again, we will visit the local coffee shop and buy groceries with ease again, we will practice in the hot room to an awesome playlist again, we will, we will, we will, cause that is the true nature of who we are and that is what I’m making plans for. I hope you don’t forget to do the same!
Two years ago, after my retreat, Husband Paul and I rented bikes to ride the countryside in the South of Italy. It was H-O-T hot and we stopped in front of a house under a tree for some shade. A young Italian man yelled out - in English (he knew:) - from on his roof, do you want some water? We said yes and next thing we knew, we were in his backyard, eating grapes from the garden and drinking homemade wine with him and his mother. We also left with a bottle of wine and some newly packed olive oil. It was a perfect encounter! I’m mindful that this may not happen right now in Italy or anywhere else for that matter; but I know it WILL happen again!
A student from the LA studio I teach at posted something recently that’s been making the rounds, and that I’ve been very careful to remind myself of - Thanks Molly! Viruses are contagious but so is panic, fear, hysteria, calm, love, enthusiasm, kindness and joy - choose wisely.
In the midst of our 24-hour news cycle, centred predominately around salacious headlines, I invite you to curate your space and incoming information, and I return to the heading at the top of this email - Canto della Verbena - which means ‘And While Siena Sleeps’… You may have heard or read this story and seen this video making the rounds - it’s a truly beautiful and inspiring reminder of how we persevere and what we should strive for cause we live to live, connect, feel and experience!
...While on lockdown in Siena Italy, someone opened their window to sing Canto della Verbana, a traditional Siena folk song of pride. He found he was not alone or the only one in need of singing. They ALL opened their windows to sing together in pride, and soon they will do it again, in the streets together - face to face - I have no doubt! Chin up. Head up. Heart up!