During a time of crisis, such as the current coronavirus pandemic that has brought the entire world to a standstill, yoga instructor Matthew Morales would like to remind his students to continue doing something vital in our everyday life: breathe.
“It helps to get you out of your head which is where a lot of our stress and anxiety begins, by the thinking we have,” Morales, owner of Quiet Mind Yoga, said. “[Connecting to your breath] is a beautiful way to let that go especially at this time when it’s easy to get caught up in all the negativity. It’s a good time to disconnect from all that and calm the breath down.”
At this time last month, Morales was leading 10 group yoga classes which had as many as 60 students. Morales discontinued those classes after the county issued shelter at home orders and dissuaded activities with groups of 10 or more people to avoid more people getting infected with COVID-19.
“I felt like I had to start live classes to ensure my students don’t miss out especially at this time when they need yoga more than ever to help keep them as calm as possible to relieve any anxiety or fear coming up,” Morales said. “A lot of things went through my head when I realized I couldn’t teach yoga in person anymore. Thoughts of ‘When will this be over, when will we meet again? Will Quiet Mind Yoga be able to sustain itself and how can I adapt?’ That’s how FB Live came into play, the need to adapt. We don’t know how long it’ll last for and make sure I continue to share yoga and adapt however I need to.”
Each week, he holds five classes through Facebook Live on his page, Quiet Mind Yoga where he teaches from his living room, making his classes open to all in ways he never thought possible.
“I’ve had people thanking me for having the classes and for spending time with them, they’re very appreciative of it, “Morales said. “A lot of these students are from outside the Valley; it’s not the same as an in person class but they’re happy. It’s opening the doors for me to share yoga with more people which has always been my intention.”
Classes usually happen Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Morales also has a YouTube Channel where those without Facebook can watch pre-recorded yoga classes.
“Two of those classes are half hour meditation and breathing classes to connect people to their breath in case people can’t participate in the hour-long movement yoga classes, “Morales explained. “We’ve all heard the saying to breathe when we get riled up, there’s truth to that. Anytime you connect to your breath consciously, it starts to settle the nervous system. It takes you out of fight or flight and into the rest and digests mode that calms us down.”
With the Facebook Live classes, Morales says he is ensuring he and his students are prepared to adapt to the changing world.
“There’s no way of going back to our old lifestyle after this, and I say that with hope,” Morales explained. “We are going to adapt in the way we connect with people and care for others. Before all of this we were in a routine where we weren’t really paying attention to ourselves and our needs but now that we have all this time to look at every aspect of our lives and learn about ourselves. That is what we are meant to be doing at this time, go inward, look at ourselves to see how we want to adapt and what we want to shift, if anything. I think that’s beautiful.”
Morales is planning a special donation-based class on the video conferencing service Zoom set for Friday, April 10 to celebrate his 31st birthday party. He also said he is in discussions with the San Antonio-based March of Dimes to hold a class for pregnant women.
Through it all, Morales says these classes are offering a chance for people to connect.
“I am encouraging people to choose to feel love right now,” Morales said. “Right now it’s super easy to feed into thoughts of fear and you have a choice of giving in to that fear or that love. By simply joining our yoga classes, you are feeding into that feeling of love and you have to keep doing that.”