During a typical semester, Dianne Raubenheimer, director of research, planning, and assessment, dons a second “hat” and teaches two yoga classes each week for faculty and staff through Meredith’s Working on Wellness (WOW) program. Most participants have been attending class for several years, and have formed a close-knit community. So when the COVID-19 crisis resulted in her yogis working from home, she decided to continue to offer classes using Zoom.
According to Raubenheimer, a sanskrit word, “kula,” which denotes community or tribe, is often used in yoga circles to describe a group of people who come together to practice yoga, and who develop a sense of belonging with others through yoga practice.
“It seemed to me that this particular kula would benefit from maintaining the practice together, to continue that sense of community as we found ways to deal with the challenging situation confronting us,” she said. “Coming back to the breath and into the body through yoga is a very calming, nourishing, and nurturing process, so I felt that it was really needed at this time. Quite simply, it just seemed the right thing to do.”
Raubenheimer said because the group has practiced together for some time, participants know the style of yoga she teaches. That has made the transition go more smoothly because they understand the cues she gives and are able to make any adjustments themselves.
It was Raubenheimer’s first time teaching yoga remotely.
“It felt extremely intimidating, but I thought to myself that if everyone else has made the transition to remote instruction, so could I,” she said. “I made the mistake of watching a recording of my first Zoom session. We can be our own worst critics, so I stopped doing that, and just got on with enjoying the yoga practice and being connected with others in time, if not in physical space. It's not perfect, but it is yoga!”
Raubenheimer found adhering to the normal schedule of teaching class on Mondays and Fridays helped to maintain some sense of normalcy. Class participants agreed.
“I have been so thankful for Dianne continuing the yoga classes. Hearing her voice as she talks through our theme each week is important to keep me centered and motivated,” said Emily Parker, director of advancement and strategic communications. “Knowing my co-workers are with me on this journey to stay physically and mentally active is so comforting to me. The quiet and stillness during her classes for just that hour has certainly helped my stress level during this time.”
Karen Dunton, director of marketing, has also appreciated the ongoing sense of community.
"With the change to working from home, Dianne's yoga class allowed me to practice self-care while staying connected to members of the Meredith community. I am so thankful for my fellow yogis, this class, and especially for Dianne,” she said.
Raubenheimer hopes to continue leading yoga classes throughout the summer.
“I love the practice of yoga, and always enjoy sharing what I have learned from wonderful teachers over the years,” she said. “This continues to be a privilege, whether in person or remotely.”
Be on the lookout for more information from WOW about summer yoga classes.