We revisited last year’s Spirit of North Tyneside winner, The YogaTribe, to find out how the business has fared throughout lockdown and how they kept spirits up in trying circumstance.
Cat Percival tell us more.
Hi Cat – tell us a little more about The YogaTribe
I run The YogaTribe NE and I’m passionate about helping busy Mums spend some ‘me time’ and focus on their own health and wellbeing. I run in-person and online Yoga and meditation classes with a focus on building a community of supportive Mums.
How has lockdown been for you?
It’s been a rollercoaster to be honest. The first lockdown was quite stressful but there was a definite air of excitement around too. It was a brand-new experience for us all so no-one was sure what to expect. Whilst I found lots of it hard (missing family and friends, things being cancelled and shopping for toilet roll) I actually embraced the new, slower lifestyle it forced us into. I loved spending more time at home with my husband and children and it was such a relief to have an empty calendar.
But then it dragged on and on and the novelty definitely wore off. As time went on and restrictions changed constantly it became relentless and exhausting. But that’s no surprise; the way our nervous system works means we are constantly scanning our environment to look out for danger. To stop us from feeling completely exhausted by this we register lots of the things we see day to day in a part of the brain that lets us run on autopilot (like when you arrive at work and can’t remember your journey). In Covid times even our normal environment is unsafe. Whether that is people getting too close to you in a supermarket or the daily death toll on the news.
I know the term ‘self-care’ is bandied about a lot but finding small ways to look after yourself is vital right now. It doesn’t need to be a fancy ritual worthy of Instagram. For me its 10 minutes to breathe, move and ask myself: How do I feel in my body? How do I feel emotionally? What am I grateful for? What would make today a good day?
With face-to-face classes not being possible, how did you cope with keeping your business going?
There have definitely been some hard times. But there have been some really wonderful moments and realisations too.
Keeping my business going has been tough but I’ve never appreciated the tribe I’ve created so much. Back in March 2020 I was left with zero income overnight. In addition, I do a lot of work supporting pregnant women and new Mums – I was deeply concerned about their wellbeing and knew I had to find a way to support them. Even pre-covid, having a new baby is full-on. With isolation and fear of a new virus thrown on top, it was going to be physically and emotionally difficult.
But the Yoga Tribe is all about support and community so, with the help of technology, new equipment and a steep learning curve I started teaching classes via Zoom. I added time on to each lesson to provide new Mums the time to chat and support each other. There was always a danger that my kids would hurl themselves into the background of a class but we managed to find some zen.
I created a Facebook group and a WhatsApp group so individual classes could stay in touch and create mini virtual communities. And believe me, it kept me going too. I wasn’t simply providing a service, there was a real sense of trust and support between everyone.
As well as time to talk about how we were coping I always included a random question of the week which would make us laugh. Something like the most embarrassing celebrity crush or share your worst teen fashion disaster. It made me realise how much laughter is medicine.
How was the whole experience?
I am deeply grateful that so many people trusted I would be able to make our sessions work online. Technology is not easy for me and it has forced me to learn skills that I would have avoided which means my business can work in many different ways now.
Before Covid I knew we had an amazing tribe of supportive women but I would only see women for small chunks of their lives. The new way I started working during lockdown meant that we had some really honest conversations about how we were feeling. We have shared tears and laughter together. Those women really mean so much to me.
I really love teaching in person so not being able to see people in real life was tough. I love reading people’s faces and deciding where to go with the lesson. I feel there is an energy exchange that takes place that always leaves me feeling uplifted. I found spending so much time in front of a screen quite draining.
Have you made any changes for the better as a result of Covid?
I have found that having a safe space to have deep honest conversations, along with a little laughter is so valuable. That’s why I have created a monthly session that includes movement, a talk and discussion time. The themes are based on my work titled The Secrets our Bodies Hide. We will talk about issues surrounding things women feel they can’t share such as body image, perimenopause, fertility.
So many women keep concerns and symptoms to themselves for fear of judgement. But I’ve seen first-hand the relief that comes from realising other people are going through the same things – it’s so powerful. Adding some laughter in there is just pure magic.