The news on the radio paints a grim picture. Across Europe, Covid-19 cases are increasing and, while we’re being told that another lockdown is unlikely in this country, the fact that we’re even having that conversation again is cause for concern. The vaccines are mostly doing their job of keeping people from developing severe illness and from dying and I’m happy to have had my two doses, but there’s still this niggling fear in the back of my mind which is making its way forward.

Could I, or my children, pass on the Delta variant to my Mother or another elderly (or immuno-compromised) person, whose immunity from the double-vaccination is now, seemingly, starting to wane?

If we go into another lockdown, will the yoga shala close down forever?

How would we make a living if that happens?

Will we have to home-school our children again?

Could I or Suzanne get long-Covid?

Although none of these scenarios feels hugely likely, there is still that feeling that something ominous could be on the way. Personally, I fear another lockdown more than I fear the disease but I know that’s not the same for everyone.

For those who have declined the vaccines, I also feel some empathy (and I know there are, surely, many of you reading this who fall into that category).

I’m sure this is an over-simplification but I have an idea that there are roughly three types of people who are not getting vaccinated;

  • People who have no fear of getting sick from Covid and believe that the reaction of the world to the virus has been overblown. Maybe they understand that elderly or sick people can be badly affected but they don’t fit into that category so, for them, there’s no need to be vaccinated.
  • People who do have a fear of getting, or passing on Covid but have a greater fear that the vaccines might not be safe. 

Life is ok for the first group of people. Ok, they don’t get to go to restaurants, bars, concerts or nightclubs (in this country at least) but they don’t have fear.

For the second group of people, I have real sympathy. I don’t agree that the vaccines are unsafe (in fact, as we’ve been told, the risks of contracting Covid-19 are far greater than the risks of being vaccinated) but that doesn’t mean that people in this second group don’t have genuine fear. It’s hard not to feel what you feel!
The third group are those who are unable to get vaccinated because of allergies or other underlying reasons that the vaccines would definitely not be safe for them. For this group, who are mostly in a vulnerable position with regards to their health already, life is probably very tough right now. I’m guessing there are many people in this group for whom a de-facto lockdown has been the reality for the past 18 months.

I’ve been alternating, over the last year and a half, between periods when I pay attention to the news (over the radio and in newspapers) and periods where I ignore it completely.

I would have to say that my anxiety levels and, indeed, my mood, have been much better during the periods when I’ve disengaged from the news cycle. As the co-owner of a yoga shala though, I have to make sure that I know the current guidelines and restrictions so that we can make at least somewhat-informed decisions as to how we operate the shala. So I have been paying attention to the news over the last few months.

It’s hard to moderate one’s consumption of news though. I’ve found that I’m either all-in, checking the news multiple times per day, or else I’m not engaging at all. And right now I’m all-in, and I can feel that nagging worry starting to come back.

We thought that, on October 22nd, we would drop all the restrictions on attendance at the shala, but as I’m sure you all understand, it doesn’t feel like the timing is right to do that just yet. It’s disappointing. I was daydreaming the other evening about those days when the shala used to have 30 people in it; everyone packed in like sardines; steam rising up to the ceiling. It feels like a distant memory. I long for those days.

For now, all we can do is keep practising. Yoga practice is of huge benefit in times like these. Don’t underestimate its power. Make time for it.

If you’re reading this it’s likely that you have at least a rudimentary understanding of how to practice. You’re at a huge advantage compared to so many people who have struggled through this pandemic. You have the tools to moderate your response to external problems and to maintain equanimity in the face of worry, fear and doubt about the future.

Nobody is immune from fear, but yoga practice can help us navigate our inner world in a way that few other things can.