Yoga & Mindfulness During a Pandemic

Shared by WildYoga Lead Facilitator and Instructor Heather Sullivan, with written reflections by our recent Yoga Teacher Training students

The following short essays were a written assignment from our newly graduated Balanced Rock 200hr Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) students. This 200-hr training has been accomplished across multiple weekends over the course of 8 months. The last two modules were done completely online due to COVID-19 and we had our graduation ceremony on May 3rd via Zoom. Different times for sure!

The words of our graduates share both vulnerability and the realness of this situation, and how practices of yoga and mindfulness can really be an antidote for the pandemic at hand. I feel hopeful to have these three teachers emerging into the world at a time where self-care, wellness, and mindful teachings are very needed. -Heather Sullivan


The prompt: 

How is yoga influencing your time during the COVID-19 pandemic?

What are you learning about yourself during this time?

How can we use this Balanced Rock 200-hr Yoga Teacher Training to be of service to our communities and the world right now?


You did it!
Emerald Wong celebrates earning her 200hr Yoga Teacher certification with Balanced Rock

Yoga During the COVID-19 Pandemic

by recent 200-hr YTT grad Emerald Wong

Yoga during the pandemic has been a constant! During this time where everything is changing and they way of the world is in complete unknown, yoga has been something that I can recognize and find comfort in. My experience during Covid-19 has been a highly increased workload with quite a bit of added stress – yoga has been able to keep me moving in a positive forward direction through it all. Speaking with so many of my own friends and family during this time it is so interesting to see how many individuals are craving a yogic experience. The world needs meditation, healing and self love now more than ever. During this time yoga offers the perfect way to take a look within rather than focusing on the outside elements around us.

Throughout this experience I am learning to try to take a step back from the crazy world that we live in and truly enjoy what I have. The gratitude for the space we live in and my dearest family and friends has been pouring out of me during this time. A world pandemic really puts things into perspective and I have learned just how much I can change my day or outlook by incorporating a little yoga and me time! Change has been another very present element while experiencing the ups and downs of the pandemic. Everything around us is in a constant state of change – finding out how comfortable and fluid I am with that has been another eye opener. Time online and working with the camera/video has been a huge challenge, one that I am trying to continue to feel comfortable and work at. I am finding it easier to adapt to change in all aspects of my life and really push to find the good in all the situations that can at first look unfortunate. I think this time is a wonderful test for both myself and the world.

It is time to share yoga with the world – it is so needed! This is an incredibly difficult experience for so many individuals. To be able to give the gift of yoga and show people just how much it can change your perspective on any given day is a pretty amazing thing to be able to do. Using this training to explore the world of yoga and find the most approachable way to deliver the gift is a key focus of mine. This training not only focuses on the movements of yoga, but the gratitude to nature, the space around you and the person within. Taking a moment to share those feelings with others and help them realize just how wonderful the world is and how important it is to honor your inner self is crucial. My hope is that we will be able to help bring out the best in others and create positivity within our reach. This will be a constant challenge I know, but leaving this training with the tools we have learned is the perfect starting place to share the transformational gift of yoga!


Catherine Wortmann is earning her Advanced 300-hr Yoga Teacher Certification through our WildYoga Teacher Training Program

Yoga During COVID-19

by current 300-hr YTT student Catherine Wortmann

When the only thing constant is change, practice Yoga. During the stay-home-order, and the stress that comes with a global pandemic, Yoga has been my saving grace. This practice has been woven into my world in all aspects of my being …mother, partner, woman, entrepreneur, farmer, and land-owner. Yes, I am a certified Yoga Teacher with some fancy poses, but that is not the practice I am referring to. I am speaking to the cultivation of inner calm even when the world seems chaotic. There is opportunity in each breath to begin anew and as Iyengar said, “Like the leaves of a tree dance in the wind, our thoughts move with the breath”. When my world seems difficult (or even unbearable), the breath is my beacon, my guidepost, and my truest companion.

My mother commented on how Covid 19 seemed like a suspenseful movie, one that she could not stop. My reply to my dear mother is this, “oh, but you can stop the movie”. It is as simple as taking a long-slow-deep breath in, and then letting that breath out even slower. Lengthening the exhalation has been proven, by science, to shift us from a sympathetic nervous system or stress response (fight/ flight/ freeze) to a parasympathetic response (rest, digest, & boost immune system). The key to this practice is awareness. Before yoga, I was not even aware this calm place existed within me. If I was unaware of a stress response occurring within me, why would I take a breath to shift it? I no longer let the unpleasantness of life hold or define me. Those raw emotions “good or bad” pass through me, they do not live in me; riding in-and-out with the breath. Only after I had cultivated the stillness within was I able to recognize that I had shifted away from my place of calm. Yoga (including meditation or focus practice, pranayama or breathing practice, and asana or poses) teaches us how to recognize the self in all experiences. 

