Welcome to the Accessible Yoga Podcast where we explore how to make space for everyone in the yoga community.
Amber Karnes 06:53:15
This podcast is brought to you by the Accessible Yoga Association, a nonprofit organization focused on accessibility and equity in yoga.
Hi, I'm your host, Jivana Heyman, my pronouns are he and him. And I serve as the director of accessible yoga.
Amber Karnes 06:53:29
And I'm your co host, Amber Karnes, my pronouns are she and her, and I serve as president of the accessible yoga board of directors.
Hi, everybody, we're back. This is Jivana. I'm here with Amber. Hi, Amber.
Amber Karnes 06:53:43
Hey, how's it going?
Good. Good to have another conversation about COVID. All
Amber Karnes 06:53:49
right. So um, well, I was gonna say job security, but like, it's not actually our job to talk about COVID. But we can pretend that it is for the next 30 to know
I'm a yoga teacher. So I'm not a COVID expert. We should just say that up front. But we got to talk about COVID. Because it's just continuing to impact everyone's lives. Yeah. And our own. And yoga is the yoga community. So I think we just got to keep talking about it. Yep. Yeah. How are you? Other than COVID? How are you?
Amber Karnes 06:54:26
Honestly? I mean, it's, it's funny when people ask that question, because I feel like now there needs to be like, I'm okay. And then there's the version that's like, Well, I'm not currently sick with COVID. And I have a roof over my head. And I'm that kind of okay. You know, but not like doing great. I feel like, you know, 2021 has been a very challenging year for me. And I was kind of reflecting on that, you know, everyone seems to be doing at the end of the year, and, like, it's been a hard one, you know, there's been a lot of uncertainty and change of plans back and forth, because of the way this pandemic is planned out, or played out. And, you know, I feeling a bit burnt out and a bit lost. As far as like, knowing the right way to turn, I know, we're going to talk about some of that today. Because, you know, when the government kind of like, leaves us on our own to as individual, you know, event planners, or teachers or business owners to like, well, I don't know, like, figure it out, there's not a plan. It's hard to know what the right thing to do is sometimes you know, and so, I've been really spending a lot of time reflecting on, on that. And on the like, you know, pros and cons of, okay, well, there's this mental health benefit that we get from gathering together, but then very real physical risks and been in not benefits, what's the opposite of a benefit, pros and cons, cons to gathering, which can include like, actual life or death consequences. And so, I don't know, I've been sitting with a lot of that and feeling a lot of uncertainty about how my work moves forward. But also on the other side of that this year has been really good in certain ways, including, like, you know, I'm spending a lot of time outdoors and on my bike, and I got roller skates. So like, I don't know, there's little bits of joy that I've been able to connect with, in that way. And I know, I have to say, as someone who, you know, has had a long contentious relationship with my own body, over the years, including, like, the new challenges that have come up when ageing has started to show up or, you know, existing in a fat body at a certain size for a long time. And now my body is a different size. Like, even with those challenges coming up, I have to say that this year has really given me a new appreciation for my body, including navigating like to major injuries that I've had to, like, rehabilitate from and even though, you know, so much has happened in that way. Like, I've also been able to kind of pull back and marvel at the ways that like, my body can recover, and my body can show up for me, even when, like, my mind doesn't want to or the circumstances are such that I feel despair or sorrow or whatever, like they're still this kind of constant that I can count on. Not that it doesn't change every day. Not that I can't get put out of commission quickly, because that's happened a few times. But, you know, it's been sort of like this. I don't know like a metronome in the background. It's like, you know, kind of like the breath is and we talk about the breath and yoga, like you can always go back there. And I've kind of felt that way this year that like, even when I feel like I'm going to lose it mentally. Or I feel so sad because of the way that like, I don't know, just the realities of the world that we're living in. I can always like have this place to go. And so that was a long answer to like, how are you doing These days?
I just want to know a little more about roller skating. So exciting to me. I used to roller skate when I was a kid I got back into biking actually, to like biking has become Yes, a great outlet for me personally, like I agree like being home all the time, I've had to find new ways to get out into the world. You know, that feels safer. And so biking has been really healthy, healthy, but I hadn't thought about roller skating until I saw you running around on your, you know, glowy skates.
