I have been a subscriber to Yoga with Adriene’s YouTube channel for a long time, actual years at this point I think. I can’t remember how I discovered her but she’s instantly likeable, a gentle, sweet, affirming, and often-goofy personality who is pure authenticity in a sea of game-face fitness accounts. (She also has a deeply chill dog named Benji who delightfully makes an appearance in pretty much every video.)

While it’s easy enough to hit a subscribe button, doing the actual yoga … not so much. I followed along with a few of her videos a long time ago but it always felt weirdly too hard and too easy at the same time. It was hard to find privacy, because doing yoga in the living room while people come and go really kind of sucks. It was hard to find the focus and willingness to go slow, when my brain was yammering at me that if I wasn’t breaking a sweat it didn’t count. It was hard to lie on the floor, just, like, breathing, without thinking of the 37 trillion other things I should be doing.

I’ve taken some classes at a yoga studio here and there but never with any regularity, and never with any sort of intent beyond trying to get the poses right. I’d say I was not unfamiliar with yoga itself, but I was definitely unfamiliar with the concept of a yoga practice. Which is to say that no one is more surprised than me that I have now done daily yoga for 39 days (in! a! row!), and I plan to keep at it.

Two critical steps that put things in motion:

• In December at the height of my somewhat mostly almost entirely unrealistic New Year/total life overhaul planning, I saw Adriene’s announcement about a 30-day series she was launching and decided that yes, I am in, 2021 Me is totally committed to healthy-sounding shit like that, I’m probably going to start drinking green juice any day now*

• It finally occurred to me for the very first time that I could do yoga in the bedroom

With the privacy issue solved (the available space between wall and bed is not what I would call luxurious nor is the clutter of underbed scenery very zen-like, but being able to close the door is a true game changer), and no need to get in the car or even put on actual yoga clothes, I just had to show up. Even with such a drastically lowered bar, I figured it would be a struggle to stick to the routine and there was a pretty good chance that I’d peter out after a week or so.

But LO! It turns out it was NOT a struggle, not even a little bit! In fact, I quickly found myself looking forward to yoga time each day. Before long I was actively dreading the end of the series, because in a Shocking Twist I Never Saw Coming, it had become deeply important to me.

I had to make a few adjustments along the way to stay connected to this practice. For one, I don’t think of yoga time as a workout, regardless of how challenging a video might be. I do other things for exercise, which lets me unclench about heart rates and calorie burn when I’m on the mat. I also primarily do yoga at the end of the day, which helps me avoid the anxiety-spiral of looming deadlines. Lastly, I discovered that putting a folded blanket under my ass during long seated poses makes all the difference between a mind that can be quiet, calm, and present, and one that’s sending up a constant series of distracting emergency flares (“YOU’RE 47, CRISS-CROSS APPLESAUCE IS NOT YOUR FRIEND”).

With more than a month under my belt now, I’m noticing all kinds of benefits. There is the physical side of things, where I can see and feel new strength in my body. I can hold balance poses much longer than I could, my flexibility has improved quite a bit, and best of all I feel like I’m moving with more ease in all that I do. Like every stiff, curmudgeonly joint has been coated with a hit of WD-40.

Those are all nice changes which I appreciate, but the real magic of this yoga … well, it’s hard to capture in words. I think it really comes down to Adriene herself, the things she talks about and the way she talks about them. It’s a bit like daily therapy, honestly, integrated with breathwork and body movement.

Daily yoga has been incredibly peaceful. It offers interesting challenges. It helps me connect with my body with positivity instead of endless self-criticism. It brings mindfulness and calm and prompts me to let go of what no longer serves. If nothing else, it’s 20-35 minutes that are all mine.

Anyway, this is ALL TO SAY that if you, like me, felt like the entirety of 2020 managed to take up residence in your physical body somehow while also permanently rewiring your brain to continually operate in hamster-wheel mode? Yoga with Adriene might just help.

* Who was I kidding? Green juice is terrible, change my mind.

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The days of me primarily writing through a parenting lens here have been over for years, which seems like a natural enough evolution of things. I mean, I’m not saying that my personal opinion is that babies and young children have little claim to privacy while bigger children do … buuuuuuuut I’m not not saying that.

However, parenting through a pandemic seems worthy of documentation, if only for my own memory-jogging purposes, so let’s tackle the topic that I think about all the time these days: how are the kids doing?

The short answer is … they’re okay? I’m pretty sure they’re doing mostly okay. I think.

Both of them are in virtual school and have been since everything shut down last spring. Riley, now a freshman in high school (!!!), has all of his Zoom sessions in the morning; while Dylan, a 7th grader, has all of his in the afternoon. They both do the majority of their schoolwork from their bedrooms, where they have actual desks which they largely ignore in favor of whatever offers the least ergonomic experience. Sitting hunched over a tablet like Snoopy in vulture mode, for instance.

Riley seems to have generally figured out how to work the system in his favor: he multitasks everything in ways his teachers probably wish he wouldn’t (it is not uncommon for me to see him “in” a Zoom class, while watching YouTube via another device and working on a separate assignment while also plugged into AirPods and listening to music, which is quite exotic to me considering I can’t even parse a conversation any more if there are other people talking nearby). He’s kept up with his usual good grades in a breezy kind of way: he’s self-motivated, but … you know, not hugely so.

It’s been harder for Dylan, academically. Remote learning is not right for him, full stop, and he’s had some struggles with staying on top of assignments and making sense of the often-byzantine instructions for how to complete and submit things. But he’s learned some tricks for prioritizing work and carving out times to take breaks, and his grades have been much better this trimester.

As for the other aspects of school that they have been missing out on, I’m not certain how it all shakes out in their minds. We all tend to focus on the downsides of virtual learning but I know there are at least some things they like. No homework, no need to get dressed or even get out of bed, no tests that are not by definition open book. Out of the seemingly endless list of cons, there are a few upsides.

I wonder all the time how much they miss being around other kids. Both boys have been pretty similar in that they have always had lots of friends at school and in sports but weren’t hugely interested in socializing outside of those environments. With everything shut down, they haven’t hung out with friends for months and months now, aside from online interactions.

Basketball, once their great shared love, has fallen out of favor — I don’t know if it’s because they can’t play on a team right now or what. The hoop in our driveway stands lonely and ignored for now, although I’m hopeful for an eventual renewal of interest.

Dylan has turned his attention to practicing his bowhunting skills, and rain or shine he can be found in the backyard target shooting. He’s also extremely into a game called theHunter: Call of the Wild, an immersive open-world kind of setup that he loves to explore. (I mean, I get that it’s a hunting game, but it seems to offer a lot more than just the opportunity to fake-shoot at a CGI deer.)

Riley has been playing a ton of CS:GO, but also spending a lot of time learning Blender and 3D modeling/animation. It’s been amazing to see his progress, going from clumsy cartoonish designs to far more realistic textures and movements. He also started an Etsy store a while back, reselling wooden knives he buys from a guy in Russia (!), and while he absolutely refuses to take a single word of advice from me marketing-wise (INCLUDE A THANK YOU CARD WITH YOUR SHOP URL ON IT OMG CHILD) he’s been doing pretty well with that.

They stay busy, you know? But as the weeks go on and on and on I wonder what it’ll be like to re-integrate. I wonder about the effects of extended isolation, I wonder what this year would have been like for them if everything had been normal. What all did they miss, and how much does any of that matter?

I do think they are okay, or at least as okay as it’s possible to be when your day-to-day world has shrunk to a small family home and you spend pretty much every single hour of your life with your parents and an assortment of pea-brained pets. I wish I could be certain of this, but when in parenting do you ever really get that guarantee?

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