There are some incredible struggles going on now, all around the world. Everyone has been affected by the pandemic differently. My personal experience during the pandemic is not nearly as bad as some. I come from a place of privilege, on many levels. Currently, I am home with my two young children (7 & 4), unable to work much. My husband is still working 40 hours per week but with ⅔ less income, as he is in the restaurant /bar industry. My business is struggling, but I am offering online wellness including distance Reiki, Group Zoom Yoga, Free FB Live Yoga & Meditation and private lessons via Zoom. Check out Echo Adventure Cooperative for more information on all of my offerings. I don’t know if my business will survive the pandemic but I know one thing, for sure, Yoga will guide me through it all. 

The practice of Yoga also teaches us to find the silver linings and to come from a place of gratitude. Anytime I witness myself veering in the direction of self-judgment, guilt, frustration or any other harmful emotion I anchor to gratitude. Anytime is the perfect time for gratitude. Try it now, say, “I am grateful for _____” (fill in the blank) and you will cultivate more of that. Right now I am grateful that during Covid 19 I have been overwhelmed with examples of human kindness, generosity, and compassion. My children are bonding like never before, and watching their relationship grow has been a gift. My husband and I have the opportunity to examine where we need to improve, and where we are strong as a couple. My garden looks amazing from all this time at home. I have reconnected with nature on a new level. My kids and I take our homeschool classroom to the outdoors, at home or in our local woods. I am grateful to have made the Sierra Nevada foothills our home. I have moved out of my comfort zone, moving my yoga business from in-real-life to online. I have re-implemented some beneficial Ayurvedic daily routines. I am grateful that I stepped on this path seven years ago and was enrolled in Balanced Rock’s Teacher Training program when the pandemic began. I have some tools in my kit, easing the emotional toll of this pandemic. Every day, I start with gratitude. 

I have been dedicated to this practice of Yoga for a solid seven years, as teacher and student (recently completing Balanced Rock’s 200hr Yoga Teacher Training). I have learned that the sea of knowledge is endless because the subject is the self. Yoga never gets boring and it takes a lifetime. I am certain that I am worth the investment, we all are. …to truly know yourself, what a gift! All this time in reflection has brought up some big emotions, and feelings. There have been experiences from my past that resurfaced, and concerns about the uncertain future. I still struggle with self-love, and self judgement on a daily basis. Some days, I meet myself on the mat and all I can do is cry. Whatever version of myself I am met with, in that moment I know I am doing my best. I continue to breathe and let the ebb and flow of life carry me along. I surrender and I trust the process, even if it’s painful at times, reminded that “practice” is all the time, going way beyond the Yoga mat.


2019-2020 WildYoga 200-hr Teacher Training graduate Ashley Born

Yoga During the Stay-At-Home Order

by recent 200-hr YTT grad Ashley Born

The stay-at-home order has had many interested effects. While I only worked at night for about five hours this did give me some semblance of routine which is completely gone now. Another addition has been my boyfriend is home during the day. The added distraction of having another human around who is inconvenienced when I take up the whole floor of the house, i.e. small room, we share adds even more resistance to doing yoga. I have found it much harder to create my own self-motivated routine and to stick to it with all these hurdles. I have also found that when I do yoga I have been crying. I would imagine that is from the stress of the state of the world and the deteriorating state of my father. All in all, I haven’t done much yoga this month. 

I have been able to stick to my ayurvedic routine that I created, which gives me some consolation. The morning and evening add-ons were easy to integrate and maintain because I have already set up doing something at that moment of the day and they don’t take much more time. Yoga has become an almost 2-hour process with meditation, pranayama, asana, nidra and chanting. Once I start going it’s hard to stop. My mind goes, well you’ve got five more minutes for pranayama, once around the mala is great but let’s do another with Ram, that was a lot let’s just rest and do a nidra, etc. This is wonderful and I feel great afterwards but hogging the whole “house” for that long everyday isn’t sustainable and two hours can be a lot of time. I am not a morning person but I wish I was as this would eliminate some obstacles. 

I already knew I lack self-motivation and have a hard time sticking to self-imposed routines. This time in quarantine has solidified this knowledge. My desire to create yoga videos was robust at the beginning and after one failed attempt I haven’t tried again. I have a whole group of ladies who wanted me to teach them on a regular basis and I haven’t. I bought many books on various yoga limbs and have not read any of them. I started with a strong personal practice of yoga at least five times a week and now I’m lucky if I create one day of yoga. I set out with many art projects that are mostly unfinished. I have not thrived in the ways that I wanted to. My good intentions have fallen into the hole of “things undone”. I am probably not alone in this and that is where I can be of service.

I can hold the hand of someone and say, I too have failed to achieve my best self in times of change. I too have questioned if any of these things I am doing to help myself actually do anything. I also need structure to succeed and when the structures I created fail, I flail. I have been in this place before and will once again rise out of it, because the great universal truth is that everything changes. I don’t know how to get myself to “do the thing” every day, but I will keep searching and trying. Most importantly, in striving to be kind to myself, I have deep wells of understanding and kindness to give to others. Life doesn’t stop if you fail, the sun rises the next day, the breath moves in and out, and each moment is exactly as it should be propelling you to the next. 


If you are interested in becoming a Certified Yoga Instructor through our WildYoga Teacher Training Program, visit us online or email us with inquiries. We are currently planning our 2021 program and will be posting details via social media, so stay tuned to our channels!

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