Amber Karnes 06:58:47
I know they're so cool, right? My mom got me these wheels for Christmas that like they light up when you roll. There's like a little magnet inside. I know. I love that. They're so fun.
That's so awesome. Alright, so let's talk about COVID though, you know, the thing that the thing that I've been thinking, like, again, it's just reminded me so much of the AIDS epidemic. And those days, you know, this feeling? Well, the way that the way that CDC is kind of like just letting it all go and just like do whatever the hell you want. You know, like, quote, Every man for themselves garbage, like it feels like reminds me of the AIDS days, when there was no there was no support, there was no government intervention, there was no one there was no one there to rely on to. No one was coming to help. Right. And that's what got me so into activism, I think is just the realization back then that, you know, so many of my friends were sick and dying, and like no one was coming, nothing was happening. There was like a very minor response. You know, at the beginning, there was even an effort to cover it up, to pretend it wasn't happening because of homophobia. Like there was some people who wanted gay men to die in the beginning, you know, and we're very vocal about that. And then it was like, and some of those people were president at the time. Reagan, you know, anyway, I'm just saying, like,
Amber Karnes 07:00:33
I feel, yeah, for sure.
I'm feeling that way again, because it just feels like, you know, my activism came out of the fact that I felt like, Okay, if no one's coming to save you, then you got to do something, you got to just speak up for yourself. And for those who are suffering, and struggling, you know, we have to care for each other. And reminds me of, you know, Desmond Tutu recently died. And I was just thinking about some of his incredible quotes and work. Let's see. I had, I had a quote from him somewhere I was gonna read. Well, this is his famous one he talks about, he says, if you're neutral in situations of injustice, you've chosen the side of the oppressor. And that reminds me there's a famous quote, by the Jewish activist, what's his name? Okay, I'll think up to find that one. But what do you think of that? That quote?
Amber Karnes 07:01:43
Yeah, I mean, I've been thinking about this recently with the new CDC guidelines that just came out what a couple of days ago, that basically they admitted to shortening the recommended isolation period, because they've caved to the pressure of big business because people aren't coming to work because they're sick. And, you know, how, how you said that sort of, like, hopelessness that you felt during the AIDS crisis of like, no one's coming to save us, activated you. And I've been thinking about that a lot to like, when is the sort of breaking point of, I guess, the American people, I'm just speaking from my own experience during this pandemic, you know, and, like, what are we each going to do to respond to this moment, you know, and not be neutral in this circumstance, to go back to the quote that you brought up? You know, because I think that when we can very transparently see the ways that our government is not stepping up to support us that we don't have a social safety net of any kind. There's not a plan for this pandemic response, you know, almost two years in and it can feel really hopeless to be like, Okay, well, voting doesn't matter because our legislators are like barely doing their job, and not able to pass any legislation that's going to like, impact, you know, people's daily lives that are suffering from this pandemic, like poor people, you know, yeah, if you have money, you have a whole different experience in the pandemic, you can stay home and you can be safe. But if you're a worker, then the CDC is basically like, I don't know, drink some ginger brew and feel better, because your life is disposable, and you need to keep going to work. So you can like prop up this economy. And I feel like when you know, people get to the point where they're like, Okay, the government is not coming to save us, there's no money coming, there's no, then that is a point where, like, it can be a catalyst for action, or like shutdown. And I feel like a lot of people are at that point, you know, where we're gonna have to make some very real decisions about like, how are we going to move forward? You know, do we keep participating in this system that clearly is designed for our exploitation, and that doesn't care about the most marginalized and basically has boiled down a pandemic to an issue of personal responsibility, which is like, not how it works. When there's a health issue that's affecting the entire population, you know, what are we going to do? Like, are we able to start finding ways to respond like in our own family and our own friend group, like, how are we taking care of one another, when the people who are quote unquote, supposed to take care of us clearly, are not doing their job? Whether whether that's right or wrong, like we can wish all day that like, well, it should be this way, but like, it's not. So then what are we going to do from there? You know,
right. And not only are they not basically, I feel like anyone who has a chronic illness or an older person, you know, basically people who don't have access to health care, they're all being discarded, you know, once again, similar, like, that's a parallel I was trying to make to the AIDS epidemic, it's like, it felt like we were the unwanted people, and we were just being left to die. And that's where I was trying to make a parallel between a few quotes in my head, maybe it was confusing, but you know, there's that quote, I read from Desmond Tutu, and there's a famous quote from La Vie Zelle, talking about the Holocaust and the ways that he says very similar thing he says, We must always take sides neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never though tormented. And that reminds me of that act up symbol, which was that poster that had a pink triangle, which was from the Holocaust. That's a symbol that gay men were forced to wear during the Holocaust. And the quote, silence equals death. And that silence equals death, basically means exactly that, you know, that we must speak up in times when they're when people are being are suffering, and there's no one speaking up for them. And I don't, you know, I think it's hard to see in this situation an exact parallel, because COVID is much bigger, I would say, affecting the world, you know, like, everyone, but I think we can see that. So many oppressed groups are struggling more from COVID than others, like we said, like, if it's everyone for themselves, then what happens to people with compromised immune systems and seniors? Because if you look at the numbers, seniors are the most at risk. Yeah, by far, by far.
