I Teach with a Mask On

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Lucky.

That’s me. I got to start as a yoga teacher nearly 20 years ago and have both the following and infrastructure to (more or less) make a living now, September 2020. We were obviously hurt, as all service jobs were, but between my online subscription site (seven years in the making) and teaching the few classes still available, I can afford to make this statement.

I teach with a mask on.

We will be opening our studio this week after more than 6 months closed. As thrilling as this is, there are still choices to be made. Choices rendered more difficult by the drama surrounding simple, data-driven safety measures.

Yoga Better owes its existence to its ability to take a stand for a clear goal: That you feel better after class. We are committed to your safety. Period. Anything that gets in the way of that, our style has long since taken out of the practice.

We don’t however get to just say whatever we want because we think it will help you. There must be some evidence to believe what we say. Every teacher in every discipline is a leader and leaders have a responsibility to know what they’re talking about and state clearly when they don’t.

No, I do not know if everyone wearing a mask will 100% protect every person in the room, teacher and student alike. Yes I do believe everyone wearing a mask will more than 1% protect every person in the room.

The truth is in there somewhere. This is exactly what we do when we choose to teach one variation over another, align a joint this way over another, and emphasize this experience of that other one. Leaders do this all the time.

I have the luxury to teach at a fancy fitness club. There the rules follow Texas’, that once you are in the classroom, you can take your mask off. So let me get this straight,

Starbucks won’t let you in without a mask for the 5 minutes it takes to make coffee, but if you are going to stay for an hour, breath deeply and more frequently from exercise, then you can take your mask off?

I teach with a mask on because for my generation, my country (not my government, but my fellow countrymen and women) has not asked anything of me. I think I can be a little more uncomfortable for an hour.

I teach with a mask on because to teach is to basically yell in a crowded room. That is proven to be a vector for transmission. I use a mic so those hard of hearing can hear me.

I teach with a mask on because it is literally the least I can do to compromise between still working and not unknowingly sickening or killing my clients.

I teach with a mask on because I risk my and my family’s health to leave the house and teach. Even a fractional increase in protection is worth it. People die every day with seatbelts on, yet their fractional advantage still saves lives.

I wear a mask when I teach not to convince you to. If you feel the way you do with no evidence, nothing we say could convince you anyway. Rather, I wear a mask to teach to be a demonstration.

“Ok, but till when?” The question of at what point do we say we’re safe is an important one. Our thinking is simple, First, we dunno; but we are listening to people who have devoted their lives to understanding this. Second, as of today, Sept 23rd, 2020, there are more than 100 new reported cases in Harris County and the City of Houston. When we arrived in Rome, Italy on March 3rd, 2020, there were 800 cases in Milan and zero in Rome. They closed the entire country on the day we left, March 10th. Rome still had zero cases and we can now see that was the correct call.

If wearing a mask during class doesn’t work for you, we are sorry for that and we wish you good luck and good health. We have many options that side-step the discomfort of mask-wearing while practicing.

  1. We are livestreaming every class at the studio.
  2. For the price of a single class, you get a month of every video I have ever recorded (hundreds) documenting everything I know that makes a difference in your health + a bunch of Subscriber-Only livestream classes.

Some would say there is a fine line between taking a stand and picking a fight. My experience says it’s more like overlapping Venn circles, and sometimes the fight will be picked by people who disagree regardless of how nice you are. In our style, we train and care deeply about the skills it takes to disagree without being disagreeable, to take stands for what is found to be important, yet not stand on others doing it. Our favorite way of doing that is reminding ourselves regularly that if we are fighting anything, it’s never the person, but the issue. That really means that both us and those that disagree are on the same side looking at the problem and just seeing different solutions.

We care about all people, even the ones that would never take or like our style. For those that are considering coming back to class, whatever you decide, our business still exists for the same simple reason:

We are committed that you feel better after class than before, that you feel better next week than you did last week, feel better next year than you did last year.

All the best best best to y’all,
Andrew and the Story Street Crew

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