Amber Karnes 07:06:53
Yeah, and I think have been the most affected, like, as far as deaths and things like that, too.
Yeah. I mean, to me, it's another aspect of ableism which, you know, we you know, I've talked about a lot but is really, it is connected to yoga, because I get so frustrated in yoga too, when I see this, you know, practice that is so the spiritual practice of yoga, which really teaches us that we're all connected. Even though we're, we have very different lived experiences that we all share the same heart. And yet, yoga is often taught in a way that where people feel separate, excluded, even segregated into groups, you know, like even the level system and yoga it kind of drives me crazy because it's like, oh, you're advanced you you're an advanced practitioner, because you can because you have a flexible body that's genetic privilege and or whatever, not even a privilege, it can actually be a real problem to be too flexible, right. It can be it can be a very serious health condition to be too flexible like Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, for example, but My point being we, I think, I think the yoga community still is missing out, in many ways on connecting the essence of the teachings, which is about universal connection with the way their the community is responding to COVID. You know, I still see stuff around, not wearing masks at Studio, even this one post to the studio was like discouraging mask use. It just, it shows me that we don't really get what yoga is about, right? I mean, yeah,
Amber Karnes 07:08:42
yeah, you know, reminds me of this bell hooks quote that I've seen posted a lot lately, Bell Hooks passed away recently, as of this podcast. So I'm seeing a lot of her writing. And I'll read the quote, it says, I'm often struck by the dangerous narcissism fostered by spiritual rhetoric that pays so much attention to individual self improvement, and so little to the practice of love within the context of community. And I feel like that really does sum up, kind of like, the way that I feel like this shows up this kind of spiritual bypassing of what the teachings of yoga actually are instructing us to do, which involves a lot of things around collective care and interconnectedness. And being able to recognize our own humanity so that we can, you know, go out into the world and make change and help other people too, and see that and other people, you know, but so many times, I feel like we get lost in this, like, well, I have a practice that will make me feel better, or, you know, the sort of like, individual focus that maybe it's manifesting in those ways of like, well, we're not wearing masks, and if you're sick, stay home, and otherwise, just, like, take care of yourself. And it's like, well, when you have a transmissible disease, like this, it doesn't really work that way, you know, it's a public health is dependent on the public, like doing what is in best interest for all of us, not just, you know, on an individual level, which is like, we may not personally die or be long term affected by this disease, but there are people who will, in a very real way, and so I know that it's exhausting to continue to wear masks to yours in when it seems like no one around you, like gives one crap about public safety or, you know, masks are being enforced where you are, or, you know, there's pressure to a certain teacher that you admire, you know, is telling you not to get vaccinated, or whatever the case may be, you know, yeah, I think it can be right, and really difficult to sustain that, but
but I want to kind of just echo what you're just saying, wear a mask is not selfish, right? It's actually it's actually a service to others. Yeah. You know, and I think that's where we're so confused, is like getting vaccinated is not selfish, it's service to others, if you can get vaccinated. It's a way to protect people around you, who may be sensitive, who might be really impacted by getting sick. And I feel like we missed that, especially in yoga, which is like that, well, that quote, you read from Bell Hooks is incredible. I mean, she's amazing. She was amazing. And I think that's the heart of the yoga teachings that we have gotten so confused by it feels like yoga is focused on two things. Tradition, like not traditionally, like, currently, like, the way yoga is being viewed is that either you're practicing yoga for your own self interest that you want to, like, have some kind of like, healthy body, right? Like you want to, like be this like perfect, healthy being. So there's a goal in yoga of like, this, I don't know, idealized being, or there's this other goal of the yoga practitioner who's left society and becomes enlightened by themselves in a cave. And it's interesting because I think both like more contemporary goal of like, perfect physical beauty, and health. And it's, there's so many parallels between that and that, like, traditional practitioner who's left the world become a monk and becomes enlightened by themselves. Both of those are so individual, like, it's so much about the individual. And I get the yoga is an inner practice, like we do the practice. You know, we work on ourselves so that we cause less harm in the world, you know, so that we can potentially be of use and create some positive. Although I think it's, I have to admit, it's dangerous to like, step into the world. Thanks. that I know better. And I'm going to fix everything. Like that's not what I'm saying either. Like, we don't need to be focused on helping, like helping can be dangerous. But service services, the heart of yoga and service is not helping. It's actually not being attached to the result of your actions not acting simply for your own ego. And your own selfish needs. That's
Amber Karnes 07:13:31
all. Because you want to see a certain result, right? Like, we can be in that space. You know, when we're like, oh, we want to help, we want to, you know, like you said, we know the better way to do it. But like, there's a way that you can help people that is about their needs, and what, what you can do to be of service, and there's a way that we can help people that's about like, proving to people that we're a good person, or, you know, trying to trying to get some kind of like, gain from that ourselves. Like, you know what I mean?
But it's, I think this question of like, mask wearing or vaccination is a perfect example of where we got it wrong. It's like that is an act of service, or Ahimsa, like, there's that article that wolf Terry wrote in yoga Journal, where she did a great job, we can put a link in the show notes, but she did a great job really connecting, you know, getting vaccinated to Ahimsa, which is really being loving, right? No, not harming means being loving to others, caring about others. And I feel like, we misunderstand the yoga teachings to be so much about the self, the individual, without understanding our connection to others, and how yoga teaches us to act and how to be in the world. Which is to be thoughtful, to care for ourselves enough that we don't create more problems.
Amber Karnes 07:15:05
Yeah, no, you need to talk about this. In your new book.
Yeah, I was gonna say, I was, I was gonna mention that I feel like, I've been talking about my new book a lot, but it's just on my mind. And that's kind of the point I'm trying to make in the book is that we've, I think we've misunderstood some of the teachings, you know, to just stop with us, you know, like it just to take care of yourself, and then stop there. And I mean, that is our job. Right? Start, start with yourself. But then, you know, look at how you're acting. That's part of your practice, too. Yeah, for sure. So what else can we say about COVID?
Amber Karnes 07:15:51
Well, I don't know, I've been thinking lately about like, the way that my business continues to evolve. In the, in the wake of what's coming up on like, the third year of pandemic. It's kind of wild to think about that. Fact. It seems like just yesterday that I was canceling all my 2020 events. And, you know, up until, like, a couple of weeks ago, I was planning to start booking events in 2022, you know, people are doing it, and people have vaccines, like, people can make their own decisions about their risk profile and all that. And then Omicron variant showed up and now all my seems like every one of my vaccinated friends has COVID. And so it changed the that factor for me of like, okay, well, maybe, you know, I'm real sure that I do want to have some events in 2022, it seems like they may need to take place outdoors. And with you know, that means I'm not going to be doing things like running a retreat where people come and have shared accommodations, for instance, and have to travel on planes to get there, which is like kind of how my business has operated in the past. Like, I have this online following I'll throw an event somewhere people come, you know, and I can, I can do that all over the US and Canada and other places in the world if I want to, which is amazing. Like, yay, internet, like, you're bad at so much. But this has been, you know, a really good thing for me. But now, I don't think that it's actually appropriate to hold events where I'm asking people to travel, or to spend a lot of time indoors with other people. And that changes so quickly, right? Like, I remember there have been moments in the pandemic where it's like, oh, we're having events and not wearing masks again, as long as everyone's vaccinated. And then like, very quickly, that wasn't the case. And then how do you plan you know, these? How do you plan as someone that throws events that have a date, and a location and require, you know, marketing to sell tickets and that sort of thing, when the circumstances are constantly changing? And you know, this is Something that I've set with for the better part of two years, I mean, I've had projects that I've been working on this whole time, but I really haven't developed like my own business and my own work in this time. Because I feel like I've been just like waiting for circumstances to improve, or something to become more clear, or like, testing to be ubiquitous. So it's easy to, you know, like, all of those things. And I feel like, you know, as reflecting this week about, like, how am I going to move forward in 2022, now, I'm not booking those events, like, actually, I need to be able to throw like, local events. And I realized, like, Oh, my local network actually, like, isn't as strong as I need it to be to be able to, like, pivot my business in this way. And so I've kind of just been thinking about, like, ways that I can strengthen community ties where I am, you know, not knowing like, when the bigger circumstance of COVID may change, where it's like, pretty safe to travel, again, pretty safe to gather together indoors, again, stuff like that. And so I was thinking about that, sort of, like the difference between online community or, you know, long distance community kind of how we do with like, the accessible yoga conference and things like that, or like a retreat would function versus like, in person, community, and how exciting that might be actually to like, really shore up my local connections here in Baltimore, not only for the reason of like, oh, then I'll be able to throw local events outdoors next summer, but also like, then I have really a better idea of like, the needs that are arising within my local community, including, like, the ways that we can take care of one another as fellow yoga teachers, as people who are, you know, passionate about this practice as people who, you know, are wellness practitioners during a pandemic, which I think is like a really weird place occupy, right, like, so I don't know, those are just some things that have been on my mind lately, and like, ways that we can, that I can personally, but also, like, all of us can strengthen, like our local in person community, in a way that like, helps to cultivate that safety network that we're not getting from, you know, the government or whoever has, like, that bigger responsibility to take care of us that like we keep each other safe. You know, we we can function in that way. And I don't know, that's just been on my mind.
Yeah, no, it's it's a good question. I think. I'm sure all yoga teachers still are struggling with that question is, like, I think a lot of people went back to in person teaching and things seem to be going okay. And now, things have gotten worse again. And so then, you know, do we stop doing that, go back to online teaching? You know, and it's hard, because I think some, some communities didn't have access to online classes. I know, like a lot of people who teach in, you know, like schools or senior centers, community centers, places like that, like, it's been great to see those classes coming back. And I, it's sad, that it's gonna probably stop again, but I don't know, you know, like, as long as you're doing the best you can to keep people safe, you just have to trust your self, and how you feel like really, you know, listen to what your intuition is telling you and, and try to make the safest choices you can. But I know for myself, that online teaching has been really great. I mean, I feel like I'm able to connect with people all over the world this way, and not just local. So, you know, I think accessible yoga, also tried to, you know, serve as best we could during this time and move everything online. And I think it made our offerings more accessible in many ways to people that couldn't come to our in person conferences. And so that's been going on, we're going to continue doing online stuff. I mean, I would love to get back to some in person things eventually. Yeah, I also had started, I had started scheduling things for next year trainings in person, and I'm just not anymore. I'm just waiting. I think we're just waiting. You know, it's, it feels like, I don't know, like, we're all just waiting to see what happens next. And, you know, will this pass? Well, there'll be another variant, like, how do you know, how do you know what to do when you have to plan? Business? Right? Yeah, it's really hard.
Amber Karnes 07:22:48
It is hard. And, you know, I've just been thinking about ways that I can, like, build a little bit more flexibility into what I do, which means like reimagining things a little bit, you know, like, I might, I might not be able to do these, like deep dives type of things that I you know, like I would at a retreat where we can kind of Like, dig into content over a week, or like, you know, it takes people a few a day or two to get comfortable in a group like that and be really, you know, willing to kind of like, let your guard down and try on some new things or whatever the you know, the the thing is we accomplish there, but like, How can I sort of bring some of the elements of those types of community events into something that might only last like, a couple of hours? Because I'm going to, you know, have to change that if if COVID does its thing, and we have a new variant or whatever. So yeah, I don't know. I guess I mean, getting to practice non attachment in a new way, right? Like, when stuff gets canceled, you know, I, I've definitely, like, told myself the story over the past couple of years, since I had to cancel all my stuff the first time, which I don't know, was like, a big, it was a big deal. Like I, you know, had basically like 2020 was like, sold out events that I was ready to just go, like, show up and tell some jokes and teach me yoga. And then like, that was just gone, like, in one day. And yeah, I've kind of told myself, like, I can't deal with that again, you know, but like, but I have, I have dealt with it many times in my personal life so far. And a couple of times with work, where I'm like, behind the scenes, pulling some triggers. And then the next day, I'm like, Oh, this is actually not gonna happen, you know. And I have been able to continue and to, you know, find ways to deal with the uncertainty and like, the anxiety of knowing that literally, like, the next day, the circumstances can be different again. Go ahead.
I was I think that's the key word there. Anxiety, you know, because I feel like there's a business side, which is hard. It's hard to run a business during times like this, when you don't know what's coming next. But there's also just like, the personal side, like just the anxiety of well, the anxiety of not knowing if you're going to have a business, but also anxiety of just being in a world dangerous to be alive. Yeah. Where you can you know, you could be sick, is it a cold? Do you have COVID? It's like, are you going to make if you do have COVID? Does that mean you're going to infect other people? Like it's really such difficult times? So much anxiety right now. And I wondered if we could talk about that, like,
Amber Karnes 07:25:45
what are you doing to deal? Like,
I mean, we've talked about anxiety before, it's been a while, actually. So probably, how's your anxiety?
Amber Karnes 07:25:56
You know, good and bad days. I guess I talked a little bit about this at the beginning of the podcast, so I'm curious to hear like, what your, you know, current practices are, but honestly, like, my way of dealing with it has been a lot of sort of, like, tricking myself into, you know, doing things that sort of, like bring up that anxiety response, whether that's like something with work or responsibility, I might have by like, rewarding myself with stuff that's fun after Oh, wow. Which includes like the bikes and the skates. So like, if I, you know, have to like get my year and accounting stuff done, because I'll go to jail. If I file my taxes. Then I'm like, Okay, you scan those documents and email them to the accountant and then you get like, 30 minutes scape break in the hallway. So like, I've really been sort of like keeping that anxiety at bay with physical movement. That's something that definitely gets me I would say, out of my head and into my body, which I find that if I'm experiencing anxiety, like one of two things needs to happen either I need to a lot of times I experienced anxiety as like an excess of energy. And I sort of feel like, I'm gonna fight someone or I'm gonna, like explode or something like that. And so either I need to burn that off through movement and just like get out of my head and into my body for a minute and like, be reminded that I'm like, a living organism that requires various forms of care, one of which is movement. Like, oh, or I need to literally drop everything I'm doing and do something from my yoga practice, which most of the time includes going to my breath. Yeah. And so that's, that's a big one. For me. It's like physical movement, or, like really simple breath practices like literally like, big size with noise out the mouth. You doing like Lion's Breath sometimes, like, sometimes it's just like, what breathing practice can I literally remember in this moment when I feel like really overwhelmed, even if that's just like a couple of loud Jai breaths to remind myself, like, hey, you know, you can like step out of this thought loop that's trying to kill you. You know, and just be here with your lungs for a minute, like breathing practices these days really kind of have that extra little level of profound because I'm like, so many people like, Can't breathe right now because they're sick. You know? Anyway, well.
Garrett Jurss 07:28:50
Hey, friends, we'll be right back with this week's episode after a short word from one of our supporting organizations, Whole Soul Wellness, Yoga. Whole Soul Wellness Yoga is an online accessible, self empowering yoga community focused on offering yoga practices for mature adults. You can practice yoga and feel good during practice. Some people might experience challenges like back pain, arthritis, osteoporosis, joint replacements and stiffer, less mobile bodies with age. whole soul wellness, yoga believes this is the perfect time to turn to yoga as a practice to care for your body and mind while connecting with your spirit. Their mission is to offer accessible and self empowering yoga so that people can enjoy the benefits of more ease in their body, peace in their mind, and joy in their spirit throughout life's journey, joy and whole soul wellness yoga online or on retreat.
I yeah, I feel similarly like exercise, like biking has helped me a lot. asana practice, similarly, like, getting on my mat really helps. moving my body trying to get just trying to get out of my head a bit is definitely key for my anxiety and breathing practices, yes, and no, like I, I was, I had to take a flight the other day, like I didn't want to at all, but I had to visit my daughter. And it was so stressful, like I had so much anxiety being on the plane and at the airport, and just being in close proximity to other people for, you know, hours at a time. And I really noticed, you know, my anxiety sometimes impacts my breath, or I feel short of breath. And I can't you know, it's so interesting, because like I have, I have both I have apparently our practice. And I also have the experience of anxiety really limiting my breath. And so I kind of go back and forth between them. And my point is that breath isn't always a refuge for me, like sometimes focusing on my breath, when I'm really anxious can actually make it worse. It makes me it can make me feel more anxious. And so I think it depends on the way you the way you process anxiety, what your mind does, where it goes. And I think for a lot of people the breath is that, you know, release. And it is for me when I'm feeling calmer. But it's not often the place I have to start, I just have to start with Asana or something physical, or distracting my mind in some way first, and then get back to my breath. But I was noticing when I was wearing my mask that I was so conscious of my breath. And sometimes, you know, mask wearing makes me feel like I can't catch my breath. And I think a lot of that has mental like in my head. You know, I mean, like I think it mask wearing brings up anxiety for me sometimes because I can have shortness of breath relate to my anxiety. But I also it also makes me think of pranayama. And I've tried, I tried like when I was an aeroplane I was working on using pranayama in the medic with my mask on. And I know for people that wear masks all day at work, like they're probably really good at this anyway to get used to it. But I don't have to wear a mask all day. So for me when I put it on for a couple hours. It's like okay, wait, I have a mask on. You know what I mean? Like, I am aware of it. Yeah. And it definitely impacts my breath. It's not like I know, I'm still breathing fine. I'm getting as much oxygen like I totally get it. But it does feel different. And so I think yeah,
Amber Karnes 07:32:33
and your nervous system notices that you know. So
I was looking I was working on that one thought that came to me was that, you know, traditionally the the way I was trained in pranayama was that the general goal of pranayama is to slow the breath. And even to have still points in the breath to almost stop the breath. To be honest. I mean, it sounds kind of funny. But you could even say that the goal of pranayama is to stop the breath in many ways because what happens is when the breath and the mind move together, it's the The mind is still like in meditation than the breath stops. And so a lot of it more quote, advanced pranayama practices have to do with breath retention. And it just made me think, well, you know that I'm still a beginner. But you know, I was like, wow, okay, can I slow my breath? And how does that feel on the mask, because the other thing, some, some texts talk about, not only slowing your breath, but also controlling the distance of breath moves from your body. One of the practices of pranayama is to keep the prana close to your body, and to not allow the breath to move far away. Meaning that like, very quiet still breath is kind of retaining the prana. Close to you or in your body, rather than letting it go out there in the world. You know, like, like
Amber Karnes 07:33:56
that. Right? Right, says keep it in the mask.
If you've been in the mask that was like, that's what the yogi's, were saying, you know, I was like, wow, so I don't know, I was, it didn't always work. But I sometimes think of that, like, Oh, this is advanced. Pranayama
Amber Karnes 07:34:11
I love that. I mean, like, for somebody that reframe is gonna work. So I
hope so. I hope that's helpful. I mean, we're not always ready for advanced. I'm not always ready for it. But you know, when I'm there in that moment, I'm like, Oh, okay. You know, keep my breath shallow, keep it close to my body, you know, keep it keep it quiet. Anyway,
Amber Karnes 07:34:38
well, do you feel like leading us through like a short little breath awareness practice that you do with a mask on. And I'm just like, I feel like that's such a brilliant and creative way to like, apply stuff directly from the yoga teachings, like, in a modern context, like, this is your thing I know. But I just think that's, that's brilliant. And, you know, maybe something really practical that if folks are listening, if you're a teacher, you could share with your students something similar. Or if you're a yoga practitioner, like, you don't have to have a teaching certificate to tell your friends about things that you find helpful if, if this is useful for you. So
I mean, I can teach kind of what I just described, I can teach maybe Ojai breathing, or, you know, with sensitivity to that, to keeping the breath, close to the body. So maybe you just take a moment, yeah, I'll do that. So if you want to sit back or get comfortable, you could put on a mask if you want. If you're not aware, if you're not already wearing when we can use a mask to increase sensation of experiencing the breath close to the body. So before we can begin with that, I would just take a moment to scan the body because, you know, yoga, again, is always about connecting the body's doing physically, with what the breath is doing energetically, and then also where the mind is at. So let's just take a moment to explore that think about can you get the body a little more comfortable. And to release tension somewhere in the body just for a moment. Can you check in with your mind, notice if there's any thoughts, you can just let go for a moment, any emotions, you can let them pass and then become sensitive to your breath right now. And one of the ways you can become sensitive to your breath is by listening to it or feeling so getting connected to that either the physical sense of breath, like the texture of it or the sound of it. And we can exaggerate that with booj breathing. So Regina, Regina is where you make a little like a humming sound, not even a ham. It's like a it's like a eight euro sound like almost like a wheezing sound in the throat because you're closing the glottis a little bit. But do it really really gently. So it's almost like you're not even doing a physical movement with the throat. Right, there's really doesn't need to be almost any tension there at all. It's very subtle. And let's take a few breaths like that. Let's try especially on the exhale. So take a relax, inhale slowly through the nose. And then a slow exhale again through the nose with a little bit of a j a little extra sound and you see if you can hear that sound inside the head inside kind of echoing inside of your mask
and do that a few more times you inhaling slowly with a relaxed throat inhaling through the nose very slowly and then exhaling through the nose again, with a slight or J. awareness in the throat
try to keep the breath close to the body. So imagine as you're inhaling and exhaling that you're keeping the breath very close to you like right against your skin. Right, you're not allowing it to move very far away, the mask is helping with that.
And after the next exhale, you can relax the breath. Take a moment just to notice how you're feeling. checking in again, with the mind with the body
and then ending the practice opening the eyes if you had them closed.
How was that?
Amber Karnes 07:39:33
Thank you for that.
My dog was barking Oh, that was okay. me like that one.
Amber Karnes 07:39:38
I heard. Thank you for that, like now I feel like that is such a practical thing that I like the opportunity to, you know, have something else to focus on. When maybe I'm not so stoked about wearing a mask? I don't know. I mean, I believe in wearing one for you know, the all the reasons scientific and care wise. And also, I get tired of it sometimes. Yes, honestly, you know, I think we can all say that at this point. So thank you. Thank you for that offering. Yeah,
I hope that's useful. Maybe people can explore different kinds of breathing they can do with their mask. Yeah, nostril breathing, you could do alternate nostril breathing just in the mind, right? Like, that's a good one you could do with your mask,
Amber Karnes 07:40:30
right? And we'd love to hear from you all too. If you have, you know, practices that are helping sustain you or your students like through through this long, you know, kind of marathon that we find ourselves in, we'd love to hear from you in the accessible yoga Facebook community, or you can always leave a comment through our website, but let us know like, how are you adapting, you know, your business practices, your personal practices, whatever it is to, to kind of continue to, I don't know, adapt, embrace, whatever the word is. Our current circumstances, so
yeah. Great. Thanks, Amber. Thanks for talking to me.
Amber Karnes 07:41:14
Leave it there. We'll talk to y'all soon. Thanks for tuning in.
Okay, bye. See ya. Thanks for joining us for the Accessible Yoga Podcast. We're so grateful to be in community with you.
Amber Karnes 07:41:27
Please check out our website accessible yoga.org. To find out more about our upcoming programs, including our annual accessible yoga conference. At our website. You can also learn more about how to become an accessible yoga ambassador and support the work that we're doing in the world.
Please subscribe to the podcast and leave us a review wherever you listen. We'd love to hear your thoughts.
Amber Karnes 07:41:46
You can also submit a question or suggest a topic or potential guests you'd like us to interview at accessible yoga.org See you next time.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai